Saturday, 14 July 2012

Shopping Saturday - Shetland House, Edinburgh

I haven't done a 'Shopping Saturday' post for a while; in fact my blogging has been a little erratic of late as I've been travelling a lot. I have just returned from a week in Oxford where I attended a summer school class on 19th Century Working Lives with the wonderful Dr Alan Crosby. He is a regular contributor to Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, and you can find him online on the magazine's Local history blog. This is marginally relevant to my shopping post, because while in Oxford I was on the look-out for second-hand books, as usual. This is harder than it used to be, since many booksellers no longer have shop premises, they trade online instead. Many of my Oxford favourites have disappeared in the last decade, but there is still the second-hand section of Blackwell's (an interesting shop in its own right), the Oxfam bookshops, and, on Thursdays, a couple of stalls in the market at Gloucester Green. This is where I found a few treasures this year - quite cheap, too. One was Black's Guide to West Kent (1906), which includes the Medway Towns, where I grew up; still not relevant to the subject in hand, but hold on, I'm getting there.

Post Office Edinburgh and Leith  Directory 1911-12
Like other books of its kind, the West Kent guide is full of advertisements, many of them illustrated, for places and services all over the British Isles. One which particularly caught my eye was the one above. Knowing that the National Library of Scotland has a big collection of online trade directories, I thought I would use these to see how long the business was in in existence, starting with the most recent online edition of the Post Office Directory for Edinburgh directory, 1911-12. When I clicked on the link to the title page for this directory, I was amazed to find not only an advertisement for the very same shop, but a picture of it, too! The actual directory entry reads 'Shetland House, John White & Co., Manufacturers of Shetland Shawls, Hosiery, Underclothing, Etc.' . Tracing back through the directory years, John White & Co were at 10 Frederick Street in 1891-92 described as 'successor to W B Mackenzie'. In fact, John White was the successor to W B Mackenzie all the way back to 1861! In 1858 12 Frederick Street was occupied by William White, woollen draper, men's mercer, and hatter. This turned out to be John's older brother. An assortment of census returns shows that they also had three sisters, and the family came from Crieff, Perthshire.

Shetland House at 32 Frederick Street is also listed in the Valuation Roll for 1915, still occupied by J White  & Co. The shop is still there, just off Princes Street in Edinburgh's New Town (ie the Georgian part) and the lease is even available, if you have £133,000 to spare for the rent.
'The property comprises a four storey, B-listed, stone building, with attic and basement, which was constructed 1786-92'


No comments:

Post a Comment