Newport Central Library has a fairly complete run of John’s Directory of Newport, and I’ve now been able to get a little more detail on the later Clissett activities in the town. You can find details of when the Clissett family arrived in Newport in the biography section of the website.
In the mid-1890s, the directory lists four separate chairmakers from the Clissett family. Only one of these has a commercial listing (Edward), and it seems likely that the others were employees either of Edward or one of the other two chairmakers listed in the commercial section – William Green and George Hawkins.
By 1898, Edward had died, and Thomas appears to have taken over as the commercial figurehead. By this time, Newport had only two chairmakers listed commercially, the other being C.E. Hawkins. Thomas died in 1902, and his wife Elizabeth took over the business which is thereafter listed as “E. Clissett & Son”, the son being Albert Edward.
The firm of C.E. Hawkins transmuted into Hawkins & Bailey in 1903, then disappeared between 1907 and 1909 leaving E. Clissett & Son as the sole chairmaking enterprise in the Newport area. As I noted above, the firm made it through the war, though, from about 1925 onwards the commercial listing is simply in Albert Clissett’s own name. Sometime between 1927 and 1930, Albert dropped his commercial listing and, presumably, gave up chairmaking. He was only in his late forties, so I assume that he could no longer make a go of it.
If only we knew something (anything!) about the chairs that the Clissett family made in Newport. Richard Bebb’s book on Welsh Furniture deals with many furniture makers of this period, but does not mention the Clissetts. So, if anyone knows anything about the chairs produced by the Newport branch of the family, I’d be very pleased to hear about them. Perhaps they figure in family photographs, or there might be references to the chairmaking businesses in family documents. I’m sure there’s a good story somewhere out there!