May 30, 2017
J R Rix & Sons Ltd is the parent company of Rix Petroleum, Rix Heating Services and Rix Shipping, to name but a few and some 140 years on, it still remains a family owned company which is now headed up by 5th generation family member, Tim Rix, the great-great grandson of the original founder, Robert Rix.
Robert Rix was born in March 1841 into a farming family in Norfolk, and at age 10 was sent to work on the land. However, he did not take to the work and within two years had run away to sea. He joined a small sailing coaster on the Tees and his early career was spent trading with northern Scottish ports down to South Wales and later the near Continent.
After returning to the North East of England in the 1860’s and marrying Margaret Dobson, Robert, along with three of his seven children, established Robert Rix and Sons, a shipbuilding company with a fleet of steamers. The company was started on the south bank of the Tees, but in 1883 they relocated to the Port of Hull.
The early 1920s was a difficult period for ship owners due to the depressed economic conditions; however, Robert Rix & Sons continued to grow its fleet with the addition of six ships, many of which were used to work the east coast coal trading routes.
Robert Rix ran the business for over 60 years and was so committed that he continued to work until the day before his death at the age of 84.
In 1927, two years after his death, the roots of the largest company in the J.R. Rix & Sons group, Rix Petroleum Ltd, was established when Robert’s sons began importing tractor vaporising oil to the UK to fuel the post-war agricultural revolution. The company also carried lamp oil from Russia to the Humber on Rix ships.
During this time, the company had a shipping and petroleum side of the business, which was being run by Robert Rix’s son and his two grandchildren. After more family members expressed interest in joining the company, they took the decision to split it into 2 separate companies, Robert Rix & Sons, and JR Rix & Sons.
JR Rix & Sons was started in January 1947 with a working capital of only £7,000 and one motor ship, the Magrix, in offices in the Bank of England Chambers, Whitefriargate, Hull. In the meantime, several Rix companies still in existence today were established including Rix Shipping Co Ltd (Rix Shipping), formed in March 1950, and Rix Shipping (Scotland) Ltd, formerly Piggins Rix Ltd, based in Montrose, Scotland.
Today J.R. Rix & Sons Ltd is involved in a large range of activities ranging from commercial, residential and marine fuel distribution, fuel cards, ship owning, stevedoring, warehousing and offshore wind farm support to holiday home manufacturing, car retail and property, through a number of subsidiaries of which the largest is Rix Petroleum Ltd.