A surpring number of residents were involved with manufacturing pianos and related occupations:

  • Piano Forte Key Maker, Alfred Charles Lowe, 12 Cloudesley Place, 1885Piano Factory
  • Harmonium Maker, William Graham, 144 Cloudesley Road, 1887
  • Piano Forte Maker, Alexander Linton, 10 Cloudesley Place, 1909
  • Pianoforte Maker, Thomas Marden (Deceased), 103 Cloudesley Rd, 1910
  • Organ Builder, Ernest Mason, 20 Cloudesley St, 1911
  • Pianoforte Maker, Harry Erwin Stuart Hinks, 17 Clarendon Square, Somers Town, 1917
  • Piano Manufacturer, Arthur Charles Cons, 46 Hamden Rd, 1917
  • Piano Maker, Walter Sidney Roberts, 18 Cloudesley Rd, 1920

It turns out that Camden and Islington were a world centre for piano manufacturing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Some of this activity took place in large firms such as Collard & Collard based in the famous circular building on Oval Road in Camden (see image).  But hundreds of smaller firms were part of the industry, some no more than "small assembly shops in back kitchens, with parts bought in ready made" (see "Piano Manufacture in Camden").  These firms were, in turn supported by a host of related trades including veneering, fretworking, woodturning, glue boiling, stringing shops, key loading, case making, timber and ivory work, hammer work, and marquetry.  Sure enough, all these crafts figure in our records.  Here, for example, are a father and son both employed as veneerers from the Marriages data:

Married 25.12.1930:  Robert Mathew Clark-Ward, Bachelor, Veneerer, 2 Cloudesley Square. Father: Charles Clerk-Ward, Veneerer

One reason the area was suitable for Piano Making was the presence of the Regents Canal and the emerging Kings Cross rail network for transporting the bulky pianos.  Another might be the nearby "Belle Isle" site which hosted a variety of noxious commercial activities, mostly involving the boiling down of dead animals to yield, for example, varnish, glue, and bones!  More on Belle Isle later.