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Encyclopedia > Joseph Aspdin

Joseph Aspdin (178820 March 1855) was an English mason, bricklayer and inventor who patented Portland cement on 21 October 1824. The eldest son of a Leeds bricklayer, he began using artificial cements made by burning ground limestone and clay together. He named it 'Portland' as he thought its colour resembled Portland Stone. This first true artificial cement was the first real improvement on cement since John Smeaton had made the first modern concrete by mixing powdered brick and adding pebbles as aggregate back in 1756.


Aspdin established his first cement works at Kirkgate in Wakefield (1825-1838), then built a new works on the same site in 1843. The following year, he retired and the business was taken over by his first son, James.


James's younger brother William was also involved in cement manufacture, setting up his own business in Rotherhithe, London (1841) producing a cement employed by Sir Marc Brunel in his Thames Tunnel – this was probably the first major civil engineering project to use such cement. William Aspdin then established a major cement works at Northfleet and Swanscombe in north Kent – and his business later merged with several others to become the Blue Circle corporation.


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Joseph Aspdin Summary (498 words)
Aspdin discovered that the key to making hydraulic cement (cement that would harden when mixed with water) was roasting a mixture of clay and limestone powder in a furnace.
Joseph Aspdin (1788 20 March 1855) was a British mason, bricklayer and inventor who patented Portland cement on 21 October 1824.
In 1853 William Aspdin fled his creditors and went to Germany where he was involved with several cement works of which the last one developed as the foundation for the Alsen Group which was a large exporter to USA and also Australia prior to 1900.
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