John Bailey was a Mechanical Engineer and assisted with the development of a number of crucial inventions of the Industrial Revolution. He was also a Salford Councillor and the father of Alderman W. H. Bailey.
John Bailey was born on 11th March 1814 and came from an old Pendleton family. His father died when he was 35 years old and at this time he and his brothers decided to change the spelling of their family name from Bayley to Bailey! One of his Bayley forebears was a James Bayley, a Church of England clergyman who was involved with the erection of St Stephen's Church, Salford. His uncle William Bayley was a Liberal politician who gained notoriety in 1818. Whilst in a heated debate at the Angel Inn, Chapel Street, he was interrupted by a Tory who wanted to drink to the King's health. William Bayley was annoyed and uttered "Confound the King". For this expression he was tried, convicted and sentenced to three months imprisonment at Lancaster Castle.
According to the Salford Reporter of 19th July 1884, John Bailey was apprenticed to Messrs Cocker and Higgins, engineers, Salford and subsequently entered the services of Messrs Sharp and Roberts of Manchester. His quick perception and honest industry lead to his appointment as manager of the Inventions Department. He assisted Mr Roberts in numerous inventions such as the self-acting mule, the planing machine and the slide lathe. In 1857 he commenced business on his own at the Albion Works in Oldfield Road. His son W.H.Bailey (later Alderman Sir William Henry Bailey) served his apprenticeship with him and was later to take over the company.
John was a member of the Bethesda New Connexion Chapel. He would not allow betting or the playing of cards in his house, but he would allow dominoes and draughts. He was an Owenite and Liberal and concerned to help the lot of the working class. He was connected with Manchester and Salford Mechanics Institute and did much to popularise voluntary education and Sunday school work. John was an ardent advocate of friendly societies and co-operation. In 1843 he was associated with the Pendleton cotton spinning mill founded upon co-operative principals. He was also a member of the Anti Corn Law League. He had a great knowledge of, and support for the Irish nation and supported Catholic emancipation.
For 25 years, John Bailey was a member of Salford Town Council. He did excellent work in connection with sanitary conditions and supported free libraries, public baths, tramways and all other modern improvements.
In 1880, he was compelled to relinquish public office due to infirmities. He was able to continue his retirement until Friday 11th July 1884, when he died suddenly at his residence, River Street, Eccles New Road, Weaste. The funeral service, on Tuesday 15th July, was a quiet affair by request. The coffin of polished oak with brass mountings was covered with beautiful wreaths. A large number of members of Council gathered silently at Weaste Cemetery gates and the interment in plot A4 was conducted by the Rev. James Clark of the Bible Christian Church.