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Industrialists & Entrepreneurs of Manchester


Samuel Greg

Textile Manufacturer - Quarry Bank Mill, Styal

Samuel Greg - Mill owner, Quarry Bank Mill, Styal

(1758 -1834)
Samuel Greg was to become a major industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist in the region and was responsible for the creation of Quarry Bank Mill in Styal. He was born in Belfast in 1758, the son of a successful merchant and ship owner. His mother's family were also merchants, in Manchester, and specialised in the production of textiles bound for American markets. The young Samuel Greg began working at his uncle Robert's company in Manchester. Upon Robert's death in 1782 Samuel took over the firm - then valued at £26,000.
Greg soon developed a reputation for producing top quality yarns and after continued success he decided to build a new textile mill at Styal (near present day Manchester Airport). It was to be located beside the River Bollin which would drive the purpose-built 20 horsepower water wheel. Quarry Bank Mill opened in 1784 at cost of £3,000 and employed 150 men.
In 1789 he married Hannah Lightbody, the daughter of religious Unitarian family, whose liberal humanitarian beliefs would considerably influence her new husband's attitude to his workforce, their living and working conditions.
She also invested her £10,000 dowry in the mill, which financed a replacement water wheel and made possible the addition of worker's cottages for the expanding workforce. All the cottages were of an exceptionally high standard for the time each had a modest garden to grow their own vegetables.
By 1790 the Apprentice House had been built to house up to 90 children from local workhouses where they could be educated and trained eventually to work in the mill. These children (60 girls and 30 boys) made up around half of the total workforce, for which they each received board and lodging, and two pence a week.
In 1796 Greg recruited a partner, Peter Ewart, an engineer who had worked with Boulton and Watt in the development and production of the early steam engines. Ewart was responsible for the installation of a 10 horsepower Boulton & Watt steam engine, which supplemented two more water wheels in times of drought.
By 1816 Quarry Bank employed 252 people and was producing around 153 tons of cloth a year rising by 1825 to a workforce of 380 and over double the output, exporting to Italy, France, North America, Russia, Germany and South America. Needless to say, Greg amassed a considerable personal fortune and became one of Manchester's most influential businessmen. Later he opened other mills at Caton, Lancaster, Bury and Bollington. Samuel Greg died in June 1834. See Main Entry - Quarry Bank Mill

Sir William Veno

Inventor of Veno's Cough Syrup & Germolene


Sir William Veno in his mayoral robes

Sir William Henry Veno was born William Reynard Varney in 1866 in Castle Douglas. In August 1894, aged just 28 years, he moved to Canada and registered his company Veno's. Whilst there he invented Veno's Lightening Cough Cure and Germolene among many others, and these famous brands are still known and used to this day.
He met Mary Pearson whilst abroad and they married and moved back to live in England, where William set up his company, Veno Drug Company Limited, in Manchester on Chester Road. (Though this building was in existence in June 1922 when permission was given for an extension, it seems to no longer exist).
William was knighted 15th June 1920 and became the Mayor of Altrincham.
Following a scare regarding a growth on his lip which was believed to be cancerous, he offered tens of thousands of pounds for anyone who could find a cure for cancer.
The Veno Drug Company was bought in 1925 by Beechams. Sadly, in 1933, Sir William was found shot dead in the grounds of his house. A verdict of suicide was given.

We are indebted to Paul Parker, great-grandson of Sir William, for kindly providing this information and allowing us to use the photograph from his personal collection.

Charles Roe

Macclesfield Copper Company

(1715-1781)
Charles Roe was the founder of Roe & Company, also known as the Macclesfield Copper Company. Roe was actually born in Castleton, Derbyshire, but moved to Macclesfield in Cheshire and by 1758 had established himself as a major silk manufacturer. Also in that year he also diversified his business interests into profitable copper mining and smelting operations. By the mid-1700s he was firmly established s a leading and influential industrialist in the northwest region.
In 1758 he also began mining copper ore in nearby Alderley Edge and later from another of his acquired mines in Coniston in the Lake District.
Roe built a copper works on Macclesfield Common providentially aided by the readily available shallow coal seams just outside the town, which he needed for melting. He similarly set up other smelting shops near Congleton and at Bosley. But, his mining interests were relatively short-lived, as in 1768 mining had ceased at Alderley Edge and those at Coniston only survived a further two years before he finally abandoned them in 1770.
In 1763 Roe had acquired land on Parys Mountain in Anglesey and established the Mona Mine which was to become his most successful and profitable enterprise.
By 1767 Roe & Company had also opened the first of two smelting operations on the banks of the River Mersey in Liverpool, acquired the Avoca Copper Mine in Ireland and a colliery at Wrexham.
On his death, his company's vast commercial interests passed on to Edward Hawkins, a merchant of Congleton, Abraham Mills of Macclesfield and his eldest son, William Roe.
Charles Roe died in 17781 and a memorial tablet to his achievements can be found in Christ Church in Macclesfield, (which he had virtually had built at his own expense) and his name is remembered locally in a street name and office chambers in the township.

Samuel Ogden

Manchester Textile Manufacturer & Businessman

(1819 - 1903)
Samuel Ogden was born in November 1819 at Slaithwaite near Huddersfield, the eldest son of Amos Ogden, partner in the firm of Scholes, Varley and Ogden, cotton spinners.
He moved to Manchester sometime around 1835 and began his working life as a cotton cloth agent and worked his way up to eventually become one of the city's most successful manufacturers of fancy textiles.
Ogden was a most important and influential Victorian manufacturer and businessman known for his long association with the Manchester Athenaeum, (in which he served as Honorary Secretary from 1849-53). From 1859-1870 he was chairman of the Athenaeum Board, and from 1870 until he death he was its President. He was made a magistrate for the City of Manchester in 1875.
He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, having been elected a director in 1867, and later became its president. He was also vice-chairman of the Guardian Society for the Protection of Trade from 1879 to 1889, later became its chairman and president, until he retired in 1902. He was famed for his apparently encyclopaedic knowledge of contract and commercial law, and his advice was eagerly sought after by his colleagues.
Samuel Ogden retired to Colwyn Bay in Wales and died on 21 December 1903. He is buried at St Paul's Church in Kersal (Salford). His name is still remembered in Samuel Ogden Street , which is located between Granby Row and Whitworth Street near UMIST, on the edge of what is now the Gay Village.

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This page last updated 24 Jan 12.