This memorial was built in 1875 to mark this parish as the birthplace of James Brindley (1716-1772). Brindley became one of the leading engineers of the 1700s. He is particularly remembered for leading a ‘canal boom’, surveying and establishing over 350 miles of waterways in his lifetime.
The collections at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery include this gold mourning ring, commissioned by James Brindley and made by William Nodes, London. The inscription around the band reads, “JAMES BRINDLEY OB 27 SEP 1772 AET 56”.
Brindley left several of these rings to his close friends on his death in 1772. The museum was able to purchase one of these rings during the Heritage Lottery Funded project – Enlightenment!
After completing an apprenticeship with a local millwright, Brindley established his own business at Leek, and then Burslem, in nearby Staffordshire. He soon built a reputation as a fine engineer and became a national hero after his pioneering work developing a canal system across England.
In 1771 Brindley was caught in a rain storm whilst surveying a new branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal in Staffordshire, between Froghall and Leek. He caught a chill and soon become serious ill. He was attended at home by his friend Erasmus Darwin (future grandfather to Charles Darwin) who also discovered Brindley was suffering from diabetes.
Brindley died in 1772 from complications arising from his diabetes. He was buried on 30 September at Newchapel, Staffordshire.
The Chester Courant printed this in the form of an epitaph
JAMES BRINDLEY lies amongst these Rocks,
He made Canals, Bridges, and Locks,
To convey Water; he made Tunnels
for Barges, Boats, and Air-Vessels;
He erected several Banks,
Mills, Pumps, Machines, with Wheels and Cranks;
He was famous t’invent Engines,
Calculated for working Mines;
He knew Water, its Weight and Strength,
Turn’d Brooks, made Soughs to a great Length;
While he used the Miners’ Blast,
He stopp’d Currents from running too fast;
There ne’er was paid such Attention
As he did to Navigation.
But while busy with Pit or Well,
His Spirits sunk below Level;
And, when too late, his Doctor found,
Water sent him to the Ground.