Henry Schneider arrived in Barrow-in-Furness in 1839 as a speculator and dealer in iron. He took over the Whiteriggs iron mine and other ore deposits. His breakthrough in Furness was the discovery of the massive Burlington iron ore mine near Askam in 1851.
He and other investors including James Ramsden founded the Furness Railway, the first section of which opened in 1846. He decided to build furnaces in the town, in partnership with John Hannay. Schneider's iron company later merged with one founded by Ramsden to form the Barrow Hematite Steel Company and the two magnates oversaw the construction in 1859 of what was then the largest Bessemer process steelworks in the world, employing more than 5,000 workers.
He was elected MP for Norwich from 27 March 1857 to 31 July 1859 and was later MP for Lancaster from 20 February 1865 to 31 December 1866, but was disqualified when it was found that he had bribed voters.
While chairman of the Barrow Steelworks he lived at Belsfield House on the shore of Windermere. Every morning he left home and travelled on his steam yacht SL Esperance, on which he had breakfast, across the lake to Lakeside. From there he would travel by train in his private carriage to his office in Barrow. The Esperance is preserved in the Windermere Steamboat Museum. It became the model for Captain Flint's houseboat in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons.
He had other homes in the area at Roa Island, next to the lifeboat station, later used as a fisheries centre and at Oak Lea, near Sowerby Woods, which burnt down in mysterious circumstances in 1913.
A statue of Schneider, erected in 1891, stands on Schneider Square, Barrow-in-Furness near the town hall.
- Aidan C. J. Jones, ‘Schneider, Henry William (1817–1887)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 8 Jan 2013
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Henry Schneider
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Samuel Bignold
| Member of Parliament for Norwich
With: Viscount Bury
Sir William Russell, Bt
Edward Matthew Fenwick
| Member of Parliament for Lancaster
1865 – 1867
With: Edward Matthew Fenwick
Constituency disfranchised for corruption
Title next held byGeorge Marton