||ROBERT OWEN (1771-1858)
Robert Owen was born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire on 14 May
1771. The son of a saddler and ironmonger, he became one of
Britain's foremost social reformers and industrialists, inspiring
the co-operative and the trade union movements.
A bright and athletic child, Robert Owen became a 'pupil-teacher'
when he was just 7 years old. He left Newtown at the age of
10 to start an apprenticeship with a draper in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Three years later, he moved to London and then to Manchester,
the center of the developing textile industry.
At the age of 21, Owen was the manager of a cotton mill employing
500 workers. Elected to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical
Society in 1793, Owen discussed social and economic issues
with leading figures in society.
A highly skilled and respected entrepreneur and a master
cotton spinner, in 1794, Owen and partners formed the Chorlton
Twist Company. In 1799, Owen and his partners purchased the
New Lanark Mills in Scotland from David Dale. From the outset,
Owen resolved to modernise the mill and improve the living
and working conditions of his employees.
Robert Owen married Anne Caroline Dale, the daughter of David
Dale in 1799. They had 4 sons and 3 daughters.
Owen left New Lanark in 1825 and developed co-operative
communities, first in New Harmony in the USA and then later
at Queenwood in Hampshire. Neither was successful, but Owen
continued to promote his ideas through his writings and lectures
until he died.
In 1832, Owen opened Labour Exchanges to facilitate trade
between all the small co-operative businesses that had sprung
up in England. In 1834, he led the short lived Grand National
Consolidated Trades Union.
Robert Owen returned to Newtown in 1858, where he died on
Anne Caroline Dale Owen
Newtown, Montgomeryshire 1848
Harmony Hall, afterwards Oueenwood College