Bartram, Robert Appleby
Sir Robert Appleby Bartram was a Wearside Shipbuilder. He was born in Hylton, Sunderland, the son of shipbuilder George Bartram (1800–1891). He married Ann Naizby (1837–1870) who passed away aged just 32. After his first wife's death, he married Margaret Agnes Rhind (1833–1900). He joined his father’s yard and became his sole proprietor in 1854. When his father retired in 1871, he established a partnership with George Haswell to form Bartram, Haswell & Co.
Bartram recognized the value of good education. He served on the Hylton and Sunderland Schools board. In 1889 Bartram donated £10,000 (over £1m in 2017 money) for technical scholarships, which led to the founding of Sunderland Technical College in 1901, the forerunner of the University of Sunderland. From 1901 to 1908 he was the chairman of the Wear Shipbuilders Association, and he presided over the Sunderland Chamber of Commerce for nearly ten years. In 1910 he donated £1,000 to assist in the education of shipyard apprentices. In 1921, he gifted a further £12,500 to the Technical College.
He was knighted of the 8th of July 1922 and died in 1925, aged 91. Following his death, his grandson and namesake Colonel Robert Appleby Bartram (1894 – 1981) took over the shipping business. It fell on tough times in the depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Bartram recalled, “the 1930s were a tough time, we had flowers growing in the yard and rabbits running about”. However, after the Second World War demand increased and business for a while boomed again. This postwar period led to a strong order book driven by foreign buyers, which led Bartram and Sons to produce a record output. Along with his brother, he ran the business until 1964 before its sale to Austin & Pickersgill. He continued to be involved in the business until 1971 when he retired aged 77. In 1978, Austin and Pickersgill closed Bartram's yard and transferred the work to its principal yard at Southwick, in Scotland.
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