Social history and biography of
Stephen Craddock (mayor of Wolverhampton)
We 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).
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:
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.
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 (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.
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.
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).
Last updated 7th August 2014