At the very bottom of the Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite poster – and true to the original – is the printing credit. It reads:
JONES & CROSSKILL, PRINTERS AND BOOKSELLERS, YORKSHIRE STREET, ROCHDALE.
While making the print, I researched Jones & Crosskill and, other than finding a few other ephemeral items of print attributed to the firm, there seemed to be little or no information available. Not even the great St Bride Printing Library in London had heard of them.
But last week, we had the great pleasure of sending a print to one Stuart Crosskill. The name piqued our interest and it turns out that Stuart is the great, great, great grandson of Henry Morritt Crosskill – he of Jones & Crosskill – who printed the poster that ended up on John Lennon's wall. By wonderful coincidence, Stuart is a fan of the Beatles and especially John Lennon.
Stuart, who has researched his family, was able to fill us in on quite a bit more detail about his great, great, great grandfather:
He was born in Beverley, East Yorkshire in 1808 and was just 4 years old when his father died leaving his mother and eldest brother, who was only 12, to look after his other 6 siblings. The eldest boy went on to be a very important manufacturer of agricultural equipment and most of his brothers worked with him in his business – apart from Henry.
He was apprenticed to a printer and after completing his apprenticeship he appears to have moved to Rochdale and got married in 1831. I believe he was involved in setting up a Cooperative store in 1832 (a forerunner of the great Coop movement) but they didn't get it right, allowed too much credit and went bust! The earliest record I have for him as a printer in Yorkshire St. and with Jones was 1845, but thanks to you I can now place him there 2 years previously.
Unfortunately times were tough and they went bust in 1845, but he started up again this time by himself as a bookseller, stationer and printer and carried on in that line until his death in 1878.
I think he was a good man, contributing to the local poor schools, printing pamphlets for the people, being a believer in self-help, and now I find an inspiration for a Beatle – what a legacy!
I love the way that this story connects generations of a family, 171 years apart, via a circus poster, John Lennon and the Beatles.
If anyone out there knows anything else about the firm of Jones & Crosskill, and Crosskill's partner Mr Edward Thomas Jones, please get in touch.
One of the two Time Traveller’s Invitation prints given to Stephen Hawking in 2013 is currently on display at London’s Science Museum