Sir Edward Banks (1770-1835), wearing blue coat, white chemise, stock and cravat. Gold frame. Octagonal, 53mm (2 1/16in) high Literature: D. Foskett, Miniatures Dictionary and Guide, 1987, p. 615.
William Patten's full-scale oil portrait of Sir Edward Banks resides at the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 5504).
Edward Banks was born at Hutton Hang near Richmond, North Yorkshire. After spending two years at sea, Banks returned to Yorkshire in 1789 and became involved in a number of construction projects as a day labourer.
In 1791 Banks became a contractor on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Two years later he worked under the engineer, John Rennie (17611821) on the Lancaster and Ulverston canals and the two maintained a fruitful professional relationship throughout Rennie's lifetime. As Banks' professional profile and work load increased he went into business with Colonel Hylton Jolliffe MP (1773-1843), founding the firm Joliffe & Banks in the early 1800s. In 1807, the Rev. William John Jolliffe (17741835) replaced his brother in the partnership at which time the firm rapidly grew to become one of the major contractors for public works.
Over the next three decades, Banks & Jolliffe were responsible for important bridges, dockyards, lighthouses and prisons, all of which contributed to Britain's commercial strength and domestic security. Rennie had established himself as the principal bridge builder in the capital and contracted Jolliffe & Banks to build with him: Waterloo Bridge (181117); the piling, masonry, and centering of Southwark Bridge (181419) - the largest cast-iron bridge ever built; the new thousand-foot granite London Bridge (182431); the bridge over the Serpentine at Hyde Park (18214) and Staines Bridge (1827-1832).
He married firstly in 1793, Nancy Franklin (d.1815) with whom he had five sons and three daughters and secondly in 1821, Amelia Pytches (d.1836), Rev. Joliffe's sister-in-law.
Banks lived on Adelphi Terrace, Westminster and had country properties at Oxney Court, Dover, and Sheppey Court in Kent. Banks was knighted on 12 June 1822 for his skill and perseverance in building Waterloo and Southwark bridges - the first knighthood bestowed on an engineer. He died at his daughter's house at Tilgate, Sussex, on 5 July 1835. Obituaries remarked on his integrity, piety, and benevolence.