ROBERT ROBSON
(1812-1878)

FURNITURE MANUFACTURER

For about a century, Robson's furniture and furnishings store stood on Northumberland Street, at its corner with Saville Row, gradually expanding in size as its quality products grew in reputation. Robert Robson, upholsterer and cabinet maker, established the business in 1835 in a small house on the opposite side of Northumberland Street (at the corner of Elswick Court, now engulfed by Fenwick's) where he lived and worked for nearly 30 years. He has served his apprenticeship as a cabinet maker on Pilgrim Street. His father, Edward, had been a forester on the Bowes Lyon estate at Gibside and at Glamis Castle before returning to Tyneside to manage a seed merchant's shop in the Haymarket.

Two of Robson's sons followed their father into the flourishing furniture business. Another son, Frederick, founded the well known optician's business on Pilgrim Street, F. Robson & Co. In addition to retail sales, much work took place at hotels, churches, public buildings and on board several of the ocean liners being built on the Tyne, in particular, the Mauretania. Later on, contracts were taken at some of the region's stately homes, notably Alnwick Castle, Wallington and Cragside.

Some two years after Robert's death, a cabinet factory was built at Spital Tongues, where over 200 were employed. Houses were built for these employees, with two of the streets being named after the popular furniture pioneers, Sheraton and Chippendale. The factory also had its own private fire brigade. The business passed through the hands of four generations of Robson's before it was finally taken over by the Maple Group in 1953. Unfortunately, the factory is long gone, with modern houses now occupying its place in Spital Tongues. However, some of the local residents can still recall Robson's and it's legacy will remain via the street names.

 

One of the streets built for Robson's employees.

The sign for Sheraton Street is covered in ivy but this street nearby indicates the connection to furniture pioneers. 

Looking north up Sheraton Street. Robson's factory would have been situated just past the modern houses in the background.     

 
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