Portland Cement anniversary
Joseph Aspdin (1788 – 20 March 1855) was an English mason, bricklayer and inventor who patented Portland cement 180 years ago, on 21 October 1824.
The eldest son of a Leeds bricklayer, he began using artificial cements made by burning ground limestone and clay together. He named it 'Portland' as he thought its colour resembled Portland Stone. This first true artificial cement was the first real improvement on cement since John Smeaton had made the first modern concrete by mixing powdered brick and adding pebbles as aggregate back in 1756.
Aspdin established his first cement works at Kirkgate in Wakefield (1825-1838), then built a new works on the same site in 1843. The following year, he retired and the business was taken over by his first son, James.
James's younger brother William was also involved in cement manufacture, setting up his own business in Rotherhithe, London (1841) producing a cement employed by Sir Marc Brunel in his Thames Tunnel – this was probably the first major civil engineering project to use such cement. William Aspdin then established a major cement works at Northfleet and Swanscombe in north Kent – and his business later merged with several others to become the Blue Circle corporation.