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Essays in Beekeeping History:
The Abbott Family (Part 2)
Karl Showler
We continue our account of the Abbott family with a look at the next generation
THE THREE brothers, James Andrews leading British hive manufacturer,
(1857–1924), Charles Thomas and George Neighbour and Sons, on thedeath of its residual owners, the
Stephen Walter, supported by their brother and sister Henry and Hannah
father, started to trade as Abbott Neighbour. For details of the
Brothers, bee appliance development of the latter firm see Bee
manufacturers, in 1877. The first Craft 90, 24–25 (March) and 30–31
mention of them in the British Bee (April) 2008.
Journal (BBJ) was in February 1878 Thereafter Charles and Stephen,
when they put a notice in that without the beekeeping input of their
magazine to the effect that the father or brother, gradually moved out
production of their catalogue would of the bee appliance trade and into
the manufacture of items of wood,be delayed owing to a fire at
such as easels, palettes, folding tables Strangeways printing office.
and, eventually, whitewood furniture.
The changing fortunes of Abbott
Brothers can be followed in the JAMES ANDREWS ABBOTT:
advertisements included in the various THE MODERN MAN,
editions of TW Cowan’s British BEEKEEPER AND ELECTRICIAN
Bee-Keepers’ Guide Book. In the 1885 9 Merchants Quay, Dublin, where
edition they have a full page in which The unfolding career of James Abbott Abbott Brothers had a branch
they state: can be traced in the Thom Street cost of hives within reach of farmers
Directories for Dublin. James, after a‘Abbott Brothers business is conducted and many labourers.
visit to America, went to live in centralon strictly Co-operative principles—
Dublin where he set up a branch of The firm’s principle factory was nearthey supply direct to customers at the
Abbott Brothers at 9 and 10 Merchants London in Southall with offices atlowest possible prices for cash with
Quay, a street of mixed properties both Ludgate Arcade, London. The Dublinorder; they make no provision for bad
residential and trading beside the branch was complete in every way,debts and do not charge their
Liffey. largely employing Irish labour and itcustomers for them; they have no
was under the experiencedagents, and neither do they impose or The firm Abbott Brothers is first listed
management of the founder’s eldestallow discounts…’. in 1888 with a factory immediately
son, JA Abbott, aged 30. It wasbehind Merchants Quay in Skippers
They also claimed to have taken nearly Alley. Number 9 Merchants Quay has turning out work of a quality not
700 first prizes, silver and bronze been restored recently and is previously seen in Ireland in its
medals and money, for their described on-line in a series on specialised trade. They had a
inventions and exhibits. Buildings of Ireland. It was a monopoly as it was the only specialist
For the 1889 edition, the Brothers took double-fronted house with a fine oval beehive factory in Ireland.
a double-page spread showing them room on the first floor and, even now, In May 1891, James married Mary
to be based at Southall, London, with several interesting internal fittings. Pryce in Southall. A large party and a
an Irish branch at 9 Merchants Quay, Spencer Blackett’s Industries of Dublin bonfire were held in the meadow
Dublin and a ‘chief continental depot’ adjoining Fairlawn. Returning to Dublin for 1887/1888 devotes some 250
at 2 Quai de la Megisserie, Paris. They they moved to 23 Merchants Quay but words to what he described as a
claimed to be the oldest and largest retained the Skippers Alley works. relatively new industry in Dublin of
house in the trade in the United increasing importance. He noted that The 1898 edition of Cowan’s British
Kingdom. Mr CN Abbott, by the use of improved Bee-Keepers’ Guide Book has an
By 1895, Abbott Brothers was in a machinery, had lowered the price of a Abbott Brothers’ advertisement that
position to absorb what had been the beehive to half a guinea, bringing the states that its sole proprietor was
Bee Craft digital January 2009 Page 35
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