Romance of Living
Daniel Arthur Berry
I was born on March 16th, 1847, so I was told. I was there but do not remember. It is a great question at what age young children begin to think, but my memory goes back far in life.
I remember the Great Exhibition of 1851. "How do I know?" Because my father had a married brother in Ipswich, and he and his wife came up to London for this, and brought us - his brother's children - some sweets, part of which was rock, with Love all the way through. This is the reason I remember it so well. At the time we lived in Parish St. Horseley Down, Bermondsey. Later on I went to St. Olave's Free Grammar School (Queen Elizabeth's). We had to go three times a day, 7-9; 10-12; 2-4. An old Sergeant came sometimes to drill us in the yard and the school building was an old warehouse. What a change to-day!
When I was an infant in arms, my parents lived in Ipswich for my father was a Currier and was apprenticed to a Mr Bond, Tanner and Currier, there. In some parts the water ran in the open down the streets, turned under the road and down the wash - a local name. We removed from London to Northampton and came to live in West Street, and there was a hedge down the middle at the top of the road. Things were very different then. I went to St. Edmund's Sunday School which was held in the Church, the Rev. J.T. Browne being Vicar at the time.
There was a stile at the corner of the Churchyard leading down "Bird's Piece" as it was called, into York Road. There were houses only on the Church side and all the other part was not built upon, so that anyone wanting to get on to the Billing Road must either go down York Road or Upper or Lower Thrift Street. There was no other outlet. I went to St. Edmund's School the first morning it was opened. Miss Faulkner was the Mistress and Mr. and Mrs. Ellen came later on.
At this time there was an opening from Bouverie Street to New Town Road - one from New Town Road to Melbourne Street, and one to East Street opening left between the houses as now, so as to let people go to Abington Park.
There was running water on the Billing Road in those days, like St. Thomas's Well opposite the meadow. The Billing Road was much lower then and has been made nearly level since. The water was cut off when the houses were built on the opposite side of the road, but it runs now down the land to the Houghton Road, I am told. I was once an Overseer of St. Giles' Parish and I know that this land belongs to the Corporation, and it would make a nice little public garden for the town if properly laid out. This ought to be done it seems to me.
I have been connected with the Boot and Leather Trade all my life. I first went to a private house in Bull Head Lane as a knot tier, and after that to a Mr. Harris as errand boy. He lived in Sheep Street where Linnell's Tea Shop now is. Then he removed to a large factory in Horsemarket. I once worked for a Mr. Bern in Inkerman Terrace leading into Newland at the back of Linnell's Cafe. I did "knot tying" and we had to go across a bridge at the top of the building to get into our part.
About this time machines were introduced into the Shoe Trade. I learned to use them and became what was called a machine closer for the Trade. I worked for many people.
At this time I invented the Left-handed Machine. All machines were right-handed and had a straight slide for the shuttle except the Wheeler & Wilson one, which had a revolving hook.
One of the men of Phipps & Son of College Street made it for me, and I have it still. It has never been out of my possession.
One day a man came to me from Phipps & Son and said he was going to America, and asked if I had done anything with the machine which I had invented and they had made. I said "No." Some time after, there came a machine, similar to mine, from America. Mr. Coker, Salesman for Phipps & Son, sent me word about this, and I bought one and worked it for a long time.
In my machine I put an oscillating shuttle, the first ever made. Singers patented an oscillating shuttle and made a lot of money by it. I made nothing by mine because I had not money to do it. Singer's shuttle was a better shape than mine, and was doubtless an improvement, but it answered only the same purpose.
Mr. Coker was in business for himself later, and died a short time since.
I sold boots to Abbott & Sons in the Goswell Road, London before he registered "Phit-Eesi" a very extensive business now.
I have invented many things. One was a Loop Cover for boots, which I made and patented in a Factory in Angel Lane known as Berry & Co., of which I was Managing Director. This loop cover we sold to Messrs. Birdsall & Sons in Wood Street, and I believe it is still made by them.
Of this, millions have been sold and are used to-day at home and abroad. The greatest order I ever had was 200 great gross.
The machine would paste, fold, measure, count and cut all in one turn of the machine, and ring a bell when it had cut 144.
When I was a boy there was a piece of land on the Wellingboro' Road, opposite the Park, known as "No Man's Land" and we lads used to play on it. Later, Mansfield's Factory was built there. Mr. M. P. Mansfield became M.P. for Northampton and built the large factory on Campbell Square next to Isaac Campbell & Co. I worked for Isaac Campbell at one time. It was he who erected the Fountain on Market Square and gave it to the town.
I remember the Old Town Hall at the corner of Abington Street, and the new one being built on St. Giles' Square opposite Guildhall Road.
Great Russell Street, where my wife lived was considered the outskirts of the town. It was possible to see the Kettering Road from her parents' garden as there were no houses in between. The Military were trained in Gt. Russell Street for many years and the Military Stores Building was at one end. This was the longest cul-de-sac I have ever seen.
I have been a total abstainer and non-smoker all my life, and signed the pledge as early as February, 1864, in St. Edmund's School. The Vicar, the Rev. J. T. Browne was in the Chair and Mr. (now Alderman) S. S. Campion was the Secretary of the Temperance Society and in that capacity signed my pledge card - a memento I have lately given to my daughter.
We used to have Temperance Meetings in Princes Street Schoolroom, and many of us used to recite. I learned quite a number of poems, which I have recited in public, and can remember many of them now at 87 years of age.
At the time the United Kingdom Alliance was formed to bring the Temperance question before the public. The U.K.A. engaged University men to go about the country and explain the Temperance Crusade. I belonged to the Blue Ribbon Movement and wore it as a total abstainer. The University man who addressed our meetings offered to help some of us to further our education, but we could not study at nights, because the Temperance meetings occupied our spare time so he kindly offered to take us in the mornings, before we began work. Several of us accepted his offer and we used to go from 4 to 6 a.m. to Princes Street Schoolroom before the day's work. There were James Hollowell, William Allbright, my brother John and myself. We bought books and our instructor taught us "Wayland's Elements of Moral Science," Euclid, and Morrell's English Grammar and Analysis. I have not been able to continue the studies far, but I well remember this. "The moral quality of action lies in the intention."
We worked for different tradesman. William Allbright was an apprentice to Mr. Rainbow, the carpenter in St. Edmund's Street, while J. Hollowell worked for his father who made men's boots.
Both of these men were ordained ministers in later years, and J. Hollowell preached many times at College Street Chapel. William Allbright went to America and I have a book of his sermons published there. So our lives have not been in vain.
In the year 1870, I was married at St. Margaret's Church, Ipswich to Agnes Mays. We had four children and my wife lost her life with the last which was still-born. We lived in Upper Thrift Street and later at 49, Vernon Terrace.
I built the Factory No. 20, Stockley Street before the road was made, but had to pay for it later. Later I built the house No. 36, Alfred Street and lived there for many years.
In 1884 I married Miss Emily Pendred, but had no family by my second marriage. After many years we removed from Alfred Street to York Road where I still live.
I was a Director of the Gare Machine Coy. at the time it was sold to the B.U. Machine Coy. which is well known all over the world.
I am under Dr. Cairns at the time of writing, but am very well for my age.
DANIEL A. BERRY
"By Thy Grace alone we live."
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