The Fownes were a family of well-to-do glove manufacturers, whose firm was founded by John Fownes (1752 – September 20, 1827), a barrister’s son, in the late-18thCentury. Apprenticed in Worcester, he started his firm in the City in 1777, quickly expanding to the West End, with a shop in Coventry Street and nearby workshops. By 1790 he had moved his family to Hanwell and soon started a major glove-making enterprise there. Sometime around 1809 John purchased a portion of Weatherby’s Shot, a field south of Sheepcote Lane, still being used for strip cultivation. Here he founded Poplar House for himself and his large family, with a line of sheds to its north, which was later extended. The Fowneses gradually acquired extra property northwards up to Sheepcote Lane and beyond. John transferred his glove-making workshops with him to Falcon Lane, leaving the West End retailing to his oldest son. By 1841 the younger sons, Henry and Thomas, were managing the Battersea operation, and Poplar House had probably been remodelled by John Davis Paine, architect. In 1861 Henry Fownes (1791 – 1862) boasted to be employing 100 men and 300 women, many living locally. In 1875, a fourth brother, Edward Fownes (1799 – 1883), who had not until then been living in Battersea, presided over the transfer of manufacturing first to Lombard Road and then in 1884 back to the glove-making centre of Worcester, where the family had maintained its connections. At that time the company employed more that 1,000 people and was one of the world’s leading glove makers with offices and factories in many parts of the world. The Poplar House estate was then developed by Alfred Heaver. The Fowneses also from 1846 owned land in the Bramlands fields opposite their house on the west side of Falcon Road, which Heaver also took on.
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