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Roburite Works, Gathurst   Views: 898
Colliery Managers Meeting Sep 5th 1890   Comments: 1
Photo: RON HUNT   Item #: 25507  
Colliery Managers Meeting Sep 5th 1890
  Members of the Colliery Managers at a meeting held at the Roburite Explosives Company's works at Gathurst September 5th 1890.  

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Comments by Rev David Long, 9th December 2017  david@scars.org.uk 
The Roburite Company was only established in 1887, buying up the patents and rights to manufacture a 'safe' explosive for use in deep mines which had been invented the year before by a German, von Roth.
According to the autobiography of Lt. Gen. Sir John Stokes, who became a Director of the company in 1887, he inspected the site at Gathurst prior to its purchase, and was involved in decisions about the construction of the buildings - such as the elevated tramway linking the factory to the explosives facilities over the canal.
Part of the reason for choosing Gathurst was its proximity to its customers - the mines of the Wigan coalfield being the nearest. Perhaps this was a promotional visit organised by the Factory.
Its manager from the outset was Stokes' son-in-law, Harris Bigg-Wither - grandson of the Harris Bigg-Wither who proposed to Jane Austen in 1802. She accepted his proposal (they had known one another since childhood, and his sisters remained her friends until her death) - but changed her mind overnight, and remained a spinster.
It is highly likely that Harris Bigg-Withers is among those pictured.

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