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Henry William Schneider

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Schneider, Henry William (1817–1887), industrialist and politician

1860 Henry William Schneider, Ulverstone Haematite Iron Works, Barrow.[1]


1888 Obituary [2]

. . . . question of smelting ore in Furness had often been mooted, but the immense difficulty of procuring fuel led to a total abandonment of the idea until railway communication had been established, which was in 1857, when Schneider, Hannay and Co took up the question of erecting furnaces.

In 1859, they secured land at Barrow for the purpose of erecting furnaces, this place being selected because of the facilities it afforded for the shipment of hematite pig-iron, which was in large demand in South Wales, Scotland, America, and elsewhere. . . . .

In 1863 it was determined to erect steelworks at Barrow, the principal shareholders of which were the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Schneider, Mr. Hannay, Mr., now Sir James, Ramsden, and the Duke of Buccleuch.

This Company had hardly got to work before it was found that the interests of the Ironworks (belonging exclusively to Messrs. Schneider, Hannay and Co.) clashed with the interests of the Steel Company ; and, moreover, that a large increase in the number of furnaces was desirable, and that the Steelworks, to be successful, should be enlarged.

This led to an amalgamation of the interests of the two Companies, and on the 1st of January, 1866, Schneider, Hannay and Co., as a firm, ceased to exist, and the Barrow Hematite Steel Co, Limited, was formed, of which the Duke of Devonshire became Chairman, with Mr. Schneider, Mr. Hannay, and Sir James Ramsden as directors; but Mr. Hannay retired during the first year. Mr. Schneider, however, remained a director, and was the largest shareholder next to the Duke of Devonshire. When the Company was formed, there mere six furnaces in operation and two ready to go into blast.

In 1887 the number of furnaces was fourteen, and thirteen of these were in blast, producing 350,000 tons of pig-iron per annum; while the steelworks were producing in rails, tinplate, bars, angles, billets, and merchant steel, including fish-plates and shipbuilding steel, girders, steel boiler-plates, &C., about 220,000 tons per annum.

Mr. Schneider was a promoter and a director of the Barrow Flax and Jute Works from its commencement, and also of the Barrow Shipbuilding Company; and in connection with both of these institutions he not only devoted great energies, but contributed liberally towards the necessary capital. . . . [more]


1888 Obituary [3]

HENRY WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, a director and one of the founders of the Barrow Iron and Steel Company, was born in 1817, and died at his residence, Bowness-on-Windermere, on the 11th November 1887. He was descended from an ancient Swiss family, belonging to the Canton of Berne, and his father was a merchant and financial agent in London, to which business the deceased was brought up.

Mr. Schneider, who is entitled to rank as one of the pioneers of the Furness iron industry, first visited that district in 1839 on a touring expedition. He happened accidentally to hear of the great mineral wealth of the locality, which was strongly put before him by a draughtsman in the employ of Messrs. John Taylor & Sons, who were then the principal owners of Coniston Copper Mines. After spending a week in the district, Mr. Schneider accidentally fell in with the agent of the Duke of Devonshire (then Earl of Burlington), who managed his Grace's slate quarries at Kirkby. This gentleman took Mr. Schneider to see the ancient workings of the Park Mines at the north end of Park Farm, and this resulted in Mr. Schneider determining to try his fortune in exploring for iron ore on the Earl of Burlington's property. It was in the early part of 1840 that he took a lease of this property. He worked it with very moderate success for two years.

He certainly came across small deposits of iron ore, but they were not worth working, and there did not appear to be a deposit of ore of any moment in that part of the Earl of Burlington's property which he was then exploring. Mr. Schneider, in the meantime, had purchased Whitriggs Mine, which he worked with indifferent success for some years. In 1845 he took a lease of Mouzell estate, which he explored successfully from that period up to the year 1878. During the course of the year 1850, Mr. Schneider having practically ceased working at the Park Mines for some years, the agent of the then Earl of Burlington called upon him either to surrender his lease or to make some further trials. Mr. Schneider then determined to sink a pit on the site he had himself fixed upon in the year 1840, when, meeting with no support from his mining confreres in the district, he abandoned the idea. Since, however, it had become a question of either surrendering the lease or making further trials, he determined to sink a pit. In this way, with the small outlay of some £50, the Park Mine deposit was discovered. The discovery of this great bed of ore laid the foundation for the now important town of Barrow. Other discoveries of ore were being made in other parts of the district meanwhile, but it was the great find at Park which led through subsequent events to the erection at Barrow of blast furnaces. Some idea of the magnitude of the deposit at Park may be formed when it is stated that the average quantity of ore mined for 34 years has been 250,000 tons per annum, or eight and a half million tons in the aggregate. The royalty paid on this quantity, up to 1886, is stated to have been £535,000.

Mr. Schneider being still engaged in commercial business in London, and not being able to devote the whole of his attention to the mines, the business of which had so largely increased, arranged in the early part of 1853 to assume as partner the late Mr. Robert Hannay. The question of smelting ore in Furness had often been mooted, but the difficulty experienced in procuring fuel led to the abandonment of the idea until railway communication had been established in 1857, when Messrs. Schneider, Hannay & Co. again took up the question of erecting furnaces.

In 1859 they blew in their first furnaces at Barrow. At this period coke was brought to Barrow via Leeds and Lancaster, but the distance being great, and the route an expensive one, overtures were made to Messrs. Schneider, Hannay & Co. to join with Messrs. Pease in the construction of a railway to connect the north-west of England with the coalfields of Durham - from Barnard Castle to Tebay - and accordingly they became large shareholders in this company. This railway was opened about 1862.

In 1847, and up to the time when the furnaces at Barrow commenced smelting operations, the quantity of ore exported from Barrow by sea amounted to something like 500,000 tons per annum. Mr. Schneider at this time became the owner of a line of steamers for carrying this ore from Barrow to South Wales, and he also used a fleet of flat-bottomed boats for the purpose of taking the ore across Morecambe Bay to Morecambe, from which place it was afterwards taken by rail to the Durham and Newcastle district. Prior to the erection of the furnaces at Barrow, and before the Furness Railway Co. opened their line, the ore was brought by carts from the mines to Barrow, at a cost of something like 3s. 6d. per ton.

In 1863 it was determined to erect steel-works at Barrow, the principal shareholders being the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Schneider, Mr. Hannay, Mr. James (now Sir James) Ramsden, and the Duke of Buccleuch. This led to an amalgamation of the interests of the two companies, and on the 1st of January 1866, Schneider, Hannay & Co., as a firm, ceased to exist, and the Barrow Hematite Steel Company was formed, of which the Duke of Devonshire became chairman, and Mr. J. T. Smith the general manager. Mr. Schneider remained a director till his death, and was the largest shareholder next to the Duke of Devonshire.

When the Barrow Hematite Steel Company was formed on January 1st, 1866, there were six furnaces in operation, and two ready to go into blast. The present number of furnaces is fourteen, producing 350,000 tons of pig iron per annum; while the steel-works, when in full operation, produce rails, tin-plate bars, angles, billets, and merchant steel, including fish-plates and shipbuilding steel, girders, steel boiler-plates, etc, to the extent of over 200,000 tons per annum.

Mr. Schneider was a director of the Barrow Shipbuilding Company and the Barrow Flax and Jute Works, in both of which concerns he was a large shareholder. He was Mayor of Barrow for three years, and an alderman of the borough from the date of the Charter of Incorporation in 1867. He was elected member of Parliament for Norwich in 1857, and again in 1859. In 1860, and again in 1865, he was unseated on petition, and at the election of 1885, when he stood for Barrow, he was defeated by Mr. David Duncan.

He was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute.


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