Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Robert Ropner

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April 1893.

Sir Emil Hugo Oscar Robert Ropner, 1st Baronet (1838-1924). Shipbuilder, shipowner, and Conservative Member of Parliament. He was known simply as Robert Ropner.

He was born c1838 in Magdeburg, Prussia. He emigrated to England and worked for a coal export concern before building up a fleet of colliers and founding in 1874 the Ropner Shipping Company in Hartlepool.

In 1888 Robert Ropner acquired a shipyard at Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. Ropner established a successful shipbuilding firm, which built many trunk deck ships. No longer limited to hauling coal, Ropner also established a company to operate tramp steamers.

Although the shipyard went into liquidation soon after WWI, the shipping company continued through both World Wars, despite heavy wartime losses of vessels.

Robert Ropner served as High Sheriff of Durham in 1896 and from 1900 to 1910 represented the constituency of Stockton-on-Tees in the House of Commons.

In 1904 he was created Baronet of Preston Hall, Stockton-on-Tees, in the County Palatine of Durham, and of Skutterskelfe Hall, Hutton Rudby, in the North Riding of York.

Ropner died February 1924, aged 85, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son John Henry Ropner. Other sons, Emil Hugo Oscar Robert Ropner, the younger, and Leonard Ropner, were shipbuilders.

His third son William Ropner, a shipowner, was the father of the Conservative politician Sir Leonard Ropner, 1st Baronet of Thorp Perrow.

1924 Obituary[1]

"The late Sir Robert Ropner, Bart.— The well-known North of England shipowner and shipbuilder. Sir Robert Ropner, Bart., died at Preston Hall, Stockton-on-Tees, on Tuesday last in his 86th year. He was the son of Mr. John Henry Ropner of Magdeburg, and was educated in Germany. Coming to England in his youth he settled in Stockton, and after a partnership in the shipping trade with Mr. Thomas Appleby, he founded the firms of R. Ropner and Company, shipowners, and the Ropner Shipbuilding and Repairing Company, at Stockton. Success followed his effort, and he was able to devote a part of his time to public affairs, representing Stockton in Parliament for ten years. He was a great benefactor to the district in which his work was conducted and Ropner Park, Stockton, which he presented at a cost of 50,0001., forms a memorial to his generosity and the interest he had in the general welfare."

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