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Sir Samuel Davidson (1846 - 1921):
Tea producer; inventor; businessman


Samuel Cleland Davidson was born in Ballymachan, County Down, youngest of eight children of James Davidson who had a flour-milling business in Belfast. Samuel attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution until he was 15, when he joined an engineering firm, before in 1864 going to India where his family part-owned a tea plantation. Samuel was a very talented engineer and over the following decades was to be awarded some 120 patents for various types of machinery though at first they were directly related to tea production, particularly drying; some of his machines were installed in ships including the Titanic and some vessels of the German Hochseeflotte or High Seas Fleet. The firm he established in 1881 to manufacture his inventions exclusively was named Sirocco, after the notoriously dry wind of North Africa; in 1898 it became Davidson & Co Ltd and by 1900 had a workforce of 1,000 having started with only seven. He died shortly after the award of his knighthood. His eldest son, Captain James Davidson, was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, generally agreed to have been the blackest day in British military history.



Born: 18 November 1846
Died: 18 August 1921
Richard Froggatt