Ellis Allen Ltd

Ellis Allen Ltd

Bulawayo

Owen Ellis Allen was born in Cambridge, England in 1867. From Cambridge he emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, where he joined the old established firm of booksellers and newsagents, Messrs Maskew Miller & Company.

In 1897, when his employers decided to open up a branch of their business in Rhodesia, he took the opportunity to move to Bulawayo. Coming from Cambridge, he was friends with Percy Clark. Allen, Clark and Harold Smart all studied at Cambridge and were associates in Rhodesia. By coincidence, Maskew Miller’s shop was next to Harold’s Smart & Copley‘s shop on the corner of 8th Avenue and Fife Street, Bulawayo.

In the early 1900’s, Ellis Allen set up in business on his own account from a rented shop in Willoughby’s Building (Built 1902), below Blackler’s clock. He remained in this shop until death in 1930.

In 1905, he contributed to the book Mediaeval Rhodesia by providing drawings and copied plans for the publication to David Randall. Smart & Copley also developed a large number photographic negatives for the publication. By 1907, he acquired his house at Hillside, Bulawayo where he lived with Clark.

In an advertisement in the 1908 Bulawayo Directory the business description was that of “General, Commercial and Legal Stationer”. In addition, “Photographic views of country and native studies” were also available. It is unlikely that postcards were published after 1914 as Ellis Allen’s P.O. Box number had changed by then to 54 (previously Box 204).

Ellis Allen died on 4 May, 1930 at his home in Hillside, Bulawayo. The business was sold to T. Drayton, and the printing plant to S. Carver.

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  • Jefferson Ritson
  • Cecil Russell
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  • Malcolm Murphy