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Exhibition talk and building tour: William Stanley and his halls

Join local historian and exhibition curator John Hickman for a talk about William Stanley in South Norwood and venue director Dr Daniel Winder for a tour of the building. 

William F. Stanley (2 February 1829 – 14 August 1909) was an inventor, manufacturer and philanthropist. Born in Islington, it was only when he was 11 years old that his uncle sent him to school, where he studied until he was 14, until joining his father’s business. By the age of 16 he began to study engineering and phrenology at the London Mechanics Institute (now Birkbeck College). However, Stanley was essentially self-taught and was dedicated to learning.

In 1854 William set up his own business in Holborn making mathematical and drawing instruments. He invented the t-square, the panoptic stereoscope and a straight line dividing machine; the latter won first prize in the International Exhibition of 1862 and guaranteed his fortune.

Stanley moved his factory to South Norwood in the mid-1870s. Called The Stanley Works it was located near Norwood Junction railway station and by the 1880s employed 80 local people in the production of instruments for civil and military clients. By 1903 the firm was the largest of its kind in the world and operated in South Norwood until 1926 when it moved to New Eltham.

Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society assisted by Bourne Society is exhibiting from its John Gent Postcards Collection a display of Charles Harrison Price photographs that allows a unique insight into life in the borough of Croydon during the first half of the 20th century.

Croydon through the lens of Charles Harrison Price: historic images from Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society

Crossed fingers logo with text to the side saying, made possible with Heritage Fund

© 2023 Stanley Arts Charity No: 1155680