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Richard Axe

George Arthur Axe - cutlery manufacturer and Sheffield businessman

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Does anyone have information on the person and any of the companies that George Arthur Axe (1894-1969) was involved with? These were Axe & Wright, Cash Meat Stores Ltd. and GA Axe & Co. Ltd. Below is information on George, his family and life that I've been able to piece together to date.

George Arthur Axe (1894-1969?)

Birth:               22/8/1894, Sheffield                                   

Baptism:         5/9/1894, St Peter & St Paul’s, Sheffield

Marriage 1:    24/10/1917, Parish Church, Rochford to Florrie Searles

Marriage 2:    17/12/1932, Register Office, Sheffield, to Florence Melluish             

Death:           ?1969, Nottingham   

Burial:                       

Source:          Baptism record

Census records 1901, 1911

Military record 1914

Marriage certificates

White’s directory 1921

Kelly’s directories 1922, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1940, 1948, 1953, 1957

London Gazette, 6/7/1923, 9/1/1925, 20/1/1925, 6/2/1925, 12/1/1934, 23/1/1934, 7/9/1934, 7/11/1958, 20/3/1959

Sheffield Independent 7/7/1923, 19/3/1930, 15/4/1933, 11/11/1933, 13/6/1934, 26/10/1937

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 24/1/1925, 29/4/1932

Divorce records, National Archives J 77/2540/9066 & J 77/2993/2379 (1928 and 1932)

Passenger Lists 1935, 1945, 1948

1939 Register

Sheffield Evening Telegraph 16/10/1939

Death record

George was the son of Arthur Axe and Clara Weldon. He was baptised at St Peter’s soon after his birth while living at 20 Newcastle Street. The baptism record gives his birth date as well.

The family was living at 5 Prospect Terrace, Heeley, at the time of the 1901 census. Ten years later, George was working as a warehouse boy at the time of the 1911 census. He lived with his family at 11 Spencer Road.

George joined up on 15th September 1914 in Sheffield. He was attached to the 12th Service Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment as a private. His service number was 12/286 and he listed his father, Arthur Axe, as his next of kin with an address at 11 Spencer Road, Sheffield. Personal details recorded listed him as 5’ 6” in height and weighing 130 pounds. He had blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. His chest measured 35” when fully expanded with a range of expansion of 3.5”. Finally, a small cyst in his left armpit was noted. He was also recorded as a Wesleyan Methodist. George’s occupation at the time of enlistment was as a warehouse assistant. His military record showed him at home (England) for all his time in the army but was discharged as no longer fit for military war service on 3rd July 1915. The cause of this was recorded as a slipped semilunar cartilage (in the knee) gained at Redmires Camp (a training camp on the edge of Sheffield) on March 12th 1915; it was noted as a permanent injury unless operated on. His conduct was described as good at his discharge.

There is no indication as to why George moved south and was living in Westcliff, Essex in 1917 and working as a shell examiner, presumably in one of that county’s munitions factories. He was employed in that role when he married Florence Searles at the parish church (St Andrew’s) in Rochford in October 1917. Florence lived in Rochford and was the daughter of a deceased butcher, Joseph Searles. Charles F and M E Searles acted as witnesses to the wedding alongside one W T Potter. They married after banns.

The couple had two children during the early 1920s; Bernard in 1920 and Dorothy in 1923. By the middle of 1920 (the birth of their first child) the family had returned to Sheffield and George was presumably resident in the city when his father died in September of that year. An entry in a local business directory for 1921 shows him as a partner (with John William Wright) in a cutlery manufacturing business, Axe & Wright, which was trading at 57 Trafalgar Street[1] in Sheffield. There is no evidence to indicate how he came to be involved in the cutlery business, nor what skills, expertise or backing might have led to his partnership.

The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on 2nd July 1923 with George continuing to trade under that name. Both the Gazette and an article in the Sheffield Independent noted that all debts and liabilities pertaining to the company would be discharged by George. Two years later the business was in receivership with George being recorded as living at 53 Horninglow Road[2] at the time and trading from Trafalgar Street. A creditor’s petition was submitted on 18th December 1924 and George was made bankrupt in early January 1925. A first meeting, to take place at the Official Receiver’s Offices on Figtree Lane, Sheffield, was notified for 29th January with a date of 19th February for a Public Examination at the County Court Hall, Bank Street. In between these two dates a Chartered Accountant, Charles Turner, of Norfolk Street, was appointed as Trustee on 2nd February.

There is no indication of George’s activities in the years immediately after the bankruptcy. George’s son, Bernard George, was recorded as attending school – at Firth Park – from the Horninglow address between 1925 and 1928. In 1928 Florrie petitioned for divorce - unsuccessfully, given the repeat petition four years later.

In 1929 and 1932, Axe & Wright Ltd., cutlery manufacturers, was recorded as trading from Universal Works, Mary Street, with a telephone number of Sheffield 22562. An example of a knife blade from the company shows AXE and WRIGHT Ltd.   CUTLERS SHEFFIELD, contained within a shield, above which is a crown[3]. According to the 1932 entry George was living at 705 Barnsley Road (S5) with a telephone number of Sheffield 41775. The new house was close to the old one on Horninglow Road and not too far away from where his estranged wife and son lived on Crowder Close. He continued to live here for many years.

The house on Barnsley Road was a newly built residence and work there resulted in a court case, brought by a painter and decorator, and counter claim brought by George. The cases were heard in Sheffield County Court and judgement given on 18th March 1930. George Albert Clark brought a claim for £13 15s 5d, which was the balance outstanding from work carried out on the house (£18 was paid). George’s counter claim – for £52 – was on the basis that the work was amateurish and had been re-done by another tradesman. Clark deposed that George had been advised not to have the walls papered while damp and that wood was unsuitable to be varnished; neither had he been given an opportunity to make good the initial work. The judgement was essentially in Clark’s favour with an award in full for the amount outstanding and an award of £3 to George for his counter claim. The newspaper report quoted the judge for one comment, “He could hardly expected ball-room floors for the price he paid.”

George is notable for being petitioned again for divorce by his wife in 1932. The Yorkshire Post from 29th April 1932 includes details of a decree nisi granted to Florrie on account of the adultery of George with Florence Melhuish [sic] at Barnsley Road. Florrie was living at Crowder Close, Southey so it can be presumed that they were living apart at the time. George and Florence Melluish married later in the same year. Bernard (at least) appears to have stayed with his divorced mother as he was living with her on Crowder Close at the time of the 1939 registration.

Both George and Florence were living at 705 Barnsley Road when they married at the Register Office in Sheffield on 17th December 1932. Florence was twelve years younger than George and the daughter of Harry Melluish, a deceased steel furnaceman. They married by licence with Walter and Lily Melluish acting as witnesses.

In 1933 George was the organiser of “The Event of the Season,” according to an advertisement in the Sheffield Independent from 15th April. The event in question was Hiawatha, to be held at the City Hall between 6th and 13th May in aid of the Sheffield Poor Children’s Seaside Holiday Fund. The production was staged under the auspices of the Sheffield Charities Entertainments Society. It was deemed successful enough to be advertised for a further twelve performances over December 1933 and January 1934, again with George as the organiser.

That same year, in January, George was recorded, in his capacity as chairman and director of Cash Meat Stores Ltd., as undertaking to go into voluntary liquidation because the company could not meet its liabilities. Initially, a Emergency General Meeting of the creditors of the company was called by George for the 17th January; it was to be held at the Law Library on Campo Lane, Sheffield. The notification letter was recorded in the 12th January edition of the London Gazette dated 6th January. That meeting led to the voluntary liquidation and the appointment of two accountants as joint-liquidators – noted in the Gazette on 23rd January. Two meetings were called subsequently for 12th October of that year to be held at York Street, Sheffield. The meetings, one a General Meeting of the company, the other for the creditors, were to allow the liquidators to account for the conduct of the winding-up process.

A most unusual notice from 1934 records George in passing and may shed light on his musical activities. It concerns his wife, Mrs George Axe, who was in London with her singing teacher and who acted as an impromptu translator during the course of an interview with a journalist. The resulting notice in the Sheffield Independent for 13th June 1934 reveals Mrs Axe to be fluent in German, slim, a cigarette smoker and drinker of cocktails. She had been studying abroad in Munich for eighteen months and the improvements in her technique and voice suggested that she would soon be ready to make her professional debut. The visit to London was to act as a guide for her operatic teacher, Madame Huni-Mihacsek[4] before returning abroad.

It is likely to be this George who was listed as a company director when he travelled to Kingston, Jamaica, in 1935. He travelled first class on the Carare[5], departing on 5th December from Avonmouth.

By 1937, George had started another company, G.A. Axe & Co Ltd., table cutlery manufacturers. Table and pocket cutlery, bread, butcher’, cooks’ and kitchen knives, razors, spoons and forks were all marketed[6]. The company operated from 18 Canning Street (S1) with a telephone number of Sheffield 22150. It was in that year that George was prosecuted successfully for storing xylonite[7] in a place deemed unsafe to do so – a garage (presumably at his home). He was defended by Mr W Irwin Mitchell who stated that it had been stored there because delays at the Town Hall had meant that his store was not ready in time for the delivery. He was fined £10.

The 1939 Register shows George living at 705 Barnsley Road; he is the only person listed at that address. He was recorded as a cutlery, spoon and fork manufacturer. His son Bernard was working as a cutlery warehouseman at the time so there is a possibility that he worked for his father’s company. An advertisement placed in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph in October of that year suggests some business optimism: the company was seeking to recruit Roughers, Insiders and Dolliers for its new buffing shop, presumably on Trafalgar Street.

Examples of the products appear occasionally for sale via Ebay. The advent of war brought some work for the company in the form of cutlery for the British forces – a British Army silver plated fork was advertised via Ebay in 2013 and a table spoon stamped with AM (Air Ministry) was sold in 2012.

George registered an international patent for knife handles and other articles of the cutlery trade in 1943[8]. The patent abstract relates to the general heading of improvements in or relating to flat-tanged implements.

Shipping manifests held via Ancestry provide some further details on George’s activities; whilst not specifying their nature one would suspect an element of business need.  On 15th September 1945 George sailed from Liverpool to Sydney, Australia, on board the Jamaica Producer[9]. He arrived in Montreal, Quebec, on the 24th and continued the journey from there. He was listed as a cutlery manufacturer living at the Barnsley Road address and occupied a cabin on the ship. George’s journey in 1945 was followed up with a journey to New York on 3rd January 1948 from Southampton, this time first class on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. The manifest lists him as a cutlery manufacturer of 18 Canning Street. Kelly’s entry for 1948 lists him as a cutlery manager for the company.

According to Tweedale, plans were made to erect a new factory at Ecclesfield. Presumably, they never materialised although the company was still listed by Whitham & Sykes in 1953 and had an axe device as a trade mark. Canning Street remained the address for the company with Kelly’s Directory for 1957 showing them advertising under the heading of Table Knife Manufacturers. The company was listed to be struck off the Companies Register and dissolved in November 1958; this duly took place on 20th March 1959.

It is presumably this George who died in the first quarter of 1969 aged 74. His death was recorded in Nottingham. There is no indication of his second wife after her budding musical career so it is legitimate to wonder if that relationship foundered.


[1] Between Wellington Street and Charter Row. Another ten businesses traded here at the time – Kelly’s 1922

[2] Near Firth Park

[3] Noted by John Stokes in a post to Sheffield Records Online on 4th October 2015: http://www.sheffieldrecordsonline.org.uk/. John is a detectorist and found the blade; the location is not mentioned.

[4] Felicie Hüni-Mihacsek (April 3, 1891, Pécs - March 26, 1976, Munich) was an Hungarian operatic soprano, largely based in Germany, one of the greatest Mozart singer of the inter-war period. She made guest appearances in Frankfurt, Dresden, Zurich, London, Prague and Budapest, and created Pfitzner's Das Herz, in Munich in 1931, other notable operatic roles included Eva and Die Marschallin. Throughout her career, she was much admired for her vocal beauty and elegance, and impeccable technique. https://www.amazon.co.uk/forum/classical%20music?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2OIXGG1AOK3Z9&cdThread=TxC9LKK3VREAT8

[5] Of the Elders & Fyffes Ltd. shipping line

[6] Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 1740-2013: G Tweedale, Lulu.com 2014, p49. Incorrectly, he has the GA Axe company founded by Glenville Arthur Axe.

[7] Xylonite was the first artificially made commercial plastic.

[9] From the Furness, Withy & Co. Ltd. shipping line

 

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Hello, I am sorry to say, I have no more information to offer but I have a composite picture to illustrate "G.A Axe & Co Ltd" products for War Department contracts.

1166837398_GAAXEWarDeptComp.jpg.feb206ebc299d50618b670d9d25755d4.jpg

From titles on my original images I believe that the 1939 “Broad Arrow” Army item was a dessert spoon, the 1940 “Broad Arrow” item was a fork and the 1940 “Air Ministry (AM RAF)” item was a dessert spoon. A note with one of my images suggested I had also found a 1959 closure of the “Axe” cutlery business.   

Kalfred

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