Engineer of the Week No.126: Mrs Christiana Rose (nee Cambell) (27 Dec 1792 – 10 Dec 1871)
On her 227th birthday we remember one of our ‘oldest’ engineers of the week, iron-founder and machinery manufacturer, Christiana Rose.
Christiana Campbell was born into a family whose business was ship chandlery and brass founding. Her father, Duncan Campbell had built the Old Foundry, Hull into one of the principal manufacturers of specialist machinery for the seed oil processing industry. Her brother died young and she seemingly stepped into the place he must have been expected to take learning to run the family firm. In 1812 the foundry was engaged in war work, casting cannons for the Battle of Waterloo. In 1818 Christiana married Captain John Rose and in 1823 they had their only child, Susan. When her father died in 1833 Mrs. Christiana Rose inherited ownership of the company. She employed Mr. James Downs, initially as a manager and later a partner in the company. By 1841 Christiana was a widow but still busy with her company. The company started to branch out from brass founding and in 1847 were advertising themselves as “Iron and Brass Founders, and Steam Engine and Boiler manufacturers”. There was a changing cast of partners in this period but Christiana was cer tainly at the helm and known for her expertise to the extent that she was taking on apprentices under her own name in 1861: “Indenture of apprenticeship Parties: (i) Michael Fenton, foreman oil miller of Sculcoates and Michael Fenton, his son, a minor (ii) Christiana Rose of Hull, iron founder and engineer. Trade of fitter and turner Wages to be paid as specified.” The company would have needed new employees at that time as in only two years, between 1861 and 1863, her Old Foundry had built and installed over one hundred double presses, all of which bore the name C Rose.
Mrs Rose died in 1871 and in 1874 her grandson Mr. Campbell Thompson also became a partner and the company name became Rose, Downs and Thompson. The company was to trade under this name for over 100 years and became renowned throughout the world as a leading supplier of oil processing equipment. We do not know what she looked like as no portrait seems to exist but there is a ompany advert from around the time of her death and a photo of women working in the factory in the 1920s.