The 1890s

I shall begin this page by making a mention of an occasion that took place before 1890. Sunday, 22nd December, 1889, was Thomas’s 46th birthday and the occasion was marked by an interesting ceremony that took place on the evening of Saturday 21st, at the Drill Hall, Wolverhampton. The employees of the Electric Construction Company, presented a framed and illuminated address, together with a beautiful silver tea service, as a mark of their esteem, to Thomas, their works manager.  

Read a description
of the presentation

By 1888 the Parkers were living at Newbridge House, Tettenhall Road. It was on the corner of New Hampton Road West and Tettenhall Road and their last two children, Walter Faraday and Kelvin were born there.

The location of Newbridge House.

In the edition of the Express & Star newspaper, for the 12th March, 1890, is an article about a painting that was commissioned by Thomas Parker. It states that Mr. Thomas Parker of Newbridge House, had just lent a magnificent picture of The Last Supper, by Edwin Goodwyn Lewis, to the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. The picture measures 4ft. 10” by 3ft. 2”, and the original sketch of the subject, from which the painting was produced, had been exhibited during the previous December in Mr. Lawson’s studio in Darlington Street.

Thomas's painting of The Last Supper.

Thomas used to attend the Wolverhampton Unitarian Church on Snow Hill, as can be seen in the following article from Thomas’s newspaper cuttings book. The article is undated and the source is unknown:

Unitarian Christian Church, Wolverhampton

At the invitation of Mr. Thomas Parker, of Newbridge House, the choir of the above church were entertained on New Year’s Eve, and spent a most enjoyable evening together. After having partaken of refreshments, the organist (Mr. E. Walker), on behalf of the choir, presented Mr. Parker with a gold pencil case, in commemoration of his birthday, at the same time tendering the thanks of the choir to Mr. Parker for his many acts of kindness to them throughout the year. Mr. Parker, in reply, thanked those present for their kind expressions concerning him, at the same time urging the choir to still greater diligence in their duties.

Another unnamed and undated newspaper cutting from the Parker records, mentions that the Parker’s eldest daughter, Lilly, married John J. Robins, an electrical engineer, in Wolverhampton.

An article in the Midland Evening News from Wednesday, 25th April, 1900, gives an idea of Thomas’s reputation. The article is about a law case in Birmingham, in which the plaintiff was attempting to recover £2,000 commission from the defendant, who promised that he would obtain Mr. Parker’s services for the construction of a tramway for £2,000.

During the proceedings it was mentioned that the famous physicist from the University of Glasgow, one of the most distinguished scientists in the world, Lord Kelvin, described Thomas Parker as “The Edison of Europe”.

There is a mention in the Birmingham Daily Gazette of Wednesday, 9th May, 1900 about the governors of the new University of Birmingham. Thomas is listed as a life governor.

The Parker family listing in the 1891 census is as follows:

Newbridge House, Tettenhall Road
Thomas Parker born in Coalbrookdale   
Jane Parker born in Birmingham
Thomas Hugh born in Coalbrookdale Electrical Engineer
Charles Henry born in Coalbrookdale Electrical Engineer  
Alfred Edward born in Coalbrookdale Scholar
Annie Diana born in Coalbrookdale Scholar
Jessie born in Wolverhampton Scholar  

In 1891 Thomas became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and in 1892 he became a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Thomas became a Wolverhampton J.P. in 1893, as can be seen from the following family letters:

Town Clerk’s Office
Town Hall, Wolverhampton. 
Horatio Brevitt, Town Clerk.

17th February, 1893

Dear Sir,
I have much pleasure in informing you that the Lord Chancellor has added your name to the Commission of the Peace for this Borough.
I will communicate with you in due course as to when and where you are to qualify for the office.

Yours Truly
Horatio Brevitt
Town Clerk

T. Parker Esq., Newbridge, Wolverhampton.

The Mount

18th February, 1893

Dear Mr. Parker,

May I be allowed to congratulate you on your being placed on the Commission of Peace for this Borough and also to express the hope that you may long be pleased to enjoy the honour.

Charles T. Mander

T. Parker, Newbridge.

The swearing-in of the new magistrates, was mentioned in the Express & Star on 20th February, 1893. The article states that at noon on that day, the eight gentlemen whose names had recently been added to the Commission of the Peace for the borough, formally took the oaths of office in the Mayor’s parlour at the Town Hall.

The Mayor, C.T. Mander Esq., was himself present, and with him in addition to the other new magistrates were Messrs. Charles Neve and Henry R. Denton, borough justices, the Town Clerk, Mr. H. Brevitt, and Mr. E.H. Thorne, Clerk to the Borough Justices. The Mayor then took the oath of allegiance to the Queen, as read by the Town Clerk, and signed the roll, his signature being attested by Messrs. Neve and Denton. Following him Messrs. James Saunders (Deputy Mayor), S.T. Mander, B.F. Williams,  J.F. Beckett, T. Parker, T. Graham, and W.F. Mee took the same oath.

The Mayor said that he hoped they would one and all be blessed with health and strength for many years to come, to fulfil the new duties which had been placed upon them that morning.

Sometime between February 1893 and June 1894, the family moved house. Their new address was The Manor House, Upper Green, Tettenhall.



The Manor House, Upper Green, Tettenhall.

An advert for the sale of the Manor House.

The Wellington Journal of  July 18th, 1896 includes the following article:

The Fletcher Memorial Wesleyan Sunday School

A very pleasant afternoon and evening were spent at Aston Hall, Shifnal, by the scholars and teachers from the Fletcher Memorial Wesleyan Sunday School, on Saturday. The treat was kindly given by Mr. Thomas Parker of Wolverhampton (late of Coalbrookdale), formerly a scholar in the school. After a pleasant drive the hall was reached and while the teachers prepared tea the children enjoyed themselves in the grounds. After tea the children sang some of their anniversary hymns and Mr. Parker gave a speech.

The site of the Manor House today. All that's left from the original site is the low surrounding stone wall and the small wrought iron gate and gate posts. The brass nameplate on the right-hand gate post also appears to be original:


Thomas is mentioned in the Express & Star on 19th September, 1896 in an article entitled “Mr. Thomas Parker as the good Samaritan” The article states that Fanny Cotterhill of Brickkiln Croft was charged with being drunk and disorderly on 14th inst. in Bennett’s Fold. Police Constable Green gave evidence. It transpired that the defendant came out of gaol on the same day.

A witness for the defence stated that the defendant was not present at the time the alleged offence was committed. Mr. T. Parker remarked that it appeared as if the police wanted to crush the woman out of existence. Mr. Newnham, magistrate, differed and said that the defendant would be fined 5s. and costs, on the defendant promising to behave better in the future.

Mr. Parker paid 14s., the amount of the fine and costs, remarking shortly afterwards that he was not going to sit on the Bench to hunt people down to death.

Thomas read the above article in the newspaper, and sent the following letter to the Editor:

Sir, I have noticed that your report and criticism on my paying the fine for the woman Cotterill on Saturday last in your paper has been echoed. It was not my intention to cast any reflection on the Police Force of our borough, as I have a great respect for that body, but to register my feelings on the system of dealing with such cases. I am of the opinion that the treatment meted out is not preventative, but degrades and brutalises, and has the effect of irritating and driving people to despair, and thereby increasing the trouble it is desired to remove.

I shall be glad if my act on that occasion may lead to some effort being made to try some other means or method. Too much weight is given to previous convictions, and conviction is too easily obtained, so that the present system of prosecution becomes little less than persecution.

I am, yours faithfully,
Thomas Parker, J.P.
Manor House

22nd September, 1896.

An undated and unidentified newspaper cutting in Thomas’s cuttings book, tells of  an unfortunate incident that took place at the Manor House:

A Wolverhampton J.P. fined

Mr. Thomas Parker, J.P. of Upper Green Tettenhall, was summoned for having his chimney on fire on the night of the 14th, at the Wolverhampton County Petty Sessions. Sergeant Goode proved the case and said the flames were about a yard over the top of the chimney. Alderman C.T. Mander who was presiding said “We don’t want to waste our time over something like this” and asked the magistrate’s clerk, Mr. Thorneycroft, the amount of the usual fine. A fine of 2s 6d. was imposed along with costs. Mr. Parker, who did not appear was represented by Mr. Copeland, solicitor. The total fine and costs amounted to 11s. 6d.

Camille Jenatzy in his record breaking car. Courtesy of Gail Tudor.
On 29th April, 1899 Camille Jenatzy from Belgium broke the world land speed record at Achères, France, after reaching a speed of 65.79m.p.h. His car, the "Jamais Contente" was the world's first electrically powered racing car and was designed by Camille himself.

The photograph is from a Christmas card that was sent by Thomas's daughter Jessie. Behind the car is Thomas Parker and his son Alfred. Thomas is 7th from the right with the flat-topped hat and Alfred is 2nd from the right.
The car still survives in the collection at the Compiegne Museum in France. 

By the age of 16, Thomas and Jane’s daughter Annie, was clearly an accomplished pianist. An  article in the Midland Evening News, on Saturday, 25th April, 1896, describes the annual meeting of the Wolverhampton and District Hospital for Women. It was held in the Exchange Hall on the afternoon of April 24th. Lord Wrottesley presided, and before and after the speeches, a concert was given, during which Miss Annie Parker played two piano solos.

The Express & Star of 5th August, 1899 includes an article called "A New Enterprise At Wolverhampton". It mentions that a new company was formed, to carry on the business of manufacturing castings, forgings, and apparatus for electric lighting, electric transmission of power, railways, tramways and such other purposes as were recognised as being advantageous to the company in connection with new developments and improvements in general and electrical engineering.

The new enterprise was located at Wednesfield, where existing electrical engineering works were purchased. These works were situated on the bank of the Wyrley and Essington branch of the Birmingham canal, in the midst of a coal and iron district, and with a siding connected to the Midland Railway. The promoter of the new company was Mr. J. Hardie McLean, Director and Engineer of W. Lucy & Co. Ltd., and who was for over five years Managing Engineer of the Oxford Electric Company. The capital of the company was £30,000, and among the directors of the new concern were Mr. Thomas Parker, director of Thomas Parker, Limited, Wolverhampton, and Mr. McLean.

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