Joseph Beck (1828 - 18 April 1891) was an optical instrument maker and politician.[1][2][3]

Beck was born in Stamford Hill in north London.[4] Following an apprenticeship, in 1851 he joined the partnership of Smith & Beck, with his brother Richard Beck (1827-1866) and James Smith (died 1870).[5] The company was renamed Smith, Beck & Beck in 1854 and became R & J Beck when Smith retired in 1865.[6]

The company manufactured various optical instruments including microscopes, telescopes, optometer lenses, camera lenses and cameras.[6] Based in the City of London, by 1861 the business employed 40 men and 35 boys and girls.[5]

Beck made his home at Albion Road, Stoke Newington.[2][4]

An active member of the Conservative Party and of the Primrose League, in 1873 Beck was elected to the City of London Corporation as a common councilman for Cornhill Ward.[7] He remained a member of the corporation until his death, at which time he was the Chief Commoner of the City.[1] In 1885 he was a made a Deputy Lieutenant for the City.[8]

When the first London County Council elections were held in January 1889, Beck was nominated to contest the Hackney North Division. Although he described himself as "non-political", Beck was supported by the local Conservative Association of which he was a prominent member. He was elected, and took his seat as a member of the Moderate Party, who formed the opposition group on the council.[9]

Beck was a tireless campaigner for the opening of Clissold Park as a public open space. When the park was officially opened in July 1889 he officiated along with Lord Rosebery, Chairman of the London County Council.[10]

Joseph Beck died of pneumonia at his home in Stoke Newington in April 1891, aged 62.[1][2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Obituary". The Graphic. 25 April 1891. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Deaths". The Times: p. 1. 20 April 1891. 
  3. R and J Beck Limited, Science Museum [1]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Joseph Beck, Grace's Guide
  5. 5.0 5.1 R & J Beck Company History, Historic Camera
  6. 6.0 6.1 Beck, Camera Wiki
  7. "The City Wardmotes". Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper. 28 December 1873. 
  8. "The Lieutenancy of the City". The Standard: p. 2. 14 November 1885. 
  9. "County Council Elections". Reynold's Newspaper. 20 January 1889. 
  10. "Opening of Clissold Park". Morning Post: p. 2. 25 July 1889. 

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