About Allegro News

Dispensing Optician Claire looks at the History of two Cult Eyewear Brands

Two Cult Eyewear Brands, a brief history

There are hundreds of brands associated with eyewear, but few have a history which has stood the test of time. It is always interesting to see how a company has grown. Usually from humble origins and through tough economic climates. Quality prevails and here is the history of just 2 of the quality brands we stock at Allegro Optical.

Anglo American

No one is sure when this brand came to be, but at some point around 1881 an Englishman named Stanley Druiff set off for the U.S for the procurement of fountain pens, watches & spectacles to sell back in Britain. Only the sale of the spectacles succeeded! In fact, so successful was he, that he went on to found The Anglo-American School of Optics, an educational training service. The school offered personal tuition or lessons by correspondence. In this 1902 advertisement, (Now owned by the British College of Optometrists) it claims to be the ‘Oldest School of its kind in this country’, with the aim of turning out the ‘thorough refractionist’. 


In 1947 the company was bought from Druiff’s descendants by optician Arthur Jenkin. With the commencement of the NHS in 1948 demand for frames increased dramatically. Imports from the U.S ceased during WW2 and resumed again in 1955. Jenkins’ son, Lawrence, left Britain in 1967 and headed for New York to learn the trade of spectacle making. He first worked as a dispenser for a high-class optical practice where he found himself amongst celebrity clients such as Paul Newman & Greta Garbo. Inspired by such clients, he went on to do some freelance design. Ultimately backed by American money, manufactured frames in volume for the first time. The business grew very successfully and by the 1980’s boasted a Park Avenue, New York practice and gained a huge following still popular today.

Lawrence Jenkins CEO Anglo American
Lawrence Jenkins CEO Anglo American Optical

Oliver Goldsmith

In 1926 Philip Oliver Goldsmith was a salesman for the large optical firm Raphael’s Ltd. He started hand-making spectacles at premises in London and established his own company to sell them at 4 guineas a pair. Goldsmith developed the first flesh coloured frame in an aim to make specs more unobtrusive. 

Philip Oliver Goldsmith with his mobile showroom and driver in the 1920s
Philip Oliver Goldsmith with his mobile showroom and driver in the 1920s

In 1936 his son Charles joined the company and it was he who recognized their true fashion potential. Ornamental frames were made to coordinate with clothing and featured jewels and metal inserts. 

During World War Two, Oliver Goldsmith was seconded by the government to make prescription glasses for the armed forces. ‘My grandfather said the most distressing aspect of work at the time was getting the “dead list” who no longer needed spectacles made for them,’ Oliver Goldsmith recalled.

The firm still produced glasses, but form was not as important as function. The gas mask spectacle was in great demand at the time – with ultra-thin temples and small diameter lenses.

Two years after the war finished, Oliver (Philip) Goldsmith died suddenly. He had kept a health condition secret from his family for some time. His son, Charles Goldsmith, who had worked at the company since the age of 16, assumed the name Oliver when he took over the business.

Charles Oliver Goldsmith trade stand

A new era

After his father’s passing, the company sold sunglasses to high-class establishments such as Harrod’s. He began advertising in British magazines including Tatler and Harper’s Bazaar. Celebrity endorsements helped their fame and it is known that before marrying, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer commissioned spectacles from them to match Lady Diana’s dresses.

Oliver Goldsmith spectacles soon became synonymous with high quality, sought-after eyewear and are still going strong today.

We have a wide selection of Anglo American and Oliver Goldsmith frames here at Allegro Optical, so why not call in and try some on? We’re sure you’ll love them!

Blog by Claire Atkinson

About Allegro News

William Morris eyewear – Designed in London and unashamedly British

William Morris eyewear is proud to be British

1996 was quite a year, Bill Clinton was re-elected President, Oprah Winfrey started her famous book club. Incredibly the Macarena became a worldwide hit. 1996 was also the year in which Robert Morris created British eyewear brand William Morris London. Robert’s aim was to create a very ‘English’ brand, providing designer glasses to every audience, offering superb original designs which continually evolve.

William Morris black label collection

From very humble beginnings, William Morris London has grown to become a global name in eyewear fashion. However, the philosophy and brand attributes of William Morris London remain as strong today as they were all those years ago. In a corporate saturated world, where the majority of ophthalmic designer brands are mass-produced by just three manufacturers.  William Morris’s ‘family’ values set them apart and it’s what their customers appreciate.

With the “Big Three” producing an incredible 20% of the world spectacle frames and over 50% of the Global “Luxury” Sunglasses, eyewear can look bit samey. At Allegro Optical we love something a little different, we’re also very patriotic. So it made sense to us to welcome William Morris eyewear into our practices in Holmfirth and Saddleworth.

Robert-Morris William Morris from Allegro Optical

24 years of growth

From humble beginnings in a small room crammed with frames, Robert William Morris grew his vision into a global brand. Through a combination of hard work, dedication and a big vision Robert championed British design. William Morris frames are now an accessory that people, the world over,  want to be seen in. William Morris eyewear expresses the incredible depth of culture across the UK and in particular London. We love the Black Label and The Gallery Collections.

Black Label

The William Morris Black Label Collection is just one range from this very British optical frame maestro. The Black Label Collection harks back to the swinging 60’s, a time of style and innovation.  The Black Label designs are reminiscent of those iconic spectacle frames from the classic films of the cinema era.  

William Morris Black Label Victoria C3

William Morris BLJess C1  Coupled with the love and pride that goes into creating the frames is the same level of hard work, dedication and personal service that each member of the William Morris London team strives to give their customers on a daily basis.

Using the very finest materials such as colour rich acetates, combined with distinguished brass and silver accents, these features highlight the William Morris monogram.  With exhilarating design details and an individual colour palette, it’s little wonder that William Morris Black Label has become a market leader.  

The Gallery Collection

Featuring 12 of the most popular William Morris prints from 1880 to 1905. The Gallery Collection celebrates the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th and early 20th century. The collection has been described as “British art meets craft,” and it comprises of 12 contemporary optical frames. With designs for both men and women, the range pays homage to William Morris prints. With the intricate designs featured on the inside of the arms or temple tips.

William Morris Millefleurs C1

Millefleurs (1914) — This beautiful cat-eye inspired frame with acetate rims and metallic hinges offers a bold and daring look. Following with brushed matt and glossy temples that provide radiant hues and an elegant finish. Millefleurs print covers the inside temple tips, which was a revival of the medieval European Tapestries and inspired from Morris’ love for nature and florals. Comes with free matching case and bag.

The 12 classic prints featured in the collection are Corncockle (1883), Bourne (1905), Brother Rabbit (1882), Golden Lily (1897), Lodden (1884), Millefleurs (1914), Poppy (1880), Riverwind (1881-83),  Seaweed (1901), The Strawberry Thief (1883), Wandle (1884) and Willow Bough (1887).

Each frame is sold with a fabulous matching print, magnetic flat-folding case, with a coordinating cleaning cloth. A percentage of each sale will be donated to the William Morris Gallery to help continue its important work of art preservation and education.

Why come to Allegro Optical

Saddleworth’s newest optician, Allegro Optical has been recognised for providing one of the best customer experiences in the country. Allegro Optical Opticians has been named as finalists in the Optical Assistant Team of the Year. The award recognises a team of optical staff that have demonstrated excellence in customer service and patient care. 

To find out more about our William Morris collection or any of our other brands, products or services, contact us here today.  Alternatively, you can call one of our two optician practices today on  Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

About Allegro News

Xanthe explains her love of Walter and Herbert eyewear

Walter and Herbert at Allegro OpticalMy love of Walter and Herbert

Here at Allegro Optical we believe it should always be quality, design and comfort over anything else. So that’s why we love Walter & Herbert. They are a UK  based company which started over 70 years ago, from very humble beginnings, a bit like ourselves. Walter & Herbert were originally based in surrey with just only six employees and now they are a worldwide company. The firm produce high quality, beautiful frames which suite even the most discerning client. Thanks to its two founding entrepreneurs, Walter Conway and Herbert Thorn, the company developed technology such as the PIMO machine. An innovation that would shape the way spectacles were manufactured worldwide!

Xanthe explains her love of Walter and Herbert eyewear so much


In September 1946, Conway and Thorn partnered to create Optoplast Manufacturing Company Limited. In their 40 years they enjoyed huge success developing the PIMO machine. They also launched the first range of optical frames for the NHS in 1948.

Another reason we love Walter & Herbert so much is because like us they too are family run business. Sons James Conway and Daniel Thorn are continuing their fathers legacy. Using their father’s knowledge and seven decades of industry experience. They have created a company that offers frames that not only look incredible, but feel wonderful to wear well.

 Attention to detail

Another thing we love about Walter & Herbert, is the attention to detail and design. Every frame they provide is of the highest quality from the best globally sourced acetates. Each frame also undergoes a design and development process. This process ensures that the customer gets the very best style and fit. The all start of as sketches crafted by their design team just outside London using classic techniques and modern technologies to take their ideas from sketch to finished frame. 

Handmade bespoke eyewear from Allegro Optical Opticians in Saddleworth and Holmfirth Greenfield Uppermill Meltham


Walter & Herbert’s’ whole design and manufacturing process is done right here in England. The frames are thoroughly tested at their very own UKAS accredited laboratory in Liverpool to ensure it retains the highest possible product quality and British safety standards.

Proud to be a made in England

Walter & Herbert are proud to be a made in England Company and nothing best shows this then their Made in England range which consists of over 80 sunglasses and frames, which like many of their frames have retro design with a modern finish. Although the design centre is taken from Walter and Herbert’s beginning in the 1940s through to the 60s. The Range is also very versatile due it mostly being unsex with a few ladies and gents’ frames too.

Walter and Herbert handmade British Eyewear now available at Allegro Optical Opticians Meltham


So if like us, you like to support an UK based company that offers quality, design and comfort over anything else, then next time it comes to choosing some frames with Allegro Optical  in either Meltham or Saddleworth, why not give Walter & Herbert a try? You’ll be so glad you did.