People and Places-William Jeakes

As the Old Schoolhouse is closed for the time being, we thought we’d share some extracts from HHS publications over the coming weeks and months. People and Places ; Lost Estates in Highgate, Hornsey and Wood Green is a collection of essays edited by Joan Schwitzer which was published by the HHS in 1996.

The following extract is on William Jeakes, one of the last residents of  Winchester Hall in Highgate before it was sold for development in 1881.

Portrait of William Jeakes
William Jeakes

William Jeakes was the Director of C. Jeakes & Co, “Engineers, Stove and Range Manufacturers, Domestic Metal Workers, and General Ironmongers”, of Great Russell Street. ┬áJeakes was one of the beneficiaries of the new iron age, not only were public buildings constructed around an iron framework but multifarious domestic appliances formerly made in wood or earthenware were now made in iron.

In the 1850s his shop had gained the attention of the Press, through his service to the British troops taking part in the Crimean War. He had supplied a drying cabinet for wet clothes as sought by Charles Dickens after he became indirectly in touch with Florence Nightingale; she had written home to a mutual friends (Angela Burdett-Coutts) about the sodden misery of the soldiers. Jeakes not only coped with the unprecedented requirement of shipment in parts for customer assembly but incorporated a wash-boiler and spindlier into the design. Six feel high and seven foot wide, iron inside a wooden cabinet, capable of drying 1000 articles at once, Jeakes’s washing machine was depicted in the Illustrated London News as a new wonder. Dickens declared it was the only ‘administrative’ thing connected with the war that had been a success.


People and Places is in stock and will be for sale at the Old Schoolhouse once we re-open.

People and Places book cover