Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1890 & 99

Sir James Farmer (1823 - 1892)

Sir James Farmer is known throughout Salford as the founder of the engineering firm of Sir James Farmer Norton and Co of Adelphi Street. He was also Mayor of Salford for two terms from 1885 to 1887.


He was born in 1823 at Berwick-on-Tweed and moved to Manchester whilst quite young to learn engineering with Sir William Fairbairn in Ancoats. Later he became Manager to Joseph Robinson of Greengate.


In 1852, at the age of 29, James established a small engineering workshop in Bridgewater Street with his brother Thomas. It built mainly machinery for textile finishers. Although this did not last long, James formed a partnership with James Broughton. The firm was known as James Farmer Broughton and became so successful that they had to move to a three storey, silk mill in Adelphi Street, to be known as Adelphi Ironworks.


In 1860, James Broughton left the partnership. The Industrial Revolution saw new industries springing up and this led the company to produce machinery for wire drawing and rolling, brick making, coal cutting, newspaper printing and folding, and linoleum making (for Lord Ashton of Lancaster). The expansion of the cotton industry in 1870 kept the company busy making cotton drying, washing and dyeing machines and callenders. 1880 saw the machines being exported to the five continents.


After James' death in 1892, his two sons James and Andrew continued the business, and when they died it was sold to GP Norton of Huddersfield and became known as Sir James Farmer Norton and Co.


James Farmer took a great interest in local politics. He was elected a Salford Councillor in 1864 and chair of the Water Committee and Fire Brigade Committee. He was Mayor of Salford for 1886 to 1888 and was knighted in the Jubilee honours. He was a staunch Conservative and Freemason, becoming Worshipful Master for Newall Lodge, Islington Square. He was also a strong Congregationalist Church member and was chairman of the church Board of Overseers for 25 years.


James Farmer lived at Hope House, Eccles with his wife Sarah, two sons and three daughters. He died in October 1892.