Author Archives: buildingourpast

Foster Brothers

Circumstances surrounding the founding and naming of Foster Brothers, the men’s clothing retailer, are rather mysterious. When the founder, William Foster (1852-1914) died, his obituaries noted that he had opened his first shop with his brother in Pontefract in 1876. … Continue reading

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The Coliseum in Stockton-on-Tees: Unpicking W. Basil Scott’s ‘First English Steel-Framed Building’

Today it is generally accepted that James Frank Doyle’s Royal Insurance Building in Liverpool was the first significant steel-framed building to be erected in the UK. Although it was designed around 1895-96, it was not erected until 1900-03. The Scottish … Continue reading

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Buttercup Dairy Company

A Potted History of the Buttercup Dairy Co. Ltd. The Buttercup Dairy Co. devised one of the most artistic and coherent retail house styles to be found on Scottish high streets in the 20th century. The shops of few other … Continue reading

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A Brief History of Wallis

The Wallis chain of women’s fashion shops was a familiar presence on British high streets for 97 years. It started out as a standard ‘costumier’, selling dresses and coats – called ‘mantles’ in the trade – including furs. The first … Continue reading

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Multiple Multiples: Disentangling the Story of Millets

Millets, the outdoor retail specialist, has maintained a strong presence on the British High Street for over 100 years. Recently I began to dig into Millets’ company history for my forthcoming book on chain stores. Before long I had stumbled … Continue reading

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The Story of Dorothy Perkins

Dorothy Perkins, like Etam, started out as a specialist in ladies’ underwear and lingerie. As with Burton, Dorothy Perkins’ stablemate in the Arcadia retail group, the commonly related history of the company doesn’t always fit the evidence. The usual version … Continue reading

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Food Experts: William Jackson & Son Ltd. of Hull

The History of William Jackson & Son Ltd. The Hull-based grocery, provisions and bakery business of William Jackson & Son Ltd. evolved into a coherent chain of convenience stores which was taken over by Sainsbury’s in 2004. The founder, William … Continue reading

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Timothy Whites

Throughout much of the 20th century, Timothy Whites (later Timothy Whites & Taylors) was Boots the Chemist’s greatest rival. The chain was eventually swallowed up by Boots. In 1848, at the age of 23, Timothy White (1825-1908) took over William … Continue reading

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Saqui & Lawrence, Jewellers

The exact relationship between H. Samuel and Saqui & Lawrence has piqued a lot of interest. This is an attempt to clear things up – please comment if you have more information or images of Saqui & Lawrence shops that … Continue reading

Posted in Jewellers Shops | 13 Comments

‘The Greatest Grocers in the World’: International Tea Company’s Stores

‘International Stores’ was a common sight on English high streets from 1878, when the first shop opened in Brentford, until 1988, when all remaining outlets were rebranded ‘Gateway’. To give the company its full name, ‘International Tea Company’s Stores’ was … Continue reading

Posted in Provisions Shops | 5 Comments