Howdenshire History

Jolliffe and Banks: Civil Engineers at Goole

Goole History > Goole People & Families > Jolliffe and Banks


Here are two names associated with the development of the "new settlement" of Goole, and taken together as the name of the firm, founded in the early 1800s, of contractors of public works. Jolliffe and Banks are remembered locally for, among other things, the excavation of the first docks at Goole, following the signing of the contract for this purpose in 1822. The following month, Banks was knighted to become Sir Edward Banks, but what else of interest do we know about these two men, apart from the naming of Banks Terrace and the Banks' Arms Hotel, the building of which commenced in 1824 and which was renamed The Lowther about 1835 following the death of Banks? Nothing in Goole was named after Mr Jolliffe.

The story really starts with the history of the Jolliffe family (although it was Edward Banks who would eventually become the chief controller of the firm) and the stone quarries that existed on the estate and manor of Merstham, Surrey, which William Jolliffe of Petersfield (where he was Member of Parliament) purchased in 1788. The quarries were inherited by his son, Hylton Jolliffe, in 1802. He and his younger brother, William John Jolliffe, were both magistrates at Reigate, Surrey and, as such, were approached by the sponsoring committee of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway. From that moment the history of the Jolliffe quarries and railway building were bound together and the Jolliffe brothers became members of the new Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Iron Railway Company. Whilst his brother, Hylton, went into partnership with Edward Banks, William was ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England.

Edward Banks had been born about 1769 and had raised himself from the humble station of a day labourer to become an established and competent builder, fit to enter into the partnership. It was not long however before Hylton Jolliffe found his time taken up with other matters and he decided to hand over his share in the business to his brother, now the Reverend William Jolliffe. The new partnership became one of the principal engineering contractors in the country. 1824 must have been a busy year for the firm. Not only was there the work being done at Goole but also they commenced the building of the "new" London Bridge over the Thames, for which Merstham stone was used. The firm's other main undertakings were the Waterloo, Southwark and Staines Bridges, and the naval works at Sheerness dockyards.

Edward Banks died in 1835. While working as a day labourer about forty years earlier on the Merstham tram-road, he had been struck with the beauty of the neighbouring hamlet of Chipstead and it was there that he desired that he might be buried in its quiet churchyard.

I do not know when or where the Reverend William Jolliffe died, but his son, William George Hylton Jolliffe, lived and died at Merstham House, near Reigate in Surrey, in 1876. Ten years earlier he had been raised to the peerage and had taken the title of Baron Hylton, the name of his uncle and his grandmother's family name (she was from the baronial family of Hylton, of Hylton Castle). He had named his eldest son Hylton; he became a captain in the Coldstream Guards, and was killed on the heights before Sebastopol in 1854 during the Crimean War.

An interesting footnote about the Jolliffes' Merstham Quarry -- in 1867 the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel (now remembered for the annual Nobel Prizes), carried out a series of tests there to evaluate the use of dynamite in quarry blasting.

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