James Wilson Booth

James was born in Cork, Ireland in 1849 the son of John Peter Booth and Harriet. His father was involved in the large manufacturers Booth and Fox at Lavitts Quay, Cork who were the inventors and patent holders of the Down Quilt.

James and his siblings Frank and Caroline moved from Cork to live with their Step Mother Hannah Booth at Bristol where James became an apprentice engineer and in 1874 he married Sarah Cridland.

The newly married couple moved to St Pancras where he obtained work for Ramsomes in London and developed the pattern for an iron piano frame. In 1889 he patented the design of string fastenings for pianos although the following year his business as declared bankrupts..  This led to him starting a piano business as an agent for Colebrook Dale Iron Foundry.

James and   Sarah were to have seven Children – Sons Christopher, and Paul and Daughters Christabel, Hannah, Kathleen, Jeanine, and Sarah.

James was fond of sailing and purchased a yacht called Sarandon which he based at Burnham on Crouch and led to his becoming an early member of the Royal Burnham Yacht Club. During his life more yachts were purchased and sold including Firefly, Moreen, Cateran, Idris and Danea.

James became an excellent yachtsman making the trip to Ireland at least three times on the Cateran yacht.

The Booth family moved to Western Road, Burnham on Crouch in 1900 before moving to the Limes, Crouch Road in about 1913..

The regular trips to Burnham made James consider a venture based in the town as he considered that the area would prove a health place for employed to live and work in a foundry. He agreed a partnership with R T palmer and they purchased land off station road ( now known as Foundry lane) and started the Foundry Ironworks  as Booth and Palmer. James brought his knowledge to the fore and the speciality of the business was to cast metal Piano Frames.

Booth and Palmer grew quickly and a few years later became a company with a change of name to Booth and Brooks with 250 employees making more piano frames than any other foundry in the world. As technology grew then so did they by casting thousands of turntables for the newly popular gramophones.

Burnham Foundry grew in strength under the leadership of James with sons Christopher and Paul both playing a large part in its development.

The remaining sections of Mildmay Ironworks after redevelopment

James never forgot his heritage and was a strong advocate of Home Rule for Ireland and so from the1880’s onwards he was involved in the political campaign to gain independence. He became a familiar figure in parliamentry circles, especially with the Irish MP’s and often held meetings with well known political figures in his Burnham home.

A regular visitor and good friend was Mr T P O’Connor who was a fellow Nationalist, a newspaper editor and a MP of such long standing that he became Father of the House.

Within British politics, James was a member of the Liberals and was president of the Burnham Liberal Association and a prominent member of the Liberal Club in London.

As a dog lover he was president of the Irish Woolfhound Association.

James was appointed as a JP and performed regularly on the Southminster bench. He had a particular interest in mental health and visited a number of mental hospitals and also was a regular visitor to Chelmsford Prison to check on prisoner welfare.

His wife, Sarah, died in 1925 after which in March 1926 he remarried  to Bertha Christina Fox, who like James had been born in Cork and was connected to Booth and Fox, and moved to Bournemouth before returning  to Essex and living at Tower House, Springfield.

James died of 10 April 1931 at Tower House after a sudden illness having been at Burnham just a few days earler.

The funeral service, conducted by Rev J M Carrack of Steeple, took place on 15 April 1931 at St Mary’s Church, Burnham on Crouch.

The coffin was draped with the flags of the Royal Burnham Sailing Club, The National Liberal Club and the Irish Ensign and was borne by Mr G Whiting, Mr S Pudney, Mr P Dowsett, Mr P Parsons, Mr C Harvey, Mr R Halliday, Mr W Beard and Mr C Spooner all of which were employees of the Mildmay Ironworks.

The service was followed by a burial in the cemetery alongside his deceased wife, Sarah.

The mourners included –

Sons and Daughters  Mr & Mrs C C Booth, Mr P M Booth, Mr & Mrs Parsons, Mr & Mrs Alleyne and Miss K M Booth. Grandchilren – Masters Paddy & John Booth, Misses Monica & Sheila Booth.

Representative Roles - Mr Herbert Fox (Cousin and Managing Director of Booth & Fox),  Mr S G Turner, W J Robins and S Martin Heard ( Directors of Booth and Brooks), Mr Richard Chisnall ( Clyde Steel Works, Sheffield and National Liberal Club), Mr Henry Kipling (James Dowling), Mr Charles R Gowers ( Maldon Ironworks), Mr F Smith ( Booth and Fox), Mr Walter E Davies and Mr J A Sinclair ( National Liberal Club),Mr Herbert Sadd JP ( Maldon Divisional Liberal Club), Mr G N Ritchie ( Burnham  Liberal Association), Mr G Sangster ( Burnham Young Liberals), G Raby ( CA), W T Potts CBE CC , E Pipe and C J Cranfield ( Justices of the Southminster Bench), Mr F H Bright ( Clerk to the Justices), Mr Lacey ( District Manager of LNER)

Individual Mourners – Dr & Mrs J F McDonald, Inspector Hubbard, Dr R W Quennell, Dr R Lloyd, Rev E L Lewis, Major Guthrie, Captain F W Watson MBE, Mr & Mrs P W Petticrow, Mr E Dilliway, Mr C E Marsh, Mr H Parnell, Mr A W Parnell, Mr A B Croxson, Mr J Parker, Mr & Mrs J W Jones, Mr A W Bell, Mr R Elliot, Mr & Mrs Wilson, Mr E Harris, Mr W J Hopgood, Mr W J Newman, Mr E W Sadler, Mr H Becher, Mr N S Carr, Mr J F Watson, Mr S Dale, Mr & Mrs G F Bacon, Mr S Bacon, Mr J Bacon, Mr G Tunbridge, Mr T Taylor, Mr A Bowman ( for many years foreman at Mildmay Ironworks), Mr W C Clarke, Mr H Billinghurst, Mr W Carter, Mr A Carter, Mr H Nethercoat, Mr & Mrs H F Bawtree, Mr J H Jackson, Mr H A Savage, Mr & Mrs H P Hood, Mr M King, Mr J Whiting, Mr R J S Tucker, Mr J Cook, Mr P P Sabel, Mr C Bridge, Mr E T Brooks, Mr F G Hawkins, Mr & Mrs G Brown, Mr E Duplantier and about fifty of the workers of the Mildmay Ironworks.