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British Industrial History

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John Robinson (1823-1877)

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1823 Born in Rochdale, son of Thomas Robinson (1787-1859).

1846 Married Rachael Isherwood in Rochdale.

1851 Timber merchant, with partner, employed 36 men and 5 boys, lived in Rochdale with Rachael Robinson 23, Jane Robinson 3, James Salkeld Robinson 2, Philip Robinson 19 Mo[1]

1861 Timber merchant and maker of novel cutting machines, employing 250 men and boys, lived in Rochdale with Rachael Robinson 33, Jane Robinson 13, Philip Henry Robinson 10, Thomas Nield Robinson 7, William Edward Robinson 5, Sarah Elizh Robinson 3, Charles John Robinson 1[2]

1865 John Robinson, Thomas Robinson and Son, Engineers, Rochdale.[3]

1871 Alderman, Justice of the Peace, Machinist employing 600 men, lived in Rochdale with Rachael Robinson 43, Jane Robinson 23, James S Robinson 22, in business with his father, machinist, Philip Hy Robinson 20, in business with his father, machinist, Thomas M Robinson 17, in business with his father, machinist, Charles J Robinson 11, Frederick Robinson 9, Marion Robinson 8, Arthur M Robinson 6, Lillian Theresa Robinson 5[4]

1877 December 21st. Died.[5]

1878 Obituary [6]

JOHN ROBINSON, youngest son of Thomas Robinson, the founder of the firm of Thomas Robinson and Son, Rochdale, was born in that town on 13th May 1823.

Whilst still a youth he was given full control and management of the business, then in its infancy; and at once set himself to develop his ideas on engineering subjects, for which he had always evinced great aptitude.

His father's decease in 1859, just when the foundation of the business had been laid, left him sole representative of the firm. Some idea of the rapid development of the business under his control may be gathered from the fact that, whereas when he first undertook the management he had some 40 or 50 men under him, at the present time there are not less than 1,200 men employed in the works, and these form the largest manufactory of wood-cutting machinery in existence.

Mr. Robinson's first improvements in this direction were in machines for making moulds and in log frames. His ingenuity was next devoted to machinery for railway carriage and wagon building, in which he was very successful, supplying numerous tools to the carriage works at Swindon, Derby, and Newton Heath. His last efforts were directed to improvements in barrel and cask-making machinery.

Mr. Robinson was a magistrate for the county of Lancaster, and an active town-councillor of Rochdale, of which he was mayor in 1866-7.

During the last three years of his life he was obliged to leave the business to the control of his three eldest sons, owing to a painful malady brought on by overwork, to which he eventually succumbed on 21st December 1877 at his residence, Mount Falinge, Rochdale, at the comparatively early age of fifty-four.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1865, and in 1868 contributed a paper on the American dovetailing machine employed at Isis works (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1868 page 81); and at the summer meeting of the Institution in 1875 his works were visited by the Members at his invitation.

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