Minding Their Own Business - Howard Beard investigates some of Stroud's Old Shops

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Minding Their Own Business - Howard Beard investigates some of Stroud's Old Shops

Published by the Stroud Local History Society, 128 pages. Paperback (N7783)

Brand New Book

From the introduction: The story of each shop chosen is centred on late Victorian and Edwardian times and includes, where known, the earlier history of the building housing it. In addition there is usually a brief outline of businesses that followed on the same site. I have attempted to bring the story of each firm to life using period photographs and ephemera from my collections. Apart from a few favourites none of the photographs has appeared in my earlier books. Many of the letterheads I have selected survived in solicitors' offices, most are connected with probate. Some items of ephemera are quite bizarre - a lock of hair enclosed in an 1840s tea wrapper and a 1920s German banknote.

The research involved in preparing this book has been rewarding but the result is not intended to be an exhaustive, or scholarly, study of Stroud's commercial history, simply a book of stories about some of the town's businesses, chosen either since they had family connections for me, or because of the survival of interesting documents relating to them. Dipping into the lives of our predecessors has revealed many letterheads with quite beautiful artwork: there are numerous examples scattered throughout these pages. Survival of firms is also interesting. Several remained in business for over a century, Knight about 175 years and Mills around 125 years.

The story of each shop starts with a picture of how its site looks today. Sometimes photographs of a century ago show a degree of artistic licence, flattening Stroud's steep streets into relatively level places to stroll without fear of damaged knees or runaway carts. Town guides have also proved rewarding. The Burrow's editions of 1902, 1903 and 1909, of which I have my own early copies, contain excellent images of shop fronts, not only useful in compiling this book, but of more general value to all students investigating Stroud's past. I have also searched later town guides.
The contents include:

Fabrics and Furs - ANTHONY's
Newspapers and Notelets - BACKHOUSE's
Paints and Paperhangings - BAKER BROS'
Cashiers and Canisters - BELL's
Oysters and Onions - BRADSHAW's
Gas Lamps and Gates - CHEW's
Gowns and Gloves - CLARK's
Paper and Pens - COLLINS'
Tumblers and Tombstones - CRATCHLEY's
Saddle Horses and Stout - EDWARDS'
Lithographs and Lettings - ELLIOTT's
Medicines and Marks - FARRER's
Funerals and Fire Engines - FORD's
Hats and Hose - CB GARDNER's
Telephones and Toilets - T W GARDNER's
Parasols and Punch-and-Judy - GUEST's
Bonnets and Blouses - HORDER's
Printing and Pie Collars - JAMES & OWEN's
Fire Hoods and Football - KNIGHT's
Muslins and Mantles - LEWIS & GODFREY's
Tallow and Tea - MILLS BROS'
Carpets and Corsets - PARK's
'Carte de Visite' and 'Cabinet' - PECKHAM's
Aertex and Asteroids - REDMAN's
Sandals and Shoes - REVELL's
Distemper and Daylight Oils - SMITH & LEE's
Bananas and Butter - STRANGE's
Horses and Hearses - SUTTON's
Fires and Fuels - WARD's
Clocks and Cutlery - WELLS'
Beaver Coats and Breeches - WESTON's
Potions and Port - WITHEY's
My Family's Shops in Stroud
My Great-Uncle's Shop: Henry Thomas Pearce, Blacksmith
Another Great-Uncle's Shop: John Pearce, Saddler
My Grandfather's shop: W E Beard, Builder and Carpenter
The 'Lee Side'
1 Frederick Thomas Lee, Tailor, High Street
2 Emma Lee, general storekeeper, Wallbridge
3 James Lee, stationer, High Street
4 Annie Eliza Lee, Confectioner, London Road
5 Frederick William Lee, Outfitter, Wallbridge
6 Reginald [oseph Lee, Manager, Slad Road Co-op
7 William Frederick Lee, Photographer, High Street
8 Edgar Lee, Sub-postmaster, Nelson Street
The End - some final Notes and an Index