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James Morrison (1806-1878)

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James Morrison (1806-1878)


1879 Obituary [1]

Mr. JAMES MORRISON, one of the first members of the Iron and Steel Institute, died at his residence, Jesmond Park, Newcastle, on the 8th of February last, aged 72 years.

Mr. Morrison was born in 1806 in Glamorganshire, but his parents were natives of Northumberland. He spent the principal portion of his earlier years in Sunderland, but commenced his actual business life as clerk in an assurance office in Newcastle under a relative. This did not suit his disposition, and at the age of nineteen he went out to South America in connection with the Poliso Mining Company.

In 1830 he became connected with the iron trade of Monmouthshire.

In 1836 he became manager of the Ridsdale Iron Works, which had just been completed by some gentlemen connected with the Derwent Iron Company.

When the Consett Works were established in 1844, he was elected to fill a responsible position in connection with the management. This was a much more extensive and important venture than the Ridsdale Works. The Consett Iron Company originally commenced operations with seven blast furnaces, intended for the smelting of ironstone from the local coal measures. Anxious, apparently, to still further mature his experience by seeing for himself the blast furnace practice of the Continent, Mr. Morrison, in 1845, went over to France, and became manager and principal proprietor of the Guinea [actually Guînes!] and Marquise Works - the former about six miles south of Calais, and the latter nearly the same distance from Boulogne. While in that country, the deceased gentleman, in connection with a French engineer, invented an ingenious process for purifying small coals by washing out the impurities with which they are mixed.

With a view to develop this process in the North of England, he settled there in business. It was then the custom at all the north-country collieries to burn at the pit mouth the immense accumulations of small coal or "duff," obtained as the residue of the screening process. The waste of fuel thus permitted was enormous, and as Mr. Morrison's process enabled a good quality of coke to be made from "duff" at a small cost, he established coke works on a large scale, and made extensive contracts with ironmasters for the supply of that necessary component in blast-furnace practice. For several years after he had initiated this lucrative process, Mr. Morrison found himself rapidly amassing wealth. He established works at Coxhoe, Thornley, Wigan, in Lancashire, and Staveley, in Derbyshire. He became one of the largest coke manufacturers in the world.

In 1859, Mr. Morrison commenced the Ferryhill Iron Works, erecting three blast furnaces, each 55 feet in height. Five years later he amalgamated his interest in these and other works in the county of Durham with the owners of the Rosedale' estate. Since then the amalgamated concerns have been carried on under the style of the Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Company, Limited, the other partners being Mr. George Leeman, member for York city, the chairman of the North Eastern-Railway Company, and Mr. Alexander Clunes Sheriff.

About the year 1860 these gentlemen acquired the Rosedale estate, and large. adjoining royalties of ironstone. Besides his interest in the Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Company, Mr. Morrison was the owner of collieries in Northumberland and works at Staveley,: Derbyshire. He was a partner of the Manvers Main, South. Yorkshire, and the Renishaw (Derbyshire) Iron Works; and in other ventures of a smaller and less prominent kind he was more or less interested. After a short residence at Sunderland, Mr. Morrison took up his abode in Newcastle.

He was Mayor of that town in 1869 and 1870.


1878 Obituary [2]



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