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Robinson Sons & Co.

Details about Robinson Sons & Co.

Thomas Robinson was a successful provision merchant who set up a shipping company in about 1887.

In his role as a commercial clerk, during the 1860s, Thomas saw an opportunity to import cheap, fresh eggs from Europe to feed the ever growing population in the industrial towns of England. In 1864 he set up business at premises at the corner of Albert Terrace and Church Street as an importer of eggs and other provisions. He became a successful produce merchant under Thos. Robinson and then Thomas Robinson & Sons when his sons, Thomas, Edward and Charles joined him in the business. Although mainly known as egg importers by 1887 they had set up a shipping company in West Hartlepool which was moved to the deeper port of Hull around 1901 and then became known as Thomas Robinson & Sons Co. Ltd. On 30th June 1896 the company rented the cool storage at the Ramsden Dock, Barrow-in-Furness, in order to establish their business in the importation of Russian eggs.

As well as at least two Hartlepool built ships, Juno and Vulcan, the company purchased the Venus which was built by Ropner & Son in 1891. She was a steel screw steamer of 2940 gross tons. Two of her masters were A.M. White and Herbert Denyer. The ship was sold to J. Mathias & Co. of Aberystwyth in 1899 and was beached after a collision off Dungeness on 17th June of the same year.

The shipping firm made heavy losses during the World Wars, when egg supplies from occupied Europe dried up. The company ceased trading in the early 1960s.

Family History:

Thomas Robinson was born in February 1830 at Houghton-Le-Spring,Co Durham to parents Thomas (a colliery blacksmith) and Mary Ann (nee Atkinson) Robinson. The family moved to Haverton Hill when Thomas was still an infant. Thomas senior built property in Lower Commercial Street, Middlesbrough and set up a business as a shipsmith and ironmonger.  Thomas junior began his working life in 1844 as clerk for the Clarence Railway Company. He went on to work under T.C. Gibson, colliery proprietor and then manager for Robert Fawcus, coal exporter of West Hartlepool. He married Alice Houghton at Bingley, Yorkshire on 28 October 1854. At that time he was living at Seaton Carew. By 1861 the couple were living at Middle Houses, Stranton with their four children and by 1871 the couple were living at Hart Lane with their five daughters and three sons and, in 1881, Lynnfield House, Stranton. Thomas was a councillor, then an alderman and in November 1892 became Mayor of Hartlepool. Alice died aged 69 at Hartdale, West Hartlepool on 27 January 1899. By 1901 Thomas and his daughter, Esther, were living at The Grange, Egton.

His eldest daughter, Edith Mary, married Reverend J. Bennett, vicar of Stranton. In 1885, Thomas bought the advowson, or rights to appoint clergymen, to All Saints Church, Stranton. He provided three of the stained glass windows in the Church.

In the early 1900s Thomas purchased land at Glaisdale and built ‘The Gables’ and lived there with one of his daughters, Esther, and his niece Annie Greenhalgh.

In 1911, while living at Glaisdale, The Robinson Institute was built by Thomas to celebrate the Coronation of King George V. The inscription over the door reads:

‘The Robinson Institute, Presented to
the People of Glaisdale by the late
Thos Robinson Esq JP (The Gables)
to Commemorate the Coronation of
King George V 1911.’


Thomas died aged 81 at Glaisdale on 19 January 1912 leaving effects of £83,225.

In January 1913 The Institute was handed over to the Trustees of the Institute from the Trustees of the Will of Thomas Robinson Esq, deceased, and his son Thomas Alexander Robinson Esq to hold in trust ‘for ever’:

His will provided for the Institute to be held in trust for the benefit of the people of Glaisdale. It also allowed for his daughter and niece to continue living at The Gables for their lifetimes, Ownership of the house was bestowed on his son Thomas Alexander Robinson who lived at North Ferriby, on the Humber.

Esther Isabella Robinson died at the The Gables, on 16 January 1936. Annie Greenhalgh, had moved away by the 1940s.

Charles Houghton Robinson was born in 1858 at West Hartlepool to parents Thomas and Alice (nee Houghton) Robinson. He married Averill Wilson Furness in 1884 at Hartlepool and they moved into ‘Houghton House’, Foggy Furze. The lived there until at least 1901. ‘Houghton House’ later became Foggy Furze Library and was then demolished in 1912.

Charles died aged 53 at ‘The Grange’ Glaisdale, Yorkshire in October 1911 leaving effects of £32,507.

 Edward Osborne Robinson was born in 1859 at West Hartlepool to parents Thomas and Alice (nee Houghton) Robinson. He married Edith Denyer at Hartlepool in 1889. Edward died aged 46 at Reeth, Yorkshire in December 1905 leaving effects of £15,747.

 Thomas Alexander Robinson was born in 1862 at West Hartlepool to parents Thomas and Alice (nee Houghton) Robinson. He married Sarah Firth at Heckmondwike, Yorkshire in 1891. The couple had eight children. Thomas died aged 57 at Sculcoates, Yorkshire on 13 January 1920 leaving effects of £388,758.



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