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Social history and biography of

Stephen Craddock (mayor of Wolverhampton)

Overview

Stephen CraddockWe came across the photo opposite in an old album. It seemed very likely the man was a Mayor and as the photo was taken by the studio of Whitlock Bros, 63 Darlington Road, Wolverhampton, he was probably a Mayor of Wolverhampton. An enquiry to the Wolverhampton City Council confirmed this, and that his name was Stephen Craddock, who was Mayor from 1896 to 1897, representing the Radical party (ref 1).

Early Life

Stephen Craddock, born Northamptonshire in 1853, was the son of George Craddock and Susannah Richards. His father started a boot and shoe manufacturing company, and when his father retired, Stephen and his brother George went into business on their own account in 1888.


The transcription of the notice which appeared in the London Gazette on 12th June 1888 (ref 2) reads as follows:

Notice is hereby given that the Partnership hereto-for subsisting between George Craddock the elder, Stephen Craddock and George Craddock the younger, in the business of Boot and Shoe Manufacturers, carried on by them at Wolverhampton, Wednesbury, Willenhall, Hanley, Longton, New castle-under-Lyme, Burslem, Tunstall, Burton-on-Trent, Crew, and Wigan under the style of Craddock Brothers, has this day been dissolved by mutual consent. The said George Craddock the elder retires from the partnership, and will hereafter on his own account carry on the Wednesbury business of the late firm, and will discharge all liabilities of, and receive all credits due to, such Wednesbury business. The said Stephen Craddock and George Craddock the younger will hereafter carry on in partnership, under the style of Craddock Brothers, all the other businesses of the late firm, and will discharge all liabilities of, and receive all credits due to such businesses.

As witnesses the hands of the parties this 7th day of June 1888.

George Craddock the elder

Stephen Craddock

George Craddock the younger

Stephen Craddock was active in public life while being a director of Craddock Brothers Ltd of Wolverhampton, which at one time claimed to be one of the largest boot manufacturers in the Midlands. The company had premises at Snow Hill, Queen Square and Victoria Street, as well as at Walsall and Wednesbury. Craddock Brothers advertised on the back cover of the Wolverhampton Red Book and Directory (for example see ref 3).

Stephen Craddock was at various times an Alderman, a magistrate, and an Honourary Freemason; he lived at 'The Old House' Tettenhill not far from the Masonic Hall. He was also a trustee of the Royal Star Life Assurance Sick and Medical Benefit Society (ref 3).

How come we have his photograph? A mystery, but possibly he visited London  in 1897 to attend Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and while there sought patrons to subscribe to his fund for the building of the Wolverhampton Central Free library.

9,000 was successfully raised and the foundation stone of the library was laid on 23rd July 1900 by HRH Duke of York, (later King George V) to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The building was officially opened in 1902.

Marriage

Stephen Craddock married Alice White at Wolverhampton in 1876. They had one son, Stephen Arthur Craddock born 1877 (ref 4).

Brother and business partner

The partners in Craddock Brothers (established 1888) were Stephen Craddock and his brother George. George Craddock married Lucy Evans in 1876 and they had five sons and three daughters.

Very sadly George and Lucy's two youngest sons were killed in the Great War.

Reginald Craddock 2nd Lt, 5th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment was killed in action, France, on 21st March 1918, aged 32 years.

Victor Craddock 2nd Lt, 5th Bn, South Staffordshire Regiment died of wounds on 11th October 1918 four weeks before the end of the war, aged 24 years.

They were survived by their brothers George Henry, and Albert who went into the family business, and Percy an accountant.

Craddock Brothers

Craddock Brothers (established 1888) was an independant footwear manufacturer, based in Wolverhampton which at one time had 24 shops. The fore-runner of the business was started about 1875 by George Craddock the elder.

The company was bought by Clarks in 1964; Clarks were then buying out the independant manufacturers to consolidate their market share.

Whitlock Bros

The photograph above, by the studio of Whitlock Bros, was likely taken in late 1896 or early 1897 soon after Stephen Craddock became mayor.

The photographic studio which became Whitlock Bros of 63 Darlington Road, Wolverhampton, was purchased by Henry Joseph Whitlock (1835 - 1918) from photographers Thomas and Sarah Williams of 'Highfield House', Tettenhall. Whitlock Bros is first mentioned in the 1896 edition of Kelly's (ref 5), so the photograph above is very likely amongst the first produced by the new branch.

Henry's father Joseph Whitlock (1806 - 1857) was one of the first photographers in Birmingham; he is mentioned in the 1849 Post Office Directory of Birmingham (ref 6) at 120 New Street. You will find his 'Will' on the ancestry.co.uk website.

Henry's brother Frederick was also a photographer, in the family business, later setting up in Sutton Coldfield. There were two other brothers William and Samuel but we don't know what happened to them.

After Henry's father died, aged only 51, Henry married and set up in business on his own account. About 1900 he set up the photographic company HJ Whitlock and Sons Limited which was continued by his sons until at least 1927.

Death

Alderman Stephen Craddock JP, boot and shoe manufacturer, died on 5th September 1925 (ref 7) and his death was reported in the local newspaper, the Wolverhampton Chronicle, on 9th September. His wife Alice had died in 1921.

He was survived by his son, Stephen Arthur Craddock (1877 - 1938).

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References

  1. London Gazette 10th Nov 1896
  2. London Gazette 12th Jun 1888
  3. The Wolverhampton Red Book and Directory 1909
  4. England and Wales Census
  5. Kelly's directory 1896
  6. Post Office directory of Birmingham 1849
  7. National probate register