While preparing to build the Eddystone Lighthouse in , engineer John Smeaton conducted a series of experiments which led to the discovery of 'hydraulic lime'. His mixture of limestone and clay would set under water, making it perfect for use in building a lighthouse. Smeaton's invention would be adapted by another inventor from Leeds. Joseph Aspdin was born in and learned his trade as a bricklayer and plasterer. While experimenting in his kitchen, Aspdin found that by heating clay and limestone at a very high temperature, then cooling, grinding and mixing it with water he had created a particularly strong cement. He named it 'Portland cement' after Portland stone, a famous type of stone often used for building work, which was quarried on the island of Portland off the coast of Dorset , because it was a similar colour and almost as hard when dry.
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Joseph Aspdin December — 20 March was an English cement manufacturer who obtained the patent for Portland cement on 21 October Aspdin or Aspden was the eldest of the six children of Thomas Aspdin, a bricklayer living in the Hunslet district of Leeds , Yorkshire. He was baptised on Christmas Day, By , he had set up in business on his own in central Leeds. He must have experimented with cement manufacture during the next few years, because on 21 October he was granted the British Patent BP entitled An Improvement in the Mode of Producing an Artificial Stone , in which he coined the term "Portland cement" by analogy with the Portland stone ,  an oolitic limestone that is quarried on the channel coast of England, on the Isle of Portland in Dorset.
See below for the text of the patent. Almost immediately after this, in , in partnership with a Leeds neighbour, William Beverley, he set up a production plant for this product in Kirkgate, Wakefield. Beverley stayed in Leeds, but Aspdin and his family moved to Wakefield about nine miles away at this point. He obtained a second patent, for a method of making lime, in The Kirkgate plant was closed in after compulsory purchase of the land by the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company , and the site was cleared.
He moved his equipment to a second site nearby in Kirkgate. At this time his eldest son James was working as an accountant in Leeds, and his younger son, William , was running the plant. However, in , Joseph went into partnership with James, and posted a notice that William had left, and that the company would not be responsible for his debts, stating "I think it right to give notice that my late agent, William Aspdin, is not now in my employment, and that he is not authorised to receive any money, nor contract any debts on my behalf or on behalf of the new firm.
In , William established his own plant at Rotherhithe , near London. James moved to a third site at Ings Road in , and this plant continued in operation until Joseph Aspdin died on 20 March , at home in Wakefield. NOW KNOW YE, that in compliance with the said proviso, I, the said Joseph Aspdin, do hereby declare the nature of my said Invention, and the manner in which the same is to be performed, are particularly described and ascertained in the following description thereof that is to say :.
My method of making a cement or artificial stone for stuccoing buildings, waterworks, cisterns, or any other purpose to which it may be applicable and which I call Portland cement is as follows:- I take a specific quantity of limestone, such as that generally used for making or repairing roads, and I take it from the roads after it is reduced to a puddle or powder; but if I cannot procure a sufficient quantity of the above from the roads, I obtain the limestone itself, and I cause the puddle or powder, or the limestone, as the case may be, to be calcined.
I then take a specific quantity of argillaceous earth or clay, and mix them with water to a state approaching impalpability, either by manual labour or machinery. After this proceeding I put the above mixture into a slip pan for evaporation, either by heat of the sun or by submitting it to the action of fire or steam conveyed in flues or pipe under or near the pan till the water is entirely evaporated.
Then I brake the said mixture into suitable lumps and calcine them in a furnace similar to a lime kiln till the carbonic acid is entirely expelled.
The mixture so calcined is to be ground, beat, or rolled to a fine powder, and is then in a fit state for making cement or artificial stone.
This powder is to be mixed with a sufficient quantity of water to bring it into the consistency of mortar, and thus applied to the purposes wanted. In witness whereof, I, the said Joseph Aspdin, have hereunto set my hand seal, this Fifteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty-four.
And also the Specification aforesaid was stamped according to the tenor of the statute made for that purpose. Inrolled the Eighteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty-four. Portland stone was the most prestigious building stone in use in England at the time. The patent clearly does not describe the product recognised as Portland cement today. The product was aimed at the market for stuccos and architectural pre-cast mouldings, for which a fast-setting, low-strength cement was required see cement.
The product belongs to the category of "artificial cements" that were developed to compete with Parker 's Roman cement , and was similar to that developed much earlier by James Frost. The process described is a "double burning" process in which the limestone is burned on its own first, then slaked, mixed with clay, and burned again. This was a common practice for manufacturers of both Artificial and Portland cements when only hard limestones were available.
The grinding technology of the time consisted only of flat millstones, and it was more economic to comminute the limestone by burning and slaking than by grinding. The limestone he used was the Pennine Carboniferous limestone of the area, which was used for paving in the towns and on the turnpike roads.
The characteristic practise of the patent and of his lime patent is the use of "road sweepings" as a raw material. He says that if the sweepings are not available he obtains 'the limestone itself". It is significant that Joseph Aspdin was twice prosecuted for digging up whole paving blocks from the local roads.
Limestone supply was clearly a major headache for Aspdin in the days before stone could be brought in by rail. His son William's innovation was to make a mix with a higher limestone content, to burn it at a higher temperature using more fuel, and to grind the hitherto-discarded hard clinkered material, hence increasing wear-and-tear in the grinding process. However, William did not file for a patent on his modified process, and sometimes claimed his father's patent.
Nonetheless, he is credited with launching the "modern" Portland cement industry. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Joseph Aspdin. Leeds , England. Wakefield , England. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Amherst, N. Retrieved 28 August Lea's chemistry of cement and concrete 4th ed.
Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 26 March Newton Abbot: David and Charles.
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Joseph Aspdin's Portland Cement
Joseph Aspdin December — 20 March was an English cement manufacturer who obtained the patent for Portland cement on 21 October Aspdin or Aspden was the eldest of the six children of Thomas Aspdin, a bricklayer living in the Hunslet district of Leeds , Yorkshire. He was baptised on Christmas Day, By , he had set up in business on his own in central Leeds. He must have experimented with cement manufacture during the next few years, because on 21 October he was granted the British Patent BP entitled An Improvement in the Mode of Producing an Artificial Stone , in which he coined the term "Portland cement" by analogy with the Portland stone ,  an oolitic limestone that is quarried on the channel coast of England, on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. See below for the text of the patent.
Originating in Leeds
The specifications for the new cement were somewhat vague; a very pure limestone was to be burned to lime, the lime mixed with a definite quantity of clay, and the mixture pulverized wet. The wet mixture was to be dried and crushed and then calcined in a vertical kiln and finally the calcine was to be powdered. The patent does not state what proportions of lime and clay should be used, nor at what temperature the mixture should be burned. The manufacture of Portland cement began in England and on the Continent shortly after the patent was issued. However, at the time natural cement was widely used, and as it could be manufactured more cheaply than Portland cement, the growth of the latter industry was very slow. Portland cement was first made in by Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer in Leeds, England. The name "Portland" was chosen because of the resemblance of the cement to the oolitic limestone of Portland, England.