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John Flinn 1807-1886

1861 Census
1861 Census records John Flinn and family living at Earlsdon House

The first manufacturer to take up residence on the estate, indeed probably the first new settler of all, was John Flinn. He was born in 1807 and was an immigrant from Prescot. In 1851 he was living in Moat Street in the city watchmaking enclave, with his wife and seven children and a flourishing business. However from the time it was first mooted he was interested in the new estate to be laid out at Earlsdon, and was one of the signatories to the Petition sent to the Waterworks Committee in May 1852. His house, on Earlsdon Street, was the largest and most important to be built in the area for at least the next 50 years. As well as Earlsdon House Flinn also constructed a row of workers cottages for his employees in Arden Street.

After 16 years Flinn left the area and we have no information as to why (he may have declared himself banckrupt). We also know very little about his business, apart from the fact that he exhibited a case of gold and silver watches, including an 'Improved going-barrel' at the Coventry and Midland Manufacturing and Art Exhibition held at the new Market Hall in 1867 for which he gained an illuminated certificate. His name as a local manufacturer is greatly overshadowed by that of his successor in Earlsdon House, Joseph White.

However, we at least have a detailed description of his Earlsdon House which was put on the market in 1868 and which illustrates the type of home a man of Flinn's status would be likely to occupy in the mid 19th century. The advertisement which appeared in the Coventry Standard on 14 February with the description reads as follows:

'Family residence and Manufactory at Earlsdon near Coventry, Earlsdon House, pleasantly situated and containing a good Hall, dining and drawing rooms, 5 bedrooms, two large attics, best and cooking kitchen, china closet, pantry, cellar, coach house, and two stall stable, piggery and shedding: also excellent watch factory and offices, together with vinery, Pleasure and kitchen garden and paddock.'

Flinn and Co continued at 14/15, Broadgate into the 1930s.

From Brown Boots in Earlsdon by Mary Montes with additional material from Jill Prime, Coventry Watch Museum.

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