13 July 2008

Ropner Park

Sir (Emil Hugh Oscar) Robert Ropner, 1st Baronet (16 December 1838 - 26 February 1924), was a British shipbuilder, shipowner, and Conservative Member of Parliament.

Ropner was the son of Henry Ropner, of Magdeburg, Prussia. He became interested in seafaring from his readings, before he had even seen the sea. He emigrated to England as a stowaway. The roughness of the short passage cured him of a desire to be a seafarer, but did not eliminate his interest in shipping.

He settled in England and worked for a coal export concern. Rather than continuing to charter colliers, he began to purchase them. In a time of rising industrialization and increasing demand for coal, the trade grew quickly.

In 1888 Ropner acquired a shipyard at Stockton-on-Tees in Yorkshire. Ropner established a successful shipbuilding firm, which built many trunk deck ships. No longer limited to hauling coal, Ropner also established a company to operate tramp steamers. Although the shipyard went into liquidation soon after what was then known as the Great War,[3] the shipping company continued in shipping trades through both World Wars, despite heavy wartime losses of vessels.[2]

From 1900 to 1910 Ropner represented the constituency of Stockton-on-Tees in the House of Commons. In 1904 he was created Baronet of Preston Hall, Stockton-on-Tees, in the County Palatine of Durham, and of Skutterskelfe Hall, Hutton Rudby, in the North Riding of York.

Ropner died February 1924, aged 85, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son John. His third son William Ropner was the father of the Conservative politician Sir Leonard Ropner, 1st Baronet of Thorp Perrow.

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