Notable people in business in Hartlepool.
Picture of two men with the name Tommy Trechmann on the back. Unfortunately, it doesn't say which one he is. Tommy is possibly the son of Charles Otto Trechmann, a Hartlepool businessman and a geologist.
The two men look so similar that there is every likelihood that they are father and son.The older man has what looks like a hammer of sorts in his jacket pocket so this could be Charles Otto Trechmann.
Further research has revealed a further picture of Charles Otto Trechmann on this site.
It appears to be the same man.More detail »
Sir Christopher Furness was born at West Hartlepool on April 23rd, 1852. He married Jane Annette Suggitt in 1876 and they had one son, Marmaduke (born in 1883). During his career he became senior partner in the shipbuilding and engineering firm of Furness, Withy and Company, Ltd., and proprietor of the “Furness” line of steamers; founder of the Furness Seamen’s Pension Fund and Deputy Lieutenant for the North Riding of Yorkshire and County of Durham. He also built built the steam yacht “Emerald”, the first turbine vessel to cross the Atlantic. He served as Member of Parliament for the Hartlepools (Liberal) from 1891 to 1895 and again from 1900 to 1910. He was knighted 1895 and in 1910 became Baron Furness of Grantley. His Hartlepool residence was Tunstall Court.
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Christopher Tennant promoted the building of railways from the Durham coalfields to Stockton-on-Tees and Port Clarence, and later to Hartlepool. To do this, he had to go to London and arrange for a bill to be discussed in Parliament. Parliament then had to pass an act making it legal to build the railway. He did the same thing to get an act passed to give permission to build the harbour and docks at old Hartlepool. He was closely involved in the building of the harbour and dock (at Hartlepool Headland). He moved to old Hartlepool from Stockton to become Superintendent of Works, overseeing the dock’s construction.
Christopher Tennant was born at Yarm, the son of a hat maker. When he was still young he moved to Stockton. He started his working life as a sailor, and later became a ship-owner. He had an inventive turn of mind, and was fond of machines. This interest drew him towards investing money in projects using the latest technology, such as canals and railways. His investments went well, making him enough money to become a gentleman. This meant he had improved his position in society, and did not have to work for his living.
Tennant got an act through Parliament to build Hartlepool’s harbour & docks. On his return after being successful, “he was received with a salute of 21 guns. Preceded by a band of music, he was then chaired through the principal streets of the town, amidst the most enthusiastic demonstrations. Arriving opposite the Town hall, Mr Tennant, with several intimate friends interested in the formation of the docks, entered it, and from one of the windows of which he addressed the assembled multitude.”
Christopher Tennant died suddenly in Leeds, where he was negotiating a business deal, on 12th September 1839. He did not live to see the completion of Hartlepool docks, or the building of the lighthouse, another project he supported.
Quote from “The Annals of Stockton-on-Tees” by Henry Heavisides, 1865.
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John William Cameron was born in 1841 in Kirkby Stephen, Lancashire, although his family was of Scottish origin.
Before he came to West Hartlepool as a young man he had served his apprenticeship in the Brewery trade in Barnard Castle. It was also during his time at Barnard Castle that he became interested in things military and before he came to West Hartlepool he had been 5 years in the Volunteer Rifle Corps there. This interest he was to develop a great deal further in his new home.
He moved to West Hartlepool in 1865, at the age of 24 years to become head brewer at the Lion Brewery. The Brewery had been set up in 1852 when William Waldon bought up the land to build on. He was a newcomer to West Hartlepool, as were all the important figures in the early days. Waldon was elected as a Town Improvement Commissioner to serve on the first Board running the new town but he died before its first meeting, on 5th September 1854.
Waldon’s widow then ran the business until the eldest son was of age, in the period before Cameron’s arrival. William Waldon Junior does not seem to have been interested in the brewing business and he died young in 1872, after which Cameron agreed with the trustees to take over the business on a 21-year lease. He soon embarked on a 10-year programme of building and enlarging the premises, buying up more land near Stockton Street.
In 1893 he bought the brewery outright and made the business into a Limited Company. He then embarked on absorbing nearby competitors; he bought up Nixey, Coleclough & Baxter on the Headland and M. Rickinson & Company by 1895, so that he doubled his tied houses from 50 to 103.
His involvement in philanthropy and public works was extensive and his military activities also took much of his energy. He joined the Artillery Volunteers on coming to West Hartlepool and was a Sub-Lieutenant by 1871. By 1874 he had become Captain and in 1881 he became commander of the town’s Corps. In 1885 the Rifle & Artillery Volunteers amalgamated and he became Lieutenant Colonel. The 4th Durham Volunteers had a good reputation due to their record in National Shooting competitions and their smart turn out at local civic occasions.
His political career led to his being prominent in the history of the new town. In 1873 he was elected a Town Commissioner and he was to be on the Board for 14 years. Although he only became the chairman in 1886 it was in this period that the Town gained its Charter of Incorporation, largely due to his efforts.
At the first Municipal Elections he came top of the poll and was elected an Alderman, he did not become Mayor until 1889, letting Alderman William Gray and George Pyman take precedence. His brewery’s attractive head office “Greenbank” was the site of Stranton’s celebrations in 1887, the year of Victoria’s Jubilee and West Hartlepool’s Charter.
His last civic act was to offer the statue of the town’s founder, Ralph Ward Jackson, to West Hartlepool, in 1895. He wished it to be unveiled at the top of Church Street, where it stands today, and that it be unveiled in 1897, the 50th anniversary year of the opening of the West Dock. He himself died before the ceremony in 1896. Perhaps a more important monument to him was the Cameron Hospital, presented to the town by his family.More detail »
A family, originally from Sweden, who played an important role in timber importing in the town in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Hartlepool Museum Service holds quite a vast collection of photographs of various family members, family gatherings, holidays in Scotland, The Lake District, Yorkshire and in Sweden. Unfortunately none are named, so if anyone interested in the family wishes to see them or can name anybody, then please contact us!More detail »
His early years
William Gray was born in Earsdon, near Blyth in Northumberland, on January 18th 1823. His father, Matthew Gray, owned a successful drapery business selling fabrics, hats, stockings, etc. William was educated at Dr John Bruce’s Academy in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, before joining his father’s firm as an apprentice. He was sent to spend some time in a fashionable drapery shop in London, where he made some important business connections.
When he was 20 years old, he moved to the rapidly-growing new town of West Hartlepool to start his own drapers business. Although he had to use his family’s money to get started, William soon proved that he was a very clever businessman in his own right. William went to London to get his supplies. This meant that his stock was the most fashionable to be had and was very much in demand. He had soon opened shops in both towns. Two of the earliest were in Victoria Street, West Hartlepool, and 7 Southgate (later renamed High Street), Hartlepool.
William married Dorothy Hall in 1849. She was the daughter of Royal Navy Commander and shipowner John Hall. The Halls, like the Gray family, were originally from Blyth, but now lived in London. William and Dorothy moved in above the shop in High Street, Hartlepool, and went on to have seven children.
In 1862 William was elected Mayor of Hartlepool. Around this time he sold the drapers business to Messrs Callendar, Richardson, Peverell and Kilvington, three of whom had been assistants in his shops. Gray agreed to stay on with the business for a year, to guide the mangers in their new role. At some point during this time he moved his family to The Cliff, Hartlepool.
William’s father was involved in ship owning, and he himself already had investments in several wooden sailing ships. It was while serving on the committee of the Hartlepool and Durham Shipping Company that William got to know John Punshon Denton, a local shipbuilder. At this time, iron ships were beginning to replace wooden vessels, and shipbuilding was seen as a good investment. In 1863 the two men decided to form a partnership, Denton, Gray & Co. They launched their first ship, the iron built barque Sepia, the same year. The firm prospered until J.P. Denton died in 1872. After some legal problems, William Gray took over full control of the yard in 1874. He renamed the firm William Gray & Co., and a few years later took on his eldest son, Matthew, as a partner.
Around 1865 the Gray family moved to The Cottage, Greatham, where William would continue to live for the next thirty years. In spite of its name, The Cottage must have been quite large to house a family of nine with their servants. William gave money to the community, and helped to build a new Chapel at Greatham between 1882-3. The family were Presbyterians, and made generous donations to Churches around the country. William donated the site of the West Hartlepool Free Public Library, and gave money to build a hospital.
In 1887-88 he became the first Mayor of West Hartlepool, the only person ever to have been Mayor of both towns. In 1890 Queen Victoria knighted him for his services to the two towns and industry. In the same year he was made the first Freeman of the Borough of West Hartlepool. Sir William’s elder son Matthew died in June 1896, and in the same year he retired from the council, after 34 years service.
Among the many public offices he had held were:
Sir William Gray died on 12th September 1898 He had become an extremely wealthy man, and left a fortune of £ 1,534,704. This would be worth over £93 million today. On the day of the funeral, banks and many businesses in town closed as a mark of respect. He was buried in West Hartlepool cemetery, and it took an hour for the thousands of workmen from the shipyards, engine works and rolling mills to file past his grave.
His younger son, William Cresswell Gray, inherited the family business.More detail »
The early years
William Cresswell Gray was the younger son of the successful Hartlepool shipbuilder, Sir William Gray. He was born in his parent’s home, The Cottage, Greatham, on 1st May 1867. He was educated at Darlington, and later at Leys School, Cambridge, before joining his father’s shipbuilding firm.
In 1889 William, and his older brother Matthew, became Company Directors of William Gray & Co Ltd. It was Matthew who would have been expected to inherit the business, but he died in 1896, followed two years later by his father, Sir William. The firm then became the responsibility of William Cresswell Gray.
In 1899 William acquired the West Hartlepool Steel and Ironworks. He bought the Moor and Malleable Works in Stockton and combined the two to form the South Durham Steel and Iron Co. Ltd.
The First World War brought a need for shipbuilding, and Gray’s opened new yards at Sunderland, Greatham, and later at Graythorpe. After the war, in 1919, William experimented with a scheme to encourage his men to work faster. He did this by promising the employees of the shipyards and the Central Marine Engine Works (CMEW) 20% of the annual profits. This meant that the more ships they built, the more they earned. The scheme worked well, but was brought to an end by the Depression, when most shipbuilding in the country stopped for several years.
In 1891 William married Kate Casebourne, also of Greatham. They went on to have four daughters and one son. The family lived in Tunstall Manor, West Hartlepool, which William had built in 1899. He also had other property in England. In 1900 he bought the Membland Estate, South Devon, and in 1904 he bought Thorpe Perrow, in Bedale, Yorkshire. William was a keen sportsman, and liked driving, shooting and yachting. He was an active supporter of Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Club.
William Cresswell Gray was generous with his money. When his father died in 1898
William paid off the debts of several churches in the area as a tribute. During the First World War he gave a house called Normanhurst, in West Hartlepool, to be used as a V.A.D. hospital. This building still exists as a public house, renamed the White House. He also bought Hawkstone Park in Shrewsbury, which he ran at his own expense as a convalescent home for wounded officers. He founded the Hartlepools Hospital Trust, and donated a new X-ray machine to Cameron’s Hospital. In 1918 he gave money towards the restoration of St Hilda’s church.
He presented the town with a sea-water swimming baths near Seaton Carew. In 1921 he gave a recreation ground (Grayfields) to be used by his employees. This is still in use today, but is now open to everyone. In the same year he gave his workforce a large house, Staincliffe at Seaton Carew, to be used as a convalescent home. This building still exists, and is now used as an hotel.
In 1918 William bought a house called “The Willows”, at the centre of West Hartlepool. This had belonged to his brother Matthew’s widow, Eliza. He had the house converted into a public Art Gallery, and supplied a large part of its collection. He did this in “thankoffering” for the safe return of his son, who had been captured in the war. It was this son, Captain William Gray, who performed the opening ceremony in 1920.
William Cresswell Gray became Deputy-Lieutenant of Durham in 1906, and was made High Sheriff in 1909. He was made a baronet in June 1917, and in 1920 was made Freeman both of Hartlepool and of West Hartlepool. Among the other public offices he held were;
William died on 1st November 1924, and was buried in Bedale. After the War there had been a slump in shipbuilding, and by the time of his death Gray’s had become the only shipbuilders left in Hartlepool. His son, Captain William Gray, took over the company.More detail »
Ralph Ward Jackson has gone down in history as the man who built West Hartlepool.
He saw potential in an area which was at the time only villages and sand dunes. He brought trade and industry to West Hartlepool. He helped to plan the layout of town, and was responsible for the first public buildings. He was also involved in the education and the welfare of the inhabitants.
Ralph Ward Jackson was born on 7th June 1806, the third son of William Ward Jackson, of Normanby Hall, Eston, Yorkshire. His family were wealthy, and could trace their ancestry back to the beginning of the 17th century. Ralph was educated at Rugby School, Warwickshire.
Ralph Ward Jackson was married to Susannah, daughter of Charles Swainson of Lancashire, in 1829. They had one surviving son, William, born c1833. Their other children died in infancy. The family lived at Greatham Hall, in Greatham Village on the outskirts of West Hartlepool. Susannah Ward Jackson died in October 1865.
Ralph Ward Jackson left school at the age of sixteen to begin a career as a solicitor. He trained in Preston, Lancashire. After he qualified, in 1829, he went into partnership with Joseph Frank. Frank was an established solicitor in Stockton-on-Tees, about 10 miles from Hartlepool. Ward Jackson became a legal advisor for the Clarence Railway Company, and later for the Stockton and West Hartlepool Railway. After Frank’s death Ward Jackson took sole control of the firm, but he was no longer interested in practising law. He gave up the firm in 1854, to concentrate on developing the railway and docks at West Hartlepool.
In the 1830s railway lines were being built across the north east of England. These were needed to carry coal from the local collieries to the south, to provide fuel for the new machinery of the Industrial Revolution. Local businessmen realised that money could be made from these new trade links. In 1838 Ward Jackson joined a group of businessmen to set up the Stockton and Durham County Bank, in the hope that they could take advantage of the new prosperity. As it turned out, the bank was not a success, and after eight years business was transferred to the National and Provincial Bank.
Ward Jackson also became involved in the railways in a more direct way. The Clarence Coal Railway had recently been built between the Durham coalfields and Stockton, on the River Tees. It was not, however, proving profitable. Once the coal was unloaded from the train, it had to be taken by ship down the river to the sea. The Tees was a difficult river to navigate, full of bends and sandbanks. Ships had to be pulled part of the way by horses. In 1839 it was decided to build a new eight-mile stretch of railway called the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway. It would join the existing railway with Hartlepool. Here, ships had direct access to the sea, without needing to navigate any rivers. Ralph Ward Jackson became a shareholder in the company responsible for building the new line. Ward Jackson was made the Managing Director of this new railway in 1848.
When the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway opened in 1841 it brought coal to the docks at Old Hartlepool, to be taken away by ships. The Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company ran the dock. They charged a high fee to rival companies who wanted to use their facilities. In 1844 Ward Jackson went to Parliament for permission to build his own harbour and dock at West Hartlepool. In spite of opposition from supporters of the Dock and Railway Company this was granted, and building started in spring 1845. The company running the new docks was the West Hartlepool Harbour and Dock Co., and Ward Jackson was made Managing Director of it in 1846. The first West Hartlepool dock, known as the Coal Dock, was opened on 1st June 1847. The second, called Jackson Dock, followed on 1stJune 1852. A year later, in 1853, Ward Jackson’s railway company (the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway) and his dock company (the West Hartlepool Harbour and Dock Co.) were joined together to form the West Hartlepool Harbour and Railway Company. A third dock opened on 3rd June 1856, and was called Swainson Dock.
Ward Jackson was keen to see the new town of West Hartlepool develop. At the end of the 1830s the area had been made up of a few small villages and a lot of marshes and sand dunes. The arrival of the railway, and the shipping of coal from the new dock in the 1840s, had brought money and people into the area. A town began to grow up around the harbour, and Ward Jackson was the person who did most to encourage it.
The West Hartlepool Harbour and Dock Co. (of which Ward Jackson was the managing director), owned large areas of land around the new harbour. They laid out the first streets, and provided a sewerage system. The stone which had been cut away to make the docks was magnesian limestone, which was a good building material. The dock company donated the stone and the land to build public buildings such as Christ Church. This still stands today, and now houses the town’s art gallery.
Ward Jackson was also responsible for the first shipbuilding yard in West Hartlepool. He included facilities for shipbuilding in the design of Jackson Dock. He then invited John Pile, a successful shipbuilder from Sunderland, twenty miles north of Hartlepool, to relocate his business.
As the population grew, better facilities such as street lighting and a cemetery were needed. Ward Jackson applied to Parliament for an Improvement Act. This would recognise West Hartlepool’s status as a town, and allow a proper means of local government to be formed. The Act was granted in June 1854. In September of the same year, the first meeting of the Board of Improvement Commissioners was held. These were the people who would organise how the town was run. Ralph Ward Jackson was appointed as their chairman, and remained in this post until his retirement in 1870.
Ralph Ward Jackson had a huge influence on the growth on West Hartlepool. He did all he could to promote the town, and bring trade and money into it. Within twenty years the port became one of the busiest on the north east coast. As head of the West Hartlepool Harbour and Railway Company, Ward Jackson invested money into collieries in County Durham. He also bought a fleet of steamships to export the coal. Unfortunately, this was not allowed under the terms which governed the running of the Harbour and Railway Company. This was pointed out by Benjamin Coleman, a shareholder in the company, in 1861. Coleman ran a campaign which resulted in the resignation of Ward Jackson from the Board of Directors.
In spite of his resignation over irregular dealings in the Harbour and Railway Company, Ward Jackson remained popular with local people. It was felt that everything he had done had benefited the town, even if his methods had not been strictly legal. In 1868 he was elected as the Hartlepools first Member of Parliament. He held the seat, as a Conservative, for six years. He was defeated by local businessman Thomas Richardson in the General Election of 1874.
Ward Jackson was forced to resign from the West Hartlepool Harbour and Railway Company in 1862. This was after an investigation which showed that he had carried out business dealings which were not allowed under the terms which governed the running of the company. The business was taken over by the North-Eastern Railway Company (NER). Legal arguments between Ward Jackson and NER went on until 1872. Although Ward Jackson won the case, he lost most of his money in the process. His later years were spent in near-poverty. At the time of his death, some of his friends were attempting to raise money to support him.
Ward Jackson died in London on 6th August 1880. He was 75. He was buried in London, but on the day of his funeral the people of West Hartlepool showed their respect. In the harbour ships flew their flags at half-mast. Shops were closed, and the bells of Christ Church were rung.
Ralph Ward Jackson led a stormy life. He was several times involved in legal battles with people who opposed him. In 1861 he was fined for assaulting the vicar of Greatham after an argument over public rights of way. But he was also a man of great vision and purpose. He was passionate about everything to do with West Hartlepool, and was involved in almost every part of the town’s early growth.
The docks he built have now been made into a marina. The railway still follows the same route through the town. Ward Jackson Park was opened in 1883, and has recently been renovated. It was originally paid for from money which had been raised by wellwishers. This was to support Ward Jackson after the lengthy legal battle with NER, which left him almost bankrupt. After his death it was decided to use the money for a public park, as a lasting memorial. A statue of Ward Jackson was unveiled in 1897. It stands at the top of Church Street, one of the first streets to be laid out in West Hartlepool. It faces down the street, looking towards the railway line and the sea, around which the town grew. However, a song performed in a local theatre a few years before his death expresses the feelings of the townspeople at the time:
“…No need for pillar raised to him in brass or stone, His monument’s a Town, it stands alone!”
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Thomas Walker was a timber merchant employing 200 men at his sawmills in Mainsforth Terrace which had been established in 1851. He built Staincliffe House in 1869 & the four villas adjoining soon after. Thomas was also an amateur artist & a cupola at the top of the house served as his studio. The house was sold after his death &, after various uses, eventually became a hotel.
Manager of the Seaton Carew Iron Co & lived at what was once the King's Head Hotel on the Green at Seaton Carew. He donated a large part of his collection of Asian & Oriental artifacts to Gray Art Gallery & Museum to be enjoyed by the people of Hartlepool. His wife, Hannah, was the daughter of Thomas Kirk.More detail »