Markhams at Stuffynwood/Markham 3.jpg

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This photograph is reproduced by kind permission of the Markham family and The Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science. The ref. number of the file to which the photo relates is: Markham 21/8

Strict copyright rules apply.

Take 2! This time without Geraldine & husband.

Seated left is the very confident looking Charles Paxton Markham whose father, Charles snr, was the youngest son of a Northampton solicitor. Charles snr studied engineering and later chemistry at Edinburgh University and after worked for the Great Eastern Railway Company later moving to the Locomotive Department of the Midland Railway Company as Assistant Superintendent. In 1861 whilst working at MR at Derby he made a name for himself by proving the cost saving economics of an established method of running modified engines on coal instead of coke. This brought a huge saving for the MR company and brought Charles Markham the attention of Sir Joseph Paxton, whom, amongst many other things, was a director of the Midland Railway Company and soon to be his father in law!

Rosa and Charles Markham were married in April 1862. It was considered to be an odd match because Rosa was young & fun loving while Charles was 17 years older aged 39, with a very stirn & sombre air about him, which led many to suggest that the marriage had alterior motives.

Rosa Markham, standing centre in the picture July 1903, aged 63, was the daughter of Sir Joseph Paxton, a very influential man as Liberal MP for Coventry, designer, architect, Chatsworth Estate horticulturalist & landscape gardener & very close friend and travelling companion to the locally nicknamed 'Bachelor Duke' 6th Duke of Devonshire. Sir Joseph Paxton’s most famous work was the design of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851. He retired from the Chatsworth Estate in 1858 after the Duke died, however he had gained inside knowledge of the Duke's business affairs and potentially lucrative mineral extraction rights on the Duke’s land at Staveley in conjunction with rights to build a public railway network. Rosa's mother Sarah nee Bown was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and as such in 1827 was given a £5,000 marriage dowry (2007 £7 million) by her father, which she invested wisely in the railway boom. It is said that her financial management skills were able to rescue the Duke & the Chatsworth Estate during his financial crisis in the mid 1840's. Indeed, Sir Joseph was the Duke's travelling companion on his many foreign adventures leaving Sarah to manage the day to day affairs of the Chatsworth Estate.

In 1863 Richard Barrow the owner of the Staveley Coal & Iron Company asked Charles Markham to work for him as Chief Engineer and Managing Director, offering him a 5 year contract. Charles accepted the offer, moving into the Staveley Company’s Brimington Hall with Rosa and baby Geraldine.

The Collection of the Duke of Portland's papers at Nottingham University records that Sir Joseph Paxton was involved in mineral rights & railway easment rights negotiations on behalf of "himself & friends" from 1862 to the time of his death in 1865 aged 61. Unfortunately, he was accused of exploitation of the Dukes' coal and the Midland Railway. An agent recorded 'I cannot but think that Sir Joseph has been playing a deep game, first to try to secure the coal and then to get the Midland Company to make the mineral railway to carry it.' He was eventually denied his success by the Duke of Portland's agents citing "conflict of interest" with his new son in law, Charles Markham, MD of the Staveley Company. However, Sir Joseph had the last laugh, he assigned the mineral rights in his will to his son in law, whom, after further prolonged negotiations, eventually made them an offer they couldn't refuse. Charles Markham wrote to the Duke of Portland suggesting that they might want to consider that when Staveley mines were depleted of coal, should the Staveley Company decommission the water pumps the resulting lift in the water table may flood the Duke's mines!      

Ruthless disregard for age old agreements became a trait of the Markham boys. There existed an old agreement between Staveley and rival Bolsover Coal Company that the coal at Oxcroft on Devonshire land would not be competed for. The answer to this was simple. In 1900 Arthur Markham bought the coal rights from the Duke of Devonshire and sank a colliery there claiming he had no connection to the Staveley business and had not broke any agreements. The fight over Oxcroft coal raged on for years causing deep ill-feelings between the rival companies. It is recorded that the Duke of Portland's agents and the Bolsover Company discussed Arthur's public humiliation in The Times of 28th August 1902 when he wrote a letter of apology to Wernher, Beit and Company withdrawing his allegations of corruption in their conduct of financial operations in South Africa and thereby bringing an end to their libel action against him. 'Mr Markham's vanity and self-conceit have brought a heavy punishment upon him, but it is not so heavy as it would have been had he persisted in his hopeless defence and it will serve a good purpose if it deters others from courting a cheap popularity by making serious charges without sufficient evidence'

In 1910 the Bolsover company launched 'blackmail proceedings' against the Markhams charging them with vindictiveness for asking £250,000 (£12 million 2007) for 2.5 acres of land belonging to the Staveley Company that Bolsover Company required in order to build an essential flood barrier to prevent damage to public property.

 

*ABN Amro/LBS calculate that the average inflation rate during the 20th century was 4.1%/annum, which equates to £1 in 1900 having the same purchasing power as £54 now.