8 thoughts on “The railway sidings at the Phoenix Works, Stockton

  1. Does anybody know when the magnificent metallic Phoenix on top of the Worth Mackenzie Works roof in the above 1901 photograph was put in place or removed? It may have preceded Worth Mackenzie being in place pre-1889 at the time of the Henry Wilson and Company, Engineers. The Phoenix was a fabulous Arabian bird worshipped in ancient Egypt, the only one of its kind, which burned itself every 500 years or so and rose rejuvenated from its ashes. Thus the Phoenix symbolises renewal and in the nineteenth century took on some Christian values, such as life in heavenly paradise, and an exceptional character or man. Thus the above Phoenix Works is something exceptional or superior that rose from its own or predecessors ashes/existence.

    Other company secretaries after Richard Tinkler were Thomas Henry Arrowsmith by 9 June 1915 replaced Tinkler; John Newbold Cumming Barber by 21 June 1916, 7 Westbourne Street on 3 April 1919, resigned 28 Feb 1927 another reference claimed 28 Jan 1927; F.C. Panton promoted from assistant company secretary and book-keeper on 28 Feb 1927, but resigned 11 August 1928; John Henry D. Hobson, company secretary and general manager from 11 August 1928. General manager James Dundas resigned on 24 June 1927 and John Henry D. Hobson was appointed. D = Dennison?


  2. An original history of Worth Mackenzie Company, part five, officers and directors of the company.

    Company directors at 11 June 1909 were George James Clarkson, 6 Finkle Street; John Mackenzie, 134 St Pauls Terrace, Middlesbrough; Edward Stephenson, Stanhope House, Stockton; Robert James Worth, ‘Longfield’ Station Road, Norton; Provision Merchant William Whitfield Walker, ‘Westfield’ Yarm Road. Note Mackenzie was at Grange Road West, Middlesbrough in 1898.
    Company directors at 31 May 1916 were John Mackenzie, Chairman and Mechanical Engineer, 312 Grosvenor Terrace (Linthorpe Road), Middlesbrough; William Whitfield Walker, Provision Merchant, ‘Westfield’ Yarm Road; Thomas Mellanby, Corn Merchant, Hawthorn House, Hartburn; Thomas Henry Arrowsmith, Company Managing Director, 28 Cranbourne Terrace.
    Company directors at 3 Dec 1917 were Thomas Mellanby, Corn Merchant, Hawthorn House, Hartburn; William Whitfield Walker, new Worth Mackenzie Chairman replacing deceased Mackenzie, ‘Westfield’ Yarm Road but ‘Esk View’ Grosmont, Yorks by 1919; Robert Tyson Hodgson, Incorporated Accountant, 96 Stockton High Street; George Mason, Mechanical Engineer, ‘Hollywood’ Raby Road.
    Company directors at 7 and 15 August 1934 were Thomas Mellanby, Corn Merchant, Hawthorn House, Hartburn, also a JP; William Whitfield Walker, Company Chairman, The Villa, Grosmont, Yorks; William Fairbank Tyson Hodgson, Stockbroker, Corby Lodge, Junction Road, Norton; John Henry D. Hobson, Company Managing Director, ‘Glengary’ Bishopton Road.

    Some final replacement dates for directors were Edward Stephenson until c.1914 was Mayor of Stockton twice 1913 and 1914, replaced by Mellanby; Robert Tyson Hodgson from 20 Nov 1916 replaced deceased Mackenzie, Hodgson was Mayor in 1922; Thomas Henry Arrowsmith from 31 May 1916 replaced deceased Worth; George Mason from 3 Dec 1917 replaced Arrowsmith, Masons departure not recorded; William Fairbank Tyson Hodgson from June 1932 replaced deceased Robert Tyson Hodgson. John T. Thorman was a director before August 1896.


  3. An original history of the Worth Mackenzie Company, Engineers, Stockton, part four, other notable shareholders.

    Other locals that obtained and retained an early shareholding in the company, or significantly increased their shareholding with time, included the Middlesbrough ironmaster Sir Arthur Dorman, Middlesbrough shipbuilder Sir Raylton Dixon, Middlesbrough colliery owner and chemical maker Sir Samuel Alexander Sadler; Norton surgeons Joseph Whitfield Blandford and Lawrence James Blandford; Stockton accountant Robert Tyson Hodgson (D replaced decreased Mackenzie); Norton manager Harold Kirk, ‘Oaklea’ Darlington Lane, Norton, died 27 Jan 1940; Stockton shipbuilder Charles William Littleboy, Middlesbrough solicitor Walter Mills, Stockton provision merchant/grocer William Whitfield Walker (C after Mackenzie, D), Stockton brassfounder Edward Stephenson (D, and a Mayor of Stockton), Stockton dental surgeon Henry Hind, Stockton timber merchants John Brotherton and John Wilson Watson, Stockton corn merchant Thomas Mellanby (D); Stockton engineer John Thomas Thorman (D), he ran a blockade during the US Civil War, formerly of Blair and Co; and Stockton Oil Merchant William Thorman. The founders, directors, secretaries of the company, their wives, children and close relatives were often shareholders. Some of the listed were officers of the company D = Director, C = Chairman.

    As a group the boilermaking Riley family were notable shareholders, particularly around World War One, owning about 1.5 per cent of Worth Mackenzie. Riley shareholders (and their Stockton addresses) were Ann (Mountroyd), George Farrar (Abbotsford), Harry (Allendale Road/ later Beaumont), Sarah (Brookdale), Barzillia (Brookdale), Albert E/Albert Edward (Richmond Road/later Stanley Villas), George Ernest (28 Lorne Terrace) and George Walter (18 Lorne Terrace).

    One notable non-local shareholder from the start of Worth Mackenzie and through most of its life was mechanical engineer and steel merchant John Benjamin Tompkin of Attercliffe, Sheffield, (also listed as 47 Norfolk Road, Sheffield) possibly a supplier to Worth Mackenzie. Some of the above industrialists were significant shareholders possibly an indication about where Worth Mackenzie’s business came from.


  4. An original history of the Worth Mackenzie Company, Engineers, Stockton, part three, the founders and earliest local shareholders. Stockton addresses unless indicated otherwise.

    The founders of the company were

    John Mackenzie, Mechanical and Chemical Engineer, Chairman, born Blyth c.1847; Cowpen Quay, Cowpen, Northumberland-1861; SS Wentworth ship-1871; 6 North Terrace-1881 as a boarder; Eaglescliffe-1888/1893; from now on Middlesbrough, Grange Road -1898; 134 Newport Road-1901; 134 St. Paul’s Terrace-1904/1909; 5 Grosvenor Terrace-1911, 312 Grosvenor Terrace 1914/1916, died quarter 3/1916.

    Robert James Worth, Master Engineer, Machine Maker, Managing Director, Manufacturer of Pumping Machinery, born Kidderminster, March 1845; 31 Cecil Street-1881/1883; 1 Langdale Terrace (Mill Lane)-1888/1891/1893; ‘Eyrie’ Eaglescliffe-1898; at Lower Mitton, Stourport, Worcs-1901; Ivy House, Seaton Carew (one document says Saltburn)-1904; ‘Longfield’ 14 Station Road, Norton (Junction Road section) -1909 onwards, died June 1916.

    George James Clarkson, Patent Agent and Engineer, born c.1854, Chillenden, Kent; 1 Cobden Street as a boarder -1881/1883; 6 Langdale Terrace(Mill Lane)-1883/1888; 37 Hartington Road-1893/1898, 6 Finkle Street-1904 onwards, 9 Paradise Row-1911/1915, died 14 March 1915.

    The longstanding first company secretary was

    Richard Tinkler, Secretary of Mechanical Engineering Works and a Printer, born Stockton c.1854; 8 The Groves (near Cranborne Terrace)-1883/1888/1891; ‘Rosebank’ Stockton-1893/1898; ‘Hazel Hurst’ Victoria Avenue off Norton Road-1901/1904; ‘Oaklea’ Darlington Lane, Norton-1909 onwards; executors of at 5 Cambridege Terrace, Norton Road-1914.

    The earliest main local shareholders in the company on 2 June 1883 were brassfounder Edward Stephenson of 15 Spring Street,;engineer Anthony Stephenson of Carlton Iron Works, Stillington (and later Russell Street, Stockton); mechanical engineer John Mackenzie of 6 North Terrace; mechanical engineer Robert James Worth of 31 Cecil Street; accountant and printer Richard Tinkler of 8 The Groves; patent agent George James Clarkson of 1 Cobden Street; accountant William Robert Fitzgerald of St Helens House, Richmond Road; builder Joseph Hornsby Harland of 107 Pearson Street; engineer and draughtsman Walter Henry Oubridge of 3 Walter Street; fitter Walter Henry Jeynes of 35 Cardigan Street, engineer John Joseph Thomas Thorman of 8 Clarence Terrace, and rubber merchant and mechanical engineer Charles Joseph Seaman of The Terrace, Hartburn.


    • Do you have any further information on the family of rubber merchant and mechanical engineer Charles Joseph Seaman of The Terrace, Hartburn?

      I have a family tree with relatives married in Stockton 1873. There may be a connection.


  5. An original history of Worth Mackenzie Company, Stockton, part two 1919-1935. Worth Mackenzies most successful period was from 1919 to 1921 inclusive, the boom years after World War One with rising five figure operating profits posted, the biggest in its history (10,261 pounds in 1918/19; 18,540 in 1919/20; 20,719 in 1920/21; but only 1604 pounds in 1921/22), ensuring excellent returns on investment for shareholders. Such profitability swelled the companies reserves (started with 5,000 pounds in 1919 to over 15,000 in 1923), supplemented by new income from investment in 3.5% (later some 5% conversion) war loan stock acquired from c.1919, both would be drawn on in the later lean years. Lloyd George had predicted this short boom period making good demand lost due to the war, followed by depression as the government paid for World War One due to its war loan stock. Annual interest paid to the company on its war bonds sometimes exceeded the operating profit of the company during the lean years (eg 1923 and 1925). Dividends on revenue profit, if recommended, were usually 5% free of tax, rising to 7 or 7.5% free of tax in the best years.
    The company contemplated expansion during the boom period erecting and occupying new offices in 1921, but planned extensions to the fitting and machine shops were posponed and not resurrected due to rising labour and material costs. Such expansion was driven by a new class of work and product(s) developed during the war years. In the early 1920’s the company suffered from periods of lost production due to disastrous coal strikes, plus (local and national) boilermakers strikes and engineers strikes in the finiancial years 1921/22, 1923/24 and 1921/22 respectively.
    After the boom period the company struggled throughout the depressed 1920’s, facing keen competition for a smaller market. Orders were accepted at low prices leading to diminished profits or rising losses. The company responded in 1923/24 by increasing efficiency to cheapen production. It made better use of materials, improving stock control and reducing transfer times between departments.
    After 1922 operating (trade) profits were generally below 100 pounds (551 pounds in 1927/28), but a thumping 2238 pounds trade profit in depressed 1928/29 was exceptional (tempered by a big write down on assets), providing the last 5% tax free dividend on a declared profit. In April 1930 the last operating profit of 316.5 pounds was followed by yearly operating losses c.745, c.31, c.1767.5, c, 2414 pounds (1931 to 1934 respectively based on a 30 April financial year end, data taken from its annual reports), but these figures were sometimes high because of special charges, such as building repairs c.1930/31.
    The company failed due to the long and severe depression in the engineering trade after 1921. For example, the 1926 general strike and the substantial operating loss of c.1410 pounds reported on 30 April 1927 required reserve fund support (as did the dividend in 1923 and the tax bill in 1924). Worth Mackenzie’s inability to make a profit from the little work available after 1930 resulted in a struggle to keep the works partially employed. The 1932/33 balance sheet was bolstered by 900 pounds profit from the sale of 7000 pounds of 5% war stock, but a 5478 pounds liability to Lloyds Bank (a bank loan perhaps) first emerged in the 30 April 1933 accounts. In April 1934 at the last ordinary general meeting Chairman Walker reported that the company was developing new lines of business over a wider field to generate revenue. The unidentified products of this short, late, and desperate diversification attempt failed to materialise and save the company.
    The end came at the Phoenix Works (Emergency General) Meeting of 7 Dec 1934 when the company and its creditors concluded that after substantial losses it faced the prospect of no future profitable business and went for voluntary liquidation. Walter Harland and Sons of 41 Stockton High Street, the companies own auditors were appointed liquidators. The creditors then retired to the Queens Hotel to further consider the companies fate. The business was advertised for sale, but without success. It has been stated that the company needed 3000 pounds to continue.
    The final winding up meeting of 27 August 1935 was not quorate, but it revealed that the sale of land, buildings, machinery, patterns, and stock in Jan 1935 had fetched only 3100 pounds, very low compred with 30 April 1934 asset valuation (eg buildings c.8078 pounds, fixed plant c.3722, loose plant c.1793, stock-in-trade c.3117, all less depreciation and write offs). The company still retained c.3012 pounds worth of war stock, but the reserves were written down from 6200 to 3200 pounds at the end. It had c.4332 pounds of accumulated debt and a reduced liability of 4179 pounds to Lloyds Bank in the 30 April 1934 accounts. It was owed money as well with debitors on the open account at c.5059 pounds by 30 April 1934. In the final winding up accounts of 31 August 1935 (signed off 27 August) a dividend of 20 shillings in the pound returned c.6293 pounds to shareholders, and a further c.1342 pounds went to other contributors.
    Technology had changed, steam was giving way to diesel and electric, and Stockton’s shipbuilding industry had gone too. Ironically, possible future salvation, in the rise of ICI and the build-up to World War Two was just around the corner if the company could have hung on.


  6. An original history of the Worth Mackenzie Company (seen above), Engineers, Stockton, part one, 1880-1919. The Worth Mackenzie Company originated in 1880 at Lucan Street, and was employing 16 men and boys in 1881 (as in Worth’s census return), growing in number to c.200 employees by 1891. It applied to be a limited company on 21 Dec 1882 with an agreement between Robert James Worth, John Mackenzie and George James Clarkson to carry on the business of mechanical engineers, boilermakers, brass and iron founders. It intended to manufacture, repair and sell steam engines, boilers, and equipment connected with them.
    The Worth Mackenzie Company Limited was incorporated on 13 Jan 1883 with company number 17826 and its articles of association were signed on 1 Jan 1883 and published on 30 Jan 1883 (the articles were changed on 29 Sept 1932). Its first registered office, notified by letter of 1 May 1883 from company secretary Richard Tinkler to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) stamped 2 May 1883, was at the Vulcan Engine Works, Lucan Street, Stockton-on-Tees. On 2 June 1883, fourteen days after its first general meeting, working capital was raised from the issue of 1000 five pound shares. The companies wax seal comprised of its incorporation year 18 and 83 flanking the Stockton castle and anchor coat- of- arms, all enclosed in a circle, with the companies name written around the circumference. In 1883 it manufactured the Worth patented steam pump (photo in The Engineer-1881), steam winches, launch and electric light engines, chemical and iron works plant. It later made steam pumping engines, compound stationary engines, marine and high pressure engines, air compressors, steam fire pumps, and travelling cranes. It specialised in pumping engines for waterworks (Eston, Kidderminster, Hereford). In 1891 it supplied 3-cylinder triple expansion engines for the trawlers Exmouth (mined with no survivors in 1917), and Falmouth (badly damaged in a collision in 1908 and sold for scrap in 1909), built by the Sir Raylton Dixon Company of Middlesbrough for the Western Steam Trawler Company of Bristol. Although these trawlers were successful, the repeat order used compound engines from another manufacturer. Capital was increased with 1000 five pounds shares on 10 Dec 1889 (CRO stamped 11 Dec 1889). A change of its registered office to the Phoenix Sidings Works was notified on 10 Dec 1889 (CRO stamped 11 Dec 1889), these premises formerly occupied by engineers Henry Wilson and Company (bankrupt) as the Phoenix Iron Works. Capital was again increased with 2000 five pound shares on 28 May 1903 (CRO stamped 8 June 1903). Strikes before 1900 (eg 1894/96) mainly involved coordinated unrest for more pay with workers at local engineering companies, eg Blairs, Rogers and Company. Compared with other local engineering companies and its relative size, the Worth Mackenzie Company plus workers, generously donated to the Mayors Transvaal War Fund in 1900.
    Accidents could be severe. In 1902 the son of a local doctor was lifted nine feet, stripped of his clothes and partially skinned alive when his loose jacket caught in the moving belt of a planing machine.
    A mortgage was obtained on 14 May 1890 for 4350 pounds at 4.5% annual interest to fund the purchase and upgrading of the Phoenix Works. On 17 Sept 1908 this mortgage was CRO registered (now a legal requirement) by director Edward Stephenson (the well-known brass founder, Deputy Mayor 1917 and Mayor of Stockton twice 1913, 1914) and Richard Tinkler. The loan was taken on the security and contents of the Phoenix Works. Company statements about the mortgage were made on 1 July 1908 and 16 Sept 1908. The mortgage was satisfied on 1 Nov 1913. The Phoenix Works (even by 1890) was powered by several impressive steam engines servicing two large foundries, a dedicated brass foundry, a coppersmiths shop, a tinsmiths shop, plus well-equipped machine and fitting shops. With a view to expansion, land (over one acre) was acquired from the North Eastern Railway Company (NER) and the neighbouring Moor Steel and Iron Works on 3 Nov 1913 financed by another loan secured on the works. This mortgage for 5000 pounds was satisfied to the extent of 2800 pounds on 20 Feb 1918 and 5000 pounds on 23 Nov 1918. NER documents of 1912 confirm the Phoenix Works was rail connected mainly for the supply of coal and other raw materials.
    The works seem to have been fully engaged during World War One with profits rising annually, the company doing a lot better than before the war, but labour was increasingly hard to find and this restricted growth. Published sales figures (are rare) with corresponding operating trade profits were 31,387 (2011.5) pounds in 1913/14; 26,085 (1765.5) pounds in 1914/15; 33,440 (c.4275) pounds in 1915/16, thus % profit of 6.41, 6.77 , 12.78 respectively. In 1916 chairman John Mackenzie warned shareholders that the government was about to declare the works a controlled establishment. This meant that during the war the government could dictate what the works produced. He also warned that in future large sums would be claimed by the government in Excess Profits Duty (88.5 pounds in 1915, 2080.5 in 1916, 5349 in 1919, 8000 set aside in 1919, 12500 set aside in 1921). Patent agent Clarkson died in 1915 followed by former managing director Worth and chairman Mackenzie in 1916 , both engineers. The Stockton grocer William Whitfield Walker took over until the demise of the company. Robert Tyson Hodgson, 96 Stockton High Street, was the company auditor until he was appointed a director of the firm on 20 Nov 1916 (died 3 May 1932).


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