John Gorringe Barrow


All Saints Church, Old Heathfield

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Grocer and draper at Cade Street, Heathfield. Barrow was born at Beach Cottage in Heathfield on July 5, 1868. His parents were Thomas Barrow, a farmer, and Ann Barrow, formerly Haffenden. He had an elder brother (Thomas James Barrow, born in 1865) and two younger brothers (William George Barrow, born in 1869, and Richard Haffenden Barrow, born in 1874). When the 1891 census was held, all four brothers were living with their widowed mother, Ann Barrow, at the family home, Prospect Place, at Cade Street. Ann, who had been born in about 1842 at Heathfield, was the proprietor of a grocery and drapery store in Cade Street, which was also a post office. Her four sons provided assistance (John, for example, was a clerk and Richard a telegraph messenger). Ann also employed a manager to look after the drapery side of the business. She continued to be in overall charge of the store and the post office until at least 1915.

John Barrow married in 1894. His wife, Clara Kate Saunders, aged 23, came from Waldron. By 1901 the couple had two children: Annie Caroline Barrow, born in 1895 or 1896, and Irene Emily Barrow, born in 1898. John is described on the 1901 census return as a grocer and draper. He was presumably still working for his mother, although he was no longer living at home. By 1918, however, he and a partner, James Thomas, took over the business from his mother. Thomas dropped out by 1924, leaving John on his own. Over the years John developed the non Post Office side of the business into a "family stores".

John Barrow sold attractive sepia real photographic cards of Heathfield with a matt finish in the late 1920s and early 30s. 1928 and 1929 postmarks have been seen. The photographs lack borders and have captions that were printed on transparent slips, which were then overlain on the negatives. Although the cards claim on the front to have been published by Barrow, their origin remains problematic. Sydney Johnson at Beckley and Edward Errey at Heathfield sold postcards of identical design to those of Barrow, utilising transparent slips and the same print type for the captions. Johnson was a grocer and sub-postmaster at Beckley, while Errey ran a second-hand furniture shop, print works and stationer's business in Heathfield. There can be no doubt that the Barrow, Errey and Johnson cards were manufactured by the same person, who was certainly not Barrow or Johnson, but could conceivably have been Errey. A more likely candidate, however, is G. A. Cooper of Maidstone, who sold cards of Rye and some Kentish villages of the same distinctive design.

Some, if not all, of Barrow's real photographic cards also appeared as sepia-tinted collotypes, but again there is no indication of who manufactured the cards.

Barrow died in 1947, aged 78.

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