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Thomas William Appleton was born in 1828 in Yarm, Yorkshire. His father was a Miller and Corn Merchant.
Thomas served an apprenticeship at Meeks in Manchester. He later moved to Bradford and worked with his brother Laurence Frederick Appleton running a Linen Drapery business at 22, Westgate, Bradford. They employed four assistants.1 (ref 1851 census) The partnership continued until August 1854, Lawrence had moved to Melbourne Australia. 2 (ref Brad. Obs. 17th aug 1854) Soon after this business was sold. 3 (ref Brad Obs 7th June 1855)
In 1851 Thomas married Anne Green and they had eight children. Six daughters and two sons. The eldest son was Richard James Appleton.
Thomas started a photographic business in partnership with Henry Berlon at the top of Manor Row, on a site where the old Yorkshire Penny Bank still stands and they opened a second studio at 7 Horton Lane Bradford. There are conflicting reports as to when this business actually started. A statement on the reverse of many carte de visite suggests that it was established in 1859. So you would think that is definitely the case however Thomas Appleton's Obituary suggests 1853 and the RPS directory of Bradford photographers suggests 1856. It could be that the 1859 date was the start of the business under a particular name ie Appleton & Co or at a particular location for example Horton Lane. Further investigation is required to confirm this date but no press advertising can be found as yet which would suggest a date before 1859.
The Appleton's photographic business continued at Horton Lane for nearly 50 years but the partnership between Berlon and Thomas Appleton was not to last.
Perry's Bankrupt Gazette 19th Dec 1863 reported that the partnership based at Horton Lane and Manor Row had ceased on the 21st Nov 1863. Berlon made an announcement in the Bradford Observer on the 7th Jan 1864 which read. "Mr Henry Berlon (late Appleton & Co) respectfully informs his numerous friends and the public that, since the dissolution of partnership, he continues the PHOTOGRAPHIC BUSINESS, at the top of Manor Row, on his own account and will endeavour to merit a continuance of the patronage he has hitherto enjoyed" In the same publication Appleton announced that he had bought the freehold of some land at the bottom of Horton Lane and contracted for the erection of an establishment "which for extent and perfection of its arrangements and appointments shall be second to none in the provinces" While the new studio was being constructed he moved his Gallery to the bottom of Manchester Road.
The reason for the break up of the partnership with Berlon is not known but the timing of the purchase of 'land' at the bottom of Horton Lane and the statement by Appleton regarding how prestigious his new studio would be might just suggest that the reason may have been related to this move. Clearly from the evidence on the back of the photographs both the Horton Lane site and the site at the Top of Manor Row, Manningham Lane were operating for some years along side each other but after the partnership broke up Henry Berlon took the site at the Top of Manor Row and Thomas Appleton the site at Horton Lane. The first time Berlon's studio was shown in a local directory in his own right was in Whites 1866.
Portrait of William Huntriss
Here is a very rare example of two carte de visite showing a portrait of William Huntriss (1804 - 1883) one print by Appleton and one by Berlon. The rarity is with the fact that the same negative number is shown on both cards and has possibly been written by the same hand. The Appleton card shows the original hand written name on the back of the card whereas in the case of the Berlon card the name has been written some years later possibly by a descendant of Mr Huntriss. It must be assumed that this portrait was taken before the partnership breakup and that an arrangement was in place for both studios to use the stock of negatives for any reprints, although it is quite possible that there is another explanation. All suggestions welcome. It must be said that in this case the Appleton print has survived rather better than the Berlon one and this could either by due to the printing process used or the way in which the photograph has been stored over the last 150 years. As for William Huntriss, he was born in Sowerby Bridge in 1804, in 1836 he established the first steam powered worsted spinning textile mill in Halifax. The mill was Stone Dam Mill in Well Lane, a building which still stands today. He later went into business with his brother George as a wool stapler operating under the name The Huntriss Brothers and following that in partnership with a Mr Illingworth worsted spinning. William took an active part in the town’s affairs throughout his life. He was a constable (an important position at that time) – and during that period had to deal with the Chartist riots in Halifax. (Information provided by Geoff Huntriss)
The Methodist Ministers
Portraits by Appleton shown here are of John Farrar top left and William Morley Puncheon shown right. These ones probably date from the 1870s
http://dbooks.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/books/PDFs/555074511.pdf page 90) The portrait shown here was taken by William Grant Thompson of Shipley operating from 1 Westgate. Since MacKenzie was in the area from 1880 to 1883 and Thompson the photographer was at 1 Westgate from 1881 until approximately 1887 we can say with some confidence that the portrait was taken between 1881 – 1883. Other examples can be found where similar conclusions can be drawn. As for the Appleton Studios, however, they stayed in the same location for a long time so it is more difficult to match the date that a minister was in Bradford with the date of a particular studio address, although the design of the mounting cards did change over time and if we were able to date these then a match may be possible. The 1866 conference raises another interesting question. Did Appleton actually visit the conference and take the photographs there to make up his composite image or were they all taken at his studio in which case he would have have had to arrange for all the minister to travel over to Bradford. It is also possible that the studio had just built up a library of images taken in the preceding years. As can be seen from the press report the studio had been taking the portraits from as early as 1861.
Portrait of Sir Titus Salt
Throughout their careers Thomas and later Richard James Appleton photographed some very important people in Bradford of which Titus Salt was one. There is probably no portrait from any Leeds or Bradford Studio photographer that is more well known and more widely used than this one. On the 17th May 1870 it was reported in the Bradford Observer that the Appleton studio in Horton Lane had a life size portrait of Sir Titus Salt,Bart,in oil which had been taken direct from a small photograph. It represented Sir Titus sitting in an easy chair holding a letter in his hand. This may have been the same image which appears in the book Yorkshire Past and Present. Vol 1 and is shown here. The image in the book is in actual fact a copy of an engraving by William Holl based on the original photograph. A copy is held by the National Portrait Gallery. G Daniels also produced an oil painting of this image and it is held by the Bradford Museum service, they have dated it 1879. Another coloured version of the image, possibly a copy of the painting held by Bradford Museums can be found at the Lord of the Manor Public House in New Crofton Nr Wakefield, a place where Titus Salt used to live, most definitely before it became a Public House! More copies of the image which have been coloured and possibly completely redrawn appear in the book 'The Modern Portrait Gallery' by Cassell, Petter and Galpin and appear on the website www.sciencephoto.com. Even Wetherspoons have fallen in love with this image. Further investigation is required before it can be determined if the Daniels painting is the same one referred to in the Bradford Observer article. What is also interesting about this portrait is the fact that if the oil painting referred to by the Bradford Observer was based upon a small photograph and the Holl engraving must have been based upon that same photograph, so where is the photograph? It may have been lost but you would think that such a remarkable portrait would have been printed many times and sold as a so called celebrity carte de visite.
When Sir Titus Salt opened the Sunday Schools at Saltaire on 29th April 1876 he was presented a life size portrait of himself by the officers and teachers of the Saltaire Congregational Church. It was suspended over the East Gallery. The portrait had been supplied by Messrs Appleton and was a 'production of great artistic merit'. (Ref Bradford Observer 1st May 1876) Sir Titus's health was failing and it was said that he was too frail to take a full part in the ceremony. He died in December that very same year.
Richard James Appleton's education.
The 1871 census shows all the Appleton family at home in Carr Hall, Wike, near Bradford except for eldest son Richard James Appleton who was now aged 14. He appears in the census boarding at the Wesleyan College in Sheffield (Now King Edward's VII School). The college was run by Wesleyan Minister and Governor John Hardvard. At the college there were tutors in mathematics and the classics including one from Jamaica. The students, all male and mostly between the ages of 12 and 17 were from all over the UK and some from abroad including Canada, Ireland and the Natal. This education would serve Richard well in years to come.
The studio in Manningham Lane. In 1872 Thomas Appleton wishing to expand the business opened a studio at 60 Manningham Lane Bradford and in 1887 took the adjoining premise at No 58 Manningham Lane. The premises were at the junction of Spring Gardens and incorporated a glass roof studio. The book Industries of Yorkshire published in 1888 describes the studio. "The stately and elegant entrance to this studio is more suggestive of a public art gallery than of the business premises of a private firm, but on proceeding further it is quite in keeping with the rest of the place, the fine staircase and the large and lofty rooms relete with all requisite accessories, confirming the first favourable impression. After a visit to this magnificent establishment and a careful examination of the specimens of photography shown there, one feels that Messrs. Appleton Co are in every way deserving of the patronage they receive from the elite of the West Riding. Messrs Appleton Co are licensees for the Van der Weyde, Platinotyoe, Autotype and other processes and during the period that they have been in business they have sought by diligent study on their own part and by taking advantage of all modern discoveries, to contribute to the advancement of their beautiful art. Not satisfied with the fame they have acquired in photography Messrs. Appleton and Co have recently added to it in other directions, having opened a spacious shop at 58 Manningham Lane where they are already doing a large wholesale and retail business as manufacturers of photographic apparatus and dealers in chemicals and other goods used in the art. “… “ This enterprising firm are also widely known as manufacturers and dealers in dissolving view apparatus, their lanterns, either for oil or limelight, being exceptionally good, while their many thousands of artistic photographic transparencies are unsurpassed, if equalled, by any firm in the country.
It would appear then that the premises at 58 Manningham Lane was not set up simply to extend the studio but it was set up to expand and diversify the business with Richard James Appleton taking a prominent role establishing a wholesale and retail side. It might be suggested that the Appletons were edging their bets here. Amateur photography was beginning to take off and so there was a demand through retail for cameras, consumables and accessories but there was also still a considerable demand from professional photographers to source product from wholesalers. Perhaps even at this stage Richard Appleton had an eye on Percy Lund's Photographic business and the full range of product that Percy Lund was offering to the trade via his journal The Photographers World (1886-1899) and later The Practical Photographer (1890-1895) . The property at No 58 and No 60 Manningham Lane still stands today and the exterior of the building has changed little since the 1880s.
The Mayors of Bradford
images are of the Woodbury type, still as good now as the day they were produced. In fact this book serves as testament to the excellent work and the longevity of the Appleton's business. There are portraits of eighteen Mayors of Bradford in the book, seventeen of them taken by Appleton Co including those of, Robert Milligan the first Mayor of Bradford (shown right), Sir Titus Salt Bart, William Rand, Sam Smith, Henry Brown, Isaac Wright, Charles Semon, John Venimore Godwin, William Brashaw, James Law, Edward West, Mark Dawson, Manoah Rhodes, Henry Mitchel, Wilson Sutcliffe, George Motley Ward and Briggs Priestley. The eighteenth portrait is that of Angus Holden taken by Albert Sachs.
The 1881 Census shows Thomas’s son Richard James Appleton married with their first child Richard Norman Appleton and living at 24, Cunliffe Terrace. Richard James’s occupation is shown as Photographer and Chemist. Later Richard James and his wife Eliza Mary (Maddison) had four more sons and a daughter. These were Thomas, Reginald, Harry, Eric and Nina Lila.
As can be seen on the left here Appleton & Co were awarded the highest award of Silver Medal at the Bradford Fine Arts Exhibition of 1882. Tissue covers were printed to celebrate the event and clearly this also dates the card design.
Royal Visitors to Bradford and Saltaire
In June 1882 the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Bradford to open the Bradford Technical School and stayed at Milner Field the home of Titus Salt Jnr the house was located just outside Bingley. Today the remains of the house can still be seen along with one of its mosaic floors. The Prince and Princess of Wales marked the occasion by planting a tree in the grounds, a photo was taken by the Appleton Studios and is shown here. The book on Milner Field by Richard Lee Van den Daele and R David Beale refers to this event and suggests that one of Titus's children Gorden Salt was not at the event and yet he appears in the photo on the extreme right. It is suggested that he must have been 'patched into the photo' later.
When Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry visited Saltaire on the 6th May 1887 to open the Royal Jubilee Exhibition Richard James Appleton and Charles Maddison (Richards brother in law) were responsible for a photograph which captured the moment when Titus Salt’s wife handed the keys over to Princess Beatrice. Prince Henry, Titus Salt Jnr, Mr Chubb and others were also in the picture along with the royal carriage and the military guard. This photograph was copyrighted, the details of which can be found in the National Archives. The photograph may be the one that appears in the book Salt and Saltaire by Dr Gary Firth. Saltaire Village was built by Titus Salt Snr for his workers and is now a World Heritage site. . Charles Madison actually had his own photographic studio at No 8, Saltaire Road, Shipley.
By 1892 Richard James Appleton was advertising in ‘Bradford Portraits’ from the address at 60 Manningham Lane and by 1901 his father Thomas is shown on the census as being retired so it is likely that Richard probably took over the business from 1892, certainly at the Manningham Lane address although Thomas’s obituary in the Bradford Weekly Telegraph suggests that he didn’t retire until 1897. The Horton Lane studio was being advertised in the Byles directory of 1898 and 1900 under the name Appleton & Co and another address which is mentioned in Byles of 1898 was 23 Charles Street.
Bradford Portraits and its sister publication The Leeds Biographer were published in monthly parts. The biographies and portraits of some of the most prominent local people of 1892 are detailed in these publications. Appleton Co were responsible for portraits of Alderman Ezra Hammond, Rev Featherstone Kellet, Mr John Holmes, W Suddards, Rev James G Miall, Rev W B Dalby and Richard James Appleton for the portraits of Rev Alfred Holborn MA, Rev Professor Shearer and Rev T Brain Castle.
The 1893 edition of the Amateur Photographers Annual mentions Appletons along with some other establishments in their Holiday Guide for Photographers. " R J Appleton & Co, 58 Manningham Lane stock all makes of plates, paper, chemicals, apparatus etc. Dark Room - No charge for use of room; available 9am to 7pm" They go on to say " There is not much to photograph in the town except one or two buildings" They suggest visiting Peel Park and Manningham Park or Bolton Abbey.
Examples from the studio
A selection of portraits from the Appleton Studios are shown here. Top row date from the 1860s. Note the chair the third man is sitting on. Is this the same chair as used by Titus Salt? At this time some of the carte de visites were numbered. The first one of the left is numbered 4522 and the sitter, as mentioned above, is William Huntriss. The portrait of the lady with a child is numbered 7297. It would seem that most portraits from the Berlon studio after Appleton and Berlon split were numbered and that the Appletons didnt continue to number their portraits. If it was Berlons idea to number the portraits then it would suggest that any numbered portraits from the Appletons studio may well pre date the split i.e. been taken before 1864.
The second row probably all date from the 1870's. The second from the left is William Morley Punshon a well known preacher. The one on the right is dated 1877. This portrait although dated is not numbered. The identity of the other three gents is presently unknown.
The third row is a mix of miscellaneous portraits dated from the 1860s to the 1890s. The date of the photo of the boy on the left with toy train is unknown but could be 1880s, image kindly provided by Look and Learn. The coloured one is a portrait of Mrs Tetley and is probably 1860s. The portrait of the two gents, one expecting rain at any time is possibly 1870s, and the one right has gold writing and a gold bevelled edge a feature of card design in the late 1880s through to the 1890s.
Other Business Interests
Richard James had business interests elsewhere, he had a business partner in Leeds named Robert Henry White and they ran the business R H White and Co. The business was based at 18 Park Row. The partnership is referred to in an article in the Leeds Mercury 22nd March 1895 which describes a court case in which Richard Appleton and Robert Henry White’s father H K White take a third party to court over a number of boxes of Magic Lantern slides which were owed to them. The book Industries of Yorkshire describes the business and the shop. The business was an Opticians and dealer in photographic apparatus, the shop being 35 feet long and having a 17 foot frontage. They stocked opera glasses, telescopes, eye glasses, spectacles, photographic apparatus, chemicals of every description and variety of scientific instruments. They even made artificial eyes.
The Appleton's Business Expanding
Richard Appleton took over the photographic department of Percy Lund and Co in 1896. The book 'British Cameras' by Channing and Dunn also refers to this and says that " In August 1896 they disposed of their camera department to R J Appleton" .A considerable amount of material on Percy Lund & Co is held by the West Yorkshire Archives in Bradford. It does seem that prior to the takeover the two companies had a working relationship. The Appletons were in 1892 stockists of the Practical Photographer, a publication produced and edited by Percy Lund. At the time Appletons were also operating from an address in 11, Leeds Road Bradford. In an advertisement in the Practical Photographer in July 1891 Statuesque Tissues was being advertised, this was used in the production of Carte de Visites and Cabinet cards to protect the finished image. Only Appleton, Percy Lund and Fallowfields of London are shown as wholesale stockists of this product. The example shown here was originally attached to a Carte De Visite by Edwards of Hull.
Percy Lund & Co were printers and dealers in photographic equipment with branches in Bradford and London, The company produced many books and magazines including the Junior and Practical Photographer magazines, they also produced the St John Camera. . Prior to this in April 1886 production of the The Photographer’s World began, the only trade journal for photographers. Over 5,000 copies were sent gratis as Percy would say to photographers and photographic material dealers all around the world. The first edition was published in April 1886 and from then on the 15th of every month. They were filled with advertising from companies such as Elliot and Fry, Morgan & Kidd, The Britannia Works Co, Marion & Co and Spicer Brothers amongst many others. The advertising was looked after by Parry and Crawford of Fleet Street. Articles were also included along with information on the latest patents. Percy ran a competition where he awarded medals for the best photos, a competition judged by Henry Peach Robinson and Valentine Blanchard. He requested in his column ‘Cabinets if Possible’ for a cabinet sized portrait of the Photographers themselves to be sent to him so he could produce the Photographers World Album. Each card would need to have the photographers name, address and date on it. By December 1887 one hundred and thirty portraits had been received. Further investigation is required to determine if this album was ever produced and the whereabouts of the album. Included in some issues were supplement illustrations and Percy would slip in the odd business card and envelope with his advertising on it. Percy's interest in Photography and Magic Lantern slides also got him involved in local camera clubs where he gave presentations supported by the use of his Magic Lantern Slides. In 1899 Percy Lund became President of the Bradford Photographic Society with Richard James Appleton and Alex Keighley Vice presidents. Percy was also president of the Yorkshire Photographic Union (YPU) from 1899 to 1903. In fact the Bradford Photographic Society still remembers Percy Lund by presenting an award each year, the Percy Lund Rose Bowl. The connection between Richard James Appleton, Percy Lund and Alex Keighley is an important one and it is investigated further in the article on Percy Lund.
Another Bradford Photographer A E & C Fox bought card stock from both Percy Lund and later Richard Appleton. It can be seen here that Percy Lund sourced the cards from Vienna whereas Richard Appleton was using a manufacturer in Berlin.
Leeds and especially Bradford was at the forefront of these developments with Richard James Appleton, Cecil Wray and the Riley Brothers either working on various designs and/or producing films prior to 1900. The Appletons had already produced their own Magic Lanterns including those made from Mahogany and Russian Iron and a triple lantern illuminated by limelight. Although the Lanterns and their slides were very popular the future was in moving pictures and so R J Appleton & Co designed and produced the Cieroscope.
It was on Monday 6th April 1896 when Lumieres Cinematograph was used to project moving images at the Peoples Palace in Bradford. This was the first time it was shown in the area.
The Leeds Times reported on 19th December 1896 that “Messrs R. J. Appleton and Co are giving a series of exhibitions at the Mechanics’ Institute illustrative of the powers of their “Cieroscope,” and apparatus for presenting to view animated photographs or living pictures".
In the following year Appleton pulled off one of his greatest achievements. He filmed Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, processed the photographs on a train on the way back from London and showed his moving pictures via his Cieroscope to tens of thousands of peoples in Forster Square Bradford the very same day and for three days following the event. This was a remarkable achievement at the time. The story is told by the Telegraph and Argus The book “Movie Maker and Picture Palaces” by G J Mellor also describes the event in some detail.
In the Yorkshire Evening Post 21st Feb 1898 R H White & Co placed an advertisement as follows.
“Animated or Living Pictures. Appleton’s ‘Cieroscope’ for bazaars, private parties,& c – Terms and particulars apply R H White & Co, 103 Albion Street. Leeds.”
A photograph of the front of these premises can be seen on the Leodis website.
The advertisements shown here are from the book Living Pictures by Henry V Hopwood 1899
Appletons and X-Rays
G J Mellor says in his book that in 1897 a chap named Ernest Rutherford gave a lecture at the Bradford Mechanics Institute on Rontgen Rays which were an early form of Xrays. Richard Norman Appleton ( R.J’s son) aged 17 worked the lantern. This got the Appleton’s interested in Xrays . They later worked in collaboration with a number of Bradford doctors in using this new technology. (In 1908 Ernest Rutherford was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on radioactve substances.) In fact there is evidence that Appletons were involved with Xrays earlier than 1897, as detailed below.
The publication The Invisible Light, a Journal of the Radiology History and Heritage Charitable Trust number 15 dated 2001 has reference to Appleton’s and Xrays. It describes Appletons as non medical practitioners of the X-Rays and typically getting involved in demonstrating fractures and dislocations in hands, feet, arms and legs and detecting foreign bodies such as needles, bullets and swallowed objects such as coins. It refers to three articles that were published in relation to Appletons and X-Rays, as follows.
The Practical Photographer, VII, 152 May 1896 reported that “Messrs R J Appleton & Co, photographers of Bradford, are prepared to treat cases with the Ronten rays. This firm has been successful in photographing portions of the backbone, the arm and other parts of the body”.
The Photogram III 131a (May 1896) reported that Professional Radiography was being undertaken by Appleton & Co, Manningham Lane, Bradford.
The English Mechanic and World of Science, LXVI, 504a(January 14, 1898) printed an article as follows. ”The Rontgen Rays and Surgical Operations. – Dr Moorhead, of Tong (a village near Bradford) has had a somewhat peculiar experience in connection with X rays. A lady patient of his having got a portion of a needle into her foot, he took her to Messrs. Appleton of Bradford, where the X- rays were applied, and the needle localised the following morning, with a life size tracing of the negative, the doctor attempted to cut out the needle, but, to his surprise, it was not where it should have been. On the photograph the needle was in a horizontal position, but it was found in a vertical position, and was extracted from the dorsal surface of the foot instead of the planter surface. The needle extracted was 1 1/8 inch in length, and had struck the bone with such force as to bend the point. Surgeons resorting to X- rays will, therefore, have to devise some means of operating immediately a negative has been obtained. “
It was said in the obituary of Richard Norman Appleton that when he left the grammar school that he joined the Photography business, this would have been about 1896 when Rutherford gave his lecture at the Bradford Mechanics Institute. The article which was printed in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer on Tuesday 4th August 1936 goes on to say "they claimed to be the first in England to obtain results when experimenting with Rontgen Rays. Working in collaboration with Dr Campbell of Manningham , their first success was to prevent a man's finger from being amputated by showing that the root of the trouble was an abscess and not a disease. After this success they worked in collaboration with many other Bradford doctors"
After the discovery of X Rays by Rontgen in late 1895 Henry Snowden Ward took an interest and was the first to publish a textbook on the subject in May 1896 it was entitled 'Practical Radiograhy'.Before this he wrote an article 'The New Light' in The English Illustrated Magazine in February 1896. He had worked for Percy Lund for many years. Ward became an itinerant lecturer of the subject. See the Percy Lund story for more information on Henry Snowden Ward and a picture of Ward being X Rayed.
Magic Lantern Slides of India
The book 'The Indispensable handbook to the optical lantern' by Welford and Sturmey dated 1888 refers to Appletons having a collection of 459 Lantern Slides on the subject of India. The slides were from original negatives purchased by Messrs Appleton. "They make up a large series under many headings, from which lecture sets are to be prepared from time to time, one being now ready under the title 'Two months in India with a camera' " Percy Lund must have acquired a set of these slides along with others. Here are four examples from his collection with the first two being from the 'Two months in India with a camera ' series. These are number No 18 and No 26. The last slide is by Newton & Co the subject being Indian Gentlemen weaving. The images here have been taken from the original glass lantern slides which belonged to Percy Lund and are not from the book. Percy Lund must have gathered a huge collection of slides to support the various lectures that he gave not only on photography and theosophy but many other subjects. Thanks again to Richard Becker for access to these.
Explosion at 15, Oak Villas
Thomas Appleton suffered burns to his face and was in shock when there was a gas explosion at his house at 15 Oak Villas, Manningham on 12th July 1899. There had been a gas leak from a chandelier in the back room of his house when it was drawn down. A young plumber named Hiram Dawson attended the premise, he was in the employ of Steven Dobson. Dawson foolishly stuck a light in order to locate the defect causing an explosion. He was severely burnt on his hands and face and Thomas Appleton now aged seventy one was knocked against the wall and suffered burns to his face. The explosion was heard 'from some distance round'. 'Both the back room and the drawing room were completely ruined. The windows were shattered and the blinds were blown into the back yard. Several valuable pictures, ornaments and mirrors were smashed to atoms, a large table in the drawing room was broken down, the ceilings in the two rooms were blown down, and the vicinity of the rooms was in a state of disorder.' (Bradford Daily Telegraph 13th July 1899)
The Connection with Cecil Wray
Richard James took over the business of Cecil Wray in late 1902. Cecil Wray had set up a business in partnership with William Baxter their company Baxter and Wray was based at Borough Mills, Manchester Road, Bradford. They worked with Joseph Oulton, Clockmaker and together they applied in May 1897 for a patent for the “Improvements in Apparatus for Taking and Exhibiting Kinetoscopic Films or Animated Photographs”. The partnership between Baxter & Wray was wound up in June 1898 and a new company was formed in 1899, Cecil Wray & Co Ltd, it was registered with a capital of £5,000 in £1 shares (Leeds Times 23rd Dec 1899), unfortunately the company went into liquidation in late 1902. Articles were printed in the local press, on 22nd July 1901 announcing a winding up notice for Cecil Wray & Co, and on 10th June 1902 reporting the partnership had been dissolved between Cecil Wray and John Henry Ashworth, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of 24 Simes Street. The fixtures and fittings and stock in trade were sold at an auction on 7th and 8th November 1902. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer reported on 1st November the details of the upcoming auction, as follows.
To Photographers, Electricians, Magic Lantern Exhibitors
On Friday and Saturday next
at Borough Mills, Manchester Road, Bradford
Cecil Wray and Co (Ltd) Electricians, Photographers, and Magic Lantern Outfitters (In Liquidation)
Mr G F Lockwood will sell by auction
The valuable fixtures and fittings comprising counters, showcases, tabling, partitioning, desks, benches, glazed show cases, table tops and trestles. 1 1/2 hp electric motor 110v counter shafting etc.
First portion of stock in trade comprising. 2 bi-unial triple drawer magic lanterns, one mahogany condenser (complete), 6 magic lantern bodies, 3 Russian lantern bodies, 73 penny-in-slot cinograph with pedestals quantity of lantern lamps, sundry lanterns, 6 calloscopes, 5 monoscopes, 4 penny-in-slot phonographs, one Edison Bell electric ditto, 5 Gramophones, one penny-in-slot ditto, quantity of photographic fittings, and accessories etc.
Toys comprising clockwork, steam and hot air locomotive and stationary engines, 12 dozen magic lanterns, photographic cameras, card games,and other effects.
A timeline in connection with these events is shown here.
The 1902 telephone directory records Appleton to be at Borough Mills and in 1902 and 1904. Appleton and Joseph Oulton, Clockmaker also applied for patents. Cecil Wray's business was certainly going through some turbulent times. He was declared bankrupt in late 1903 when a creditors meeting was held, his address was shown as 16 Chevin View and business address 24 Simes Street.It was stated that his debts were due to law suits intended to prevent him from doing business on his own (Leeds Mercury 24th December 1903) In fact it was Richard James Appleton that had taken legal action against Wray and this may well have led to his bankruptcy. (Bradford Daily Telegraph 22nd Dec 1902). Clearly there was a dispute between the two men.
Cecil Wray was undoubtedly a pioneer in cinematography. The Grantham Journal 18th Feb 1899 reported on an evenings entertainment he had put on in Langham. "On Tuesday evening last 14th February a very interesting and novel entertainment was given in the Village Institute by Mr Cecil Wray (Assoc. Inst E.E.) consisting of a lecture on the Phonograph Cinematograph illustrated by means of a powerful oxy-hydrogen lantern and slides and the Bettini Micro Phonograph giving musical selections by the leading artistes of England and America; also the Perfection Cinematograph showing animated photographs of up to date events including the great Spanish Bull-fight reproduced by means of 100,000 pictures. The lecturer also brought a record taker with him which was fixed up to the church steeple, and some changes were rung on the church bells which the Phonograph reproduced in the evening to the great delight of the crowded audience..... It seems unanimous that we may soon have the pleasure of hearing Mr Wray again"
Local directory listings of the Appleton's business
The Post Office Directory of 1898 has the following information
23 Charles Street. R J Appleton Photographic Dealer
87 Emm Lane, Heaton. Appleton, Richard J. Optician. The Yorkshire United Independent Theological College
7 Little Horton Lane, Appleton & Co, Photo Artists
58, 60 Manningham Lane Appleton, R J & Co, Photographers, Photographic Dealers, Lantern Outfitters, Opticians, Apparatus Makers.
15 Oak Villas, Appleton, Thos. W. Photographer.
The telephone directory of 1902 shows the business of R J Appleton & Co, photographic Lantern Outfitters to be at Boro’ Mills and also with the same telephone number to be at Market Street Bradford and with the description of Printers and Stationers to be at North Parade and Manningham Lane. Borough Mills stood at the junction of Manchester Road and Sharpe Street close to where the Bradford Central Library stands today.
The Leeds Times reported Jan 1898.
“ W. C. Harmsworth, clerk, of Lonsdale Street was at the Bradford City Police Court, on Saturday, charged with embezzling £13, the property of his employer. Mr R J Appleton, photographic instrument dealer, of Bradford. The prisoner had charge of a branch establishment in Charles Street, and he had to make up the books for the Manningham Lane shop. At the end of last year he made excuses when asked to make up the accounts and when finally pressed he absconded. Inquiries then proved that he had for two years been appropriating his employers moneys, and up to Saturday it had been ascertained that he had embezzles £120 in account and there was a deficiency of £100 in the stock, making a total of £220. The Stipendiary, in passing a sentence of four months imprisonment said the offence was aggravated by the defence, which was bad company.” The Tamworth Times also reported on the same incident and said that Harmsworth got into bad company by attending various places with the cinematograph.
Richard Henry Appleton's narrow escape
Thomas Appleton's brother Richard Henry had taken over their fathers Corn Merchant and Milling business and had established a very large mill, the Cleveland Mill, on the banks of the Tees. He must have made a success of it as he went on to built a grand country house ( Woodside Hall ) and employed servants, cooks and gardeners. He was also appointed Lord Mayor of Stockton on Tees. But not everything went smoothly in his life in 1880 he was very nearly killed by an ex employee who shot him twice in the head and once in the side. The assailant, a man named John Thurlow had entered Richard Henry Appletons office with the story that he wanted him to provide a character reference but when Richards secretary left the office Thurlow was heard to say 'I would rather beg my bread than come back to the mill' and he shot Richard three times. Thurlow had previously been arrested for being drunk and in possession of the weapon but he pleaded that he had bought the weapon because he was going to America and in fact he was not drunk. He was released by the judge without charge, a mistake that nearly cost Richard Henry Appleton his life. Richard Henry died in 1898.
The Horton Lane Studio
On the back of some of Appleton’s Carte De Visite photographs there is a copy of an engraving which shows the front of the premises at Horton Lane. The building has a glass roof. A Carte de Visite of this type is held by the National Media Museum in Bradford and is dated 1880. At least four different versions of the engraving exist, with minor differences. The photograph shown right is the front of Appleton’s Horton Lane studios in 1904 with crowds gathering for the Royal visit to the city. From the marks left on the side of the chimney stack it can be seen that the glass roof had been lowered at some point by perhaps three or four feet.
The 1904 Exhibition was an important event in Bradford’s history, The Prince and Princess of Wales came to open Cartwright Hall and unveil Queens Victoria’s Statue. It is unclear if Appleton had any involvement in this event but other studios such as the Rosemont Studios of Leeds and Alfred Coe of Bradford took advantage of a business opportunity and produced many postcards of the event. There is no doubt that the photographic studio business had peaked and perhaps Richard became more interested in 'talking machines'.
New Century - New Opportunities
Appleton’s closed their studio in Manningham Lane in 1907 and it was taken over by George A Wilkinson who then moved on to a smaller property in North Parade.
Advertisement from September 1909 by Gunston and Co, 60 Manningham Lane.By 1909 Gunston & Co were occupying the Manningham Lane studio. The turn of the century brought new opportunities and the Appleton's both Richard James his son Richard Norman Appleton started a business manufacturing Gramophones, they started the company Appleton (Leeds) Ltd which operated from Hanover Place.(1936) Perhaps they had bought some of the gramophones from Cecil Wray and saw ways they could improve upon the device, once again demonstrating their entrepreneurial spirit. Richard Norman was involved in the business until 1932 when he retired from being a Director however his father continued in the position of Managing Director. (R N's Obituary Yorkshire Post 4th Aug 1936)
Portrait of Richard James Appleton is shown here, looking in his later years very much like his father Thomas. (Courtesy of Tim Mitchell)
Between 1902 and 1909 Richard James Appleton applied for at least seven separate patents, also his son Richard Norman Appleton applied for at least two patents between 1923-1927. Full details of these patents can be found at
http://worldwide.espacenet.com/ The patents were as follows.
19/03/1902 Improvements in or relating to switches for electric motors.
Richard James Appleton, Manufacturing Optician of Borough Mills and Joseph Oulton, Clockmaker.
14/05/1904 Improvements in Certain Brakes.
Richard James Appleton, 55 North Parade Bradford, Electrical Engineer and Joseph Oulton, Clockmaker.
9/06/1904 A new or improved combination of gearing.
Richard James Appleton, 55 North Parade Bradford, Electrical Engineer and Joseph Oulton, Clockmaker.
6/03/1909 Improvements in or connected with talking machines
Richard James Appleton Rombalds Ben Rydding, Talking Machine Factor.
19/03/1909 Improvements in or connected with talking machines
Richard James Appleton of Rombalds Benn Rydding, Phonographic Factor and William Hatton of 43 Union Street, Otley, Printers Engineer.
27/05/1909 Improvements in or connected with talking machines
Richard James Appleton of Rombalds Benn Rydding, Phonographic Factor and William Hatton of 43 Union Street, Otley, Printers Engineer.
3/05/1909 Improvements in or connected with Phonographs
Richard James Appleton of Rombalds Benn Rydding, Merchant and William Thomas Force of London, Engineer.
28/02/1923 Improvements in or related to Gramophones
Richard Norman Appleton of 15 Air Street, Leeds. One of the diagrams explaining the invention is shown here.
4/05/1927 Improvements in or related to Gramophone Cabinets
Richard Norman Appleton of 15 Air Street, Leeds
Death of Thomas William Appleton
Thomas Appleton died in 3rd February 1912 aged 84 his probate details are as follows:
Appleton, Thomas William of 15 Oak Villas Bradford died 2 Feb 1912 Probate London 4 April to George Edwin Waddington merchant James Strickland Mawson cashier and Cecil Hartley stuff merchant. All three were Son in Laws. Effects £ 4441 8s 1d
Appleton’s obituary in the Bradford Weekly Telegraph – 9th February 1912
“Mr Thomas William Appleton who died on Saturday last at 15, Oak Villas, Manningham had a long and interesting business career, he being established in Bradford for about forty years as a photographer. He first started business in Bradford as a draper in Westgate, having served his apprenticeship at Meek’s Manchester. In 1853 with a partner named Berlon, he established a studio at the top of Manor Row, on the site where the Yorkshire Penny Bank now stands.
The business transferred in 1865 to the bottom of Horton Lane and 1872 he opened up a branch in Manningham lane at the premises now occupied by Gunston & Co. Previous to opening the Manningham Lane branch he resided at Wike but then he went to live at 15 Oak Villas, Manningham, which he occupied to the time of his death. He retired from business in 1897 at the age of 70.
He was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist body and attended Carlisle Road Wesleyan Chapel at which place he was trustee. Mr Appleton who leaves two sons and five daughters stood over 6ft in height and on the morning of his death was out walking, but succumbed to heart failure later in the day.”
The photo right is of Thomas's grave in the magnificent Victorian cemetery at Undercliffe, Bradford. (section 22) He is buried with his wife Ann and daughters Isabella and Amelia. Not too far away are the graves of the some of the most important industrialists and merchants of Bradford such as the Holdens and the Illingworths along with the Mayors of Bradford, many of which the Appletons photographed.
Son in Law brought into the business
Richard James had moved to live in Ilkley and in the 1901 census his occupation is shown as Optician and Photo Dealer. By 1911 his occupation was described as Talking Machines Factor and optician and when his daughter Nina married Ronald Walker in 1930 Richard James’s occupation was shown as Gramophone manufacturer.
Richard James Appleton died on 24th November 1946. He left £96,800 13s 1d to his daughter Nina Leila Walker and her husband Ronald Booth Walker. The equivalent today of £3.2 million. Richard had been a successful businessman, entrepreneur and pioneer with involvement in not only photography but moving pictures, X rays, and gramophones.
1. Bradford Weekly Telegraph 9th Feb 1912