People of Stoney Middleton - William Gladstone (1809-1898)

Old Photograph of William Gladstone (1809-1898) (Stoney Middleton)

“The Old Man of the Stock Room”...
What, you may ask, was William Gladstone doing in Stoney Middleton?

Hanging on a wall, that's what! This photograph was found recently (2008) in the premises of Peaklander Footwear (formerly Heginbotham Bros. Ltd.) at Calver Sough, in their Stock Room, hidden behind a framed certificate on the wall, relating to the business.

At first, noone knew who it was, so I'd assumed - quite naturally - that the image was someone connected with Heginbotham family. However thanks to an article by Julie Bunting published in the Peak Advertiser describing the find, several readers were able to identify him as William Gladstone, who served several terms of office as Prime Minister of Great Britain between 1868 and 1892.

It was nevertheless interesting to speculate who he might have been, and it provoked a lively debate amongst interesting parties! My own assumption was that it was Joseph HEGINBOTHAM, born about 1834 (baptised at Stoney Middleton on 7 Dec 1834), and the founder of the firm of “Heginbotham Bros.”. According to Stoney Middleton: A Working Village (pp 19-20) Joseph was apprenticed in Eyam as a shoemaker, then gained ‘work experience’ in other shoe making businesses in Lincolnshire, Sheffield, and Chesterfield, finally returning to his home area to become manager of Harrison's Boot Factory (formerly Ashton's) in Stoney Middleton. Then in 1884, together with his four sons, Luther, Matthew, William, and Henry, he took over the firm.

Joseph was married in December 1/4 1860 to Caroline GILLATT, of Eyam, the marriage being registered at Sheffield, where they were living at the time of the 1871 Census. The firm became known as “Heginbotham Bros.” when Joseph and his son Luther began a second business at Craigstead, in Stoney Middleton (a brick building in the High Street, just below the school). However the new business was not a success, so Joseph returned to his original business to work again with his other sons.

Joseph died in 1911; the business at Calver (Heginbotham Bros Ltd.) was started by his son Henry (Harry - born circa 1870), after his one remaining partner, brother Matthew, left the area. Henry used both factories from the early 1920s until about 1936, when the Stoney Middleton factory was closed. We can only speculate about who amongst them was a fan of Gladstone!

The photographer's stamp at the bottom of the photo attributed it to Valentine - this may have been the firm of Valentine and Sons of Dundee. Certainly there are known connections with Dundee and the North Derbyshire area, mentioned for example, in The Cocker Letters. Joseph COCKER of Hathersage visited Dundee in relation to his needle-making business, so as other business men in the area may well have done likewise, I'd managed to weave that into the scenario involving Joseph Heginbotham as well.

However as it turns out the (probable) connection with Dundee is far more prosaic, William Gladstone served as a Scottish MP!

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Image contributed by Katharine Goddard on 21st August 2008.
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