Rose, Downs and Thompson, Hull, UK, opened Hong Kong branch office, 1910s

Rose, Downs and Thompson of Hull, UK, maker of plant for processing edible oils and for making animal feeds, opened branch offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong in the 1910s.

This company biography comes from the excellent UK Industrial History website Graces Guides, linked below.

1777 Company established.

1871 Christiana Rose, of Rose and Downs, died

1874 Christiana’s grandson, John Campbell Thompson, joined the partnership.

1870s James Downs visited America, returning with the plans for new machinery in the form of Anglo-American presses; these could press larger numbers of oil cakes than before and the firm soon became the principal British firm for oil mill machinery. Most of their customers were the seed-crushing firms.

By 1876 the company’s name had changed to Rose, Downs and Thompson (see advert)

Rose, Downs And Thompson Advert 1876 Graces Guides

Advert 1876 Courtesy: Graces Guide

1878 “NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership formerly subsisting between us the undersigned, William Johnston, Milson Rhodes, James Downs, and John Campbell Thompson, at the borough of Kingston-upon-Hull, as Engineers, Millwrights, Boiler Makers, and Iron and Brass Founders, under the firm of Rose, Downs, and Thompson, has been determined as from the 30th day of June last. The business, in future, will be carried on, on the same premises, by the said James Downs and John Campbell Thompson, under the said firm of Rose, Downs, and Thompson. Dated, this of November, 1878. Wm Johnston., J. Downs. Milson Rhodes., J. C. Thompson.”[1]

(NB William Johnston of Hull was a hosier; Milson Rhodes, of Glasgow, was a commission agent – both were executors of Christiana Rose, who died in 1871[2])

1879 The business had been established for over a century; hydraulic engineers of Hull[3]

1880s Diversified into winches, grab cranes and other pieces of steam machinery for trawl fishing. This move helped them survive a period of debt in the 1880s and their financial position improved in the 1890s

Rose, Downs And Thompson Advert 1889 Graces Guides

Courtesy: Graces Guide

1893 Incorporated as a Limited Company when difficult times forced the firm to become a limited company

1894 Catalogue of Oil Mill Machinery. [4]

Rose, Downs And Thompson Advert 1904 From Page's Magazine, Graces Guides

From Page’s Magazine, April 1904 Courtesy: Graces Guide

c.1906 Charles Downs became managing director

1910s The firm expanded, buying a gear wheel firm in Leeds and opening branch offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

1914 Engineers, Iron Founders and Boiler Makers. Specialities: Oil Mill Machinery, Makers of the Kingston Dredger. Employees 350. [5]

1916 Death of John Campbell Thompson, of Hull, the chairman[6]

1937 Engineers. [7]

1939 Robert Apsland Bellwood was technical director.

1951 After 3 years collaboration, the Power-Gas Corporation exercised its option to buy a controlling interest in Rose, Downs and Thompson[8]

By 1961 was part of Davy-Ashmore

1970 Acquired by Tremletts

1974 Acquired by Simon Engineering[9]


  1. Graces’s Guide


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