LETTER: Can you help in research into Clitheroe eggbox inventor?

I AM currently conducting research for Clitheroe Civic Society.

Stephen Clarke, in his “Clitheroe in its Railway Days”, published in 1900, refers (on page 236) to Jas. Robinson, of Brooklands. This man invented a honeycomb egg box, which had hexagonal compartments instead of the previously used square ones.

So radical was this invention that he took out national and international patents. Clarke was clearly correct, as I have found a reference in the Otago Witness (New Zealand newspaper) of September 7th, 1899, as follows:

“The patent ‘Honeycomb’ egg box, by Mr James Robinson, of Clitheroe, is simply a copy of nature – the bee’s cell. When the box is seen for the first time the thought naturally arises, ‘Why hasn’t this been thought of long since?’ as it is obvious more eggs can be packed in a given space in the honeycomb or hexagonal cells than in the square divisions hitherto used. Less space means less size and weight of box, which again means less cost in carriage. The cells are made of patent leather-board, and between each layer is a piece of felt. The boxes are hand-made, with dove-tailed corners, of yellow pine and are well finished and varnished. The inventor claims that at least 25 per cent of railway charges can be saved by the adoption of this box. The capacity of the boxes ranges from four to 60 dozen each.”

Surely James Robinson must have been famous, yet even with diligent assistance of the staff I can find nothing else about him in Clitheroe Library. Can anyone please tell me anything more about Mr Robinson?

PETER DEL STROTHER,

Simonstone

(e-mail: pjdsconsulting@gmail.com)