Cox Brothers business records

Scope and Content

Corporate records 1831-[1882]; Legal records 1842-1861; Internal administration 1840-1885; Accounting and financial records 1835-1874; Operational records 1824-1885; Marketing / PR records 1833-1936; Staff and employment records c 1870-1872; Ephemera c 1890-1910.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Cox family is reported to have been connected with parish of Liff and Benvie since the early 17th century. Their connection with the linen trade in Lochee dates from the beginning of the 18th century when a member of the Cox family was a small manufacturer in Lochee, then an insignificant village. He died in 1741 and was succeeded by his son David, who extended the business until 1793, when his son, James, became its manager. He was a man of considerable enterprise and standing, and was one of the original shareholders and partners of the Dundee Banking Company, instituted in 1777. In 1816 the fourth generation of the Cox family took possession of the works, which had been greatly extended, with bleaching greens covering over 25 acres. Three years afterwards the business suffered a considerable loss when the works, including warehouses filled with finishing cloth, were almost consumed by fire. The buildings, though temporarily repaired in order to run out the lease, were never properly restored, and soon afterwards were razed to the ground. The proprietor then removed to the most populous part of Lochee, and turned his attention to weaving the different fabrics for which the district was famous. On these premises the first broad hessian for the Manchester market was woven in 1815, which, although only 45 inches wide, caused considerable curiosity and excitement.

The last-named proprietor was succeeded by his son, James Cox, in 1827. He formed a copartnery with his three brothers, William Cox, Thomas Hunter Cox and George Addison Cox in 1841. A fourth brother, Henry Cox was generally resident in Calcutta to manage business interests there. Hand-loom weaving became gradually superseded by power-looms and the firm were quick to adopt the most recent improvements. Cox Brothers also took advantage of the growing importance of jute and, following the construction of Camperdown Works, begun in 1849, ultimately became one of the largest jute manufacturing companies in Europe. In a short time every operation connected with the manufacture of jute was performed within their premises. The works covered an area of 25 acres and employed about 5,000 workers. One of the most prominent features of the works was the giant chimney stack built from 1,000,001 bricks. A branch railway ran into the works from the Caledonian line to Dundee. In the 1880s Edward Cox, James' son, became associated with Camperdown Jute Works, and on his father's death in 1885 he was given a directing hand in its affairs. Following the conversion into a Limited Liability Company, in 1893, he acted as Chairman. In 1899 J Ernest Cox, Edward's son, joined the firm of Messrs Cox Brothers. In 1920 Jute Industries Ltd acquired companies in the city, including Cox Brothers Ltd. From 1920 until 1948 J Ernest Cox was a chairman of Jute Industries Ltd and its subsidiary companies.In 1890 the firm presented a 25 acre public park to Lochee.

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Related Material

MS 66/II Sidlaw Industries: Cox Brothers Ltd