Charles Theodoor Stork (1822–95)

Charles Stork set up an engineering works in Hengelo that transformed the economy of that small town in the eastern part of the Netherlands, and through its exports influenced developments in other European countries and further afield.

Supposedly his mind was set on a career in industry by a visit at the age of 13 to a steam-powered textile mill in Enschede. Soon afterwards, in 1835, he set up Weefgoederfabriek C T Stork, where he produced cloth on three looms. He found that competition in the manufacture of textiles was fierce, and on 13 May 1850 opened a forge and workshop for repairing machinery at Borne, near Hengelo. The company formally took the name of Gebr. Stork & Co in 1868. Initially the company prospered by tailoring its products specifically to Dutch needs. Pumps were manufactured for draining polders. Customers were able to chose from boilers that used wood or peat (turf) as well as coal.

In its export trade Gebr. Stork & Co specialised in supplying sugar processing equipment for Italy and the Belgian Congo amongst other countries. Plant was supplied for Jacob van Marken’s plant at Delft, and for many other food factories. The company displayed its products at the Paris World Exhibition in 1893.

Stork was strongly Protestant in religion. As an employer he was an enlightened paternalist, setting up a works council for employees, and providing them with pensions and insurance against accidents and diseases, a company newspaper, and leisure activities including drama, choral singing and gymnastics.

He retired in 1893, but family influence continued through his son, Dirk W Stork (1855-1928), and the company sold its thousandth steam engine in 1897. D W Stork set up the Association of Dutch Employers in 1898, had interests in banking, and in 1918 was involved in the establishment of the steel-making company, Kon Nederlandse Hoegovens en Stahlfabrieken. He was responsible for the building of Het Lansink, a garden village for workers at Hengelo, that was designed by the architect Karel Muller (1857-1942).

In 1954 the Stork company merged with Werkspoor, the Amsterdam engineering concern established in 1827 by Paul van Vlissingen, (1797-1876), and products of both companies are displayed in a museum at Oostenburg, Amsterdam.