Yorkshire Chess History
Antonio Fattorini held various offices from time to time in Bradford Chess Club and the West Yorkshire Chess Association. He was a member of a family which ran, and still runs, a jewellery firm which was the first to manufacture and market the chess-clocks which came to replace sand-glasses as timers for use in chess games.
It all started with an earlier Antonio Fattorini senior, an Italian-speaking immigrant from the Lombardy village of Bellagio, born in 1797. He supposedly came to this country as part of an active recruitment drive, following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, to forestall a potential trade slump in Britain. Another recruit was a Baldisaro Porri, whose daughter married into the Fattorini family.
Antonio senior settled in Leeds as a jeweller and hardware dealer, with a shop or stall at “18 Bazaar, Central Market”, and a home at “1 court, 49 Briggate” (White, 1830). From this beginning developed a modern chain of outlets for jewellery and similar items.
On 29/07/1824, Antonio senior was married to Liverpool-born Maria Broni, at St. Peter's, Leeds, by Thomas Furbank. The couple seem to have had at least ten children:
The company of Fattorini and Sons was founded in 1827 by the original Antonio. It expanded to establish branches initially in Skipton, Bradford and Harrogate.
Older sons Lawrence and Frank had set themselves up as basket dealers, and so didn’t get involved in their father’s developing business. The next four surviving sons, Innocent, John, Antonio junior (our man) and Edward were in time put in separate charge of the three outposts, with Innocent assuming control of the Skipton branch of the business, John and Edward taking on the Bradford branch, and Antonio junior taking on the Harrogate branch. These three branches became run separately as the future inheritance of the sons concerned, and each branch was developed by, and was passed on within, the branch of the family concerned.
The founding Antonio died on 20/03/1859 (though 1860 is a quoted date).
Antonio (senior) had opened a shop in Harrogate in 1831; in 1841 the business was at 2 Royal Parade, Harrogate. The chess-playing Antonio (junior) was born 1837 (according to some sources), in Harrogate, presumably at 2 Royal Parade. His grave inscription suggests 1838 a more likely year.
The 1841 and 1851 censuses found him at the parental home at Kirkgate, Leeds. In 1851 he was described as a scholar.
In 1854, Antonio senior was listed as an engraver at 28 Westgate, Bradford. In 1855 he is listed by Slater more generally under “Bazaars and Fancy Repositories”. By 1856, the shop at 28 Westgate was being called “A. Fattorini and Sons, jewellers”.
Antonio is difficult to spot in the 1861 census.
In 1866 Fattorini & Sons, jewellers, were listed at 24 Kirkgate, run by Maria (now widowed) and John, with Maria Fattorini, jeweller listed at 28 Westgate. Additionally, Innocent Fattorini was listed as a watchmaker at Caroline Square, Skipton.
In 1870, Fattorini & Sons, jewellers, were listed at 22 Kirkgate and 28 Westgate, still run by Mrs. Maria and John Fattorini.
The 1871 census found Antonio living at 28 Westgate, Bradford, being described as an assistant.
In 1879, Fattorini & Sons, watchmakers, was at 22 Kirkgate, Bradford, and 28 Westgate, Bradford. The firm was listed also as an opticians’. John Fattorini lived at 22 Wood View Terrace. Antonio was living in Pannal, Harrogate.
The 1881 census found him working on his own account as a watchmaker living at 2 Royal Parade, Harrogate.
In 1884 the Harrogate business was moved to 10 Parliament Square, Harrogate.
The 1891 census accordingly found Antonio as a watchmaker at Parliament Square, Harrogate. Nevertheless, in 1891, Antonio was listed in a directory at 25 Athol Road, Bradford, fourteen doors away from Robert McCheyne Macmaster’s father, as it happens. This suggests Antonio split his time between Harrogate and Bradford. Bradford.
Antonio never married, but he got his sister, Maria, involved in the business. Back in Bradford, Maria had married John Tindall (born 1841/42), a sewing-silk manufacturer, around 1876. By 1901, however, John and Maria had moved to live with Antonio in Harrogate.
Accordingly, the 1901 census found Antonio Fattorini, John Tindall and Maria Tindall, living at 10 Parliament Square, Harrogate, with three Tindall children: Savina Tindall (born 1879/80, Bradford), Blanche Tindall (born 1882/83,Bradford), and John Albert Tindall (born 1885/86, Harrogate). The eldest Tindall daughter, Jane (born 1877/78) seems to have been away from home at the time of the census. Antonio was described as a “jeweller, gold”, while John Tindall was a sewing-silk manufacturer, Savina Tindall was a “jewellery assistant, gold”, and John Albert Tindall was a watchmaker's apprentice.
The 1911 census found the same ménage at 10 Parliament Square, Harrogate, but with Jane Tindall there as well. Whilst Antonio Fattorini and John Tindall were now recorded as retired, the four Tindall children were described as shop assistants.
Antonio died on 08/11/1907, and was buried at Harrogate’s Harlow Cemetery on 11/04/1913. The grave inscription reads as follows:
Maria Tindall, inhumed in the same grave, was Antonio’s sister, while John Tindall was her husband and Leonora Tindall was the daughter of Maria’s son John Albert Tidall. (Click here for images of the grave.)
Antonio’s business in Harrogate passed to his sister Maria’s descendents. In passed from John Tindall to his son Edward H. Tindall, with the assistance of his sons Charles and Anthony.
In 1965, the adjacent 12 Parliament Parade was added to the premises.
The business continues to trade as A. Fattorini, at 10 Parliament Street, Harrogate, HG1 2QZ.
The firm of Thomas Fattorini (the modern manifestation of the Bradford part of the original Fattorini business) are currently (2013) sponsors of the Bradford Chess Congress.
“E. Fattorini” of Bradford is recorded as attending the WYCA meeting of 1871. This may have been Antonio’s brother Edward Fattorini.
By 1881 Antonio was resident in Harrogate, but soon after that he joined Bradford Chess Club, becoming an official of the club as well as becoming an official of the West Yorkshire Chess Association.
The Fattorini-chess link forged in Bradford led to that firm developing the first commercially marketed chess-clocks which were coming to replace sand-glasses for timing games of chess. The original design for such a clock is attributed to Thomas Bright Wilson (1843 to 1915), secretary of Manchester Chess Club. The design was a recognisable pair of clocks, but they were pendulum clocks, and the mechanism was operated by tipping the whole arrangement formed by the joined clocks, one way or the other, rather than the later operation by pressing a lever or button to cause interference with one flywheel while releasing the other.
Fattorini chess-clocks were first used in tournament play at the 1883 tournament of the British Chess Association, in London.
Antonio attended the WYCA meeting of 1886.
In 1887 Antonio Fattorini promoted a match between Joseph Blackburne of Manchester and Isidor Gunsburg of London.
Fattorini and Sons donated the Fattorini Trophy, at the 1888 BCA congress in Bradford, for the amateur Championship of Yorkshire. The trophy consisted of an ivory chess set with board, and was to be retained by anyone winning it twice, not necessarily on consecutive occasions.
Antonio attended the WYCA meeting of 1889.
Fattorini and Sons supplied (rather than donated) the Staats-Zeitung Chess Trophy used for competition between chess clubs in New York state, due to the involvement of former Bradfordian Hartwig Cassell.
A notice of his death in the BCM reported Antonio was also involved with football, and was a time-keeper (!) at athletics meetings.
Sources and Further Info:
Directory of Leeds, Bradford etc, 1854
Slater's Commercial Directory of Durham, Northumberland & Yorkshire, 1855
Lunds' Bradford Directory, 1856
Directory of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield ..., 1866
White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870
Post Office Bradford Directory, 1879-80
White's Directory of Bradford, Halifax etc, 1887
Post Office Bradford Directory, 1891
Copyright © 2012 & 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information