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Marriage of convenience for Stafford workers

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: August 30, 2014

Inside the Dorman's factory.

HARD AT WORK ... W H Dorman’s business empire was continued by successive generations of his famil.y

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IF you thought that the word dynasty referred to a popular TV soap opera set in Colorado and which played to British audiences from 1981 to 1989, then think again . . . a similar family existed in Stafford and lasted far longer.

Two family names, Bostock and Dorman, were first linked by a marriage in the 1840s and produced a remarkable family providing thousands of jobs for generations of Stafford people.

The first link between the families began with the marriage of Edwin Bostock to Joanna Dorman - and this was the first of five marriages between the two families which produced engineers, academics, shoemakers and even a high-ranking diplomat.

We recently reported on the intended sale of Upmeads, a large property on Newport Road, currently occupied by Sir Philip Hunter and his wife Ruth and having strong connections to the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th century.

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But we digress for Upmeads was the creation of Frederick Marson Bostock, grandson of Edwin, founder of a shoe empire which later became better known as Lotus - and on the property can be seen two sets of initials intertwined.

FMB refers to Fredrick while MWD are the initials of his bride, Mabel Winifred Dorman, daughter of W H Dorman, founder of the Dorman company which existed for most of the last century.

Frederick was the second of 13 children born to Henry Bostock (son of Edwin) and his wife Alice - again, he married into the Marson family who were successful in business in Stafford.

The first occupiers of Upmeads had twin boys shortly after their marriage, one christened Richard Dorman who died in infancy and the other - Frederick Anthony - who died shortly after his 21st birthday.

The Bostock family produced remarkable children, Henry and Alice's daughter Emily Gertrude Dorman Bostock studied at Glasgow University and became only the third female student to graduate in science, marrying senior lecturer in physiological chemistry, Edward Provan Cathcart.

Mabel Bostock's sister Katherine Selina Dorman married Horace Jeckyll Lingwood whose origins were in Suffolk and was employed by the Dorman company and fathered three children, Philip, Christopher and Theodora Joan.

Christopher Lingwood is remembered by many people in Stafford area as a local dentist and his wife was Margeth - cousin, and daughter of science graduate Emily.

Theodora Joan never married and served as a teacher in the south of England and was a keen hockey player. Her brother Philip Lingwood served in the Great War and is among the 300 Dorman employees mentioned on the firm's roll of honour.

Philip became company secretary of Spic and Span polishes . . . would you believe, this enterprise was an understandable offshoot of the Bostock 'empire'. After all, if you're making shoes why not produce polishes for use on them.

Spic and Span manufactured Dove polish - turn the trade name around and, hey presto, you have Evode, a company which continues to thrive thanks to the brilliance of the German scientist who put on the right footing as a world beating manufacturer of adhesives.

Back to the marriage of Katherine Dorman and Horace Lingwood . . . For it appears that he lost interest in the Dorman company, his adoptive town of Stafford and his family and eventually returned to his native Suffolk.

Upmeads, as the home of Frederick Bostock and wife, entertained many visitors in the 1911 census showed that a guest, John Ehrenfeld Dorman, son of the company founder, was staying, perhaps discussed his father's imminent retirement or even his marriage . . . to Madeline Louise Bostock, tenth daughter of Henry and Alice.

Madeline had studied dentistry in London and Glasgow and became other countries first female dentists and believed to practised at the family home, 77 Eastgate Street, now the headquarters of County Officers Club.

John and Madeline had five sons, the eldest being Maurice who served as a diplomat and was appointed Governor General of Malta.

When Frederick Bostock died in 1945 his funeral was held at what is now the Church Lane Evangelical Church and his business interests included the Lotus firm, chairmanship of Vik supplies (formerly Spic and Span) and, would you believe, managing directorship of the Henry Venables timber firm.

Phil Jones, who researched most material for this article, believes that the town has tended to ignore these captains of industry and argues the need for more 'blue plaque' treatment.

After all, apart from plaques gracing the old Post Office (Richard Brinsley Sheridan) and the almshouses near the Crown Court, what other links are given publicity to the many tourists who would identify with both Lotus shoes and Dorman engines? 

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