E. G. Cole I, potter and local public figure (1853-1920)

Signature of E G Cole
E G Cole potter and public figure

Edward George Cole, or E G as he was usually known, featured in a number of the family's potteries and was also a high profile figure in the Tottenham and Wood Green local community. On this page are: an overview of his life; his family, his obituary; his funeral; an observation on his character; a satirical cartoon on him in the local newspaper; and the location of an inscribed portrait of him.

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Although the understandings within the family were that the Potteries in White Hart Lane Tottenham were started by John Cole, all the existing records put the first formal ownership in the name of his son Edward George Cole I - or E G Cole as he was generally known. E G born at the Tottenham Tile Kilns, on 22 August 1853.

My mother described E G as a big florid-faced man who wore leather gaiters when he visited the pottery. One summer, as a child she went to his house in Pellet Grove, Wood Green once. This was because when he was at breakfast in the pottery house, he had said to her grandmother, "Send one of the children up to the house to get some windfall apples". Her grandmother wasn't particularly interested as they would only be windfalls and she was only interested in best quality produce but, as E G had asked, she and her brother had to go.

Through the support of the wider family, E G was able to be very active indeed in public life. It was written of him that it would be difficult to find an area of public life in which he had not been involved. He was awarded an MBE for services to the Edmonton Military Hospital during the first world war; was chair of the Board of Guardians, active in local politics; his family received the sympathies of the Queen on his death.

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The family of E G.

E G married Elizabeth Brandon (20 Mar 1856 - 09 Feb 1929) at St Johns Parish Church, Bognor; witnessed by his brother James Reedman Cole and John Brandon, presumably Elizabeth's father or brother. The couple had the following children:

I would be very pleased to make contact with any descendants, particularly with a view to seeing old family photos.

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from the Tottenham Weekly Herald, June 25th 1920

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Death of Mr. E. G. Cole


obituary of E G Cole - press cutting

Wood Green, Tottenham and Edmonton will be the poorer by the death of Mr. Edward George Cole, which we regret to announce took place at his residence, Glencaien, Pellatt Grove, Wood Green, on Tuesday evening. A few weeks ago Mr. Cole was stricken down with pneumonia, and anxious enquiries have been constantly made by scores of his neighbours. Later he was reported to be better. Then he relapsed, but again last Sunday he was reported by Col. Spencer Mort and his own local doctor to be out of danger. But the improvement was only artificial, and the strain upon the heart proved too much. He collapsed on Monday, became unconscious at mid-day on Tuesday, and succumbed peacefully at 9.15 in the evening.

Mr Cole was 67 years of age, and was one of those men whose character was framed amid the hardships of life. He had no "silver spoon", and no great education, but he served his day and generation well. His "school" was the school of experience, and having learned his lessons he applied them to the best purposes, and inspired many another make to take up public service. Born at the old potteries at the foot of the Manor House Hill, he went to work in the potteries at the age of ten. All did not go well with the business, and he was compelled to look around for another vocation, which he found by joining the Metropolitan Police as a constable. About 47 years ago - when he had been a policeman scarcely a year - he found it possible to open the present White Hart Lane Potteries. For years, in fact, right up to the last, he worked hard, and even when public work demanded his attention, he was to be found working among the flower pots early and late. Some folk can remember the time when he made the pots, put them in the kiln, burnt them, sold them, and brought home the money himself to pay his two or three men.

He had two sons and three daughters. The older son died suddenly just five years ago. Extra burdens were thrown upon "the old boy" as he was affectionately known, and there was a visible decline in his vigour. Sydney, the younger son, who was away, as an officer in the Air Force at that time, was discharged soon after the Armistice, and lately had assisted his father.

Mr. Cole had a long and honourable record of public service. His nature was sometimes tactless and undiplomatic, his hard hitting and blunt speaking frequently stirred up the feelings of his colleagues, but he had a wonderful grasp of local administration. Above everything else he was a specialist in everything appertaining to the Poor Law. He was a personal friend of Mr John Burns, and it was no secret that Mr Burns on many occasions leant useful lessons from Mr. Cole's practical experience. Mr. Cole was a member of the Edmonton Board of Guardians continuously for 25 years, and was for some years its Chairman. He was also for several years a member of the County Council, and between the to offices he was enabled to take an active part in such matters as lunacy, vagrancy and Poor Law generally. He was on the Asylums, Highways, Industrial Schools, County Rates Basis, Standing Joint, and Light Railways and Tramways Committees of the County Council. In 1919, however, the local Labour Party put up a strong fight, and Mr R. C. Morrison ousted him from the seat.

At Wood Green, Mr. Cole took an active part in the separation from the parent district of Tottenham, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the District Council in 1897 and 1898, but was returned in 1899, and remained a member till he voluntarily dropped out in 1911. He again entered the arena in 1914, and remained a member till his death. He represented Hornsey and Wood Green on the Metropolitan Water Board for a time, and was afterwards selected to represent the County Council on the same body. He was also a Wood Green Overseer, a member of the Joint Drainage Committee and the Middlesex Joint Hospital Board, and occupied the chair of the Tottenham and Wood Green Burial Board. He was a delegate to the District Council's Association. It would be hard, in fact, to find any branch of public life that Mr. Cole did not participate in. He was for a long time Chairman of the Wood Green Education Committee, and was Chairman of the Council for one year, although he scarcely ever exercised his magisterial rights which the office bestowed upon him. He had his eye on Parliament in 1918, but stood aside for Mr. Godfrey Locker Lamson, of whom he was a supporter. At one time he was a member of the National Liberal Club, but gave it up during the war.

Mr. Cole's great war-time service was associated with the Edmonton Military Hospital. Despite opposition, he persuaded the Guardians to hand it over as a hospital, and he was from the first to last Chairman of the Hospital Committee. Very few will ever know the amount of hard work Mr. Cole put into this undertaking. It was in recognition of these services that he was decorated with the M.B.E., and as a further recognition, the Hospital will be strongly represented at the funeral today. The medical and nursing staffs, with a number of patients, will attend.

Apart from the official aspect of public life, Mr Cole was a member of St. James's Presbyterian Church. One of this proudest boasts was that he was President for many years of the Canning Hall Adult School. He was also President of the Wood Green Horticultural Society, and the Wood Green Bowling Club, and had an interest in all kinds of recreation. He was very generous to the Wood Green Town Football Club in the old days when it used to play in a field opposite the potteries.



The funeral takes place today. There will be a service at St. James' Presbyterian Church at 2.30, conducted by the Rev. E. Richie, and the interment will be at the Tottenham Cemetery at 3.30. It will be a military funeral (by virtue of Mr. Cole's connection with the Military Hospital), with firing party, etc. Messrs Nodes of Wood Green and Palmers Green, are making the arrangements.

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from the Tottenham Weekly Herald, July 2nd 1920

DISCLAIMER. Although all reasonable attention has been given to this transcription, no responsibility can be taken for errors. Please check for accuracy against the reproduction of the news cutting.

N.B. Once you have clicked the thumbnail image, remember that software tends to shrink images to fit the screen which will make the cutting seem as small as ever. Hover the cursor over until a pop up button appears, and click it to view the image full-size. Then navigate with the navigation bars.

funeral of E G Cole - press cutting


The funerals of few local public men have provoked such widespread manifestations of sympathy as were displayed on Friday, when the mortal remains of Councillor E. G. Cole were conveyed to their resting place at Tottenham Cemetery. St James's Presbyterian Church, Wood Green, where the service was held, was packed; the route to the cemetery was lined by thousands of onlookers, and the crowd around the grave was a very large one. Some time ago when Mr Cole and the Rev. Winston Haines were strolling round the cemetery, Mr. Cole remarked to his colleague, "That's the place for me -- and you shall be my chaplain." His two-fold wish was satisfied, for Mr. Haines took a prominent part in the service, the Rev. Ritchie sharing mournful duties.

The body was placed in an elm shell, enclosed in a panelled oak coffin, and the cortege consisted of a Victoria car, drawn by four black horses, a heavily laden floral car, six carriages for the family mourners, and numerous other carriages and motors conveying public men from the various bodies with which deceased was associated. During the service in the church, a Union Jack was removed from the pulpit and draped over the coffin. Mr Jas Crowley presided at the organ, and the special music included "The Homeland".

The Rev. Winston Haines, in a feeling address, said Mr Cole was born of humble, good, honest parents, and bred not in the lap of luxury and ease, but in a home of industry and frugality, and his characters was shapen on the anvil of hard experience. The boy was truly the father of the man as they knew him. Beneath his feat no grass grew, nor did genuine distress ever appeal to him in vain; but the false and the fraudulent with scornful speech were sent often empty away. It had been said that a college education would have opened to him the doors to high places, and made him an influence and power colossal. It might have been so, but he through other results might have followed -- the polishing away of those qualities which made him a great, strong, intensive man in his life's work. His characteristics were duty, faith, love, service and sacrifice. They knew his strong and vigorous side best, as he was a strong man with a gentle soul. The whole district mourned to-day the loss of a truly great citizen.

The cortege to the cemetery was followed by the employees from the Potteries, a squad of nurses from the hospital, a company of wounded soldiers ( who attended at their own request), members of the R.A.M.C., and various other bodies.

The ceremony closed with the sounding of the "Last Post" by the buglers.

Besides the widow, Mr Sidney Cole (son) and the other family mourners, those present at the funeral included Cr. Tudor Rhys (Chairman of the Wood Green Council), Mr. W. P. Harding (Clerk) and Crs Bain, Irvine, Salt, Leake, Ricketts, Peasant, Erskine, James Brown, Mrs Bolster, Dr. Porter, the Rev. D. Stevens, Messrs. J. Rushforth, W. Raven, A. E. Adams, C. H. Croxford, H. Fowler, F. Deans (Wood Green Council officials). Mr David Weston (Chairman of the Edmonton Board of Guardians), Mrs Mason, Sadler Knight, Bangs and Metivier (Guardians), Mr. F. Shelton (Clerk of the Guardians), Master and Matron of the Enfield House, Mrs Benjafield, Col. Spencer Mort, Mr. A. J. Brown (representing the Wood Green Council outdoor employees, Mr W. H. Cruddas (representing Mr Locker-Lampson, M. P.), Dr Allan, the Rev.. C. G. A. Midwinter, Mr J. R. Spence (representing the Wood Green Bowling Club), Messrs E. G. Hayward, A. Hainsworth, H. Hext, G. T. Brown, W. J. Palmer, W. W. Lewin, W. F. Bradshaw, H. J. Rigden, W. Barrett, F. E. Morgan, J. Bruce and Percy Whellock.

Floral tributes were sent by the following: - The Widow, the Children Kath, Bert, Pat and Peggy; Bess, Bill and the Boys Syd, Jeanette and little Betty; Emmie and the Girls; Kit, Grace and Ethel Johnston; Grace and Alf; Major and Mrs. Batchelor Taylor; Mrs. Wansborough; Messrs. H. Evans and Sons, Wood Green P. S. A.; Mr. and Mrs. C. Grimes; Mr. and Mrs. S. Mummery; S. Pickett, Outdoor Workers of the Wood Green District Council; Mr. and Mrs Culpeck; Lieut-Col. and Mrs Spencer Mort; Mr. and Mrs. Ernest England; Mr. and Mrs John Cole and Family; Nurses Cole and Macleod; Mr. and Mrs. Jack England; Dr. A. G. Allan; Wood Green Education Committee; Mr. P. Whellock; Mr. Alfred Tooke; Mr. and Mrs. A. Horner; Edmonton Board of Guardians; Tottenham and Wood Green Burial Board; Mr. and Mrs. Roydon; Dr Gegerson; Mr. James Cole and Family; Fore Street Slate Club; Committee of Wood Green Horticultural Society; the Employees at the Pottery; Members of Wood Green District Council; Chief Officers and Staff at Town Hall Wood Green; Wood Green Bowling Club; the Caretakers of Wood Green Schools, Mr. and Mrs. Petts; Tottenham District Council and Tottenham and Wood Green Joint Drainage Committee; Mr. and Mrs. George Cramp; "76 Pellatt Grove"; Mrs. Samuel South and Family; H. Mordle and Sons; the employees of Messrs. South and Sons; Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Muskett; Mr. Mrs. and Miss Andrews; Mr. and Mrs. Hendry; London and South-Eastern Counties Pottery Manufacturers; Lady Clerks at Edmonton Military Hospital Stewards and Staff; Nursing Staff and Maids; R. A. M. C. Detachment Officers Mess; Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Ralston; Mr. F. E. Morgan; Bramley House Staff; Mr Wensbury; Wood Green Liberal Club; Frank W. Ladds; Mr. and Mrs. Bowerman; Mr. and Mrs. Wyett.

The arrangements for the funeral were carried out by Mr. C. B. Peters, of Messrs. Nodes, Ltd., and the cemetery arrangements were under the direction of Mr. Bird, the Superintendent who had lined the grave with laurels and white roses.


On Friday morning Col. Spencer Mort received the following message from the Queen's private secretary:-

"I am commanded by the Queen to thank you for your telegram. The Queen would be glad if you will convey to Mrs. Cole an expression of her Majesty's deep sympathy with her and her children in the great loss which they have suffered through he death of Mr. E. G. Cole."

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An observation on his character

from Recollections of an Old Wood Greener by W. H. Evans, Weekly Herald Supplement, 2 April 1965, p3

DISCLAIMER. Although all reasonable attention has been given to this transcription, no responsibility can be taken for errors. Please check for accuracy against the reproduction of the news cutting.

N.B. Once you have clicked the thumbnail image, remember that software tends to shrink images to fit the screen which will make the cutting seem as small as ever. Hover the cursor over until a pop up button appears, and click it to view the image full-size. Then navigate with the navigation bars.


About E G Cole -press cutting


A personality of a different calibre in these early years of the century was the later E. G. Cole, who owned the Potteries in White Hart Lane and was a considerable employer of local labour.

Before such things as "Keep Britain Tidy" campaigns were ever thought of, Mr. Cole, as chairman of the Council's Works Committee, was so sensitive of cleanliness in the High Road, that he was to be seen on Sunday mornings at 6 am walking along the High Road to make sure all the late Saturday shopping debris had been cleared away.

Many were the outstanding personalities of this time, and I wish I had space to mention them all. They were the giants in their day in helping to promote the progress and development of Wood Green.

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As the object of satire

As a researcher into family history, the only records available about people are normally either dry and factual or so flattering and polite that it seems impossible to get to know what an individual was really like. That was certainly the case with E G Cole until a contemporary cartoon and satire came to light. The two-part piece is from the Weekly Herald, April 3rd 1914, and pulls no punches about E G Cole being self-opinionated.

DISCLAIMER.Although all reasonable attention has been given to the following transcription, no responsibility can be taken for errors. Please check for accuracy against the reproduction of the news cutting. The cartoon is amusing and thought provoking, and well worth reading. (Click for larger readable images.)

Mr E. G. COLE - The elimination of the first person singular [I] from English grammar, would, it is said, inflict a great hardship on Mr. Cole, who has the utmost confidence in himself, and suffers not from self-consciousness. He has much native shrewdness, and one has to be up early in the morning to get the better of him. He was in the City police in his young days, and one can well believe that if he had remained in that vocation he would have attained to the highest rank possible. His has been a full life, both in business and in public work. He has represented Wood Green practically in every manner except as its Member of Parliament, and he might say that that would not be beyond the bounds of possibility. His crowning glory was when he defeated Sir Ralf Littler for the County Council. He has been a Guardian for many years, and was at one time Chairman of the Board, a District Councillor, an Alexandra Park Trustee, and Education Committee member, etc., etc. There is one ambition that has not been fulfilled. He has not been placed on the Commission of the Peace. But suppose he became Chairman of the District Council. No one could say him nay then.

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Formal identification of his photograph

12 January 2004 heralded a significant step forward in my task of collecting old family photos, in that I visited Bruce Castle Museum to view a framed portrait of E G. A particular thrill was that this new (to me) portrait, had an inscription and thus gave confirmation of a previously unconfirmed photograph. The inscription on the portrait reads:


DIED 22nd JUNE 1920

With me in the photograph below is Deborah Hedgecock, the curator of Bruce Castle Museum. We estimate that the portrait is from around 1905 to 1910, although the inscription must of course be later.

framed photo of E G Cole

The previously unconfirmed photograph is below.

The scribbled caption on the back of this group photo in Bruce Castle Museum reads:

"Presented to E. G. Cole, Esq. M. C. C. from the St. Johns (Wood Green) C.C. as a slight token of Esteem and Appreciation."

Presented to E. G. Cole, Esq. M. C. C. from the St. Johns (Wood Green) C.C. as a slight token of Esteem and Appreciation

Below is a detail.

E G Cole (1st)

In 1933, E G Cole was further honoured by his name being inscribed on the ceremonial Wood Green mace - see 2003 visit to the mayor of Haringey (into which Wood Green was absorbed).

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This website Potteries and brickyards worked by the Cole family is Pat Cryer. For applications to reproduce text or images, click here.