John Pepper


PEPPER John, ( 1873 - 1942) Garage Owner,  Stoke upon Trent. 

John Pepper owner of 'John Pepper (Hanley) Ltd' - one of the largest motor traders in the Potteries. Known as 'Uncle John', but he was known to stand 'morning after morning at the entrance to his  premises chiding the late-comers..' keeping 'an ever-watchful eye on all his workers.' 

John Pepper - photo around 1937 In 1902 John Pepper (then described as a 'Cycle Manufacturer') took over the cycle shop of Smith Brothers (Hanley) Ltd. at 61 Piccadilly, Hanley; which at that time was in the hands of the Official Receiver. For the sum of 45 he was assigned the 'goodwill of the business', a ten year lease and three 'inventions and letters patent'.

At this shop he built 'Telegraph' cycles as well as carrying out repairing, including stove enameling and nickel plating. A year later, in 1903, John Pepper became interested in the then novel motor propulsion and acquired a second hand French motor tricycle, this he managed to get working and sold it after giving a demonstration that the machine could climb Porthill Bank.

After this success he continued to build and sell cars. There followed, after many failures, cars fitted with a two h.p. engine, which he sold. He used a 3 h.p. engine car which took him and his wife on long runs from Hanley to places, remote by road in those days, as far distant as Manchester and Rhyl.

He stopped building cars and concentrated on selling them when he took an agency for the British made Wolseley - being made by the Wolseley Tool & Sheep Shearing Co. Ultimately John Pepper became North Staffordshire distributor for Wolseley, Morris cars and commercial, M.G. and Riley. 

In 1930 some members of the staff joined him in the business which became a limited company. Gradually the shop in Piccadilly was expanded into a car show room by acquiring the adjoining premises nos. 63 and 65. John Pepper had acquired possession of ten houses in Albion Street, which backed onto the Piccadilly showrooms. In 1937 a modern three story garage premises was opened. 

The basement of the Piccadilly showrooms continued to sell prams, scooters, cycles, Hornby trains and Meccano sets to the children of Stoke-on-Trent; over the Christmas 1951 period more than 10,000 sales were made in the toy department. 

John Pepper lived at 'Leadendale', Blythe Bridge which was owned at one time by Cecil Wedgwood. 

John Pepper died April 11th 1942 aged 69, born 1873, his wife Bertha died Nov 30th 1957 aged 83 born 1874 Both are buried in All Saint's Church Moddershall along with many of the Aynsley's and Wedgwood.


John Pepper's signature on the deed
John Pepper's signature on the deed
of Assignment for the Cycle Business
Dated: April 7th 1902

on the Assignment deed


SOURCES: Evening Sentinel, Tuesday March 23rd 1937;  Duckham's Digest 'links' Vol XI No.1, April 1952; Conversation with Robert Davies (Nephew of John Pepper); 1902 Assignment deed.

updated: 20 Feb 2003