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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’. 

Anglo-American-College-advert-large

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

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Meet the team – Josie Dawson

It’s good talk – Josie Dawson – Optical Assistant/Administrator

Josie has been with Allegro Optical since the very beginning and she’s seen it all. So we thought it would be a good idea to ask her a few questions. Josie Dawson Recptionist

How has your role changed since Allegro Optical opened in Meltham?

As we have grown, we have been able to offer more services eg. O.C.T. Colorimetry, hearing care and podiatry. We have extended our range of frames to include recycled and hemp frames.  Now we stock as many British made products as we can. Sheryl has worked very hard to extend our range of lenses. We now offer anything from single vision through to our unique tailor made musician lenses. We are now seeing musicians and performers travelling from far and wide to use our services. Unfortunately for me this has produced more administration (paperwork) than I thought possible, but I am enjoying the challenge of keeping everything in order.

When did you start working in optics?

I started working in Optics when I was 18 years old, working  for Dollond and Aitchison in Huddersfield, leaving 12 years later to have my first baby. During this time I met lots of pre reg students (Optom’s have to do 1 year under supervision before they can test solo).  One of whom was Stephen Haigh. I ended up working for Stephen in his Almondbury practice for many years. In fact until I left to work for Sheryl at Allegro Optical.   

What do you like about your job?

Everything really, there’s so much variety in what I do. I enjoy meeting people and being part of their optical journey, from the initial contact of booking their appointment, making sure the Optom has all the information and forms they need, to helping choose frames or giving a second opinion on what suits, to the collection and fitting and seeing a client leave really happy with their new spectacles and the service they have received. That makes all the unseen administration ( paperwork!) I do worthwhile.

Josie Dawson, Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

When not at work what do you like to do?

I enjoy doing lots of things, I’m very social and love to catch up with my family and friends, I do the ‘ ladies who lunch ‘ with my best pal Carol, you can’t beat eating, drinking and chatting an afternoon away. At home when I’m not painting and decorating or pottering around the garden, I enjoy reading, sewing and knitting, a good crossword puzzle or suduko keeps my brain active!

Where is your dream holiday destination?

I don’t really do holidays as I’m not a good traveller.  I’d love to see the Aurora Borealis, perhaps one of these days I will. Until then, I enjoy visiting the Lake District, I’d like to explore it more. To meet more of our team visit our Meet the team page of get to know them better by reading their blogs. Meet Amy  Meet Abigayle Meet James Meet Claire
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May to November, by Saddleworth Dispensing Optician Claire Atkinson

My 1 st 6 months as Saddleworth’s resident dispensing optician

I had been working for my previous employer for 7 years when Sheryl approached me with an exciting new proposition of resident dispensing optician in Saddleworth. In fact that very same week I’d had a conversation with my family about how much easier life would be if I worked closer to home. The 20 mile commute over the moors was taking it’s toll and it certainly wasn’t pleasant in the winter months. Claire Atkinson - Dispensing Optician Musicians Optician Greenfield Uppermill SaddleworthWe had worked together previously (Optics is a very small world) which made our initial chat about the role far less nerve wracking than a formal interview. I soon came to realise that that’s how things are done at Allegro. There is a familiar, friendly feel in both premises which makes for a relaxed environment for staff and patients alike. Let’s face it, when considering a new job we have to weigh up the pros and cons and I’m pleased to say that there were far more pros! I already knew 3 members of staff from previous employment, I only had a 5 minute commute, I liked the ethos of the business and I was excited to be a part of something new.

Working in a new business

In the back of my mind there were thoughts of ‘It’s a new business, will it be successful in this economic climate’ ‘will my job be secure for years to come.’ I needn’t have worried – The Meltham practice was going from strength-to-strength and it’s now clear that the lovely people of Saddleworth and the surrounding areas were keen to see what we’re all about. Allegro Optical Greenfield Claire James and Sheryl I have really enjoyed getting to know my new colleagues and patients and it’s been interesting to see the new ranges of spectacle frames ( getting excited about new frame ranges is an occupational hazard!) I am proud to say that I work for Allegro and I look forward to seeing where Sheryl and Steve will take the business – and of course how many more awards will be won! It makes such a difference to your well-being to go to work with a spring in your step so here’s to another 6 months and beyond! Claire Atkinson
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Meet the Team: Amy Ogden – Resident Optometrist, Meltham

Amy Ogden Optometrist

We’d like to introduce Amy, she’s just joined the team

Thanks to continued growth our team is growing and we would like to introduce Amy Ogden, Meltham’s new resident Optometrist. Our team members are what make us special and we like to help you, our readers, get to know them better.  We sat down with Amy to find out what makes her tick. Over a cuppa we talked about her love of music making, marathon running and the importance of eye-care and optometry.  

What first attracted you to a career in optometry?

For me, where the love for optometry began was; I had a period in my late teens where I was quite poorly, and was in the hospital a lot (I’m fit as a fiddle now). Once recovered, I too wanted to help people. The problem was, the idea of spending more time in the hospital or GP surgery, well, it wasn’t very appealing to my 18 year old self.  Due to my health at the time, I had to attend my local Optometrists quite regularly. I began to pick their brains on the path of study, optometry. Asking about the real world and where my degree (should I study optometry) could take me. Within 4 weeks, I had carried out work experience and gained a part time job as an Optical Assistant; within 8 weeks I had applied to university to study Optometry. I continued this work at the weekends throughout university up until 3 year. By then I needed the extra time for study.

Where did you study?

The University of Manchester 

Why did you decide to apply for a job at Allegro Optical?

I started to play the flute when I was 6 years old. I was told originally my hands were too small. However, I was so determined that I didn’t want to play any other instrument, they let me try anyway. My grandpa gave me my own flute when I was 9. He played the recorder but he discovered that the skill to play the two instruments was not easily transferable.  Then I was given the redundant flute (which I still have). I decided to try my hand at the piano when I started secondary school. Also guitar when I started GCSE music, to give me a wider range of musical understanding.  However, the flute has and always will be my passion. I stopped playing when I was pregnant with my little girl who is now one. But I started to play bits and bats again about 5 months ago. About the same time I saw an advertisement for an Optometrist vacancy at Allegro. My two passions combined, and so close to home, it seemed like a sign (and too good to be true). I did my research, read up everything I could about Allegro. About the amazing, innovative work they do. I thought I just had to be a part of the team, luckily for me, they felt the same!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

As I’ve said already, I enjoy helping people and to me that means ensuring best patient care; that has taken me both into high street practice and more recently into the domiciliary sector. I enjoy the puzzle when a patient comes in with a problem. It’s my job to find a solution, or to see to it that plans are set in motion so that a solution may be found. The solution may be prescribing glasses, exercises or it may be an onward referral to an Orthoptist or to an Ophthalmologist. Whatever the outcome, I have to ensure my care is patient centred and their best interests are looked after. I also enjoy the wide variation my job brings. As the public make up the bulk of my day, no day is the same. I love meeting new people and finding out about their lives. I’ve met some truly fabulous people during my working hours.

What are your career plans for the future?

I am very interested in the clinical side of optometry. My main focus at the moment is to undertake my independent prescribing qualification. Optometry is changing all of the time, something I find extremely exciting. Another reason why I am so passionate about it. My main aim is to keep up with these clinical advancements to ensure I can always give the best care to my patients.

 What do you do in your spare time?

As I’ve mentioned above I have a one year old daughter, who keeps me very busy. When I don’t have my Optometrist hat on, that being said I do like to have some “ me time “. I like to play my flute, I am shocked at how much I seemed to have forgotten in the short time.  Currently I am re-teaching myself, with help from my sister-in-law, who is a grade 8 flute master and puts me on the right track when I need advice. I am a runner and I have a running blog (which I had to make as I was driving family and friends mad with run talk). I completed the Loch Ness marathon in October in memory of my Dad, and raised money for the AMMF cancer charity. I’ve a number of races booked for next year, including Loch Ness again (it was amazing for any runners out there), and try to get out as much as I can. I also try to squeeze a non running activity like swimming or climbing in as I love to be on the go. I love to cook, and spend hours looking through recipe books planning the weekly meals ahead. We are all massive “Foodies” in our household, so family meal time has become a huge thing. We also love eating out (who doesn’t), breakfast, lunch or tea, we aren’t fussy!

Family Values

At Allegro Optical we always put family first and are passionate about our Allegro family. Allegro Optical recently won the Yorkshire and Humber Family Business of the Year Award. If you and your family would like to experience award winning family eye care call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090 and book your appointment today.
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Ethical eyecare from Allegro Optical Opticians with Sea2See recycled ocean plastic eyewear

As ethical eyecare providers Allegro Optical opticians are proud to introduce Sea2See

We all know that plastics pollution has a direct and frequent deadly effect on wildlife. Thousands of seabirds and marine mammals are killed each year, sadly after ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it. Something needs to be done. Our supermarkets and other retail outlets are already addressing the situation.  Many are moving away from plastic carrier bags and packaging.  Plastic choked beach - Sea2see recycled plastic spectacle frames from Allegro OPtical in Saddleworth and Holmfirth Huddersfield Optician The accumulation of plastics in our oceans and on our beaches has become a global crisis. It’s now well known that billions of pounds of plastic can be found in the swirling convergences. This now  makes up as much as 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. At the current rate of pollution plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.

THE PLASTIC PROBLEM

We are all surrounded by plastic and it is the single-use packaging we discard which is causing the global problems. During the first decade of this century, in fact, industry produced more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000. Every year  more and more plastic ends up in the world’s oceans. In fact, studies estimate that there are now 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans. According to the Center for Biological Diversity there is not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth which  is free of plastic pollution. At Allegro Optical we worry about our environment and our planet. We know many of our clients are environmentally conscious and expect to find products made from ecologically friendly materials. Supporting the sustainable use of resources is something we are passionate about. We are always keen to reduce emissions and provide as many ethical products as we can. We try to source all our frames and lenses as locally and ethically as possible. Many of the frames and lenses we sell are manufactured in the UK, many from environmentally friendly material. Now we are also stocking frames made from recycled plastic.  Sea2see is a company that are making fashionable glasses and  sunglasses out of recycled plastics from the ocean. They call it “upcycling the ocean.”  They have been featured in Vogue, Wallpaper and The Independent to name but a few… Plastic choked beach - Sea2see recycled plastic spectacle frames from Allegro OPtical in Saddleworth and Holmfirth Huddersfield Optician

How much plastic?

Every year eight billion k.g. of plastics are thrown into the sea. So Sea2see works in collaboration with many fishing communities to collect sea plastic and discarded fishing gear. Working with the fishing industry Sea2see collect ten tons of abandoned gear in Spain each month. They then separate it, wash it and develop it. They then turn it into glasses and sunglasses that are 100% made in Italy. Saving the seas in Saddleworth and Holmfirth Our regular readers will know all about our love of local producers and suppliers. Likewise they will also know that we like to protect our planet. From the low impact Hemp Eyewear, the hand made natural cotton-based acetate frames from David Green. Many of our frames are biodegradable. Even the award winning Bird eyewear are made with environmentally friendly wood frames. By stocking our frame selection responsibly we are helping our planet and respecting our environment. Where possible we are reducing air miles by sourcing British made frames and in turn our carbon footprint. In doing this we are also supporting the British economy. Not a bad decision in what can be described as a particularly difficult and uncertain time for the UK.  We care about your eyecare and eyewear So when you visit Allegro Optical Opticians you can not only be sure that you will receive first-class eye care. We can guarantee it won’t cost you the Earth. If you would like to try ethical eyewear call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on  01484 907090 Recycled plastic ethical eyewear glasses spectacles from Allegro Optical OPticians in Saddleworth and Meltham Holmfirth
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Xanthe’s unwanted Scare before Halloween

It’s time to get spooky safely this Halloween!

It’s October and that means cosy fluffy socks, orange autumn leaves, Strictly Come Dancing and of course Halloween! Now I have to admit I don’t love everything Halloween, I’m not into the “super” scary parts of Halloween. (I’d like to point out that I’m not a wimp, I just don’t dig the “super” scary stuff like killer clowns and demon nuns). I do however enjoy seeing carved pumpkins appear on peoples doorsteps, the decorations, and of course the dressing up in spooky outfits. However, this year isn’t quite going to plan.

It’s all a bunch of hocus pocus

Every year I get excited about getting dressed up and either going to a fancy-dress party or going trick or treating. I love picking out my costume and deciding how I’ll do my face paint. Over the years I have been many things from a witch to a pumpkin (I’ll be honest being a pumpkin was my favourite) and this year I’d planned to dress up in a skull candy “Day of the Dead” costume. I’d watched millions of tutorials on how to do my face paint, picked out an outfit that was perfect and couldn’t wait! Little did I know what was in store for me.
Day of the dead Halloween mask - don't do it says Xanthe from Allegro Optical
The desired result
Day of the dead Halloween mask - don't do it says Xanthe from Allegro Optical
The Inspiration
Day of the dead Halloween mask - don't do it says Xanthe from Allegro Optical
The result

A night of horror!

So much so that I decided to do a test run of how everything would look. So, I started my face paint, got all my face lovely and white ready to do all the intricate designs and flares. But my face began to feel warm and sting slightly. Now I thought, maybe as I don’t put a lot of makeup and such, I thought perhaps my face just wasn’t use to being caked and so couldn’t “breath” or “air” in the way it should. I began my designs, however the warm slightly stinging sensation quickly changed to burning red hot! I ran into my bathroom and washed of the face paint off as quickly as I possibly could but even after I got it off, I still felt like my face was burning less so then before but it was still pretty uncomfortable. When I eventually looked in the mirror, I resembled what I can only describe as a very red strawberry with white spots all over my face. Clearly, I’d had a reaction to the face paint.

An unwanted fright

Now you’re probably wondering why I am telling you this burning red hot story and why it even matters? Well two reasons; one, I hope my stupidity stops you from making my mistake, and two, nobody wants to sit on their sofa on a Sunday night with a bag of peas stuck to their face for an hour. In my excitement to do my face paint I hadn’t read the back of the packet. The place where it said to do a patch test beforehand, to ensure that when you put it on your face you didn’t look like a strawberry! (well done Xanthe, great look you got going at the moment).

Happy Halloween

Now I’ve face painted my face hundreds of time and never did I have a problem or any sort of reaction until now. I’m not saying that me doing this is in anyway life altering, but do it with something else, like your eyes and it could be. Many of us wear contact lenses; we go see our optician and they provide us with the best contact lenses for our needs. Now I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else for my contact lenses, yet every year around Halloween, some people go into accessory shops or market stalls and buy funky colourful cosmetic contact lenses. Cosmetic contact lens uslce The effect these lenses can have on our eyes can be life altering, in some cases leading to serious infections, ulcers and even blindness. So if you’re thinking of trying coloured contacts this year, then PLEASE visit your optician and have the contact lenses professionally fitted. Your optician will find the right contact lenses for you and teach you how to put them in and take them out safely. They’ll have you looking funky and spooky safely, with any unwanted Halloween horrors. So take a tip from Xanthe’s book and visit your optician if you want to change your eye colour
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Meet the team – Claire Atkinson FBDO – Saddleworth’s Dispensing Optician

Claire Atkinson FBDO – Dispensing Optician – Part of our “Meet The Team” series Our “Meet the team” series of blogs gives you the opportunity to get to know our team members better. In this edition of “Meet the team”, we’re introducing you to Dispensing Optician Claire Atkinson FBDO. Claire Atkinson - Dispensing Optician Musicians Optician Greenfield Uppermill Saddleworth Claire is based in our Greenfield practice and being a local girl she has a good knowledge of the Saddleworth area. Claire graduated in 2004 and she has a vast knowledge of ophthalmic lenses. She also has a great deal of experience in the optical industry. A relative newcomer to the team Claire joined us in May, but she has quickly made her mark. She has a fantastic eye for fashion and style. Here feel for shape and colour is uncanny and she is our “go to” woman for frame advice. With her encyclopedic knowledge of lens types, she is able to advise on all kinds of vision correction. 

Award winning eye care

As Greenfield’s resident Dispensing Optician Claire usually works with resident optometrist Sara Ackroyd and the pair make quite a team. With both ladies living locally they know many people and are quickly building up a firm fan base. As recent winners of the “Store of the week” award and the “Customer Service” Award. The Greenfield team always go above and beyond to deliver an award winning customer experience. If you are wanting some new eyewear, but are unsure what you want Claire can help. With a good eye for colour and shape Claire will be able to help you select your perfect frame. Claire treats everyone as an individual, and likes to get to know her clients. She will never inflict her tastes on her clients, as a consultation at Allegro Optical is all about our client’s unique style and tastes.   Allegro Optical Greenfield Claire James and Sheryl

Saddleworth’s Musicians’ Optician

Many of our readers will know that Allegro Optical is also known as “The Musicians’ Optician” and Claire has local musical credentials. A lapsed flugelhorn player, Claire has a history in brass. In fact, Claire’s Dad has strong ties to Uppermill Brass Band and is quite a character on the local brass band scene. Claire also has two Children who are both learning to play brass instruments. They both played in this year’s Whit Friday Brass Band Contests an event Claire had no intention of missing. While currently not playing, Claire still has a full understanding of a musicians visual needs. Performing can be very demanding on the visual system and musicians rely on their vision as much as any sportsman. Having played in a key role within a brass band Claire fully appreciates most musicians requirements.   

It’s not all about the music

In her spare time, Claire loves to watch tennis and she is also partial to a spot of stand up comedy. With an outgoing personality Claire finds it easy to put people at ease and is very popular with our clientele.  At Allegro Optical we value our staff and look after them as a happy team member will always pay more attention to the needs of customers. Now that is something which is very important to us.  We believe that innovation is the lifeblood of any business, and it is happy employees that are inspired enough to think outside the box. Claire often comes up with some creative solutions for our organisational needs.   If you and your family would like to meet Claire and experience award winning family eye care call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or for our clients over the hill call Meltham on 01484 907090 and book your appointment today.
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Forget Sloane Square Saddleworth and Holmfirth are the places to buy Oliver Goldsmith eyewear

Oliver Goldsmith eyewear comes to Saddleworth and Holmfirth

In 1926, Philip Oliver Goldsmith, a salesman for the large optical firm Raphaels Ltd, began hand-making spectacles in London and established Oliver Goldsmith to sell them. The brand became well known for its unique, pioneering frame designs. Oliver Goldsmith developed the very first flesh-coloured frame. The frame was named ‘Dawn’ because it was intended to usher in a new era in frame design.

Oliver_Goldsmith_eyewear comes to ALlegro OPtical opticiancs in Saddleworth and Holmfirth
In 1936 Goldsmith’s son, Charles Myer Goldsmith, joined the company. It was he who recognised the fashion potential of eyewear. After his father’s death in 1947 he adopted the name Oliver for himself.  The brand quickly became a pioneer of the 1950s trend. Producing ornamental frames that coordinated with clothing and featured jewels and metal inserts.
 
Oliver_Goldsmith_eyewear comes to ALlegro OPtical opticiancs in Saddleworth and Holmfirth
 
Here at Allegro Optical, we have adopted this vision and, we think, have perfected it. That is why there will always be a Dispensing Optician and styling expert on hand to help you choose the perfect frame that goes with your shape, colouring and features.
 
Oliver Goldsmith began to sell sunglasses to high-class shops, including London’s Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
 

The next generation

 
The third Goldsmith generation, Andrew Oliver Goldsmith, joined the business in 1960. He underwent three years’ training in QEC (quality, elegance and comfort) before he was allowed to design his own frames by his father, who then largely handed over the reins in 1966.
 
The 60s and 70s were a golden age for the brand. During this period such celebrities as the actors Diana Dors, Michael Caine and Peter Sellers wore Oliver Goldsmith frames. Andrew even designed a pair of metal granny glasses for John Lennon, which the star referred to affectionately as his ‘Olivers’.
 
Goldsmith won global fame from 1982 when Princess Diana commissioned pieces to match all of her dresses. The most memorable being the Berwick, a white semi-aviator frame that she wore on the front cover of Woman’s Own in 1986.
 
We have a wide selection of Oliver Goldsmith frames here at Allegro Optical, so why not call in and try some on? We’re sure you’ll love them!