John Allen Sykes (c.1842-1912)

John Allen Sykes was a chemist, photographer and mineral water manufacturer.


He was born in Lindley circa 1842.[1]

He married Alice Ainley circa 1867 and the couple had seven children:

  • Lilian Sykes (born 1868)
  • Hannah Elizabeth Sykes (born c.1870)
  • Henrietta Sykes (born 1872)
  • Charlie Sykes (born 1874)
  • Elizabeth Sykes (born c.1877)
  • Allen Sykes (born 1879)
  • Albert Sykes (born c.1882)

The family settled on Albert Street, Lindley, where John Allen initially worked as a clerk in a card works (1871 Census). By 1881, they were residing at 14-16 Acre Street, Lindley, and he had become a photographer of "Albert Studio".

During the late 1860s and early 1870s he studied geography and inorganic chemistry at the Lindley Mechanics' Institution.[2]

In December 1887 he gave a lecture on the topic of "Ventilation" to the Lindley Church Mutual Improvement Society in which he "explained the nature of the various gasses which composed the atmosphere, and showed the necessity of constantly inhaling a sufficient quantity of pure air." The talk was "supplemented by experiments and blackboard sketches" and reportedly "fully engaged the attention of all present."[3]

Although reportedly a Liberal, he stood as an Independent candidate for the Lindley Ward in the 1888 Huddersfield Municipal Elections against John Wilson (Liberal).[4] He received 702 votes against Wilson's 265.[5]

He resigned as a councillor in November 1890, reportedly only a few days after the election. At the council meeting held on 10 November it was suggested that Sykes could be fined £50 under Section 41 of the Municipal Corporations' Act.[6] The reason was explained in a subsequent letter Sykes sent to the Huddersfield Chronicle — he had already moved his family to Shaw and Crompton, Lancashire, and regretted that he had no stepped earlier.

The 1891 Census recorded the family 21 Oak Street, Shaw and Crompton, Lancashire, where his occupation was given as "photographic chemist" with his eldest daughter Lilian assisting him. Three of his other children were named as assistant mineral water makers.

By 1901, it seems the mineral water was proving profitable and John Allen gave his occupation as "photographer and mineral water manufacturer", with daughter Elizabeth recorded as a "bottle washer" and son Allen a "bottler."

By 1911, John Allen and Alice had moved to New Mills, Derbyshire, where his occupation was given as "mineral water maker", but they apparently soon moved back to Lancashire.

John Allen Sykes of 24 Ferguson Road, Blackpool, Lancashire, died on 18 December 1912, leaving an estate valued at £1,544 16s.


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Notes and References

  1. Apart from the 1871 Census return with states Lindley, his birthplace is otherwise recorded as Huddersfield.
  2. Named in articles appearing in Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Sep/1870), Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Jun/1871) and Huddersfield Chronicle (30/Sep/1871).
  3. "Lindley" in Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Dec/1887).
  4. "Huddersfield Municipal Elections" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Oct/1888). A letter stating his intention to stand was printed in Huddersfield Chronicle (29/Sep/1888).
  5. "Municipal Elections" in Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Nov/1888).
  6. "Huddersfield County Borough Council" in Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Nov/1890).