Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameMark Alexander CROPPER
Birth1974
Marriage2002
SpouseAttosa AFSHAR
Children
Notes for Mark Alexander CROPPER
Chairman of James Cropper plc. He joined the Board in 2006 and is the sixth generation of the Cropper family to be involved in the business. His involvement with James Cropper plc includes writing the company's history, "The Leaves We Write On", which was published in 2004.20

Book Description (from Amazon)

James Cropper is one of the oldest names in British paper-making and a great survivor from an age when British industry dominated the world. Uniquely situated in the foothills of the English Lake District since its foundation in 1845, today it is one of the world’s leading producers of coloured and specialist papers.

The Leaves We Write On is the story of one firm’s resilience and a compelling tale of an industry, region and family. It unveils a rich range of characters from provincial booksellers to Liverpool merchants and railway financiers, and finds that ultimately the firm owes its existence to James Cropper’s passion for the woman who later became his wife.

The book is 300 pages long, with over 100 illustrations, almost a third of which are in colour. It is a true product of Lake District trade and industry, having been printed by the Kendal firm of Titus Wilson & Son (founded 1860), on paper specially made at Burneside by James Cropper plc.

Excerpted from Leaves We Write on, The: James Cropper: a History in Paper - Making by . Copyright © 2004. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When James Cropper started life as a paper-maker in July 1845, one thought was foremost in his mind, but it was not an interest in paper, nor in fact a wish to pursue a career of any kind, commercial or philanthropic. The twenty-two year old’s strongest motive was entirely different, and altogether closer to his heart. He had loved his cousin, Fanny Alison Wakefield, since his teenage years. "In truth the whole aim of my life, since I was seventeen", he later told his grandchildren, "was to win your Grandmother’s love and to make her my wife." Indeed, as James acknowledged himself, his relationship with her was "the turning point of my whole career", not least the chief motive behind his decision to go into paper-making in 1845. "We exchanged long letters once a month", James later remarked of his long engagement, "and we read and learnt, and thought about each other all the intervening days. And when the time came I fixed upon this Westmorland home and business, simply because it seemed to make a fixture in my life, and to point to our union and our home."

And so it did. On 25 November 1845, almost five months after he started out as a paper manufacturer, James Cropper married Fanny Alison Wakefield at Heversham Church, five miles south of Kendal. Afterwards celebrated at Sedgwick, the Wakefield family home, the wedding was also, appropriately, celebrated at Burneside and Cowan Head. "There were rejoicings at Mr Cropper’s Paper Mills on an equally liberal scale", reported the Kendal Mercury, "every man being presented with a new hat, and half a crown given to his wife, in addition to their being treated to a large and well supplied tea party, which afforded them an evening of great enjoyment."

Two weeks later, when James Cropper returned home to Cowan Head with his new bride, his workforce returned the hospitality, treating him and Fanny Alison to a rapturous welcome. "On the arrival of the happy pair at Junction Cottages, Burneside, where a handsome evergreen arch was thrown over the way, they were greeted with loud huzzas," reported the Kendal Mercury.

The carriage was stopped - the horses taken from it - and about thirty of his workmen yoked themselves, and dragged it to Cowan Head. On their arrival there, a novel and highly exhilarating scene presented itself. The house, mill, and cottages were brilliantly illuminated, and another evergreen arch, with the motto Welcome! thrice happy pair! was placed over the entrance gate.

It was an auspicious reception – "a pleasing demonstration of the high esteem in which Mr Cropper is held by his work people", the Kendal Mercury told its readers - suggesting that in spite of his youth and inexperience, James Cropper was faring well as an employer. So far it seems he had won the respect and approval of the workforce he had only recently taken charge of. "We feel thankful", one employee wrote to him the day after his wedding, "for your very kind treat & present and more especially so when we consider the very kind feeling shown towards us by you since we have stood in the relationship of Master and Servant. It gave me heartfelt pleasure to find that we had gained your confidence and I sincerely trust that we shall each show by our conduct that this confidence is not misplaced."

By the end of 1845 James Cropper’s new life seemed thus in place. Accepted and respected by his workforce, he was also, by virtue of his connection with the Wakefields, quickly accorded a place in local society. His domestic life was an even greater source of happiness and support: "I have never passed a day", he fondly declared in old age, "without rejoicing in the love and help of the most remarkable woman whom I have ever known." To add to this there was soon a family on the way, and the excitement of a new home. In 1847, at Fanny’s prompting, James began building a new house on a site just above Burneside which commanded panoramic views across the surrounding countryside. Named Ellergreen owing to its proximity to Green Farm and a profusion of alder trees (known locally as ‘ellers’), in total it cost James Cropper almost three thousand pounds, a sure expression, if any were needed, of the strength of his commitment to his new life, and of the hopes he had for his family and his career. The family moved there from the mill-house at Cowan Head in 1849 (Fig. 3.2).

Ellergreen was not, however, an expression of the prosperity of his early years in paper-making. The new house and the fourteen acre site it occupied were not financed with profits from his two paper-mills on the River Kent, winding through the valley floor below. Far from it: in spite of the apparent good nature of his workforce, the mills were losing money. Added to this there was the dreadful realisation that Cornelius Nicholson had charged him far too much for the business in the first place. John Cropper was incensed by this: "We were shamefully deceived and cheated", he lamented in his journal. For James Cropper it was one regretful circumstance among many. "I knew I had been hasty and impulsive in buying the works", he wrote to his son Charles in 1882, "and that I had been overreached in the bargain by their previous occupant. I lost money on them year by year… . People did not hesitate to comment on my taking such a trade… How I did hate the whole thing and!
myself for blundering into it."


Mark is an FSA authorised corporate finance adviser for Turquoise International, which specialises in energy and environmental investment. He previously worked at Johnson Matthey plc, the catalyst and chemicals group, as a fuel cell analyst. He is the founder of Ellergreen Ltd specialists in the development of hydro power.
Last Modified 21 Aug 2012Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh