1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Palmer, Sir Charles Mark

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PALMER, SIR CHARLES MARK, Bart. (1822–1907), English shipbuilder, was born at South Shields on the 3rd of November 1822. His father, originally the captain of a whaler, removed in 1828 to Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he conducted a ship owning and ship-broking business. Charles Palmer at the age of fifteen entered a shipping business in that town, whence, after six months, he went to Marseilles, where his father had procured him a post in a large commercial house, at the same time entrusting him with the local agency of his own business. After two years' experience at Marseilles he entered his father's business at Newcastle, and in 1842 he became a partner. His business capacity attracted the attention of a leading local colliery owner, and he was appointed manager of the Marley Hill colliery in which he became a partner in 1846. Subsequently he was made one of the managers of the associated collieries north and south of the Tyne owned by Lord Ravensworth, Lord Wharnclille, the marquess of Bute, and Lord Strathmore, and in due course he gradually purchased these properties out of the profits of the Marley Hill colliery. Simultaneously he greatly developed the then recently-established coke trade, obtaining the coke contracts for several of the large English and continental railways. About 1850 the question of coal-transport to the London market became a serious question for north country colliery proprietors. Palmer therefore built, largely according to his own plans, the " John Bowes, " the first iron screw-collier, and several other steam-colliers, in a yard established by him at Jarrow, then a small Tyneside village. He then purchased iron-mines in Yorkshire, and erected along the Tyne at Jarrow large shipbuilding yards, blast-furnaces, steel-works, rolling-mills and engine works, fitted on the most elaborate scale. The firm produced war-ships as well as merchant vessels, and their system of rolling armour plates, introduced in 1856, was generally adopted by other builders. In 1865 he turned the business into Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Limited. In 1886 his services in connection with the settlement of the costly dispute between British ship-owners and the Suez Canal Company (of which he was then a director) were rewarded with a baronetcy. He died in London on the 4th of June 1907.