In 1864 due to a continued economic depression 28 year old Anton Schwarz left Oberharmersbach in the Black Forest Region of South Germany to find work in Great Britain.
He was a skilled watch and clock maker, and planned to go to Holyhead in North Wales, at the time a busy port, to find work.
Travelling in a new country, he got off the train in Holywell, by mistake. This only became apparent after taking the branch line up to the town centre. Being the last train of the day, he was forced to find lodgings in the town overnight.
Anton saw Holywell was a then busy market town, lacking a clockmaker, and decided to stay. He rented a room in Whitford Street, from where he established the business which was initially focused on watch and clock repairs, but soon expanded it to jewellery, clocks and spectacle-making which at the time were all linked due to the precise craftsmanship required.
He married his landlord’s daughter, Sarah Ellen Hughes, and they started a family.
Their son, Leo Schwarz (1882-1966) became the first fully qualified Ophthalmic Optician (Optometrist) within the family. He qualified with the British Optical Association in 1908.
He served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Galipoli and went on to become involved in local politics
David Schwarz (1929 – 2009) son of Leo Schwarz, transformed the business to solely focus on providing professional eye-care. David qualified from Cardiff Technical College in 1950 to undertake his National Service with the RAMC at Tidworth, examining service personnel in the South West of England. David was a committed participant in local government making Chairman of Clwyd County Council in 1976. He spent 31 years as a Magistrate, was Chair of Governors of 3 local schools and served for many years on the Education Committee of the Diocese of Wrexham. He was awarded the OBE in 1977 and made a Papal Knight of St. Gregory.
Leo Schwarz son of David Schwarz., qualified as a Dispensing Optician in 1990, then as an Optometrist in 2001 having studied at Bradford University. Leo is married with four children.
Leo Schwarz; in uniform, Egypt, and in later life. Note the signature on the commendation
Anton Schwarz, and below his first advert appearing in the Flintshire County Herald, 2nd December 1864
Flintshire County Herald Centenary feature
27 November 1964
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