A Trio of Tunbridge Ware Creators Boyce, Brown & Kemp (1873-1916)
Wholesale Tunbridge Ware Manufacturers, Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells.
James Brown Sr. started a Tunbridge Ware business at Violet Place, Camden Road in 1862. He had trained in the workshop of Henry Hollamby on Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells. Henry Hollamby (1842-1891) and Thomas Barton (1820-1903) were the major Tunbridge Ware makers and when they retired in the 1890’s Boyce Brown & Kemp acquired much of Hollamby’s stock and became the main makers and wholesale suppliers to shops.
Boyce, Brown Jr. and Kemp were of similar ages, married, settled and skilled in their craft. From 1873 they created a strong partnership to promote and maintain the creative Tunbridge Ware tradition for the next 43 years.
They made glove and handkerchief boxes, cigar boxes, tea caddies, chests, trays and tables as well as a plethora of smaller articles for the tourist trade. In 1890 a Violet Place visitor was shown mosaic depictions of the Pantiles, Tonbridge Castle, Hever Castle, Penshurst Place and Eridge Castle. Finished Tunbridge Ware pieces were also sold to cabinet makers to include in their own work.
Thomas Amos Boyce 1845-1914.
Spending all his life in Tunbridge Wells, Boyce trained as a woodturner. In 1869 he married Harriet Brown the sister of James Brown Jr. In 1870, probably in order to better himself, Boyce applied for a post with the Tunbridge Wells Constabulary and was appointed a Police Constable. However by 1873 he had returned to woodturning and Tunbridge Ware manufacture becoming the leading name in the new firm Boyce, Brown & Kemp at Violet Place. He is buried in Section C1 (General) 826
James Brown 1844-1922
The son of James Brown Sr. was born and bred in Tunbridge Wells. Apprenticed to Henry Hollamby in Frant Road at the age of 12, it is clear his father wanted his son skilled in Tunbridge Ware manufacture. Having achieved this James returned to work for his father. The longest lived of the Boyce, Brown and Kemp trio he was left the sole partner and must have instigated the sale of the business in 1916 to John Thomas Ellis of Porter’s Bazaar on the Pantiles, a major customer for their work. James Brown is buried in Section B7 (Anglican) 70.
John Kemp 1844-1900
Born in Frant he came to Tunbridge Wells to serve his apprenticeship as a Tunbridge Ware maker probably with Henry Hollamby. His family had had no connections to the trade but his father must have been aware of the popularity of the ware and that an apprenticeship would secure a good living for his oldest son. John Kemp was the first of the partners to die in 1900 and the firm continued for another 16 years. He is buried in Section C12 (Anglican) 13.
In 1910 Boyce and Brown were employing 10 workers then WW1 took its toll on young men and on tourism. Thomas Boyce died in 1914 and the company sold up in 1916.