Frank Clarke's gravestone
Frank Clarke's gravestone
With thanks to Ed Shepherd for these pics.
Frank was born in Aston, Birmingham, owned a house in Skip Lane, and was buried in St Margaret's CofE churchyard, a remnant of the old village of Great Barr.
Ed wrote a very brief mention of the grave in the parish magazine. He explains: "Due to the very tight space constraints and word count, plus a need to introduce Frank to an audience who do not care about and maybe even do not like guns, this is what I wrote about Frank. It's slightly inaccurate about the teasmaid but I hope I can be forgiven for the effort to draw my audience in."
Frank Clarke was an inventor who is buried at St Margaret’s.
In 1902, he created an early form of teasmade. It featured an alarm clock that ignited a spirit-lamp to heat up water.
From 1912, his main inventions were innovative designs of air-pistols sold under patriotic names such as “Bull Dog”.
He also sold lead-based products such as window lead, wire and water-pipes.
During the Great War, Frank produced munitions for the military.
He lived in a house in Skip Lane.
Frank died at the age of 62 in 1937.
In 2019, Frank’s headstone was restored.
Prof John Griffiths wrote on the airgunbbs.com thread announcing that the grave had been found
Brilliant inventor though he was, it’s not quite true that Frank Clarke invented the first teasmade, but it does demonstrate his entrepreneurship and keen business acumen. As detailed by John Atkins in his excellent Airgunner series of articles on Frank Clarke and his airguns, the teasmade was actually designed by Albert Richardson, a clockmaker from Ashton-under-Lyne, and Clarke bought the original machine and all rights from him and then patented it in his own name on April 7th, 1902.
In the more familiar field of airguns, Frank Clarke showed similar business savvy by buying out Edwin Anson’s half of the patent in the Warrior design and then going on to manufacture what proved to be the second most successful British air pistol of the pre-war period. The most successful air pistol was of course the Webley Mark 1, and even there he demonstrated his inventiveness and business negotiating ability, making an important contribution to the design and earning himself in the process a handsome steady commission from Webley sales. It’s good to know that his gravestone will be now be restored, so giving Frank Clarke the respect he deserves for the major contributions he made to early British airgun development.
I must admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Frank, as I found out rather late in my collecting years that he was born and brought up at 120 Victoria Road, Aston, Birmingham, just a stone’s throw from where I spent my childhood. I must have walked past his home on many occasions on my way to the Victoria Road swimming baths or to the Aston Cross shops.
Also in the thread, Frank Clark's great-granddaughter posted, saying this:
I am Frank Clarke’s great granddaughter and it means a lot to us that you would take the trouble to do this for him. He died in  when my grandmother was 21 - she was married not long after and moved away (to Bristol and Hampshire before settling in Berkshire where she lived until her death in 2008) and her mother, Ella, Frank’s wife, moved to Bristol with them and settled there. Ella lived until I was 18 months old, in 1974, and I don’t think she was buried with Frank - my sister and I had never known where his grave was (although my late father did shown me his house, where my grandmother grew up, when I was a student in Birmingham in the early ‘90s).