Robert Frederick Stockwell (1907 – 2002)

Robert was born on 22 January 1907 at 38 Undine Street, Tooting (in South London). He was the second of three sons in the family. His parents were Frederick Reginald Stockwell and Annie Louisa Beach.

He went to school locally and would have been there throughout the period of the First World War. He left school in 1921 and was apprenticed as a compositor in the business run by his grandfather and his father. His grandfather died in 1922 and his father continued the business until the two younger sons were able to join him. While an  apprentice he trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. (see picture below).

On completing his apprenticeship in 1928 Robert entered into the full-time work of the business. One of his responsibilities was on the sales side. He worked very hard at this, building up a loyal client base during the years of the Depression. It was during this period that the business bought its first (second-hand) Linotype machine to mechanise the typesetting.
By time of the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the business had also acquired Monotype typesetting machinery and had one of the larger presses with an automatic feeder! The other larger presses were still hand-fed. This sounds like a farming term but these presses required two people to run them – one was the skilled printer, the other was a semi-skilled assistant known as a feeder or layer on.

In 1947 the business was incorporated as Robert Stockwell Ltd with Robert and his brother Jack as the Managing Directors. Their father retired at about this time. Robert continued to work in the business until his own retirement in 1972. During these years the business expanded and at the time of his retirement it was employing about 100 staff.

In his personal life Robert had been an active member of Tooting Junction Baptist Church. He was a keen member of the Boys’ Brigade there and it was there that he was baptised by immersion as a believer by the minister, Rev King. He often spoke of the value that he placed on the teaching which he had received there and the way it had become a foundation for his spiritual life. He taught in the Sunday School there until just before his marriage in 1933.

In 1932 he and his brother Jack took a holiday on a Mediterranean cruise. While on the cruise he met Lilian Osborne (who was with her mother on the same cruise) and fell in love with her. Her father gave his consent to the engagement and the marriage took place on 23 September 1933 at Trinity Methodist Church, Prestatyn.

The story continues . . .

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