Josiah Gimson
(Photo: Humanist Heritage)

Josiah Gimson, the son of a carpenter and builder, served an apprenticeship with ironfounders Cort & Co before establishing what had, by 1880, become Leicester’s largest civil engineering company.

Originally based in Welford Road, it moved into the purpose-built Vulcan Works on Humberstone Road from where it provided the beam engines for the Abbey pumping station; a key part of the Joseph Gordon’s visionary scheme to address the shortcomings of Leicester’s Victorian sewerage system. Also a town councillor, Gimson was a freethinker who played a central role in the creation of Leicester’s Secular Hall in Humberstone Gate in 1881.

Josiah Gimson was a major influence on his children, two of whom have Stoneygate links. Architect and furniture designer Ernest Gimson who designed the Grade 2 listed Inglewood in Ratcliffe Road and Grade 2 listed White House in North Avenue. And also company director Arthur Gimson, for whose family the latter was built.

Josiah’s nephew (also Josiah but known as ‘Jess’) lived with his family at Stoneygate House between c1900 and his death c1913. His son Kingsley and his wife Christiane continued to live there until their deaths in 1959.