|Usborne, Benson & Co|
|Between 1811 and 1839 Usborne,
Benson & Co (merchants) had offices at 2 & 4. Broad St. London. Henry was in partnership with Thomas Starling Benson.
(Brother Thomas Usborne (b.1770) left the partnership in 1825).
In 1778, 300 navy ships had their hulls first clad with copper sheathing. This prevented the growth of weed below the water-line and was particularly effective against Toredo worm (a menace in tropical waters). Up to 2,700 rectangular sheets of thin copper were needed, attached to the hull with copper nails. This also improved the speed of ships. Ships had to be re-coppered every 3-5 years.
Nicholas Troughton, an ex-naval lieutenant, developed a business at Forest Works on the banks of the river Tawe near Swansea, South Wales recovering copper from old slag and rolling it into sheets instead of the more usual stamping process.
In 1830 Usborne Benson & Co bought the firm. They installed a new rolling engine, leased two farms for mining coal and planned a tram-way connecting the mine to the copper works. This later became the Swansea Vale Railway.
William Logan Edmond was employed as supervisor. Gradually the influence of this man increased, Henry Usborne’s interest was bought out and a new company was formed in April 1833 to be known as Benson, Logan & Co.
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Thomas Starling Benson
A mezzotint engraving in the
National Portrait Gallery from Benjamin de la Cour's painting.
|Thomas Starling Benson
Benson lived from 1775-1858. He married three times. His second wife was Helen Newbury, his third Elizabeth Meux. His business interests were divided between London and South Wales.
Benson was a partner of both Henry and Thomas Usborne. His daughter Emma married Thomas Usborne's son Thomas Henry (b.1809).
In Wales: His Welsh interests date from circa 1820. He lived at
Tyrlandwyr in Glamorganshire. By 1750 Swansea with its abundant coal was
producing half the copper that England needed. By the early 19C. the
copper ore from Cornwall and north Wales was being replaced with
supplies from Chile and Cuba. By 1830, Usborne, Benson & Co were extracting copper
from old spent slag and rolling sheet copper. They leased two farms and
opened coal mines and planned a railway to take the coal to the copper
works. In 1832 he founded the Company of Copper miners and in 1835 a
company to promote a patent anti-dry rot treatment. The death of his
mother in law in 1834 led to the sale of the family property in North
Cray, Kent and the release of capital. By 1840 the Swansea Vale railway
was under construction and Benson was shipping much of the coal abroad.
In 1836 he was trying to get elected as High Sheriff of Glamorganshire. He was a magistrate in 1841.
|In London: He lived at
Champion Lodge, Camberwell (1813-1823) This was demolished in the
1840's. Now Champion Hill; and at Bolton House, 67/71 Russell Square
He was a vinegar-maker from 1809 till the works burned down in 1828. He owned and leased out a ship (called Benson) in 1817. This led to a court case in which the discovery of dry-rot led to the ship being abandoned in Mauritius. In 1839 he was a director of the Albion Insurance Company.