Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One cube or two . . .

Today is the birthday of Henry Tate (March 11, 1819 – December 5, 1899), sugar merchant, noted for establishing the Tate Gallery in London. In 1872, he purchased the patent from Eugen Langen on a method for making sugar cubes and built a sugar refinery in Liverpool. At an early age, Henry Tate rapidly became a millionaire and throughout his long life, he devoted large sums of money to philanthropic and educational purposes.

Henry Tate was a modest rather retiring man, well known for his concern with workers’ conditions. Henry Tate made many donations, often anonymously, and always discreetly. He used his wealth to endow colleges, hospitals and libraries, including that at Harris-Manchester College, Oxford, and, in 1893, free libraries for the London boroughs of Battersea, Brixton, and Streatham. He also contributed substantially, in 1881-2, to University College, Liverpool, the forerunner of Liverpool University. The National Gallery of British Art, popularly known as the Tate Gallery, was built at his expense on the site of the old Millbank prison, and was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on July 21. 1897.

Henry Tate was made a baronet in 1898. He had twice declined this honour, but was eventually persuaded to accept by Lord Salisbury, who told him that a refusal would be a snub to the royal family.

Trivia bit: "Sir Henry Tate wasn't born until 1819 and he did not start his sugar refining business until 1859, many years after the abolition of slavery and his fortune did not come from sugar production – it came instead from his embrace, as a refiner, of new technology which allowed him to modernise the distribution and commercial marketing of cane sugar in competition with sugar beet refiners in Europe. Sir Henry was merely a bulk purchaser of cane sugar and there is no evidence that his business came any closer than that to the post slavery Caribbean plantations." direct quote source (1)

Image source (1)

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