Francis Gerald Harwood (Harwood & Co.)


Old Steine Gardens & Fountain

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Stationer and postcard publisher, Brighton. Harwood's father, Arthur Gerald Harwood, a venetian blind maker, was born at Islington in 1849. His mother, Mary Ann Harwood, née Bovis, was born at Stepney about a year later. She and Arthur married in 1875 and during the course of their marriage had six children, but three died in infancy. Francis, the first of the survivors, was born on 28 October 1878, at the family home at 59 Stoke Newington Road in Hornsey, east London. His second name was entered on his birth certificate as Gerrold, but in later documents he appears as Gerald. His father had also been given the name Gerrold at birth, only to change it to Gerald.

The Harwood family is entered twice in the 1881 census in two different places: at 59 Stoke Newington Road in Hornsey and 59 High Street, Stoke Newington! The entries are in different sections of the census, and the neighbouring families listed are needless to say entirely different. It is difficult to imagine how such an error occurred. Census enumerators sometimes got into a muddle when recording the houses in a particular road and then struck out the erroneous entries, but listing the same family with the same house number in two separate registration districts is a bizarre mistake.

During the 1880s the Harwoods moved to Emsworth in Hampshire, where Elizabeth Mabel Harwood was born in 1882 and Clara Helena Harwood in 1884. By 1891 the family moved to 2 St John's Road in Eastbourne. Arthur was now a house decorator. By 1895 he and his family moved again, to 57 Buckingham Road in one of the better residential areas of Brighton, on the hillside above the railway station. The 1901 census records that Arthur was running his new property as a lodging house, and that Francis had become a stationer's assistant.

Kelly's 1905 Sussex Directory lists Harwood & Co., wholesale stationers, at 100 Centurion Road in Brighton. Centurion Road is just down the hill from Buckingham Road. The 1909 Electoral Register confirms that the business, described as a "shop", belonged to Francis Harwood, and states that he lived with his parents at 57 Buckingham Road. By 1911 the business may have closed. The census of that year describes him as a "stationer (traveller)".

Around 1906 Harwood appears to have founded or co-founded the Brighton View Co., which in its early years probably operated from the Centurion Road premises. Later, however, it was based at 3a Clarence Street only a short walk south from Buckingham Road. Clarence Street no longer exists; it was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the controversial Churchill Square re-development.

While at Centurion Road, Harwood published some high quality halftone coloured cards of Brighton, which he called the "Centurion Series". These were on sale by summer 1908 and were printed in Britain by an unnamed supplier. The cards are easily recognised because the pictures are impressed and have unusually wide margins. The captions are printed in red. Davidson Bros. of East London produced similarly impressed but monochrome cards of Brighton in their Arcadia Series, and they may well have printed the Centurion cards for Harwood.

Another publishing venture was a set of 6 colour-printed comic cards entitled "Pa's holiday in Brighton", which were printed in Saxony for the London View Co., apparently using chromo-lithography. The cards are labelled on the back "The London View Co. Ltd." or more commonly "Printed by the London View Co. Ltd. for F. G. Harwood & Co., Brighton". The artist, who initialled his pictures "F. S.", has been identified by Jonathan Dewhirst as Frederick Stone, who lived in Cheyne Walk in London and specialised in preparing comic illustrations. His pictures were notable for their use of flat planes of colour, and uncluttered design, reminiscent of poster work. No postmarks have been found on the Harwood comic cards, but the London View Co. was in existence from only 1905 to 1908. In addition to the Harwood cards the London firm produced at least two other comic cards showing "Pa" holidaying at Hastings, no doubt intended, as at Brighton, for distribution by a local retailer.

By 1912 Arthur Harwood acquired Number 56 Buckingham Road, while retaining Number 57, presumably with the intention of accommodating still more lodgers. Francis continued to live with his parents at Number 57, which was called Milford House. Interestingly, Charles Corder, the father of Arthur Corder, another postcard publisher, lived at 77 Buckingham Road. One wonders whether the two sons knew each other.

In Brighton and Sussex Directories Arthur Harwood is always listed as Gerald (or G.) Harwood, which suggests that he preferred to be called Gerald, even though he is always recorded as Arthur or Arthur Gerald Harwood in census enumerations. His son, Francis, has far fewer entries in the Directories, usually appearing as F. G. Harwood. By 1924 he had set up home on his own at 51 Buckingham Road, which he appears to have rented.

Directories tell us that a George Harwood settled at 25 Buckingham Road between 1901 and 1905, and was still present at this address in 1927. By 1934-35 Number 25 was the home of a Miss Harwood. No evidence has been found to suggest that George was a relative of Arthur and Francis; the existence of two Harwood families in Buckingham Road appears to have been just a coincidence.

Arthur Harwood died on January 12, 1926 at the age of 76. Mary, his widow, was still living at 57 Buckingham Road in 1930, but was gone by 1932-33.

Francis did not inherit his father's longevity. He died of cancer in the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton on November 16, 1927, aged only 49. His death was registered by his elder sister, Mabel Simons (formerly Elizabeth Mabel Harwood), who had married and moved to Leicester. He left effects valued at £156 to his daughter, Patricia Fraser Harwood, to be held in trust until she was 21. There is no mention of a wife in his will, and, as far as is known, he never married.

Shortly after Harwood's death, the Brighton View Company ceased trading, presumably because Harwood's partner, Alfred Thomas Foster, decided it was not worth continuing.

Acknowledgement: It is a pleasure to thank Jonathan Dewhirst for determining the identity of the artist "F. S.".

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