Richard Lindon (1816-1887)
Inventor of the Rugby Ball, the rubber inflatable bladder and the brass hand pump
Biography: [Following Educational/Publishing Citation requests]
The Richard Lindon Story:
Born on the 30th June 1816. Died 10th June 1887. (Baptised in Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire 15/09/1816)
Son of John Lindon, Carpenter form Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, Nr. Rugby, and Mary Over, from Rugby. (Married 2nd July 1811).
Richard Lindon's father died when Richard was young. Richard and his mother, Mary, lived at her parents house, 20 High Street, Rugby which, is situated in the street immediately across from the front doors of Rugby School. In the 1841 Census Richards trade is already established as Shoemaker from this address. "
20 High Street was predominently populated by the Over family (His mothers family home.) With 10 Overs living their at that time plus Richard and his mother (Mary died on Oct. 6th 1848 age 58), John Webb ( a carpenter), Lawton Smith an apprentice and Sarah Smith the house servant.
As a Boot & Shoemaker Richard Lindon prospered supplying footwear to the towns folk of Rugby plus of course the teachers and pupils resident opposite.
Richard Lindon, naturally, had regular supplies of boot leather delivered and was consequently bombarded by the boys of Rugby School to manufacture footballs for them. All balls, soccer and rugby, in those days were not spherical they were more "Plum shaped". The reason being that a pigs bladder was inflated by mouth and the snapped stem of a clay pipe then encased in panels of stitched leather. As such the individual pigs bladder dictated the shape of each ball.
Richard Lindon continued to trade from his Grandfathers establishment during the 1840’s.
In 1843 Richard Lindon was married. He moved to 34 High Street , which is located further down High Street, away from Rugby School.
Mrs. Lindon (Rebecca b. 1830) drew the short straw as official "green" pigs bladder inflator, (plus mother to 17 children !!), She also ran an Employment Agency for Servants. Blowing pigs bladders was not without its hazards. If the pig was diseased.... it was still going through Mrs. Lindons lungs. Alas Mrs. Lindon blew on one too many infected pigs bladders, over the years, contracted a lung disease fell ill and consequently died.
Extract of the 1851 National Census
Extract of the 1851 National Census showing Richard Lindon as Head of House, Rebecca, his wife, 4 children Hughes John Lindon being the current baby in the bunch and Ann Haymer their House Servant. The Lindon family address was 34 High Street at that time.
By 1855 the entrepreneurial Lindon had also signed up as an agent for The Hope Mutual life assurance and Honesty and Guarantee Society.
The Mid-1850's Richard Lindon sought a safer alternative to the fresh green pigs bladder and came up with the "India rubber" bladder. India Rubber, which Lindon saw used in many applications in 1851 at The Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace, London, was too tough to inflate by mouth and after seeing an ordinary glass ear syringe he produced a larger brass version to blow up his footballs, which he demonstrated, and won medals, at an exhibition in London.
The Rugby Almanack, 1862, Richard Lindon "Shoemaker" 20 High St. Trade Directory
R. Lindon 1st Advertisement in the Rugby Almanack 1862 Edition.
1862. Courtesy of his "Inflatable Bladder" has become Principal Football Maker to Rugby School.
In 1867 Richard Lindon became Proprietor and Freeholder to 6 Lawrence Sheriff Street, Rugby, immediately opposite the front doors, that lead into the Quadrangle, of the world famous Rugby School. This "on the doorstep" location coupled with his 1850's, rubber bladder and brass hand pump, eureka moment, continued to establish Lindon as the Principal maker of Big-Side Match Balls for Rugby School, Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin Universities etc. Alongside his little "Puntabout" 7-panel button balls, which were to be found in the school bag of every sporting student.
His invention allowed the production of the first ever "round" ball for soccer, though it still had a button at each end of the ball to hold the stitching together at the point where the leather panels met. "Buttonless balls" became a prime selling point for suppliers and makers of both the rugby and soccer ball by the 1880's.The Rugby School boys still wanted an oval ball produced to distinguish their hand and foot game over the soccer football so Lindon created a bladder design which allowed a more exaggerated egg-shaped, four panel, buttonless ball to be manufactured. Thus the first specifically designed "Rugby" ball and the start of size standardisation.
Sadly, for Mr. Lindon, he didn't patent his ball, his bladder or his pump. [Although in more recent times Richard Lindon & Co. own the Registered Design for the Original Punt-about ButtonBall and Trade Marks Richard Lindon & Co, Punt-about ButtonBall etc.]
In 1877 (the year William Gilbert died) Richard Lindon "wrote his will" leaving his shop to the Godparents of his surviving children, Mr. William Over (a relative through his mothers family) and Mr. Samuel Welldon. Richard Lindon died on 10th June 1887 and was buried at the Holy Trinity Church in Rugby.
Lindons son, Hughes John Lindon (b. April 24th 1850 - d. December 22nd 1909), worked in the business and purchased the proceeds of his fathers will, 6 Lawrence Sheriff Street plus stock fixtures and fittings, from Over & Welldon on 12th April 1888 for £1,000.00 in order to continue trading.
An advertisement printed within the 1890 rules book
This single advertisement has created much modern day misrepresentation to the inventor of the Rugby Ball. It appears to promote HJ Lindon as the inventor. Which is not the case. One should read the advertisement literally:
H. J. Lindon, FOOTBALL MANUFACTURER, "Successor to the late R.Lindon", 6 Lawrence Sheriffe Street, Rugby, Inventor of the TRUE RUGBY BALL, ALSO INFLATOR FOR THE SAME, Which has caused the Game to become so universal.
The punctuation is accurate. The layout is misleading. For this reason HJ Lindon has been un-necessarily credited for his father's endeavours.
In 1896 Albert Jiggle had a Boot and Shoemaking business at 12 Warwick Street, Rugby. His brother William set up the same, mainly repairs at 50 Wood Street, Rugby.
In 1899-1900 Hughes John Lindon retired from Foot-ball and Shoemaking and rented 6 Lawrence Sheriff Street to Albert Jiggle who continued to trade until the mid to late 1920's.
Hughes John Lindon retired to Yew Tree House, Brook Street, Walcote Leicestershire England. On 22nd December 1909 HJ Lindon died. The premises was left to his wife, Mary Ann Lindon (b.21st December 1876 - d. 6th May 1952), and after her death, on 6th May 1952, it was passed onto his daughter Miss Annie Rebecca Idena Lindon (b. 1909 - d. 1983) (Richard Lindons Grand daughter).
Idena Lindon, as she was known, maintained possession of her Grandfathers Brass Pump and Medals. She eventually passed them onto The Rugby Football Museum in Rugby which, are still on display to this day for all to see.
Idena married William Ralph Roots on 1st April 1953 at the Holy Trinity Church in Rugby. Idena Roots sold 6 Lawrence Sheriff Street on 26th January 1971. Although married she never had children. In 1983, nine months after her husband passed away quietly in his chair in Fishers Close Kilsby, Nr. Rugby, Idena lost concentration whilst driving her car along Kilsby Lane towards Rugby and was involved in a head-on collision being killed instantly. Her ashes were scattered over her parents Grave in the Churchyard at Misterton, Nr. Lutterworth, Leicestershire England. The Lindon Rugby Ball linage and it's relationship with 6 Lawrence Sheriff Street came to an end.
It is likely that Richard Lindon was apprentice to William Gilbert's workshop as they were immediate neighbours when Richard Lindon was growing up. William Gilbert was 30 years old when Richard Lindon was a 13-year-old neighbour looking for an apprenticeship. In the 1841 Census, Lindon was 25 years old, living next door to William Gilbert, Richard Lindon's trade being Shoemaker.
In contrast Richard Lindons neighbour, and possible former boss, William Gilbert (1799-1877), a fellow boot & shoemaker, who spent a lot on advertising and had good links with Lillywhite (see "The Ball" page) went from strength to strength. William employed his nephew James Gilbert (1831-1906) to assist him in the production of Rugby Balls and, in turn, James Gilbert's son James John Gilbert (1856-1917) carried on the family tradition which catapulted the "GILBERT" name well and truly into the annuls of Rugby History.
Above the shop at 6 Lawrence Sheriff Street, Rugby.
Street Scene: Lawrence Sheriff Street, Rugby, Warwickshire. UK (1880)
Richard Lindons Shop (No 6.) is the premises in the photograph with an awning extending over the pavement (far end of street scene). You'll note that the architecture of Rugby Schools building (along the right hand side) changes opposite the shop, it becomes more prominent. This is the existing entrance to "Tom Browns schooldays" Rugby School Quadrangle.
Modern Times: 26th September 2006
Richard Lindons Shop. (Photo 31-10-2006). Today Richard Lindons Shop is a Barber Shop, designed by Simon Hawkesley CEO of Richard Lindon & Co., run by Mr. Michael Bailie "Bailie's" below the window sill the shop makes reference to the advertisements of it's historic owner. To the left of the entrance is a window display case dedicated to Richard Lindon. The door on the photograph leads upstairs (6a Lawrence Sheriff Street, Richard Lindons former home) and is today divided into 3 residential apartments, also designed by Simon Hawkesley. The Shop Front enjoyed "grant assistance" from English Heritage, Rugby Borough Council and The Rugby Town Partnership in 2006.
Wikipedia - Richard Lindon