Charles James Allen (1853-1938) and Sidney Darwin (1851-1928) joined forces in 1887. Allen had been born in Islington, London, the son of Charles James Allen, a labourer (and later stone mason), and his wife, Elizabeth. Allen’s first job as a teenager was as clicker in the boot trade. Darwin was born in Sheffield, the son of William Darwin, a draper, and his wife, Elizabeth. He was the grandson of John Darwin, the owner of Elsecar Ironworks, and worked for several firms before he met Allen. He was apprenticed to Walker & Hall and then held managerial posts with James Deakin & Sons, Lee & Wigfull, and a London silver firm.
Allen & Darwin specialised in silver and plated goods, registering silver marks at the Sheffield Assay Office in 1887 and 1892. The company was based at Portland Works, 55 Arundel Street, and before 1914 had a London office in the Hatton Garden/Holborn area. The partnership made silver fruit-knives, fish carvers, dessert knives, and cased goods. Sidney Darwin, Ravencliffe, Ranmoor, died on 21 February 1928, aged 76. A Conservative and Freemason (Milton and Wentworth Lodges), it was said that ‘a quiet life was more to his taste than public activity’ (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 22 February 1928). He was buried in Fulwood, leaving £20,727. The partnership had been dissolved in that year and was re-styled as Allen’s. Charles James Allen, Union Lane, died on 15 April 1938, aged 84. He left £48,943 and was buried in Ecclesall. His son, Laurence Allen (1894-1961), became the owner of the company – later based at Portland Works, Randall Street. Laurence lived at Barnet Avenue, Bents Greens, and died on 27 January 1961. He left £5,731. The company trade mark was an hourglass.
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