greatest claims to fame is that it was the home of the man who invented the
friction match, one John Walker. The chap in question was born and died in the
town, spent most of his days there and, crucially, made his invention in his little
chemist shop on the town’s High Street. Stockton-on-Tees
Matches weren’t a new idea. The Chinese had a version of them when the British were still in the Dark Ages, and many famous names had fiddled about with the concept in
Europe way before was born
(including Robert Boyle). However, the self-igniting friction match was something new – and the North-East
is most certainly the place where it first saw light of day (as it were). Walker
He didn’t seem to think much of the invention. From April 1827, he sold a few dozen packets of them (complete with a sandpaper sheath through which to draw the match-stick, and called ‘Congreves’ in honour of another inventor, one Sir William Congreve), but never got round to patenting the idea. Inevitably, others copied or came up with near identical ideas in time, and the fortune-making ended up elsewhere (notably Samuel Jones’ ‘Lucifers’ from 1829).
However, John Walker seems to have done sufficiently well out of his creation to enjoy a reasonably comfortable life up to his death in 1859, aged 78. He is buried in nearby Norton.
Henceforth I will only post to this blog ONCE per week - usually a Tuesday. Any guest posts by other folk will appear on Fridays (though no one has yet submitted any articles). If you wish to contribute - or for further details in general about this change in policy - see here.