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Stepping into Armley’s history with Samson Fox – ‘The Man who Captured Sunlight’

By Susan Johnson

Born into poverty in Bradford in 1838 Samson Fox went on to become one of the fathers of the industrial revolution, with his many inventions and his philanthropic ideas.

Fox started work as an overlocker in a Bradford textile mill at a very young age, however his sights were set on becoming an engineer.

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In 1861 he issued his first patent which was followed by many others. He set up the Leeds Forge Co at Castletown Field, Armley, in 1874 and patented amongst many others the corrugated boiler flue, pressed and steel undercarriage and Fox water gas which lit up the thoroughfares of Harrogate. The forge produced best Yorkshire iron for locomotives and marine engine parts.

Samson Fox was very generous to his workers providing affordable housing, and winter fuel to the poor. He moved to Harrogate with his family and bought a fine house Grove House and later became Mayor of Harrogate as well as JP for both Leeds and Harrogate.

A play about the life of Samson Fox called The Man who Captured Sunlight is being performed at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, on Friday 23 September 2022 at 2.30pm and 7pm. Details and tickets here.

Read more of Susan’s ‘Stepping Back’ column here. The column looks at the history which is etched beneath our feet into heritage paving stones in Armley Town Street.

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