11 July 1838|
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire
|Died||24 October 1903
|Occupation||Engineer, industrialist and philanthropist|
Samson Fox (11 July 1838 – 24 October 1903) was an English engineer, industrialist, and philanthropist. He was elected Mayor of Harrogate in Yorkshire and donated most of the cost of building the Royal College of Music in London.
Life and career
Samson Fox was born at Bowling, Bradford, Yorkshire, England, the son of Jonas Fox, a mill worker, by his marriage to Sarah Pearson, and the family shortly afterwards moved to live and work in nearby Leeds. At the age of eight Fox started work in a textile mill and at fifteen he became an apprentice in a toolmaking and foundry company. In his late twenties, he was running his own toolmaking business, called the Silver Cross Works.
Ten years later, in 1874, he set up the Leeds Forge Company to produce "Best Yorkshire" iron for locomotive and marine engine parts. In 1877 he developed the corrugated boiler flue for which he became famous. This simple idea involved corrugating the flue pipes inside the boiler, improving both their heat transfer capability and compressive strength, enabling smaller boilers working at higher pressures to be used with improved safety. "Fox Corrugated" was adopted as standard by the Admiralty and major steamship lines and was widely patented.
In 1887, Fox applied his knowledge and experience in forging metal to building forged "pressed" iron railway undercarriages and trucks. His railway trucks could support 120 tons without failing, were guaranteed for five years, and were soon being sold in Argentina, Belgium, British India, Japan, and Spain, in addition to England. North America however was the world's biggest market, so in 1888 Fox went to the United States, where he made a deal with the famous railway salesman Diamond Jim Brady for Brady to sell American-made Fox trucks in America and to remit one third of the sale price back to Fox as commission. Brady's sales techniques soon succeeded, and in 1888 the Fox Solid Pressed Steel Company was incorporated to manufacture the trucks in Joliet, Illinois.
Fox bought and extended Grove House in Harrogate, a Yorkshire spa town, and became a benefactor to the local community. He provided Harrogate with its first steam fire engine, built the Grove Road School opposite his home, funded the Royal Hall, and provided affordable social housing. He also built a "water gas" plant to provide the main street of Harrogate with some of the earliest street lighting. Eventually he became Mayor of Harrogate for three successive years (1890–92), a record never equalled since. He was a JP (Justice of the Peace) for both Leeds and Harrogate.
Around 1890, he invited the Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac to stay at Grove House and paint a series of family portraits. He collected many of Bukovac's other paintings but the collection was dispersed in an auction in 1911. The most important of all his purchases was the huge 'Suffer the Little Children', shown at the Paris Salon in 1888, which the Fox family later presented to St. Robert’s church in Harrogate.
He had married Mary Anne Slinger in Leeds in 1861. They had four children. At the 1889 wedding of his eldest daughter Clara Louisa to engineer Bernal Bagshawe, Dan Leno was paid the then unheard of sum of £100 to entertain the guests and the grounds of Grove House were thrown open to the people of Harrogate. He remarried in 1899, after the death of his first wife in 1895, Annie Louise Baxter.
Arms: Argent a representation of a corrugated boiler-flue fesseways proper between two foxes courant Gules each holding in their mouth a trefoil slipped Vert.
Crest: A representation of a corrugated boiler-flue as in the Arms and thereupon a fox Gules resting the dexter paw upon a trefoil slipped Vert.
Motto: Forti Nihil Difficile. (To the brave, nothing is difficult.)
His son, Arthur William Fox, married Hilda Hanbury, sister of actress Lily Hanbury. His grandson Robin Fox was the head of the Fox acting dynasty, making Samson Fox great-grandfather to screen actors Edward Fox OBE and James Fox OBE, and great-great-grandfather to English actress Emilia Fox and her cousin Laurence Fox.
- "Emilia Fox". Who Do You Think You Are?. Series 8. Episode 5. 7 September 2011. BBC One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014hrn6. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Originating in Leeds". Mylearning.org. 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Pressed Steel Car Company". Midcontinent.org. 17 April 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Emilia Fox". The Genealogist. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- Martin Wainwright (May 4, 2012). "Fox family actors return to great-grandfather's glittering Yorkshire hall". The Guardian.
- Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes: Grand Lodge of England
- "Armorial Families". Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Vlaho Bukovac and Samson Fox". Liverpool museums. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Obituary. Samson Fox". Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 155: 430–431. 1904. doi:10.1680/imotp.1904.17933.
- "The Mayor whose many inventions made him his millionaire fortune". Harrogate Advertiser. 17 March 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- Harleian Society's Grantees of Arms