John Cadman, Lord Cadman of Silverdale

"Our Jack"

john_cadman John Cadman was born in 1877 in “The Villas”, Silverdale and later lived across the road from the mine his Father managed, in Silverdale House, now a very pale shadow of its former grandeur.

John Cadman studied at Audley Grammar School and then transferred to Newcastle-Under-Lyme High School. At the age of 19, Cadman was awarded the first County Mining Scholarship given by Staffordshire to study Mining and Geology at Armstrong College (Durham University) graduating in 1899 with a First Class Honours degree. He became a Fellow of the Geological Society (FGS) in 1900.


He first became assistant colliery manager at Silverdale Colliery and then moved to Scotland as Chief Inspector of Mines.

He almost certainly became aware of the significance of oil through experience of the Staffordshire oilseeps at Longton and the Scottish oilshales.

In September 1904, he became Chief Inspector of Mines in Trinidad and his encounter with the asphalt lakes there, no doubt increased his interest in Petroleum.

On returning from Trinidad, he and his wife Lilian ( nee Harrigan), lived for a time at “The Cloughs” at the bottom of Keele Bank opposite Gallowstree Roundabout.

In 1908 Cadman was appointed Professor of Mining at Birmingham. In 1912, he was the first person in the UK to develop a course in Petroleum Geology, supported by the Principal, Sir Oliver Lodge, also a “Potter” and pioneer of Radio Telegraphy while Professor of Physics at Liverpool University. Cadman’s later interest in telecommunications may have arisen from his contact with Sir Oliver Lodge.

Cadman advised the British Government on the importance of securing Persian oil supplies before the First World War as a consequence of which British warships soon changed from Coal to Oil. He now led the search for oil in Britain including two sites very close to Keele (at Apedale and Werrington). For these services, he was awarded a knighthood in 1918. In 1921 he was appointed as Technical Advisor, in 1923 Director, in 1925 Deputy Chairman and in 1927 Chairman of the Anglo Persian Oil Company. He was certainly one of the first people with any scientific training to hold such a major position in a multi-national company and was instrumental in initiating the application of geophysical techniques in the successful search for oil in Persia.

In 1927, Cadman suggested that the British Geological Survey should consider using geophysical techniques and this led to the first gravity and magnetic surveys in the UK which were carried out with an Eotvos Torsion Balance (shown below) and an Askania Vertical Field Magnetic Balance over the Swynnerton-Butterton Dyke just south of Keele.

eotvos1 eotvos2 eotvos3

Raised to the Peerage in 1937, he took the title Baron Cadman of Silverdale. He was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS) and died in 1941 in Bletchley, but his ashes are interred in the graveyard of St Luke's Church, Silverdale.