Ferdinand and Joseph Loffler

Additional information from Ed Grimsdale and Lyn Robinson

Ferdinand and Joseph Loffler arrived in Winslow in or before 1864, when they are listed in Kelly's Directory as "watch & clock makers & Birmingham & Sheffield warehouse". They also made barometers. They were two German brothers (probably called Löffler) originally from the Grand-Duchy of Baden, then an independent state, who had acquired British citizenship, and they kept a shop at 66 High Street (now "Adorn"). In the 1861 census they were recorded under the name of Loffer as partners in a clock and watch business in Leighton Buzzard with Frederick Spahn, another German.

In the 1871 census Ferdinand was 40 and Joseph 33, both unmarried and living in Winslow with an elderly housekeeper. Joseph got married in 1881, and was described as a jeweller in the census. He had at least three sons, two of whom died young, whilst Harold Thomas (known as Tom) was born on 29 July 1889. Ferdinand moved next door. He was treasurer of the Congregational Church by this time.

By 1889, the Lofflers' property portfolio had expanded. The Northampton Mercury of 15 June recorded that six lads were convicted of damaging a hayrick, the property of Messrs. F. and J. Loffler of Winslow – Mr Ferdinand Loffler attended Court and said he should like to withdraw the case, as he did not wish the boys to be punished, only that his property should be protected. The bench ordered 4s. each for expenses to be paid, and said they wished they could order the boys to be whipped instead of parents having to pay.

The partnership of "Loffler, F. and J., Winslow, watchmakers, jewellers, ironmongers, and dealers in furniture" was dissolved on 31 March 1890 with outstanding debts to be settled by Joseph Loffler. In June 1890, George Wigley carried out a valuation of fixtures and effects of a property at Winslow for a transfer from Mr Joseph Loffler to Mrs William Neal (Centre for Bucks Studies D/WIG/2/1/23 p.1). This probably refers to the living accommodation at the shop, and valuation for a mortgage or new partnership. The rooms listed are:
2nd floor: front bedroom, landing, small front bedroom
1st floor: landing, front bedroom, hall and staircase, drawing room, hall, back parlour, scullery, passage, kitchen, cellar.
Valuation: £14 2s.

Joseph died, suddenly, in February 1891, of a heart attack in the shop of one of his customers, Mr Tweddle of Cambridge Street, Aylesbury. Joseph’s last words, on being asked how he was, were, ”Pretty well, only suffering from indigestion”. An obituary notice in the Bucks Herald indicated that the Lofflers had been in business in Winslow for thirty years and that Joseph left a widow (Harriet) and a small son (Tom). At the time of his death, Joseph was a director of the Winslow Gas Company.

Joseph's widow Harriet kept the business going for a time with the aid of a manager, Henry Kinman: in 1895 it was "watch & clock maker, general house furnisher & ironmonger". She relinquished business just before Christmas 1896. and, according to local newspapers, it was hoped that with complete rest and change (she moved away from Winslow), she would recover her health, which had broken down. She died, however, on 15 January 1897 at the age of 46, her body being brought back to Winslow for her funeral. She was interred in the churchyard next to her husband. The shop was re-equipped to serve as the Post Office, with a pillar box being placed in the Market Square in place of the old Post Office there, until purpose-built premises were opened on the other side of the High Street in 1911.

A watch made by the Lofflers
66 High Street
A watch made by the Lofflers
The Lofflers' shop after it became the Post Office

Ferdinand married Martha Dickins, 4th daughter of Mr. E. Dickins of Granborough in Granborough Parish Church on 7 April 1890. In the 1891 census, he was listed as retired (evidently the reason for the dissolution of the partnership), living with his wife and month-old baby Carolina Mary at 31 Station Road. He bought 3 and 4 Belle Vue Terrace, Station Road (now 29 and 31) in 1878 for £460 (pencil note on sale poster in Centre for Bucks Studies, D-WIG/2/7/1878/2).

The Northampton Mercury recorded on 12 March 1897:
WINSLOW. DEATH OF MR. F. LOFFLER. – On Sunday morning, Mr. Ferdinand Loffler, a respected tradesman of the town, died at his residence. With his brother, the late Mr. Joseph Loffler, he carried on a jewellery and ironmongery business in the High-street and was remarkably well  known. A German by birth, he was a thorough Englishman by adoption and took a part in various local organisations.

The Bucks Herald recorded that the Parish Church was full for the funeral, which included one of  Mr Loffler’s favourite hymns: ”Rock of Ages”. The coffin bore the inscription “Ferdinand Loffler, born September 24th 1830, died March 7th 1897”. His gravestone is still standing, by the path to the west of the Church (see below).

His widow Martha married Mr John Gough of Manor Farm, Maids Moreton. In June 1921, Carolina Loffler, daughter of Ferdinand and Martha, married William Lester, the eldest son of Mr Oliver Lester, a Leckhampstead farmer. Martha Gough died on 3 March 1923, with effects of £7,760. Probate was granted to Caroline (i.e. Carolina) Mary Lester, Joseph Dickins, farmer and Richard Bennett, estate agent. Carolina died in 1976.

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Gravestone of Ferdinand Loffler