Richard Barrow (1787 - 1865)

 

The Barrow Family were gentry from Southwell

with very strong connections to the Church of

England. Richard’s father, also Richard, was vicar

choral of Southwell and Master of the Free

Grammar School whilst his uncle, William Barrow,

was the Archdeacon of Nottingham. Richard’s

brother, James, was the Rector of South Lopham

in Norfolk, brother William was the MP for

South Nottinghamshire and elder brother George

Hodgkinson Barrow was a solicitor before taking

on the forge at Staveley.  

 

Both Richard and his younger brother John had

made their fortunes as London merchants trading

to Spain, Portugal and China. Richard Barrow

retired from overseas trade in 1840, a very rich

man. Whilst his brother and partner John retired

to a country estate, Richard went into a new

venture and joined his brother George at

Staveley. He took over control of the business,

signing a new lease on 28th February 1843 which gave him control of all the mines and beds

of coal and ironstone in the manor of Staveley. This was at the height of the industrial

revolution, when coal was in great demand and the coming of the railways suggested that

fortunes could be made.

 

By 1862, Barrow was the owner of the largest collieries in Derbyshire capable of producing

800,000 tons of coal from the five shafts and one of which raised 1,100 tons of coal in a

single twenty four hour period. Barrow used the iron from his three foundries to produce

castings of every description and in 1862 he produced the 4,000 tons of girders needed for

the great exhibition centre without any problems in three months - such was the size of the

companies resources.

 

Richard Barrow was not quite the kindly, Pickwickian gentleman seen in this portrait, rather

he was a man of iron determination and outstanding business ability who built a great

industrial empire. He was at times ruthless; challenged by the miner’s union in 1844 he

flooded a pit rather than meet them on their own terms. The business became The Staveley

Coal and Iron Company” in July 1863, a public company, and Richard Barrow was its first

chairman and largest shareholder. At this time the company employed 3,000 workers, the

collieries raised some 1,000,000 tons of coal per annum and the foundries and furnaces

produced 20,000 tons of castings.

 

The village of “Barrow’s Hill” was named after him.

Richard Barrow