Rev. Henry Robert Passmore
(1891 - 1898)
Born: 19 March 1853, Finsbury, London.
Son of Joseph Passmore*, one of C. H. Spurgeon's Deacons.
Married: 1 daughter, 1 son.
Became blind aged 15 in 1868, educated at Blind College, Worcester.
Ebenezer, Southsea, Hampshire, 1882-1888
Middle Wall, Whitstable, Kent, 1891-1898.
W.539 Tabernacle, Barry Road, Dulwich, London, 1903-1905.
Died: 1 January 1935 aged 81.
Obituary: Baptist Handbook 1936/350.
* Joseph Passmore was a close friend of Dr Charles Spurgeon, the charismatic pastor at New Park Street Baptist Chapel, in Southwark, and in 1855 Joseph began printing and publishing Spurgeon’s sermons in a weekly publication called The New Park Street Pulpit.
‘Penny sermons’ were in great demand during the Victorian religious revival and Spurgeon’s became so popular that Joseph had to ask a friend, James Alabaster, to help him run his publishing department. Alabaster the publisher and Passmore the printer linked their names into what became a formidable partnership.
When Joseph died in 1895, having outlived Spurgeon by three years, his sons Joseph jnr, James and Alfred, and Alabaster, carried on the business. And what a business it was! The firm sold one hundred million penny sermons during Spurgeon’s lifetime and 400,000 copies of one of his books alone, “John Ploughman’s Talk”. In 1899, 20,000 of Spurgeon’s books and sermons were sold every week. One religious society ordered one million volumes of his sermons; another 500,000 volumes were exported to the USA.
The company moved to Tovil, nr Maidstone, and went on to produce millions of mail order catalogues for Liberty’s, Selfridges, Dickens and Jones, the ‘Army and Navy’, Swan and Edgar, D.H. Evans and Kays. Cigarette cards, calendars, chocolate box lids … these and many other items rolled incessantly off the Passmore presses untill the business eventually closed in 1993.
And it all started with ‘penny sermons’!