Street View: 7
Address: 165 New Bond Street


According to booklet 7 of the Tallis Street Views, 165 New Bond Street was shared between John Barnes, a wig maker and hair cutter and Thomas Warne, antigropelo manufacturer. Pardon? Antigropelo? Yes, exactly my thoughts when I read Warne’s occupation in the Street View directory, so I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and it turns out to be a combination of the prefix ‘anti’ and the Greek ὑγρός (ygrós = wet) and πηλός (pi̱lós = mud). The OED gives the word as antigropelos with an s at the end which is the more common (and probably linguistically correct) form. The explanation for the word reads: ‘Coverings to protect the legs against wet mud; waterproof leggings. (Originally, a proprietary name)’. And to be comprehensive, the explanation for ‘legging’ is ‘A pair of extra outer coverings (usually of leather or cloth), used as a protection for the legs in bad weather, and commonly reaching from the ankle to the knee, but sometimes higher’. And the National Standard Encyclopedia of 1888 has a nice synonym for them: spatter-dashes, although we call them more prosaically ‘rain leggings’ these days.

Trade card ©British Museum

Trade card ©British Museum

The first reference I found for Warne’s antigropelos is in an advert in the Newcastle Courant of 3 December, 1836 in which “Thomas Warne, patentee of the antigropelos, begs leave to solicit the attention of noblemen and gentlemen, to his unrivalled invention, by the use of which they are enabled to walk or ride in the dirtiest weather, without soiling their boots or trowsers [sic.]”. Why the advert is in the Newcastle newspaper while Warne is based in London becomes clear further on in the advert when John Newton, a saddler in Newcastle, is introduced as the sole agent for that town. Warne had more ‘sole agents’ in various towns around the country, such as in Bristol, Leicester, Norwich and Southampton. He was on to a good thing and as these things go, the competition tried to get their share of the pickings and Warne had to issue warnings and even go to court to stop the infringement of his patent. In 1843, The Mechanics’ Magazine reported on the breach of an injunction against using the name antigropelos when one Peter Golding tried to get away with it by calling the leggings he sold ‘antimudropelos’. The Vice-Chancellor of England who had granted the injunction the month before was having none of that and Golding was told to stop. During the proceedings Warne claimed to have used the name antigropelos “for upwards of ten years to distinguish the articles of his manufacture”, so he must have invented them in 1833 or thereabouts.

1839 advert from Graces Guide

1839 advert (Source: Grace’s Guide)

1848 advert from Graces Guide

1848 advert (Source: Grace’s Guide)

But it was not just competitors that Warne had to contend with. In 1844, William Northcott, Warne’s shopman, was charged with embezzling sums of money from his master(1) and in 1838 it was another employee, James Robinson, who was charged with the same offence, although he was found not guilty.(2) There had been some disagreement over the payment Robinson made or was supposed to make to Joseph Bold on behalf of Warne for the metal springs Bold made for the antigropelos (the clerk writing down the proceedings obviously did not know what they were, or perhaps there is an error in transcription at a later date, but they are referred to as autocropolis in the proceedings of the case). What is more interesting about this case than the alleged embezzlement is the information given about Warne’s places of business. We know from the Tallis Street View that he had an outlet in Bond Street and several of his advertisements mention 9 Henrietta Street (more on that address later), but in the Old Bailey papers, 414 Strand is mentioned as the “wholesale manufactory”. Robson’s London Directory of 1842 also gives the Strand address as one of the premises for Warne, incidentally also revealing that Warne is a currier, an army and navy contractor and a wholesale boot and shoe manufacturer.

1842 directory

414 Strand is, however, not mentioned in the Street Views, the numbering seems to jump from 413 to 415. On closer inspection, however, it can be seen that between these two premises is a small entrance to Heathcock Court and several tax documents and electoral registers mention Thomas Warne as the occupant of a dwelling in Heathcock Court. A bit more digging produced an F. Warne, currier, who in the 1814 Post Office Directory was given the address of Heathcock Court, 414 Strand. A family relation seems likely, although I have not worked out which one exactly. It cannot have been his father as that was also a Thomas, unless a mistake has been made and F. is really T. From 1821 onwards, I find Thomas at that address in the tax records. In 1829, the partnership between William and Thomas Warne, curriers at 414 Strand, is dissolved.(3) No doubt another family relation, but here again, not known which relation exactly.

Freedom City of London

1839 Freedom City of London

But at some point, probably from the mid-1820s, Thomas, his wife Sarah and the children can be found at 9 Henrietta Street. When precisely Thomas married Sarah cannot be established, but it was probably in 1817 or 1818. Unfortunately, those two years are missing from the St. Paul’s, Covent Garden marriage records and we will have to infer from the baptism of their first child Sarah Sophia in April 1818 that it was a bit before that. After Sarah, six more children are born, all baptised at St. Paul’s (Emma Louisa, 1819; Thomas Burley, 1821; Mary Jane, 1822; George Frederick, 1824; Horatio William, 1825; and Augustus, 1826). When the three eldest children are baptised, the family address varies each time, but when Mary, George and Horatio are baptised, all on 3 November 1825, the address is already Henrietta Street. Thomas acquires the lease for the Henrietta Street property in 1839 and when he renewed the lease in 1861, he added a shop front and a Portland cement refacing to match that of number 10.(4) But by then, he had long been living in Gloucester Road where the 1851 census finds him with his wife Sarah, his daughters Sarah and Emma and two servants. Sarah sr. died in late July 1854 and was buried on 2 August. The address is then given as Sussex Villas, Gloucester Road, Regent’s Park. The 1861 census shows Thomas, government contractor, living as a widower at Gloucester Road with daughter Emma and three servants. He died on 20 January 1864 and probate is granted to daughters Sarah, by then married to James Somerville, and Emma. His estate is valued at less than £30,000.(5)

modern rain legging

modern rain legging

(1) The Morning Post, 13 May 1844.
(2) Old Bailey, 22 October 1838.
(3) London Gazette, 1829.
(4) Survey of London: volume 36: Covent Garden via British History Online (see here).
(5) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1864. Probate is granted 11 February.


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