A History of YALDING, Kent, England




George Edward Jeffery was baptised in our church on 5th February 1837, son of James Gardiner Jeffery, farmer of Fox Pitts, top of Yalding hill. Born on this local farm, he became qualified as an agricultural engineer.


Thomas Ashby had been in the business since 1844 and is described in the 1861 Census as a leather merchant, iron and brass founder and agricultural engineer. However, he was probably mainly concerned with the financial side of the firm. Henry Smith’s death in 1859 and the leaving of Robert Smith shortly after had left him without an experienced practical engineer. To remedy this he took into partnership in October 1864 George Jeffery “whose extensive experience and practical knowledge eminently qualify him for the position ─ in general superintendence of the manufacturing department”.

The circumstances of his becoming a partner are not certain. He may have been in Stamford for some time and it is possible that he was already working for Ashby. He married Ashby’s daughter Mary in 1865.

In 1866 Robert Luke (1839-1909), the firm’s bookkeeper also became a partner. He was a son of Stamford’s Inland Revenue Supervisor. There now followed a series of title changes. Ashby died in 1870. In 1876 Jeffery and Luke dissolved their remaining partnership. Luke moved to Manchester to found Luke and Spencer Ltd., emery wheel manufacturers. So, in just over ten years the firm’s title changed three times: Ashby, Jeffery and Co. (1864-1866), Ashby Jeffery and Luke and Co. (1866-1876), G. E Jeffery and Co.

Jeffery operated on his own only from January 1876 until June 1877. He then entered into partnership with Edward Christopher Blackstone (1850-1916), a young engineering draughtsman from London. Once again the firm’s title had to change, to Jeffery and Blackstone and Co.



Manufacturers of Agricultural Machinery.


Edward Blackstone was the son of Joseph Blackstone, a Camden Town doctor who had moved from Beverley in Yorkshire to set up his practice. He, Edward, was educated at Kings College and served an apprenticeship with the hydraulic engineers J. and H. Gwynne of Hammersmith.

George Jeffery retired in 1882 to live in Ryhall, a small village about two miles east of Stamford. The reason for his retirement at the early age of forty-five is not known. It may possibly have been a result of a serious fire at the St Peter’s Street works in January that year. Despite the retirement of George Jeffery, the firm retained its title of Jeffery and Blackstone and Co. for another six years.

By 1886 the St Peter’s Street works were increasingly becoming inadequate for the business. Also the company’s lease on the site was due to expire the next year. It was therefore decided that a site for a completely new factory should be found. Ten acres of land owned by the Marquis of Exeter adjacent to the great Eastern railway’s Stamford to Essendine branch line on the eastern edge of the town was chosen. Six acres were purchased and a further four acres were leased from the Marquis. A very significant deal, as this was the first land outside the Borough on which the Marquis has allowed any form of development.