Thomas Russell & The Early English Watchmaking Industry

Thomas Russell ‘s identify is synonymous with the Lancashire view building sector and he is an icon for view purists and fans all-around the world. But how he came to turn into a watchmaker and why Lancashire played this sort of an significant part in the watchmaking sector is a fascinating tale.

In the 17th century farmers and agricultural workers who wanted to dietary supplement their money all through the wintertime months undertook a lot of the operate of watchmaking. In and all-around Lancashire this was particularly significant and the proximity of metalworking, the availability of good metal applications and the port of Liverpool aided the development of the sector. By the 18th century view pieces were being getting sub-contracted to compact farms and cottages throughout the location.

Another issue in the development of this cottage sector were being the sizeable reduce overheads that the farmers appreciated as part-time workers in their have homes. In other places wages were being the biggest contributor to the whole price tag of view production with the price tag of uncooked resources, apart from gold and silver applied in the building of costly situations, comparatively compact.

Just one commentator notes that, “From Prescott to Liverpool, eight miles as the crow flies, the countryside was dotted with the cottages of spring makers, wheel cutters, chain makers, situation makers, dial makers – each speciality that went into the building of a view.” By the stop of the 18th century concerning 150,000 and two hundred,000 watches a year were being getting produced by this system, gratifying the national need to have for correct timekeeping as the industrial revolution took keep.

The Lancashire sub-contracting system permitted the creation of view actions at this sort of lower costs that by the stop of the 18th century, the Lancashire brands were being providing most of the fantastic view companies in London, Coventry and Liverpool. All that these companies wanted to do was to make or source their have situation and dial, and then assemble the view.

Thomas Russell joined this hive of activity in 1848 when he moved his business enterprise as a view producer to Slater Avenue in Liverpool. The metropolis was a key seafaring port and the manufacture of ships’ clocks and chronometers grew to become an significant income stream for the business enterprise.

Thomas Russell’s father, also named Thomas Russell (1780-1830), the founder of this watchmaking dynasty, was born in Eskdale a compact village in Cumberland. He served his time in watchmaking in New St. Broughton-in-Furness Lancashire underneath William Bellman, he then served his journeyman time with William Wakefield in Marketplace St Lancaster in which he afterwards begun a business enterprise of his have in the exact street.

He experienced two sons 1 named Thomas was married to Mary in 1831. They also experienced two sons, Thomas Robert (1833-1894) born in Lancaster and Alfred Holgate Russell (1840-1893). In about 1840 the household moved to Halifax placing up a watchmaking business enterprise in Lord St. It was below that Alfred was born.

By 1848 the household experienced moved after more and information present that Thomas Russell was a view producer with premises at twenty or 22 Slater Avenue, Liverpool and afterwards at range 32 in the exact street. It was below that Thomas Russell grew to become arguably Liverpool ‘s greatest watchmaker and the business enterprise produced high-quality watches and clocks, which includes the celebrated Russell Hunter pocket view. Thomas Senior and his oldest son Thomas Robert were being granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria indicating their swift development in view production.

Close to 1859, Thomas handed in excess of regulate of the business enterprise to his sons Thomas Robert and Alfred Holgate and the organization modified its identify to Thomas Russell & Son. Adhering to Thomas Russell’s dying in 1867 the business enterprise was divided into two the trade facet continued underneath the exact identify and was operate by Alfred and Thomas ran Russells Constrained. The retail business enterprise grew to become importers of Swiss watches and tunes packing containers.

By 1877 the organization experienced moved the business enterprise after more, this time to Cathedral Performs, 12 Church Avenue, Liverpool, with added places of work at Piccadilly in London and Toronto, Canada. It was now acknowledged as the Russell View and Chronometer Manufactory and was stated in 1880 as “view and chronometer brands and machine created keyless lever and jewellery merchants” and moreover, “by Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen and HRM the Duke of Edinburgh and the Admiralty”.

After Queen Victoria’s dying, Thomas Russell even now signed their watches “Makers to Queen Victoria” even though formally the warrant experienced ceased with the Queens dying. This was tolerated for a time just before they eliminated this from their watches.

Adhering to the deaths of Thomas Robert and Alfred Holgate, Alfred’s son Bernard Holgate Russell and his cousin Thos Townsend Russell took in excess of the organization and the identify of the business enterprise was modified in 1894 to Russells Constrained. From this date it seems that they continued as retail jewellers with a number of branches in Liverpool and, by the early 1900′s, Manchester and Llandudno as effectively.

Bernard married and experienced a son Thomas Graham (1906-1999). In 1915 Bernard and Thos Townsend Russell invited Joseph Wright to turn into a fellow director of Thos Russell & Son. Joseph experienced intensive trade understanding, travelled thoroughly and experienced business enterprise contacts in Switzerland and working experience with the popular American Illinois View Case Co.

The sons of these directors all appeared to have labored in and operate the business enterprise in afterwards yrs. In the course of WW2 Joseph Wright kept the organization likely even with wartime shortages of resources and males until finally the sons returned from the war. In about 1994 both the retail Liverpool Russells Ltd and the workshops and places of work at 12 Church Avenue shut their doors for the last time.


Post time: 08-26-2016