Posted on

Joseph Rank (1854-1943)

Birth: 28 March 1854 in Hull, England.

Death: 13 November 1943 in Surrey, England.

Education: Went to a small private school at Swinefleet near Goole. Left school aged 14 and went to work in his father’s mill.

Occupation: Miller; Businessman; Philanthropist.  

Notable Accomplishments: Founder of Joseph Rank Ltd. which was at one point Britain’s largest flour milling company. Opened Alexandra Mill in Hull on the roller milling system in 1885 and expanded his company throughout the country with further mills established in London, Cardiff, and Belfast alongside the ones in Hull.

Other Actions: Established the Joseph Rank Benevolent Fund for ‘poor persons of good character who from age, ill-health, accident, or infirmity, are wholly or in part unable to maintain themselves by their own exertions’. Gave generous donations to multiple causes but most especially to the Methodist Church. Accepted only one public honour, the Freedom of Kingston-Upon-Hull bestowed on 11 July 1935.

Attributes: ‘In all he did he was simple and direct. He had no time for pretentiousness. Just as he hated obsequiousness in subordinates, so he was unaffected in his treatment of them’. ‘His life can be summed up in a few words – thrift, hard work, humility, honesty, fidelity, and a deep religious faith’ (Burnett (2004), pp.180&226).

Personal Life: Married Emily Voase in 1880. Together they had eight children: James Voase, born 1882; Dorothy, born 1883; Ethel, born 1884; Rowland, born 1886; Hilda, born 1888; Joseph Arthur, born 1889; Rita, born 1891 and died during infancy; and Kathleen Louse, born 1896. Emily died in 1915 and Joseph Rank remarried, in 1918.

Find Out More: Burnett, R. G., Through the Mill: The Life of Joseph Rank (Oxford, 2004).