William Cochran Carr , the founder of the business was born 30 August 1815 at Blaydon, the only son of John Carr and his wife, Dorothy (nee) Cochran. His father's occupation was probably farmer. The 1841 Census return for Blaydon describes William as a farmer in 1841, but by 1850 he is described in trades directories as farmer and firebrick manufacturer. There is evidence to suggest that his interest in Benwell Colliery dates from 1848, so his brickmaking may have begun at the same time, although his first works were at Blaydon.
Around 1854 he took over South Benwell Brickworks from Emerson and Milner, steel and firebrick manufacturers, but continued to live in Blaydon until the mid 1860s when he and his wife, Isabella, moved to South Benwell House. The 1871 census return for Benwell describes William as "Colliery owner employing 264 men and 59 boys; fire brick manufacturer employing 35 men and 40 boys; farmer employing 6 men.".
In 1874 he formed a partnership with others to operate Elswick Colliery, but this partnership was dissolved in 1880. In 1881 the Elswick Coal Co Ltd was formed in which he also had an interest.
William died 26 October 1889. His widow ran the business until 1905 when William Cochran Carr Ltd was formed and her son, also called William Cochran Carr became head of the firm.
Brickmaking and colliery operations continued to be the mainstay of the business until a financial crisis in 1934 led to a restructuring and the launch of a new company - William Cochran-Carr (1934) Ltd, concentrating on brick and tile manufacture at the Fenham Brick and Tile Works, Two Ball Lonnen, Newcastle. Benwell Colliery closed in 1939 and Elswick Coal Co Ltd went into receivership in 1940.
William Cochran Carr junior lived at Lower Condercum House, Benwell until 1934 when he moved to Corbridge, Northumberland.