John Brogden (industrialist)
John Brogden - Industrialist
|Born||2 February 1798
Clitheroe, Lancashire, UK
|Died||9 December 1869
Sale, Cheshire, UK
|Occupation||Railway Contractor, Iron and Coal Master|
John Brogden (2 February 1798 – 9 December 1869) was a cleansing, building and railway contractor, railway promoter, a miner of coal and iron and an iron smelter. He was brought up on a farm near Clitheroe, Lancashire. As a young man he migrated to a rapidly growing Manchester and applied his farmer's knowledge of horses as a cleansing contractor. He worked in partnership with Joseph Whitworth to use the latter's patent cleansing machines. He also started the same business in Westminster. He seems to have extended his contracting work to building, for in 1838 he obtained contracts with the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company to build their Manchester station (now Manchester Victoria station) and the viaduct from there to Miles Platting. Other railway contracts followed.
As the eldest four of his five sons came of age and joined him to form John Brogden and Sons he took iron-mining leases in Furness. They quickly saw that a rail link from Furness to the rest of England and Wales was critical to the industrial development of Furness so they promoted the Ulverston and Lancaster Railway to run across Morecambe Bay from Carnforth to Ulverston, receiving the Royal Assent in 1851. This was an innovative, challenging and risky project but it was eventually completed in 1857 and soon purchased by the Furness Railway.
Beginning in 1853 the family expanded into South Wales buying mining leases and an Iron Works in the Llynfi and Ogmore Valleys. They developed these vigorously, also building a railway in the Ogmore Valley and a new harbour at Porthcawl.
From an early age Brogden was a Methodist and in later life he contributed generously in time and money to Methodist and other good causes.
When John Brogden died in 1869, his business was outwardly strong and profitable. However it failed spectacularly within ten years, under the leadership of Alexander Brogden, the eldest surviving son.
As a young man he left home for the rapidly expanding town of Manchester. Whereas other young men at that time chose to work in the burgeoning cotton industry, Brogden was an outdoor man, fond of riding and hunting so he preferred to work in haulage and transport. For further details of his work see John Brogden and Sons.
In 1822 he married Sarah Hannah McWilliams, only daughter of Alexander McWilliams of Hazelhurst near Ashton-under-Lyne. She had been educated at the Moravian School in Dukinfield . The family lived as Methodists. The Methodists had close connections with the Moravians and John would have found Methodist chapels much easier to find on his many travels. Their children were:
John, born Manchester 1823, married Ellen Garstang 20 March 1849 at Manchester Cathedral, died suddenly on 6 November 1855 at his home, Lightburn House, Ulverston, age 32. Lightburn House was later pulled down and replaced by the Coronation Hall.
George William Hargreaves Brogden, was born in 1842 and died in London in 1892.
All the above sons except George joined him in his business on reaching the age of 21.
Death and afterwards
In his will he left his business to his sons Alexander, Henry and James but he also set up a trust for Mrs Billing of £7,250 and previously a marriage settlement of £10,000. The trustees were: Alexander and James Brogden, and Samuel Budgett. For five years from his death the partners were empowered to use the trust money in the business but after that they had to provide good assets that were independent of it. They failed to do this so that, from December 1874, all the trustees were in breach of trust and therefore all individually liable to replace all the assets of the trust. No doubt they hoped that the firm would pull through. In fact, Brogdens failed in 1880 and Mary Billing sued the trustees for the money. The action "Billing vs. Brogden" was tried in 1887 and appealed in 1888 with the result that Samuel Budgett, the only solvent trustee, had to replace all the trust's missing money himself. The partnership of James, William and Samuel Budgett, trading as H.H. & S. Budgett, broke up. James and William each ended up successfully running his own part of the old firm as a separate enterprise. Samuel and two of his sons also got a small piece but rapidly went bankrupt.
- According to Smiles p223. Also a John Brogden of Worston was baptised at Downham (the local parish church for Worston) on 25 February 1798 and many earlier Brogdens were baptised, married and buried there. However some authorities say he was born in Furness. The reason for this is that Casson, page 66, misquoting Smiles, changes the place from Worston to "Marton, in North Lancashire". Then Marshall (1958) accepts this and mentions that Marton is "near Dalton-in-Furness". Then Higgins (1978) in his turn accepts Marshall, leaves out Marton and just puts "Furness". It is quite clear from Smiles' text that Brogden was born at a farm called Worston, moved a short distance to another called Hookcliff and from there attended Clitheroe Grammar School "the nearest and best that was accessible". The place names Worston and Hookcliff can still be found near Clitheroe. The Furness theory can be rejected.
- Smiles (1870)
- The County Families of Glamorganshire (c. 1875), page 165: Brogden, Alexander, provides 'Sarah Hannah', which is not given in Smiles
- Higgins (1978)
- Gilpin (1988)
- The Times (1892)
- Richardson, p. 231
- Wednesbury Herald
- The Times (10 August 1887), "Law Reports – High Court – Chancery Division: Billing v Brogden", The Times: 3
- The Times (9 May 1888), "Law Reports – Court of Appeal: Billing v Brogden", The Times: 4
- Wednesbury Herald (13 August 1887), "The late Liberal Member for Wednesbury – Important Action", Wednesbury Herald
- The Times, 1 Jul 1875, p 8, Col A and 4 Sep p 6 Col A
- The Times, Mar 14, 1893; p 13 and Mar 16, p 14
- The Times 26 Jul 1898, p 13, Col A & 27 Jul, p 15, Col A
Casson, Robert (1889), A Few Furness Worthies, pp. 66–68
Gilpin, L.R. (February 1988), "John Brogden of Manchester", Cumbrian Railways 3 (15) Online
Higgins, L.S. (Summer 1978), "The Brogden Pioneers of the early industrial development in Mid-Glamorgan", National Library of Wales Journal XX (3): 240–252 Online
Richardson, Joseph (1870), Furness Past and Present 1
Smiles, R (1870), "Memoir about John Brogden (Senior)", Richardson (1870): 223
The Times (10 August 1887), "Law Reports – High Court – Chancery Division: Billing v Brogden", The Times
The Times (27 February 1888), "Law Reports – High Court – Chancery Division: Billing v Brogden", The Times
The Times (9 May 1888), "Law Reports – Court of Appeal: Billing v Brogden", The Times
The Times (29 November 1892), "Obituary: Alexander Brogden", The Times: 10
Wednesbury Herald (13 August 1887), "The late Liberal Member for Wednesbury – Important Action", Wednesbury Herald