in the 19th centuy
Some goods were supplied by a wholesaler, for example paper supplied to a printer, who would also sell stationery - probably mostly for business use as the populace as a whole was fairly illiterate. Small goods such as ribbons and hat pins were supplied by itinerant peddlers, and of course the hiring fairs were popular venues for traders.
As mass production techniques improved, for example in the pottery and textile industries, there was scope in the larger towns for retailers who would stock goods for the customers to select on the premises, or order from elaborate catalogues (as in the furniture trade). In a township like Redditch traders sometimes had more than one occupation, and would sell a variety of goods - we have seen that William Webb was a beer seller and fish hook maker, and later a baker / fish hook maker.
In Pigots Directory of 1822 we find a Charles Trubshaw who is a linen and woollen draper and grocer; the same Directory lists 4 bakers, 3 drapers, 4 saddlers, 1 bookseller / printer, 1 watchmaker, 2 grocers and a druggist (who is also a grocer).
It appears that the Directories are not comprehensive, as in Lewis' Directory for 1820 there are 2 butchers and 2 shoemakers who are not mentioned two years later, although they continued to trade.
These early 19th century Directories also list tradesmen who provided a service, such as glaziers, carpenters, plumbers and dressmakers, but they would also be making and supplying goods in the form of everyday items.
||In Pigot's Directory for 1841 Huins, Hollingtons and Webbs are the only names which would be recognised by modern readers, but there were, in Evesham Street alone, 6 boot and shoe makers (there were others elsewhere in the town), 4 retailers of beer (including William Webb), 2 linen and wool drapers (including Hollingtons), three milliners / dress / straw hat makers, 1 plumber/painter/glazier, 2 tailors, a cooper, a smallware dealer, a hairdresser, a "chymist" and druggist and a printer (letter-press and copper-plate).|
||According to the
Redditch Commercial Directory for 1935 (which gives the history
of many of the shops) the firm of Huins occupied various
premises over its long history. In 1841 it is listed at "Breedon"
, but is best known "for its large and convenient premises
at the corner of the Market Place and Evesham Street, known as
"The Boot Metropole".
This was opened in 1908 and boasted that any foot could be fitted to a nicety. The building can still be seen today.
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The Redditch Indicator reported that on May 15th 1833 William Hollington had published the announcement that he had just returned from the London and Manchester markets with an entirely new stock of linen and woollen drapery, hosiery and haberdashery, having engaged the shop lately in the occupation of Mr S. Roberts, where he would offer them at the smallest possible profit for ready money.This shows remarkable determination in the days before the railways. His stamina was also remarkable - we are told that he and his son would set off at 4am to walk to Redditch from their farm in Clent!
The firm took the name of his son Frederick, and became known as F.W. Hollington & Co Ltd. It will be remembered that Frederick Hollington was also an undertaker, and that his cousin Sarah, who worked in the draper's shop, married their neighbour William Webb the baker. Hollingtons' stock was later to include home furnishings such as beds, curtains and carpets and they later expanded the premises in Evesham Street to include a business previously run by a Mr Gibbs which included ironmongery. In the 1881 census we see that they owned number 21 Evesham Street, and had taken over numbers 25 and 27 as warehouse and show room. Later postcards show the familiar shop fronts with the large sun blinds.
||The Redditch Commercial Directory states that the business Cranmore Simmons was over forty years old (in 1935) but this is presumably the amalgamated firm. In 1896 the auctioneers Neasom and White were selling on commercial premises at numbers 2,4 and 6 Evesham Street, to include 3 shops and a dwelling now used as one shop, now and for many years in the possession of Moses Cranmore. It was the brother of Moses, James Cranmore, who married William Webb's sister Emma in 1871. The firm grew to become, by 1907, complete furnishers, cabinet makers, upholsterers, builders and ironmongers (with side-line in cycles and motor cycles). They later also offered a house removal service by horse or motor van. In the 20th century, the other partner, Mr Simmons, was considered an authority on wireless sets and customers "could be sure of obtaining the best advice on the latest developments of this fascinating science."|
||In the 1871 census George Heaphy stated that he was born "between England and Scotland on the sea". According to the report in the centenary edition of the Redditch Indicator, the business was built up by taking samples round to country customers by packhorse. The 1935 Directory states that the firm was well-known as makers of gentleman's breeches, but also supplied suits, overcoats and artisans' ready-made clothing.|
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These are some of the family connections among the retailers of Redditch :
as we know, Webbs amalgamated with Woodman (39 Evesham Street) to found the firm Woodman and Webb.
William Webb married Sarah Hollington, cousin of Fred Hollington.
Thomas Haines was married to Caroline, who was probably a Hollington too, as one of their daughters was baptised Elizabeth Hollington Haines, and it was common to use the mother's maiden name as an additional Christian Name.
Frederick Hollington's wife was formerly Elizabeth London.
Sarah London was a widow in 1881, and her son John was to take over the grocery business and marry Ada Caroline Haines.
When James Woodman made his will in 1877, he appointed his friends William Webb and Thomas Haines as executors.
Moses Cranmore was the brother of James, who had married Emma Jane, sister of William Webb.
The Perks family were Catholics, and in 1918 Bernard Perks was to act as sponsor to John Webb at his baptism at Mount Carmel Church (co-incidentally, after many years of no contact between the two families, they ended up as neighbours in Birchfield Road in the late 1950's).
The history of James Webb,
and Eliza (who married William Guise)
James and Eliza were the children of James (third child of William and Mary) and Susannah Vincent, who died in 1831, when Eliza was a still a baby. Eliza was not christened until 1847, when she must have been about 17 years old, but James had been christened at Alvechurch - a surprising fact as there are no obvious connections with that village. Eliza was brought up by her grandmother and her aunts. In the 1841 census she was living in Wapping, near Red Lion Arch, with her grandmother Mary (nee Bate), her aunt Sarah and her cousin Henry (illegitimate son of her aunt Harriet). Nearby, also in Wapping, was the Guise family from Oxford, and in 1850 Eliza and William Guise were married at Tardebigge church. In the census of 1851 the newly-weds were living at Hunt End, while brother James was still with his relatives in the Wapping area, at Red Lion Arch, where he got to know the innkeeper and his wife.
A few years later, in 1859, James, now a needle finisher, married widow Mary Fourt of the Red Lion Hotel.
James took on the responsibility
of Mary Fourt's children, and later they had children of their
own. Both families had connections with public houses in Redditch
- James is noted as the licensee (not the owner) of The Red Lion
in 1875, but he (or his namesake) was the owner of The Cricketers
Arms that year, where the licensee was a Thomas Fourt! In 1894
there was a Henry Fourt, licensee of the Baker's Arms in Henley
Street Alcester (as well as being a corm dealer).
We now return to the story of
Eliza Jane. She had an interesting life, despite initial
hardships. Although illiterate she was talented in other ways,
and marrying William Guise was a step up in the world. We are
fortunate to know a great deal about William Guise, as his son
Harry left a detailed account of the family, which has been handed
down to Meriel Hayes (who has generously offered the following
William Guise was a remarkable man. He was self-taught,
having had no access to education, and was a poet of some talent.
His literary abilities were noted when he was sent to the Paris
Exhibition in 1868 to report on the exhibits of needles, fish
hooks and fishing tackle. During his lifetime he made the acquaintance
of some of the poets of the day, and of Archibald Forbes, the
War Correspondent. He further proved his aptitude for journalism
by becoming the district correspondent for two local newspapers,
The Birmingham Post and The Bromsgrove Messenger.