Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Bernard Instone

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of Langstone Works, 27 Digbeth, Birmingham. Telephone: Midland 2485

  • 1891 Bernard Instone was born at 'Neston Villa' 132 St Paul's Road Kings Norton Birmingham
  • 1901 The family had moved to 23 Fernley Road Sparkhill by 1901.
  • 1903 He attended the Central school of art at the age of 12, on a scholarship. He was outstandingly successful and continued his training on the strength of 2 more scholarships, the Kendrick and the Louisa Anne Ryland. He learned practical silversmithing and jewellery at the Vittoria Street School and was remarkably talented. His prize-winning necklace is on display in Birmingham Museum.
  • After art school he worked at the Westerham studio of John Paul Cooper after which he was selected by the Berlin Court goldsmith Emil Lettre to go to Berlin for further training in the workshops in Unter-den-Linden.
  • While there, he made an important amethyst brooch for the King of Bavaria. His brother Lewis was already working there as a silversmith but died tragically on a day trip out to Zernsdorf with his family, when he dived off a rock into the lake and never surfaced.
  • 1913 After the accident and at the age of 22, Bernard Instone returned home and was employed at Vittoria Street in October. He was employed to assist with the manual training classes and also made pieces. It was at this stage in his career that he started to do his own commissions.
  • 1914 He was still in this post in October - until his career was interrupted by service in the Great War.
  • 1920 He founded Langstone silver works - a combination of his mother's and father's names - in Digbeth.
  • 1922 He married Barbara Margrett on 7 February, at St. Agnes Church, Mosley when he was 30 and she was just 18 having made her engagement ring himself and presented it to her when she was 16 years old. They had two sons and a daughter.
  • 1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturer of Artistic Jewellery, Silverware, Toilet Goods, Fashion Novelties in oxydized silver and "Langstone" hand-blended enamels. Oxydized silver, semi-precious Stone and Blister Pearl Jewellery. Bernard Instone "Cloisonne" Silverware; Cased Goods. Also showing with the Birmingham Jewellers' and Silversmiths' Association. (Stand Nos. J.43 and J.54) [1]
  • 1937 He became President of the Birmingham Jewellers' Association and organized a number of trade exhibitions for them.
  • 1954 They relocated to Lode Lane Solihull. There he was principally concerned with design and administration attempting to translate into commercial terms the qualities of his own work.
  • Throughout his career he played an important part in the local trade associations. He was a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and was also very much involved in the preparation of the Art in Industry Exhibition at Burlington House.
  • He set up the Spec-Clip company, as a side line with Harry Morris, which never really took off.
  • When his two sons were of age, they both went to work in Langstone: John as a salesman; Paul as a manager. He initially refused to pay them a salary preferring instead to buy them things when they wanted them. He acquired two shops in the Westcountry, one in Salcombe, Devon and the other in Looe, Cornwall (which he was left in the owner's will, this however was contested by his daughter and escalating court costs forced Bernard to stop the court case and the property reverted to the daughter).
  • Both shops sold paintings and jewellery and he offered the Salcombe one to John when he and Paul fell out in the mid-1960s.
  • 1963 He handed over the reigns to Paul and retired from the business completely, spending the rest of his life in the Cotswolds with his wife Barbara.
  • He was a very steely character, smoking cigars, ruling the boys with a rod of iron and challenging them to duels if he disagreed with them. He did headstands on the lawn well into his 70s.
  • In his 80s, his sight failing with cataracts, he was pushed up into the bedroom at Maugesbury Park House in Stow-on–the-Wold, Gloucestershire and never came back down until he broke his hip and was taken into hospital.
  • 1987 Bernard Instone died from bronchopneumonia on 10 December, at Cheltenham Hospital. He was cremated at Wellesborne crematorium.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Instone Family Tree