Thornton, John Edward 1865 - 1940

John Edward Thornton was born around 1865 and had started his photographic career by 1885. By the end of 1886 he was trading under his own name in Manchester selling photographic equipment. By then he had already been granted several photographic patents.

He started the Thornton Manufacturing Company and introduced several cameras and his patent roller-blind shutter which proved popular. In 1888 Thornton had established Thornton-Pickard Manufacturing Ltd with Edward Pickard. The success of Thornton's previous sales allowed the pair to build a new factory in Altrincham. The factory, which was mechanised, produced shutters and an extensive range of cameras including the Ruby field camera.

In 1897 the company became a limited company, followed shortly afterwards by the sudden death of Edgar Pickard, due to a perforated ulcer. His brother, George Arthur Pickard, took his place as joint managing director. Thornton now found himself in a company dominated by the Pickard family, who he disliked intensely. Thornton resigned from the Company in 1898 but the Company retained his Patents.

In 1899 he formed a new business partnership with Charles Rothwell, a chemist who shared Thorntons interest in photography. The company was called the Thornton Film Company. In 1913 Thornton emigrated to the United States, and went on to patent a three-colour cine film that was manufactured under license by Eastman Kodak. He returned to the U.K. in 1919/20. By 1930 he was earning £3,000 p.a. from Kodak and had been a prolific inventor throughout his life. He died in Bury (Lancs.) Infirmary on 5th October, 1940.