Thomas Robert Sparks

(10/11/1855 - 26/04/1915)

Thomas Robert Sparks, born on the 10th of November 1955, was the son of Richard William (1808-1885) and Rose Bernard Sparks (1815-1868). His family history traced back to Archbishop Ambrose Ussher, known for fixing dates in the Authorised Version of the Bible. Thomas had an older brother, Richard Noble (1850-1904), and a sister, Margaret Ann Sparks (1852-1918), who tragically perished in the sinking of the RMS Leinster during World War I.

On the 7th of July 1890, Thomas married Sarah Emily Moss, born on the 4th of September 1858, in Birkenhead, England. At the time, Thomas worked as an agent for a tea company. Their first son, Thomas Robert Sparks, was born on the 15th of September 1893, while they resided at 2 Thornville (now demolished), located where Rutland Avenue flats stand today. Their second son, Richard William, was born on the 19th of August 1895, at 5 Willow Place, Booterstown.

While living in Thornville in 1893, Thomas filed a patent for his invention – “Improvement in baths, chiefly improved holder or attachment for carrying railway tickets and the like”.

“THOMAS ROBERT SPARKS 2 Thornvilla Crumlin Co. Dublin Ireland Tea Agent do hereby declare the nature of this invention to be as follows :- Baths made of iron or other material, with rings or other contrivance, fastened so as to appear upon the inside. A piece of Turkey toweling or other suitable material with rings or loops attached to the edges,a cord or tape is passed through said rings or loops, by which the toweling or other material is connected with the rings or other contrivance upon the inside of the bath, thus forming a platform or hammock suspended near the bottom of the bath, upon which an infant or other person can be placed for the purpose of washing or bathing.”

In 1895, the family had moved to 5 Willow Place, Booterstown and Thomas applied for his second patent – “GB189414628A Improvements in Pneumatic Saddles for Bicycles, Velocipedes, and Tricycles.”

“THOMAS ROBERT SPARKS, 5 Willow Place Booterstown Co..Dublin  do hereby declare the nature of this invention to be as follows.:-
A saddle the base of which consists of a formation of wire, chain work or of other material which will support the air cushion and allow ‘the outside air to circulate freely round its base, preference being given to a material or construction having some elasticity, said formation to be suspended from a round or flat rim preferably of steel, and of the usual shape of a bicycle saddle, but tur,ed upwards at the front to the height of one or more inches’; said rim may be made of one piece with the frame which connects it with the bar of ,the bicycle or it may .be connected with it by bolts & nuts or otherwise.”

By 1911, Thomas worked as a collector for the Dublin Mercantile Association, residing at 15 Lomond Avenue, Fairview. Tragically, Thomas passed away on April 26th, 1915, and was laid to rest in the family plot. His son, Richard, met a fatal accident in Buenos Aires in June 1926, at the age of 31. Sarah, Thomas’s wife, lived on until the 12th of September 1953, reaching the age of 95. Through his inventions and family legacy, Thomas Robert Sparks left a lasting impact on his community and beyond.

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