Edgar Gilkes

Born: Edgar Gilkes was born on 22nd February 1821 at Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. His parents were Benjamin and Marian Gilkes. He had four brothers and a sister.

Educated: As a teenager, he trained as an engineer at the works of Barrett, Exall and Andrewes in Reading

Married: Edgar Gilkes married Emma Hutchinson from Helmsley on 30th September 1847 at Darlington Friends’ Meeting House.

Family: Edgar and Emma had four daughters, Emily, Lucy, Hannah and Eliza and one son, Edgar.

Home: From 1839 to 1843 Edgar Gilkes lived at Shildon. He moved to Sussex Street in Middlesbrough in 1843. By 1856 he was living at 5 Southfield Villas. He became mayor of Middlesbrough in 1863. In 1882 Edgar Gilkes moved to Stockton and five years later he retired to Grange-over-Sands.

Known for: Edgar Gilkes was a locomotive manufacturer who became mayor of Middlesbrough in 1863.  He was appointed locomotive engineer for the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company in 1839.  He became manager of the Tees Engine Works in Middlesbrough in 1843. In 1844 he took over the works in partnership with Isaac Wilson, under the name of Gilkes, Wilson and Company. The company built steam locomotives and Edgar Gilkes was actively involved in the design of the engines. In 1865 the company became Hopkins, Gilkes and Company Tees-side Iron and Engine Works. They had four blast furnaces at the works. The company built bridges such as the Albert Bridge over the River Thames as well as local bridges such as the Ha’penny Bridge at Saltburn. They also supplied the iron for the Tay Bridge, which collapsed in 1879 while a passenger train was crossing. The company ceased trading and Edgar Gilkes was greatly saddened by the tragedy.  

Died: Edgar Gilkes died on 18th December 1894.

Further Information: “Edgar Gilkes” by Paul Stephenson in the Newsletter of the Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society, no. 106, May 2014.

“Pioneers of the Cleveland Iron Trade” James S. Jeans (1875)