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British Industrial History

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Charles Holcroft

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Charles Holcroft (1831-1917)

c. 1832 Born in Bilston, son of Thomas Holcroft, a cement and lime manufacturer, and his wife Sarah[1][2]; brother of Thomas junior

1861 Coal master, living in Kingswinford with his brother James Holcroft[3]

His brother Thomas assisted Charles in opening up the Littleton Collieries.

1911 Living in Kingswinford, a coal master[4]

1917 March. Died.

1917 Obituary.[5]

Sir Charles Holcroft, Bart., who for over half-a-century has been known as a successful ironmaster and colliery proprietor, died at his residence, "The Shrubbery," Kingswinford, on Sunday, after a few days' illness from influenza.

Sir Charles was a Staffordshire man, having been born at Bilston in 1831. He lived a quiet but strenuous life, winning his successes by thrift, unremitting industry, high character, shrewd intellect, kind heart, and keen sense of humour.

His father, Mr. Thomas Holcroft died in 1865, leaving four sons and three daughters, Charles being the youngest and James the eldest of the family. These two brothers always closely associated in their business and private lives, and Sir Charles often declared that the exertions and influence of his eldest brother had foundation of his own prosperity.

Sir Charles begin his business career In 1848 in the drawing office of the Horseley Engineering Works, Tipton, but owing to ill-health he abandoned that occupation; at the end of two years; but later, after the concern had turned into a limited liability company, he became director and remained on the board until recently.

In 1856 and for some years afterward was associated with has brother James and others in laying down the plant and sinking the first pits of the Conduit Colliery Company, and thus became one of the pioneers in the development of the Cannock Chase coalfield. Another partnership of the two brothers was in the Portfield Ironworks, Tipton, carried under the style of James and Charles Holcroft - until its sale a few years ago.

In 1898 Sir Charles extended his interests in the Cannock Chase coalfield by taking a lease of a mining area formerly held by the Cannock and Huntington hub abandoned them before the mines were proved. At considerable risk Sir Charlies resumed the search for these mines and was ultimately successful; and in 1899 the Littleton Collieries (Limited) was formed, with Sir Charles as first chairman.

Besides his valuable mineral estate at Norton Canes, Cannock, he became the owner of much agricultural land in Shropshire and Staffordshire, and was life tenant of his late brother James's estates in Worcestershire and Staffordshire.

Sir Charles was unmarried, and, as his health was never robust. He took no active part in public affairs. He found his chief relaxation from business cares the study of geology and kindred natural history subjects. He possessed a choice collection of fossils from the Upper Silurian measures, and most interesting collection of recent shells. Many specimens from the former were presented to the Sydney and other museums some years ago, and the remainder are preserved in the museum at "The Shrubbery."

In 1905 was created baronet. Sir Charles Holcroft's interest in Birmingham was practically limited to his association with the University, of which lie was a member of the Court of Governors; he was certainly one of the largest donors to the Endowment Fund, and it was always understood that his generous contributions amounted to the munificent sum of £100,000. In his own name subscribed two sums of £20,000 and £30,000, but it was also "open secret" that when the Endowment Fund was promoted through the influence of Mr. Chamberlain, Sir Charles was one of the anonymous donors of £50,000. The new buildings of the University at Edgbaston were formally opened in July, by his Majesty King Edward and her Majesty Queen Alexandra, and at the special Degree Day held in the following October the honorary degree of LLD. was conferred upon Sir Charles Holcroft.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1841 census
  2. 1851 census
  3. 1861 census
  4. 1911 census
  5. Lichfield Mercury - Friday 16 March 1917