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British Industrial History

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John Rogerson

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John Rogerson (1828-1894)


1894 Obituary [1]

JOHN ROGERSON was born at Morpeth, Northumberland, on the 9th of September, 1828.

At sixteen years of age he entered the office of Sopwith and Scott, civil engineers, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. He was then for a time in the service of the Northumberland and Durham Coal Mining Co, a combination of northern coal owners formed for the purpose of better utilizing 'small' coal.

On the failure of that company he became agent on Newcastle Quayside for Longridge and Co of the Bedlington Ironworks and for Joseph Cowen and Co of Blaydon. Shortly before the Crimean War he was fortunate enough to make some shipping investments which turned out to be very successful and led to his becoming considerably interested in shipping property. In 1856 and following years he secured large contracts in America for railroad materials.

In 1862 an Act was obtained for the regulation of the passenger traffic of the Tyne and Mr. Rogerson turned his attention to the improvement of the ferry-steamers on that river. He introduced improved steamers known as the Red Star Line and subsequently opened a shipbuilding and repairing yard. These steamers were afterwards taken over by the Tyne General Ferry Co, of which Mr. Rogerson was for some years managing director. In 1875 they were stated to be carrying four million passengers per annum.

On the retirement of the late Charles Attwood from the Weardale Iron and Coal Co, Mr. Rogerson was appointed general manager of that large and prosperous undertaking, a position which he held for several years. When Mr. Attwood died in 1875, he also became owner of that gentleman’s works at Wolsingham, to the improvement and development of which he devoted much attention and large sums of money.

Mr. Rogerson also purchased the group of blast furnaces at Ferry Hill owned by the Rosedale and Ferry Hill Iron Co. They had not been worked, however, for some years and he did not attempt to re-start them. In addition to his own works, Mr. Rogerson was also connected, more or less actively, with the Skinningrove Iron Co and with many other large mercantile undertakings in the North of England, and not long before his death he was appointed a director of Palmer’s Iron and Shipbuilding Co.

He was a Justice of the Peace for the county of Durham. Mr. Rogerson died suddenly in London on the 6th of February, 1894, from failure of the action of the heart resulting from angina pectoris, to which he had been a victim for two years or more.

His success was undoubtedly due to great business capacity, untiring energy and strict integrity. These qualities caused him to be highly esteemed and respected by all with whom he had dealings, and his genuinely sympathetic disposition gained the confidence of the many thousands of work people who at different times and places were under his control. His favourite study as a recreation was geology, for which he had a great taste, and he was very fond of travelling, having at different times visited besides every country in Europe-Egypt, India, China, Japan and America, and on one occasion making the circuit of the globe.

Mr. Rogerson was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 2rid of March, 1875.


1894 Obituary [2]

JOHN ROGERSON, who died in London on February 6, 1894, was widely known in the iron and coal trades. He was practically a self-made man.

Born at Morpeth in 1828, he began his career as a clerk in the office of the Northumberland and Durham Coal Mining Company. He afterwards became the agent for Messrs. Longridge & Co., of the Bedlington Ironworks, and for Messrs. Joseph Cowan & Co., of Blaydon Burn. He also acted as fitter for Barrington Colliery, and for Cowen's Garesfield Coal and Coke Co.

He was fortunate enough to make some investments in shipping shortly before the Crimean war. These investments turned out to be highly successful, and led to his becoming considerably interested in shipping property.

Between the years 1856 and 1859 the great development of railways in the United States created a heavy demand for iron and railway plant. Mr. Rogerson visited America at the time, and made important contracts with some of the railway companies. These contracts were fulfilled, but the civil war broke out before the railways were completed, and a good deal of the iron was used for military purposes.

On the resignation of the late Mr. Charles Attwood from the direction of the Weardale Iron and Coal Company, Mr. Rogerson succeeded him, and was for several years the manager of that company.

On the death of Mr. Attwood, Mr. Rogerson became owner of that gentleman's private ironworks at Wolsingham. To the improvement and development of these works he gave great attention. He was a shareholder in nearly all the larger mercantile concerns in the North of England, and a director of some.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1870.


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