Percy J. Turner Ltd. of Stoke

“Percy J. TURNER Limited.”
Quarries and Works, Ashover, Chesterfield, Eyam and Grindleford.

Registered Offices: Brockholes Quarry, Stoke, Grindleford. T.A. “Turners, Grindleford”.
Brockholes Quarry, Stoke, Grindleford.
Stone Edge Quarry, Chesterfield & Denman Moor Quarry, Eyam.

[ex. Kelly's Directory, 1912]

Researched by John Mather, with comments and editing from Rosemary Lockie, © 2001-5

Percy Joseph Turner was born on 1st August 1876[1]. He was the 7th child of Joseph and Ann (née Sims) Turner, the owner of his own limited company by the age of 36, and - dare one say it - “a legend in his own lifetime”.

His grandfather George Turner was a Quarry Owner and Farmer of some considerable status at Worrall, in the parish of Bradfield, near Sheffield. In turn, as his Will, and Directory adverts tell us, George established all his three sons from his two marriages in the Stone and Quarrying business prior to his death in 1875.

These three sons were Joseph, born 1836 (father of Percy, our hero), George England born 1846 (described as his ‘reputed’ son in George senior's Will) and Thomas William born 1851 (the great grandfather of the principal researcher of these notes, John Mather)

As can be seen from various Directory adverts, George's sons followed in their father's footsteps, acquiring several quarries in the North Derbyshire/ South Yorkshire areas during the latter part of the 19th century, and in turn installing their own sons as Quarry managers. It is thought George's eldest son Joseph may have acquired Stoke Hall Quarry sometime during the 1860/70's, although he was still living in the family home of The Priory, Middlewood (Sheffield) in 1881 - young “Percy Joe” was then aged 4. There were no Turners on the 1881 census for Stoke[2], and Joseph's eldest son George Arnold Turner was recorded in the household of Joseph ROPER, a Plasterer, at Ormond Place, Newbold & Dunston in Derbyshire as a Boarder.

By the Stoke Census, 1891 however we find George Arnold Turner firmly established as a “Stone Merchant”, living at Flora Cottage. The Quarry was however still a joint venture as Bulmer's Directory, 1895 for “STOKE HALL STONE QUARRIES”, lists G. A. TURNER, Grindleford, or JOSEPH TURNER, Middlewood near Sheffield as points of contact.

The Admission Register for Grindleford School (now in the Derbyshire Record Office) contains details of two of George's children plus another for whom he was the responsible adult. George however died in 1903, at his parents home at The Priory, Middlewood near Sheffield. This was some years before Joseph, his father, who died in 1917.

Meanwhile, back in 1891 Percy Joe was possibly setting the scene for his future success by acquiring an education in Chesterfield, at The Wilsden J. Bowker Academy, St Mary's House St Mary's Gate. Also with him at school are his younger brother, Tom and three cousins, Frances, Charles and George Brammall. We have not yet ascertained where he was in 1901, but he was married to Lillian White, daughter of Joseph White, a Music Dealer of Corporation Street (Chesterfield), at St Mary and All Saints Church, Chesterfield on 14th February 1900; and he was then baptised 12 years later (as an adult) on 1st February 1912, at the same church. Percy and Lillian do not appear to have had any children of their own.

It is not known when Percy Joseph took over the managing and directorship of his little empire - at least by 1912, as Kelly's Directory that year features an advert for the firm of “Percy J. Turner Limited”, but he may have taken over earlier, on his brother George's death in 1903. He is known to have lived at the property known as ‘Edgemount’, in Grindleford in later years, and until his death in 1940.

Percy thus became the principal and managing director of what became a multi-national company; his international fame[3] is described in the article “Stoke” Pulp Stones. When he died he was buried in St Helen's Churchyard in Grindleford, the village church for which Joseph Turner his father had contributed stone to help to build.

The Turner family also quarried at Stonedge, near Ashover. This stone was used in the construction of the Immingham Docks, Grimsby and also for millstones for the paper industry. Stone from the Stoke Hall Quarry was used in the construction of the Cutlers Hall and the Town Hall in Sheffield, and likewise for millstones in the paper making industry.

Additional Notes by Rosemary Lockie: [1] His headstone in St. Helen's churchyard, Grindleford records 1877, but 1876 is correct.

[2] The Stoke Hall Estate (which included Stoke Quarry) was sold by Granville Orlando Bridgeman to Michael J Hunter of Sheffield in 1885 and I can't help feeling that the Turners acquiring the Quarry must be related. The Conveyance for the sale is dated 11 May 1885.

[3] Locally Percy achieved notoriety of a different sort, gaining a reputation to last into the 21st century of being a “slave driver” - my mother spoke of him often in those terms, several of her brothers having worked for him.

Note: there is a reproduction of the advert for the Percy J. Turner Limited business at the end of my transcription of Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1912.

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