James Parker (cement maker)

James Parker (cement maker)

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James Parker was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 clergyman and cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 manufacturer who invented one of the pioneering new cements of the late eighteenth century.

In 1791, he was granted a patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 "Method of Burning bricks, Tiles, Chalk". His second patent in 1796 "A certain Cement or Terras to be used in Aquatic and other Buildings and Stucco Work", covers Roman cement
Roman cement
For the architectural material actually used by the ancient Romans, see Roman concrete."Roman cement" is a substance developed by James Parker in the 1780s, and finally patented in 1796...

, a term used in a 1798 pamphlet advertising his cement. He set up his manufacturing plant on Northfleet
Northfleet is a town in the Borough of Gravesham in Kent, England. Its name is derived from North creek , and the settlement on the shore of the River Thames adjacent to Gravesend was known as Norfluet in the Domesday Book, and Northflet in 1201...

 creek, Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...


It seems that he sold his patent to Samuel Wyatt who with his cousin Charles Wyatt produced cement in the name of Parker & Wyatt. Parker himself emigrated to America in 1797, and died soon afterwards. There is evidence that the Wyatt "Roman" cement was used in building the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse
Bell Rock Lighthouse
Bell Rock Lighthouse is the world's oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse and was built on Bell Rock in the North Sea, off the coast of Angus, Scotland, east of the Firth of Tay...

. The cement was made from natural nodules of chalk and clay ("septaria
A concretion is a volume of sedimentary rock in which a mineral cement fills the porosity . Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. The word 'concretion' is derived from the Latin con meaning 'together' and crescere meaning 'to grow'...

") from the Isle of Sheppey
Isle of Sheppey
The Isle of Sheppey is an island off the northern coast of Kent, England in the Thames Estuary, some to the east of London. It has an area of . The island forms part of the local government district of Swale...

. From around 1807 a number of people looked to make artificial versions of this cement (or more strictly hydraulic lime as it was not burnt at fusion temperatures). Amongst these were James Frost
James Frost (cement maker)
James Frost was a British cement manufacturer who invented processes that led to the eventual development of Portland cement.- Biography :...

 who had about twenty patents from 1811 to 1822 including one for "British Cement" and Joseph Aspdin
Joseph Aspdin
Joseph Aspdin was a British cement manufacturer who obtained the patent for Portland cement on 21 October 1824....

 with his now famous patent for a method of making a cement he called "Portland cement
Portland cement
Portland cement is the most common type of cement in general use around the world because it is a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco and most non-specialty grout...


Between 1810 and 1820, after Parker's patent expired, "Roman" cement came into prominent use with numerous manufacturers. In 1832 there were five works around Harwich producing "Roman" cement. From about 1821 the artificial versions became more popular as improved versions could be made and the product was more consistent.

Frost's patents were taken up by John Bazley White and Sons who supplied the cement to Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

 for the Thames Tunnel
Thames Tunnel
The Thames Tunnel is an underwater tunnel, built beneath the River Thames in London, United Kingdom, connecting Rotherhithe and Wapping. It measures 35 feet wide by 20 feet high and is 1,300 feet long, running at a depth of 75 feet below the river's surface...


The Parker and Wyatt company went out of business in 1846, and the Northfleet plant was sold to William Aspdin
William Aspdin
William Aspdin was an English cement manufacturer, and a pioneer of the Portland cement industry.He was born in Leeds, second son of Joseph Aspdin. His father obtained a patent for "Portland cement" in 1824 and William joined his father's cement manufacturing firm in 1829. His father's product...

's company. Aspdin converted it to Portland cement production, and it continued in that role until closure in 1901, latterly under the name of "Robin's Works".