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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Looking earlier at an old picture of the Great Northern Railway Tavern on Hornsey High Street, I noticed that the sign to the east of the pub carries the name of Jones & Willis in place of Smithfield Refrigerator Works. You can see the photo here.

I hadn't heard of this company before so I dug around a little and found enough to satisfy my curiosity.

The business, originally Newton, Jones & Willis, was active from the 1840s until the 1930s. and became one of the largest church furnishers in Britain. Apparently they were also 'Church Furnishers to the Queen'.

Their full entry in the 1914 Who's Who in Business was as follows:

Jones & Willis Ltd, Ltd.

Church. Furniture Manufacturers, Art Metal Workers, Artists in Stained Glass, &c.

Showrooms and Works: 43, Great Russell Streets, London, W.C. Established about 1830. Incorporated as a Limited Company in 1903.

Works: Eagle Works, Hornsey, N.; Porchester Street, Birmingham. Stag: About 500.

Showrooms: 79, Edmund Street, Birmingham; Concert Street, Bold Street, Liverpool.

Specialities: All Furniture used in Churches—metal, wood, stone, stained glass, textile fabrics, &c., being employed as materials. Lecterns, Communion Plate, Memorial Brasses, Choir Stalls, Fonts and Pulpits, Chancel Screens, Reredosos, Mural Tablets, Stained Glass Windows Decoration, &c. Are also workers in metal for public buildings.

Awards: Paris, 1878; London, 1851; Melbourne, 1888; London, 1862. Connection: United Kingdom, Foreign, Colonial.

Below is an advert they took out in the Illustrated Guide to the Church Congress 1897.

Their hallmark:

and a panel of their stained glass work from St Andrews Church in Congham, Norfolk:

One of their most looked at works might be the copper weather vane in the shape of a ship on the New Observatory building in the Royal Observatory complex at Greenwich. We are told in The Sketch of 4th August 1897 that the vane is:

"from the Great Harry* of which there is a model in the Museum at Greenwich. This vessel was commissioned in Elizabeth's reign, and is typical of the ships of the period. The size of the model for the vane is, from bow to stern. 4 ft. 3 in., while the height over all is 3 ft. 9 in. The ball at the base of the finial is made of copper, and is 2 ft. 9 in. in diameter, while the total height of finial is 15 ft."

...and here is a full Jones & Willis Catalogue from 1862. I note that there is no direct reference to the Hornsey Works in this publication. Since I have no date for the establishment of the works, we must assume that it might not have been opened at this point. Their 1905 catalogue, on the other hand, does note Hornsey. It also shows that metalwork has been given priority by this date at the front of their catalogue. Across the whole range there appears to have been a growth in more ornate and larger pieces. Stone work and stained glass have also been added.

As far as the date of the establishment of the works is concerned, the earliest concrete reference I can find to Hornsey is 1891. So we might assume that it was opened at some point in the closing decades of the nineteenth century.

Eagle works was a large premises covering the whole of the area behind the Great Northern Tavern and all of the area now covered by the Sainsbury's development (excluding the car park which used to be the Hornsey Council depot).

The firm moved out in the 1931 and and the works was taken over by Smithfield Refrigerators Ltd in 1932 until the company was wound up in 1971.

Records show a hearing in the Supreme Court in 1940 concerned with the winding-up of Jones & Willis Ltd. Pattern books and catalogues for the company exist in the Birmingham archives from about 1847 to 1931. So it seems likely that their move from Hornsey coincided with the end of the company's operations. 

Excerpt from 1893 Ordnance Survey Map

*In fact The Sketch got one detail wrong. The 'Great Harry' was built at Woolwich in 1514, five years into the reign of Henry VIII. She was one of the first ships of war to carry guns that fired through ports along her sides.  The ship was accidentally burnt in 1553. Below is Holbein's painting of he ship, currenlty at Greenwich, I believe.

Read about Jones's neighbour - another By Appt company, organ makers Hill, Norman & Beard.

Tags for Forum Posts: jones & willis

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Replies to This Discussion

Picture of the the 'new' GNRT showing the Jones & Willis sign c1920 just added here.

Ken Gay's photo book "Hornsey and Crouch End" has a caption

No.69 High Street, known as Eagle House. Stands on the corner with Cross Lane. In the 1890s it was occupied by Jones and Willis, ecclesiastical furnishers, who manufactured art metal work in their Eagle Works north of the High Street. It is one of the oldest local buildings, at one time occupied by the Cross family, who gave their name to the adjoining Lane."

The caption to a GNR pub picture says its woodwork, glass and wrought iron work was by Jones and Willis

There is also a caption for the adjacent property, that you have covered in your article about the organ builders:

"No.71 High Street, known as Eagle Court, was called Manor House in the 19th century .."

All this still leaves me wondering where the "Eagle" designation comes from. OK, the works from the name of the house but why that house name in the first place? I can't see an Eagle as a trade emblem in adverts, nor as a hallmark in https://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Makers/London-JA-JB.html.

Cheers, Ken. 

Here are two pictures of the Jones and Willis sign at the top of Cross lane, separated by about a quarter of a century. 

I've only ever been able to confirm the Crosse family (note the addition of the 'e') were living in Eagle House from about 1850 to 1875. Prior to that a Henry Harvey of the Inland Revenue lived there. The road alongside the house has been set out by at least as early as 1815. So, unless the Crosse family were the freeholders of the property (which the overseer returns suggest was not the case), it's difficult to connect their occupation of the house with the road. Perhaps it just came to be known as Cross Lane because it ran along side the house of the family whole lived adjacent to it for 25 years. 

I think Ken Gay is wrong about Jones & Willis ever having occupied Eagle House. The house had been leased from about 1875 until Arthur Crosse died in 1888. It was then leased to Cotton dealer Robert Thornton who lived there with his family until 1906. It was then bought and used by the Hornsey Constitutional Club (Later the Conservative Club).

As for the Eagle Court name, I can find no record of it being used until the late 1930s. Around that date Eagle House was sold by the Conservative Club and converted to bedsits and started being called Eagle Court (I have a photo from 1960 showing the house with the name carved into the gate posts). Kelly's 1937 lists Eagle Court and shows Manor House was still in use as Manor Works by surgical instrument makers Brasse.

I don't know how the Eagle name came to be used. Eagle Cottage, to the east of Manor House certainly had a pair of stone eagles standing on its gate posts looking at each other in 1880. There is no evidence either way as to whether or not Eagle House had any at this point  

A photo, dated as 1930 shows what looks like one of the Eagle Cottage eagles cemented on to the Eagle House gate post nearest the pub (you can also see it in the 1920 Jones and Willis entrance photo). Perhaps the eagles were moved a number of times between the two properties, or perhaps there were similar eagles on both properties.

Both the statues and the epithet of Eagle House/Cottage may just have been a nineteenth century attempt at grandeur.

I was a bit surprised by the Crosse story as well. To the extent that I've pondered the topic, it was a vague assumption that, absent any religious origin, it related to  linking something with another. I have a 19th c family connection with Cross Street, Islington, and "Islington Streets with a Story" refers to it linking Upper Street and Lower Street. In my village, a lane running between the middles of two roads used to be called Cross Street.

As to "Eagle", you haven't laid my tortured mind at rest, Hugh ;-)

Why call the factory "Eagle Works" if it was nothing to do with Eagle House/Court/Cottage and the latter were only named thus because they sounded grand, rather than because of a longer historiical association with that locality?  I also note that the works was an appreciable way down Cross Lane rather than in touching distance of the residences.

An eager nation awaits resolution of this conundrum!

PS   Naming something pretentiously brings to mind the Brooke Bond tea company. There was no Mr Bond; Arthur added the word because he thought it "sounded well".

.....   and Cross Road that ran from part way along Boyton Road, over Campsbourne Road to Myddleton Road, during the original Campsbourne estate layout

With regards to the naming of Eagle Works, I'm sure it was named after Eagle House. But I doubt that Messrs Jones and Willis gave a fig for the etymology of the name. I imagine they just borrowed it due to the proximity of Eagle House.

Robert Thornton and his family are clearly located in 69 High Street/Eagle House both in the 1891 and 1901 census as well as in various intervening registers of electors. That's good enough evidence for me.

Nope, Hugh, I've pondered agonisingly overnight and I remain of the opinion that there was a significance to Eagle beyond casual whimsy for the house and emulation for the works. If the house had been Mon Repos or Dunroamin and the works named similarly, one might well presume more than uninspired copying. Same with Eagle.   

Can't be that difficult to think up a specific name for a factory ......... "ArtMetal R Us" maybe? ;-)

I've found about 20 other Eagle Works in contemporary newspapers. So it was a common name. for example from 1896. 

..and this from 1868:

.. and many more


Alright, then!



Sorted, guv!

Here beginneth the most fanciful bit of speculative historical theory you've ever encountered, Hugh:

The area behind that bit of the High Street was known as the Eagle estate. In the same fashion as Maynard Street got its name from an ancient landowner, the Eagle name stemmed from Thomas Aglionby, who acquired Brick Place with ten houses and fifty-eight acres from Sir Hugh Cholmeley in 1578 (though having resided there at least since 1572). Aglionby derives from a French placename Aigullon and the family arms incorporate an eagle, perhaps a play on the French word for eagle: "Aigle" [which thought inspired this whimsical musing!]

Remember, you heard it here first ;-)

Info from HHS book  "People and Places - Lost Estates in Highgate, Hornsey and Wood Green", Essay 'A moated site c 1556-1850: Brick or Tower Place and its owners'

Fanciful it may be, but it's as good a theory as we have. So I won't knock it. (A quick google suggests that though their arms showed martlets rather than eagles, the family crest was indeed a demi-eagle).

Does the Schwitzer book say when the estate got the Eagle epithet?

No mention of Eagle estate/house/cottage.

The book is a collection of essays on particular topics rather than, as I had imagined, an across-the-borough narrative on all estates.  Only got it because it came up cheap on ebay.

It's got possibly useful incidental facts for serious study but a bit dry for my sort of lighthearted cartoon-style dabblings.  Email a reminder of your address and I'll pop it in the post to you, foc of course.



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