OTHER MARPLES TRADING
In addition to the
three Marples joiner’s tool making companies there have been other businesses
bearing the Marples name (whose founders appear somewhere in my family tree) :
MARPLES & Co. (Wine & Spirit Merchants of Sheffield)
This company was
founded by, not surprisingly, John Marples. John was born in Sheffield
on 5th July 1830, the son of Samuel Marples and Mary May. Samuel was a brother
to the Robert & Joseph Marples who founded joiner’s tool making companies. He himself was a publican, which probably
explains John’s interest in wines & spirits. John married 3 times and
passed to the business on to one of his sons, Edward John Eyre Marples. The
business was eventually taken over by the well know brewer, John Smith, but I
don’t know when this happened. At one stage the company was brewing beer at
Tadcaster in Yorkshire, but whether this was
under the aegis of John Smith or not I don’t know.
miniatures from John Marples & Co - Old Craig Whisky on the left and Jamaica
Rum on the right.
in the 1880s John Marples owned a building called Market Street Wine Vaults
(previously the Wine & Spirit Commercial Hotel). The licence
was later held in the name of his son Edward. The building was a substantial 7
storey structure. The locals always referred to the pub as “The Marples”. On
12th December 1940 it was completely demolished by a German bomb, with a death
toll of around 70. It was Sheffield’s worst
bombing of the war. In 1959 the site was
eventually redeveloped by John Smith and the pub reopened and was now
officially called “The Marples”. It lasted until 2002 when it suddenly closed
and motorcycle accessory shop now trades from the premises
MARPLES (Silver Fruit Knife Maker)
Thomas Marples was
the younger brother of John Marples (supra), and was born in Sheffield in about 1833. How he started in cutlery isn’t
known, but he did so right at the start of the career. He appears in the 1851
census, aged 19, when he was described as a fruit knife cutler. He produced lovely fruit knifes made out of
solid silver with mother of pearl handles, sometimes ornately carved. They can
frequently found on eBay, the online auction website. Thomas died childless in
1912 and so the business came to an end trading under his name.
probably taken over by his wife's nephew, William Jackson who appeared as a
silver fruit knife maker and was living with Thomas in the 1881 census.
& BEASLEY LIMITED (Silversmiths & Regalia Manufacturers)
This company was
started by Edward Osborn Marples in partnership with one Beasley. Edward was
born in Sheffield in 1871, the son of William
Kent Marples, who had inherited the joiner’s tool makers, William Marples &
Sons. This company is still trading today, although without and family
involvement. According to one family member, Edward was cheated out of his
partnership by his partner, for some unknown reason. Marples & Beasley
products abound on eBay: they make (or made) all manner of Masonic jewels and
regalia, the totally politically incorrect “Golly” badges used as a marketing
tool by Robertson’s jams, & cap badges for any number of Army regiments to
name but a few.
badge of the SAS with their motto
of the huge range of Golly badges produced for Robertsons'
of the very many Masonic jewels made by Marples & Beasley
As an aside, I have to
tell you that one of the delights of family history research is that one never
knows what one is going to discover! The correspondent who told me of the
alleged fraud against Edward Marples also told me that Edward was one of four
brothers, which statement I have been able to verify. My correspondent went on
to tell me that one of Edward’s brothers (name withheld) ran off with the wife
of yet another brother (nothing new there, then – Ed.). To seek solace
the cuckolded brother joined the merchant navy and sailed the seven seas. Some
years later he arrives in Rio de
Janeiro after a very long voyage. As is the custom of
many single sailors (and I dare say some married ones as well) the first
business of the day, after shore leave had been granted, was a visit to a house
of ill repute. Imagine his surprise on entering the bordello to find that the
Madame was none other than his estranged wife! It’s a fascinating tale, even if
it turns out to be apocryphal!
RIDGEWAY LIMITED (Civil Engineers)
This company was
started after World War II by Alfred Ernest Marples, born in Manchester in 1907. He was a very dynamic
man, and initially became a Chartered Accountant. According to his 1st cousin,
my father, at some early stage in his career he had done some time as an on
course bookmaker’s clerk – a demanding job requiring quick thinking and a good
head for figures. He served in the Royal Artillery during World War II, working
his way up the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major. He was later commissioned and
retired with the rank of Captain. According to my father Ernest started up the
business with a desk, a telephone, an ex-Army wagon and £5. The business
prospered and eventually became a major player in the construction of major
civil engineering projects, including the building of motorways.
politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Wallasey in Cheshire. He served in
various ministerial posts including Postmaster General, ending up as Minister
of Transport. (During this time he was responsible for the introduction of
ERNIE, (standing for Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment, which
generated the winning numbers of Premium Bonds), STD (subscriber trunk dialling) which did away with the necessity of having an
operator route your telephone calls, parking meters and traffic wardens (which
inspired the “Marples Must Go!” slogan of the day), and the Beeching
Plan, which axed large, but unprofitable, sections of the railway network.)
window transfer produced in the early 1960s, (before stickers were invented).
When Ernest was
appointed Minister of Transport he had to relinquish his shareholding in
Marples Ridgeway Limited in order to avoid a conflict of interest. The company is
still in existence today, but there is no family connection with it.
Marples Gears, Inc.
was established in 1942 in Pasadena,
California by Edward Stuart Marples
to supply the aircraft and instrument industry with a source for precision gear
manufacturing and gear cutting.
They specialize in
high-precision fine-pitch gears for customers that require precise movement and
positioning. Marples Gears manufactures fine-pitch gears and have during the
past 60 years, served many industries including; Aerospace, Defence,
Optical, Space, Medical and Commercial.
Edward later sold the
business to Phillips Aviation Co., but the company continues to trade today. Interestingly,
Marples Gears manufactured some of the gears used in NASA's Mars Rover.
MARPLES & Co. Ltd (Mineral water manufacturers)
This company was started by William Marples, baptized in Bradfield, Yorkshire in 1820, at some time between 1861 (in which
census he was a saw grinder) and 1871 (in which census he was a soda water
manufacturer employing 2 men). A saw grinder is not a well paid occupation, and
quite where he got the money with which to start the company is something of a
mystery. It certainly was not from his father, Joseph Marples, who died in 1826
or his mother Sarah Brushfield, who died in 1843.
Perhaps it came from his second wife Elizabeth Nuttall
or her family. In the 1881 census he is described as a soda water manufacturer.
William died on 27th June 1884 and in his will is described as a
ginger beer manufacturer. He left the business to his only child, also called
William, together with the leasehold premises in Silver Street, Sheffield
where the business was based.
Son William carried on the business until his death on 14th
November 1889. In his will he is described as an
mineral water manufacturer to his widow Elizabeth and his children. But after
this date I have not found any further trace of this company.
Below is a photograph of one of their small bottles (roughly equivalent
to the modern “split” size bottle as used by pubs for mixers.)
WILKINSON & WINFIELD (Silversmiths and pewter makers)
It is believed to have
been started by Charles Herbert Marples around the turn of the century in Sheffield. Charles, whilst not (yet!) a relative of mine,
nevertheless comes from one of the Baslow Marples families that I have not been
able to bridge across the gap in the parish registers caused by the Civil War.
I have a small decorated 19th century pewter coffee pot made by this company.
MARPLES 1794-1874, MILLWRIGHT
I cannot finish this section
without making special mention of John Marples, 1794-1874, who although he
didn’t start a trading company, nevertheless left his mark on those times. He
was born in Baslow, the son of John Marples & Elizabeth Brittlebank
and was a first cousin of the Robert & Joseph Marples who started their
joiner’s tool making companies. Unlike the toolmakers, John remained in Baslow
and became a millwright. John’s claim to fame arises because he worked on the
Chatsworth estate of the Duke of Devonshire. The Duke’s estate manager was
Joseph Paxton who is credited with the design of the Crystal
Palace built to house the Great
Exhibition of 1851 in London.
The design of Crystal Palace was based on the design of the Orangery (now sadly demolished) which was built in the
grounds of Chatsworth House. Local people are adamant that the designer of the Orangery was John Marples. The revolutionary concept of the
design was the use of iron to create the structure, rather than wood.
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