James Hapgood, Bricklayer

In the early part of his adult life James Hapgood worked as a master bricklayer. This was common knowledge in the family when the author grew up, in particular James had worked on the construction of the John Rylands Library in Manchester. It is supported by several pieces of documentary evidence as shown below:

James Hapgood business card as bricklayer

Images from Johns Rylands construction (1890s)

The four images below show workmen at a special event, perhaps a topping-out ceremony, that was marked by the commissioning of photographs of those involved. James appears in all four images wearing waistcoat, jacket and bowler hat. Clockwise from top left, he appears (a) at far left, (b) second left, front row, (c) front right, sitting on pipe far left and (d) far left, fifth row. His dress suggests he was a senior member of the work group, e.g. a foreman as mentioned in the testimonial above. This is reinforced by his inclusion in the small group, shown in the top right image, which is probably all the foremen on the project.

James Hapgood to far left James Hapgood second left, front row
James Hapgood far left, fifth row James Hapgood front right, sitting on pipe

But why should we think these images comes from the construction of John Rylands? If you look behind the workmen in all four images, you will see a carved stone head - and, in the two upper images, you can also see parts of a carved stone frieze. This frieze, topped by the carved stone head, is the frieze high above the entrance to the Library. You can see the frieze in the upper part of the left image below (note that the right hand tower can be seen through the frieze thus demonstrating that it is just a decorative feature). The right image shows a blown-up version of the left image - highlighting the frieze and the head.

The finished job - John Rylands Library in 1900 Frieze from John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library when finished in 1900. Note the overhead wires for trams in front of the library. Blow-up of the frieze shown in the upper part of the left-hand image. Compare the thin vertical pillars in the frieze with those visible in the right background of the group of foremen shown above.

Hapgood family history small logo Last updated 11 November 2006

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