Business and Industry Part 1

Part 1 covers business people born before 1800. For Part 2, click here.

Thomas Dallam (Organ Builder) c1570-after 1614.

Born c1570
Died after 1614

Thomas Dallam was an English organ-builder. Dallam served an apprenticeship and became a member of London’s Blacksmiths’ Company. He travelled frequently to build organs on site, going as far as Turkey.

Dallam was baptised in Flixton, Lancashire. His family came from Dallam, near Warrington. A number of his descendants were also organ-builders.

During 1599 and 1600 Dallam went on a voyage from London to Constantinople in order to deliver an organ to the sultan Mehmet III. The instrument was commissioned as a present from Queen Elizabeth I and could be played normally or by clockwork. On arrival, the organ took many weeks to assemble. Dallam kept a diary of his journey, which was published in the nineteenth century by the Hakluyt Society.

Dallam afterwards built many important organs, including that of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Unfortunately, much of his work was destroyed by people hostile to church organs following the outbreak of the English Civil War. In the case of King’s College Chapel, the existing instrument is the product of successive rebuilds, and it is not known for certain whether it contains any of Dallam’s work, but it is believed that some of the case is his.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia. See also Encyclopedia Britannica

James Gibbs (Architect) 1682-1754

Born 23 Dec 1862
Died 5 Aug 1754
Aged 92

James Gibbs, with a ghostly view of his Radcliffe Camera, ca 1750 by Andrea Soldi. Source: National Galleries of Scotland, online collection, public domain.

James Gibbs was one of Britain’s most influential architects. Born in Scotland, he trained as an architect in Rome, and practised mainly in England. He is an important figure whose work spanned the transition between English Baroque architecture and Georgian architecture heavily influenced by Andrea Palladio. Among his most important works are St Martin-in-the-Fields (at Trafalgar Square), the cylindrical, domed Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University, and the Senate House at Cambridge University.

His architectural style did incorporate Palladian elements, as well as forms from Italian Baroque and Inigo Jones (1573–1652), but was most strongly influenced by the work of Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723), who was an early supporter of Gibbs. Overall, Gibbs was an individual who formed his own style independently of current fashions. Architectural historian John Summerson describes his work as the fulfilment of Wren’s architectural ideas, which were not fully developed in his own buildings. Despite the influence of his books, Gibbs, as a stylistic outsider, had little effect on the later direction of British architecture, which saw the rise of Neoclassicism shortly after his death.

Some of his other designs include St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Smithfield, London 1728–68, rebuilding of medieval and later hospital,Gibbs south block demolished 1937 and St John’s College, Oxford, new screen in the Hall, 1743.

His connection with Warrington is for the design of Bank Hall in 1750, which later became our town hall. He is also said to be the designer of Holy Trinity Church at Market Gate.

Read a fuller account of his life in Wikipedia.

John Kay (Clockmaker) 1700s-

Born 1700s

John Kay was an English inventor best known for the development of the spinning frame in 1767, which marked an important stage in the development of textile manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. Born in Warrington in Lancashire, England, Kay was at least the co-constructor of the first spinning frame, and was a claimant to having been its inventor. He is sometimes confused with the unrelated John Kay from Bury, Lancashire, who had invented the flying shuttle, a weaving machine, some thirty years earlier.

In 1763, Kay was working as a clockmaker in Leigh. A neighbour of his, Thomas Highs, was an inventor, and the two collaborated in investigations of machinery for the manufacture of textiles, including the spinning of thread by means of rollers. By 1763 weaving was already automated, but spinning was still done by hand. Lewis Paul had made a machine using mechanical rollers in 1738, but this had not been a commercial success.

In 1767, Kay commenced a working relationship with Richard Arkwright, an entrepreneur. The character of this relationship, and in particular, the competing claims of Arkwright, Kay, and also Highs to primacy as inventors, were subsequently to become the subjects of bitter legal dispute.

Arkwright initially engaged Kay to manufacture brass wheels, ostensibly for use in a perpetual motion machine Six months later, Arkwright engaged Kay to build a roller-based spinning-machine.

In 1768 Arkwright brought Kay to the town of Preston to develop a further prototype. Kay had given his bond to serve Arkwright for 21 years, and to keep their methods secret. To deflect attention, Arkwright told outsiders that he and Kay were developing a longitude machine; even so, the secrecy and the noises coming from their workshop led to accusations of witchcraft.

Read a more detailed account in Wikipedia.

Thomas Greenall (Brewer) 1733-1805

Born 1733
Died 1805
Aged 72

Thomas Greenall belonged to the St Helens family of brewing which descended from Thomas Greenhalgh who died in 1584. The first brewery was built by Thomas Greenall at St Helens in 1762, having acquired his skills from his wife’s family of brewers in the 1750s.

In 1786, Thomas went into partnership with William Orrett, the owner of a number of inns and Thomas Lyon, a landowner and business partner with Joseph Parr and Walter Kerfoot in a banking business. This partnership started brewing in Warrington and built a new brewery at Wilderspool in 1793.

Eventually, the company joined up with John Whitley to form the company Greenall Whitley, although Warrington people, especially the employees, referred to the brewery as Greenalls.

Thomas Greenall’s eldest son, Edward, bought the estate at Walton and it was Edward’s youngest son who first lived at Walton Hall. The family eventually ran into financial problems and sold the 7,000 acre estate to Warrington council in 1941 and it is still in use today as Walton Hall Gardens.

Information retrieved from Wikitree.

John Rylands (Sail Cloth Manufacturer and Wire Maker) 1734-1815

Born 17 Apr 1734
Died 12 Sep 1815
Aged 81

John was born in 1734. Information on his parents and siblings is hard to come by but it is recorded that the family held land in Westhoughton near Bolton as far back as the 13th century, which became the property of Cokersand Abbey in the 15th century.

The family who were minor gentry and Yeomen. They spread from Westhoughton to Culcheth, Risley, Wigan and Warrington manufacturing linen, sail cloth then wire. The earliest known manufacturers were John Rylands (born 1619) and his brother William who employed weavers in Culcheth to manufacture for the Manchester market. Peter Rylands 1665-1773, grandson of John, moved the business to Wigan and his son John (the one we are profiling here) started manufacture of sail cloth in Warrington.

Georgian Warrington benefited from the growth of Liverpool and was well known for its sailcloth. It was said that Warrington supplied almost half of the Navy of Great Britain. He and his son John 1771-1848 were contractors to the Admiralty.

John Rylands married Martha Booth, the daughter of Nathan Booth of Warrington in Lancashire on 4 April 1763. Martha must have died or they were divorced because it is recorded that in 1806 23 Jun 1806 he married Mary Wood (Widow of William Wood)in Cheadle Staffordshire.

He died in Cheadle 12 Sept 1815 and was buried at Checkley Staffordshire on 14th Sept.

His will dated 17th Aug 1815 proved at Lichfield 28th Mar and at Chester 16th Apr 1816.

Information compiled from two Wikitree sources here and here.

Peter Atherton (Designer) 1741-1799

Born 1741
Died 16 Aug 1799
Aged 58 or 59

Peter Atherton (1741 – 1799) was a pioneering designer and manufacturer of textile machinery, and also a cotton mill proprietor.

Born 1741 at Garston, near Liverpool, the son of William Atherton and his wife Ann. Peter married Bridget Foster on 29 November 1759, and at the time his occupation was stated as ‘file cutter’. The source of this information – Derek Atherton – presents a great deal of additional biographical information, and also provides an excellent summary of Atherton’s industrial activities. The information contained therein about his involvement in the cotton industry is largely drawn from a paper entitled ‘Peter Atherton, Cotton Machinery Manufacturer, 1741-1799’ by Dr Ken Davies. The following information is condensed from the quoted extracts, stating the original references.

Clockmakers were important in meeting the need for specialised textile machinery. They understood the principles of gears, and the lathes and wheel cutting engines used for making the parts of large clocks could be readily adapted to manufacture parts for textile machinery. Indeed the mechanism of textile machinery was commonly referred to as ‘clockwork’ in the late eighteenth century insurance records. It was in this context that Peter Atherton rose to importance. He appears to have gained esteem amongst his contemporaries as he is named as one of a group of delegates, led by Patrick Colquhoun, representing the north west of England cotton manufacturers who in May 1788 ‘waited on’ William Pitt the Younger to make representations about the great increase in the amount of cotton goods the East India Company was importing into England and about the unfair advantage the Company had in exporting cotton goods.

In 1767 and 1768 Atherton clearly had a well-known business in Warrington, for the most famous report of him is that in January 1768 John Kay and Richard Arkwright approached him for assistance in creating a model of a spinning machine because some parts were beyond Kay’s technical ability.

Atherton at first refused owing to the poverty of Arkwright’s appearance, but later relented and lent a workman (a smith and watch tool maker) to make the heavier parts of the machine. These accounts have been repeated in many later descriptions of Richard Arkwright. A working model was successfully produced. This was patented in 1769 by Arkwright with John Smalley as a witness.

1799 Peter Atherton of Liverpool died at Harrogate, on 16th August, aged 60 years.

Information retrieved from Grace’s Guide. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Peter Litherland (Watchmaker) 1756-1805

Born 1756
Died 1805
Aged 48 or 49

Peter Litherland was born in Warrington and was a watchmaker and inventor. He was born in Warrington and later moved to Liverpool, which was then the centre of the watchmaking trade. In 1791, he patented the rack lever escapement for watches, which was more accurate than the commonly-used verge escapement. One of his watches is in display in the World Museum Liverpool.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

For more information on patents, click The site has more data and more features than any other free patent site, including free PDF downloading, and the ability to store, annotate, and share patents.

Peter Stubs (File and Tool Maker) 1756-1806

Born 15 Jun 1756
Died 28 Feb 1806
Aged 49

Peter Stubs was born in Warrington and by the age of 21 he was in business manufacturing files on a small scale. By 1788 he had acquired the White Bear Inn in Bridge Street, Warrington, and was combining file manufacture there with his business as an innkeeper, brewer and malt maker. He gave up the White Bear concerns in 1803.

1802 the file business moved to a larger site at Scotland Road, in the Cockhedge area of Warrington, where a works including file cutting shops and forging shops had been built.

1806 After Peter Stubs’ death in 1806 the business was developed by his sons, John, William and Joseph Stubs.

The firm sold files made from steel – principally saw-files, watch and clock files and, from 1815, larger machinery (engineers’) files. It also sold a wide variety of other tools, clock engines, small machines and wire, including pinion wire, for making toothed wheels for watches and clocks, and steel wire. The Stubs workshop produced files, carrying out the basic processes of forging, cutting and hardening, and all the attendant subsidiary processes.

1826 Stubs began producing steel themselves, at a newly acquired works in The Holmes, Rotherham, in Yorkshire. The Warrington Works in Rotherham supplied the file works in Warrington with steel and produced other types of steel for sale in England and Europe.

1842 The steel works was expanded at a cost of £20,000. Steel for re-melting was imported from Sweden.

By 1841 the file works had a work force of 200. To cope with demand, some file cutting was done by out-workers. All the other Stubs products were made by cottage industry out-workers and small firms, mainly in South-West Lancashire. Stubs products were sold throughout the U.K. and were also exported. Significant overseas markets included Russia, America, France and what is now Germany.

The company later expanded into steel production at Warrington and became a major world manufacturer of Silver Steel. The modern firm produces Silver Steel, steel wire, key steel and a wide variety of other specialist steel products.

In 1890 the company was incorporated as a limited company and was described as mechanical engineer, tool and boiler maker. It remained in private hands until the 1960s. By 1914 the company was manufacturing steel, files, Lancashire tools and steel wire.

Over the next few years a number of owners took over the business. In 1958 the steel works was sold to J.J. Habershon and Sons, then it was acquired by James Neill Holdings Ltd, who retained ownership until the 1980s. During this time  they manufactured files and steel; engineers, saw, precision and needle files, broachers, gravers, scrapers, tool holder bits, silver steel and stainless steel. There were 290 employees.

In 1988 the company was taken over by James Wilkes plc except for the bi-metal strip business which would stay in the hand and cutting tool business which Neill would expand. In the 1990s the company withdrew from file manufacture and in 1996 it became a subsidiary of the ascot Group. Its final owners were Erasteel Stubs until its final closure in 2020, based at the Causeway Avenue site in Wilderspool.

Information retrieved from Grace’s Guide. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

John Cragg (Ironmaster) 1767-1854

Born 1767
Died 17 Jul 1854

John Cragg was an English ironmaster who ran a foundry in Liverpool. He was born in Warrington. His business was the Merseyside Iron Foundry, which was located in Tithebarn Street, Liverpool. Cragg was an enthusiast in the use of prefabricated ironwork in the structure of buildings, and in the early 19th century became interested in building churches. He had been discussing building a church in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, and in 1809 plans had been drawn up for this by J. M. Gandy.

This church was never built, but in 1812 Cragg met Thomas Rickman, and together they designed the three churches in Liverpool incorporating Cragg’s cast iron elements. The first of these was St George’s Church, Everton (1813–14). The exterior of this church is largely in stone, but the framework of its interior, including the galleries, and the window tracery are in cast iron. The ceilings consist of slate slabs supported by cast iron rafters, which are decorated with cast iron tracery.

The second church resulting from this collaboration was St Michael’s Church, Aigburth (1813–15), Here, in addition to the cast iron framework of the interior, and the window tracery, the parapets, battlements, pinnacles, hoodmoulds, the dado, and other details are also in cast iron. The area around the church, known as St Michael’s Hamlet contains five villas containing many cast iron features.

The third cast iron church was St Philip’s Church (1815–16) in Hardman Street, Liverpool, which was closed in 1882 and demolished. Some cast iron fragments have been incorporated in the fabric of the block of buildings now occupying the site of the churchyard. Cragg died on 17 July 1854, aged 87, and was buried in St James Cemetery, Liverpool.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Joseph Williamson (Tunnel Builder) 1769-1840

Born 10 Mar 1769
Died 1 May 1840
Aged 71

Joseph Williamson. Original painting in Edge Hill Library, Liverpool, reproduced in Jim Moore’s book Underground Liverpool: Joseph Williamson – The King of Edge Hill, Liverpool: The Bluecoat Press and scanned for Creative Commons use.

Apr 2019. The ‘Banqueting Hall’ beneath the site of Joseph Williamson’s house, Mason Street, Liverpool. This was likely built as a sandstone quarry and vaulted over in the early 19th century by Williamson. There are work lights, cones and a distant scaffold platform visible as this is still an active dig site, with excavations continuing in a chamber off the right hand wall (behind and below the red barrier). Photo by Kyle May, Friends Of Williamson’s Tunnels and used under creative commons licensing.

Joseph Williamson was an eccentric English businessman, philanthropist philanthropist and property owner who is best known for the Williamson Tunnels, which were constructed under his direction in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool, England. His philanthropy earned him the nickname the King of Edge Hill, whilst his tunnel-building activity earned him posthumous nicknames, including the Mole of Edge Hill and the Mad Mole.

For many years it was thought that Joseph Williamson was born in Warrington. However, research by staff and volunteers of the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre has shown that he was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire and that his father was a glassmaker in a small village near Barnsley. At an early age, his family moved to Warrington. In 1780, when he was aged 11, he left his family and went to Liverpool where he was employed in the tobacco and snuff business of Richard Tate. He gained promotion within the business and also developed his own merchant’s business in partnership with Joseph Leigh. In 1787 Richard Tate died and control of the business passed to his son, Thomas Moss Tate. Williamson married Thomas’ sister, Elizabeth, in St Thomas’ Church, Liverpool in 1802. The following year Williamson purchased the business from Thomas Moss Tate and from this, together with his other business enterprises, he amassed a considerable fortune.

In 1805 Williamson bought an area known as the Long Broom Field on Mason Street, Edge Hill, Liverpool, which was a largely undeveloped outcrop of sandstone and around this time moved into a house on Mason Street. He then began to build more houses in Mason Street which were built without any plans and which were “of the strangest description”. The land behind the houses dropped sharply for about 20 feet (6 m) and, as it was the fashion to have large gardens and orchards behind them, he built brick arches onto which the gardens could be extended.

Following this, he continued to employ his workmen, and recruited more, to perform tasks, some of which appeared to be useless, such as moving materials from one place to another and then back again. He also used the men to build a labyrinth of underground halls and brick-arched tunnels. Labour was plentiful at the time and with the ending of the Napoleonic wars in 1816, there were even more unemployed men in Liverpool. The tunnels were built at depths between 10 feet (3 m) and 50 feet (15 m) and they stretched for several miles.

Williamson retired from his business in 1818 but continued to be a landlord, one of his tenants being the Unitarian philosopher, James Martineau. His wife died in 1822 and he then became increasingly eccentric, devoting almost all of his time to supervising his excavations and tunnel-building. In the 1830s he came into contact with George Stephenson who was building the extension of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway from Edge Hill to Lime Street stations and whose own excavations passed through those of Williamson.

Williamson died in 1840 aged 71 at his home in Mason Street, the cause of death being “water on the chest” (an archaic phrase later known as dropsy). He was buried in the Tate family vault at St Thomas’ Church and left an estate of £39,000. He left no immediate descendant. The tunnelling ceased with his death. In 1911 St Thomas’ Church was demolished. Many of the graves were removed but the Tate vault remained. In 1920 the site became a car park. During the Paradise Street development in 2005 the grave was discovered in an archaeological dig. The developers of the site, Grosvenor Henderson, have built a memorial garden to Williamson now that development has been completed.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

John Rylands (Wire Weaver) 1771-1848

Born 21 Jan 1771
Died 23 Aug 1848
Aged 77

John was born 21 Jan 1771 and baptised 22nd Feb a month later at Cairo St Non conformist chapel, Warrington, son of John and Martha. In 1793 John Rylands married Susannah Highfield.

John returned to Wigan around 1800. He was a Liberal and a dissenter and watched by Govt agents, escaping arrest after a warning by his friend Sir Robert Holt Leigh Bart MP and appearing three times before courts-martial whilst in the Wigan Volunteers. On his return to Warrington he started a wire mill, the sail business had dried up. At a pivotal moment in the establishment of freedom of the press, John was foreman of the Jury in the 1819 trial of John Edward Taylor (Who later established the Manchester Guardian) arguing effectively for his acquittal.

1805 He returned to Warrington to establish a wire-drawing Business known as John Rylands and son. The business later passed to his three sons John, Thomas Glazebrook and Peter in 1843.

1808 13th Sept John Rylands married Martha Glazebrook, Kirkdale Saint Paul, Walton on the Hill, Liverpool, Lancashire, England.

Through his two marriages he had 19 children, though not all survived to adulthood.

In 1810 in conjunction with his friend Dr Kendrick he set up The Warrington Dispensary, offering out-patient facilities. He also took a leading role in Warrington as commissioner of police, guardian of poor, chairman of both surveyors of highways and the free trade association.

In Warrington he lived in Bewsey house and later at Summer House. where he Died 23 Aug 1848. His remains were buried at the old dissenting chapel at Hill Cliff Appleton

His will of 17 Jun 1846 was proved at Chester 4th Nov 1848.

Information retrieved from Wikitree.

James Cropper (Businessman and Abolitionist) 1773-1840

Born 1773
Died 26 Feb 1840

James Cropper was an English businessman and philanthropist, known as an abolitionist.

He was born at Winstanley, Lancashire into a Quaker family, the son of Thomas Cropper and his wife Rebecca Winstanley. He was intended by his father for the family farm, but he left home at 17 and became an apprentice in the mercantile house of Rathbone Brothers.

Successful in business, Cropper became the founder of Cropper, Benson, & Co., merchants, and made a personal fortune. He worked for the repeal of the orders of council which, up to 1811, restricting British commerce with the US, He became an abolitionist, active against slavery in the Caribbean. He also was concerned at poverty in Ireland, made a series of visits there, and established cotton-mills. He also became involved with the port of Liverpool.

Cropper was an active director of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway from 1830. In 1833 he decided to start an industrial school for boys, in the area of agriculture; and after visiting Germany and Switzerland, he built a school and orphan-house on his estate at Fearnhead, near Warrington, with a house for himself. Here he resided until his death, in 1841. He died in 1841, and was buried in the Quaker burial-ground at Liverpool by the side of his wife. The house at Fearnhead bore the following inscription:

“In this house lived James Cropper, one, and he not the least, of that small but noble band of christian men who, after years of labour and through much opposition, accomplished the abolition of West Indian slavery; and thus having lived the life of the righteous, he died in the full assurance of faith on the 26th of Feby. 1840.”


Cropper published many pamphlets on the condition of the West Indies, and on the sugar bounties and other protective duties. His major publications (all issued at Liverpool) were:[1]

  • Letters to William Wilberforce, M.P., recommending the cultivation of sugar in our dominions in the East Indies, 1822. Against protectionist duties imposed on sugar from the East Indies or elsewhere, in the interests of the West India slaveowners.
  • The Correspondence between John Gladstone, Esq., M.P., and James Cropper, Esq., on the present state of slavery, 1824.
  • Present State of Ireland, 1825.
  • Cropper, James (1832). A Letter to Thomas Clarkson. Liverpool. (Reviewed in the Quarterly Christian Spectator, Vol. 5 no. 1. March 1833, pp. 145–168.)


Cropper married in 1796 Mary Brinsmead, and outlived her by two years. They had two sons, John and Edward, who survived him, and a daughter, who married Joseph Sturge of Birmingham, and died in giving birth to her first child.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Thomas Hazlehurst (Businessman) 27 February 1779 – 18 February 1842

Born 27 Feb 1779
died 18 Feb 1842
Aged 62

Thomas Hazlehurst was an English businessman who founded the soap and alkali manufacturing company of Hazlehurst & Sons in Runcorn, Cheshire. He was also a devoted Methodist and he played a large part in the civic matters of the town.

He was born in Winwick, Lancashire, near Warrington but his family soon moved to Cheshire and eventually settled in Runcorn.  Thomas was involved in various business enterprises before establishing a soapery (soap manufacturing factory) on the north bank of the Bridgewater Canal on land between the canal and High Street in 1816. Originally the alkali necessary for making soap would have been obtained from vegetable sources, probably kelp.

However, by 1830 he was making his own alkali by the Leblanc process. His venture became very successful and in 1832 his business was in the top 20 soap manufacturing factories in Great Britain. In order to disperse the pollution resulting from the Leblanc process he built an enormous chimney over 300 feet (91 m) in height which was one of the highest chimneys in the country at that time. Thomas had four sons, William, John, Thomas junior and Charles, who all took part in running the business which came to be called Hazlehurst & Sons.

In 1806 Thomas had a daughter, Eliza, who died in infancy. As a result of this Thomas was converted to Methodism and he played a great part in the development of the denomination in the town. At the beginning of the 19th century there were very few Methodists in the town but by 1827 the movement was sufficiently prosperous to be able to build a substantial two-storey chapel and schoolroom, Brunswick chapel. Thomas was extremely pious, praying in the morning, at noon and in the evening and not allowing this to be interrupted by his business or by visitors.

He was also active in civic affairs being at one time or another member of the select vestry the Committee on Bridewell, Offices and Petty Sessions, the Board of Health, a Director of Runcorn Gas Company and an Inspector of the Lighting and Watching Act.

After his death the business was continued by his sons. He was buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Runcorn.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

James Carter (Clockmaker) 1780-1848

Born 1780
Died 18 Feb 1848
Aged 67 or 68

In 1835, James gave a detailed account of what had become his annual summer pilgrimage to the Carter country in the Fylde. This was by coach and on foot, though later varied by train journeys, the railway having reached Warrington in this year. He visited Preston, Forton , Garstang, Blackpool, Knott End and Pilling, attending the churches and noting the sermons. James Carter died on the 18th February 1848 at the age of 67, there being no information as to the cause of death. His will, held in the Lancashire Record Office, Preston, and dated 1829, showed that the value of his estate was under £1,500, which seems a low figure. Three trustees, one being his wife, were appointed to manage the estate for the benefit of the widow. On her death or remarriage, the money was to be divided among the children. When Margaret Carter died, the estate was wound up and distributed. Margaret was an excellent business woman and the family business continued. In addition, she turned one of the shops into a glass and china business, the first such shop in Warrington.

Via John Stone on Facebook.

Edmund Aikin (Architect and Surveyor) 1780-1820

Born 2 Oct 1780
Died 18 Mar 1820
Aged 40

Aikin came from a Unitarian background. He was the youngest son of Dr. John Aikin, M.D., and was born in Warrington. Arthur Aikin and Charles Rochemont Aikin were his brothers, the writer Lucy Aikin was his sister, and Anna Barbauld was his aunt. In 1784 the family moved to Great Yarmouth, where his father practised as a doctor, and then, in 1792, to Broad Street Buildings in London. Aikin suffered from a speech impediment and was educated almost entirely at home by his parents.

He was articled to a builder and surveyor, and following his apprenticeship, set up in business as an architect and surveyor on his own account. In 1806 he became a founder-member of the London Architectural Society. Two early designs were for nonconformist chapels in London. In 1808, he designed one in Jewin Street, off Aldersgate Street in the City of London, where Abraham Rees was minister for many years.

The next year he designed the New Gravel Pit Chapel in Hackney, for the Rev. Robert Aspland, producing plans for a rectangular building with an octagonal roof and seating plan. The foundation stone was laid on 16 October 1809, and it opened on 4 November 1810. Aikin took no fee for the work.

In 1810 he published a set of designs for villas, preceded by a long introduction in which he criticised the use of the Gothic style in domestic architecture, proposing instead the use of a kind of eastern, or Islamic style, inspired by the buildings shown in Thomas Daniell’s Views in India. In 1812 he presented his Essay on the Doric Order to the London Architectural Society. He also wrote an account of St. Paul’s Cathedral to accompany a set of drawings by James Elmes, articles about architecture for Abraham Rees Cyclopaedia, and a section on architecture for his sister Lucy’s book about the reign of Elizabeth I. He exhibited designs at the Royal Academy between 1804 and 1814.

He worked as an assistant to Sir Samuel Bentham, the architect of the Millbank Penitentiary, who was then engaged on works at the Royal Navy’s dockyards at Sheerness and Portsmouth, and published designs, made in collaboration with Bentham, for a bridge over the River Swale. The Admiralty had refused funding for Aikin ‘s post. To Bentham’s suggestion that “more attention should be paid than hitherto has been in regard to the works of my department, particularly those relative to the dockyards, to the giving them an appropriate beauty and grandeur of appearance”, they had replied that they were “not aware of any buildings or works ordered to be taken in hand which require any particular beauty or grandeur of appearance, and therefore cannot comply with the request of the civil architect and engineer, who has already sufficient assistance to carry on the duties of his office.” Consequently Bentham employed Aikin and a draughtsman directly for several months, at his own cost.

In around 1814, his Neoclassical designs for the Wellington Assembly Rooms in Liverpool having been accepted by the committee in charge of the project, he moved to the city to supervise their construction. He was based there for the rest of his life. He oversaw the adaptation of an existing mansion as premises for the Liverpool Royal Institution – his alterations including the addition of a stone portico – and built a number of villas in the area, some, against his natural inclinations, in the fashionable Gothic style.

Aikin died at his father’s house at Stoke Newington on 11 March 1820.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Joseph Crosfield (Businessman) 1792-1844

Born 5 Oct 1792
Died 16 Feb 1844
Aged 51

Joseph Crosfield was a businessman who established a soap and chemical manufacturing business in Warrington. This business was to become the firm of Joseph Crosfield and Sons.

Joseph Crosfield was born in Warrington, the fourth son of George Crosfield and his wife Ann née Key. The Crosfield family had been Quakers since the time of George Fox and this tradition was maintained by George and subsequently by Joseph. George Crosfield was a wholesale grocer in Warrington who also had interests in a sugar-refining business in Liverpool. The family moved to Lancaster in 1799 for George to develop a sugar-refining business there, while still keeping an interest in his grocery business in Warrington under the care of his assistant, Joseph Fell. Nothing is known of Joseph’s early life in Lancaster. From September 1807, a time close to his 15th birthday, he was apprenticed for 6 years to Anthony Clapham, a druggist and chemist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. By 1811 Anthony Clapham was also a soap manufacturer.

Soap and Alkali Manufacture

In 1814, Joseph’s apprenticeship having finished, at the age of 21 he decided to establish his own soap making business in Warrington. At this time soap manufacturing was growing rapidly and with the recently developed canals and river navigations in the area, it allowed for easier transport of the raw materials into the factories and for the distribution of the finished products. A number of new large soaperies had recently been established in the nearby towns of St Helens, Runcorn and Liverpool.

Joseph Crosfield’s soapery was established on the north bank of a loop of the river Mersey in an area known as Bank Quay, near to urban Warrington but at that time separated from it by a stretch of fields. Other industrial premises were nearby. The premises occupied that of a failed wire mill and the business started with a capital of £1,500. It struggled at first, partly due to the trade depression at the time, but by 1818 it was making a profit.

In 1820 Joseph was joined in the business by his younger brother William (1805–1881). Later that year his father George died, leaving a legacy of £1,500 to Joseph. Around this time Joseph Fell also became a partner in the business. Also around this time Joseph Crosfield bought the machinery from a nearby corn mill.

In addition to making soap, like many other soap makers Joseph Crosfield was involved in making candles. By the mid-1830s Crosfield’s was producing around 900 tons of soap annually. In 1832 they were the 25th largest business in the list of 296 soap makers in England and Scotland that year. Joseph carried out most of the clerical work himself in the business, employing only one clerk.

Joseph Crosfield became engaged in a variety of other business enterprises. One of these was the old grocery business of Crosfield & Fell, where he replaced his father after the latter’s death. He continued to run the corn-mill from which he had bought the machinery. By the 1830s most soap makers were manufacturing their own alkali by the Leblanc process, rather than using alkali from vegetable sources. Joseph Crosfield was no exception. Rather than manufacturing it in his Bank Quay site, he took over a bankrupt alum works in St Helens, Merseyside with his older brother James (1787–1852) and Josias Christopher Gamble. Here he continued to make alum and also manufactured alkali by the Leblanc process. Joseph’s younger brother Simon (1803–1864) later became a partner in this business.

Other investments

During this time Joseph’s soap-making business was making large profits but, rather than investing them into this business, he put the money into other enterprises, most of which lost money. He had an interest in glass-making, buying shares in the Manchester & Liverpool Plate Glass Company in 1836 and he took out a patent for an improvement in the manufacture of plate glass; but the company failed. He also lost a considerable amount of money in a partnership in the Wharf Meadow cotton-mill. He did better with his investments into joint-stock banks, his first investment being into the Manchester Joint-Stock Banking Company. In 1831 a branch of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company opened in Warrington and in time Joseph became a large shareholder and local director of this bank.

In common with many other businessmen of the time, Joseph became involved with the newly opening railways. His major interest was in the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway. After investing in this enterprise in 1830 he became a director in 1836. He speculated in other local railway lines, making gains with some and losses with others. He also speculated in a number of foreign investments, usually breaking even or suffering small losses.

Political, Civil and Religious Life

Joseph Crosfield was also deeply involved in the political, civic and religious life of Warrington. In addition to his continuing Quaker activities, he was a Radical in politics, often campaigning on issues relating to both of these movements. He was a life governor and permanent committee member of the Dispensary and Infirmary in the town. He served on the Warrington Board of Health which was set up in 1832 at the time of the cholera epidemic. He was involved with education, not only in setting up Quaker schools in Penketh and Warrington, but also with the founding of the Warrington Educational Society in 1838 for educating the working classes. He took an interest in the Warrington Mechanics’ Institution and the Warrington Circulating Library.

Personal Life

In 1819 Joseph Crosfield married Elizabeth Goad from the village of Baycliffe in the Furness area of Lancashire. Joseph and his family lived close to his works. After his marriage his first house was Mersey Bank, a fairly large house standing in its own grounds to the west of the factory. In 1826 he leased a plot of land nearby at White Cross on which he built a new house and in which he lived for the rest of his life. His wife produced for him 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls. Joseph died in 1844 after a short illness when he was aged 51. He was buried in the burial ground of the Friends’ meeting house in Buttermarket Street, Warrington.

Crosfield’s after Joseph

The firm of Joseph Crosfield & Sons, Ltd. continued to thrive and grow after his death, producing a variety of chemicals.

The business passed to Sir Arthur Henry Crosfield, who built Witanhurst, a house in North London, on the proceeds of the sale of the company, and was returned for Parliament as the Liberal MP for Warrington.

In 1911 the company was purchased by Brunner, Mond & Company and 1919 it was absorbed into Lever Brothers. From 1929 Crosfield was a subsidiary of Unilever. In 1997 its Warrington speciality chemicals division that made ingredients for detergents and toothpastes was acquired by ICI and in 2001, Ineos Capital purchased the company. The name Crosfield was finally lost as it was renamed Ineos Silicas. In 2008 Ineos Silicas was merged with PQ Corporation, with the new company retaining the name of PQ Corporation.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Thomas Parr (Banker) 1792-1870

Born 6 Dec 1792
Died 6 Jan 1870
Aged 77

Thomas Parr was born on 6 December 1792, the son of Joseph Parr and his wife Ellen Lyon. He had an older brother, Joseph, and three older sisters.

His father Joseph Joseph Parr senior was a sugar refiner in Warrington who, in 1788, had formed the bank Parr & Co in partnership with two other men: his brother-in-law and fellow sugar refiner Thomas Lyon and solicitor Walter Kerfoot.

Thomas became a partner in Parr & Co in 1846 and took over as chairman in 1865 until his death in 1870.

Parr’s remained essentially a local bank with offices in Warrington, Runcorn and St Helens until 1865 when the it became a joint stock bank under the name Parr’s Banking Company. Helped by a series of acquisitions, including the National Bank of Liverpool, Parr’s built up its presence in Cheshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire; by 1890 there were 22 branches and 21 sub-branches.

The Bank’s most important strategic move came in 1891 when it purchased the small London bank of Fuller, Banbury, Nix & Co. This gave Parr’s a seat on the London Clearing House and, in contrast to the nearby Bank of Liverpool it immediately moved the head office down to London. With Fuller giving the Bank an initial London presence, the substance was provided by the acquisition of the Alliance Bank in 1892. The Alliance had emerged from the financial reconstruction which had seen it lose its Liverpool and Manchester offices and now had 12 branches in London. In recognition of Alliance’s importance the name of the Bank was changed to Parr’s Banking Company and the Alliance Bank. Other smaller London banks were acquired and in 1896 it bought the Consolidated Bank, only slightly smaller than the Alliance, but this time a London bank with branches in Manchester. At that point, the name was returned to Parr’s Bank.

The 1890s also saw Parr’s embark on acquisitions in the midlands and the south west, important ones being Pare’s Leicestershire Banking in 1902 and Crompton and Evans’ Union Bank of Derby in 1914. However, its most prestigious acquisition was Stuckey’s Bank (1909) (the “Somersetshire Bank”) which “wielded great power in the west of England and had the largest note circulation of any bank in England outside the Bank of England”.

By the outbreak of war in 1914 Parr’s had almost 400 branches and sub-branches. In 1918 Parr’s agreed to amalgamate with the London County and Westminster Bank. The Chairman of Parr’s made the case: “We gain access to a very large area in the Home Counties. They gain a first-class introduction to Lancashire and to such leading towns in the Midlands as Leicester and Derby and a very valuable connection in the West of England.” The enlarged bank was renamed London County Westminster and Parr’s Bank.

The Parr family lived at Grappenhall Heys during their lifetime from around 1830. It was demolished in the 1970s and the walled garden was transferred to Grappenhall and Thelwall parish Council in 2005.

It was Thomas Parr’s third son Joseph Charlton Parr who donated the funds to build the Parr Hall on Palmyra Square, which opened in 1895.

The Grade II listed building in Winwick Street, Warrington, was opened in 1877 and after NatWest had moved out in 2016 it was put up for auction.

Some information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Peter Greenall (Brewer) 1796-1845

Born 25 Apr 1796
Died 25 Sep 1845
Aged 49

Peter Greenall was a brewer and Conservative politician. He was born in Wilderspool, Warrington, to Edward Greenall and Betty née Pratt of Walton Hall, and brother of Sir Gilbert Greenall, 1st Baronet. In 1821, he married Eleanor Pilkington, daughter of William Pilkington and sister of Richard and William Pilkington, who were partners with their father in a local wine and spirit business. The union brought a dowry of £1,000.

His grandfather, Thomas Greenall, in 1761, had established a brewery in South Lancashire, now known as De Vere, and this land eventually developed into the town of St Helens, Merseyside. The business was passed through the family and, in 1818, Peter was sent to take charge of the brewery and the family’s possessions there. Greenall assumed responsibility for the local area, laying pipes from the brewery’s ponds to supply water to those able to afford it. The first building society in the area was formed by him, and many homes were built on his land as a result, leading to his rents totalling £2,500 a year by 1830.

Greenall also headed the local Odd Fellows lodge, named the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity, when it opened in 1825, and he became its grandmaster when St Helens became a district under law. Further, he was a signatory on the share certificates of the local branch of the Gas Light and Coke Company when it formed in 1832, and took a lead in the launch of the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway in 1830, which provided transport down to the River Mersey, competing against the Trent and Mersey Canal, from November 1832. After this, he became involved with the Pilkingtons’ glassworks firm, Pilkington. While he held just three of the eleven shares in the partnership, his influence at the Warrington bank of Parr, Lyon and Greenall was instrumental in saving the company from going under. By 1842, at the worst point of a depression, the company’s overdraft had reached £20,000 and all shares were totalled at just £22,600.

Political Career

Greenall first stood as a Conservative candidate to become Member of Parliament for Wigan at the 1837 general election, but was unsuccessful. He again stood in 1841 and this time was elected. In Parliament, he used his influence to secure the passage of the St Helens Waterworks Bill in 1844 and the St Helens Improvement Bill in 1845, the latter of which gained the borough its first effective local government. Yet, the same year, he died, bringing to a premature end his political career.


Greenall died on 18 September 1845 at his home in St Helens from apoplexy, the first attack of which lasted five minutes. His standing in the town was so prominent that the shops half-closed their shutters in remembrance and, at his funeral six days later, the shops closed altogether. Many townsfolk flocked to his funeral to pay their last respects – although his reputation was high in just a local sense.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

The story of Warrington’s Business and Industry people continues in Part 2.