[No: IX | By Viveka Hansen ]

The comprehensive Whitby collection related to clothing is unique in many ways for a small town, especially with its important collection of some 200 dresses, dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods and up to the First World War (1837-1914). This “Textile Thought” is the first extract from the extensive material on Victorian fashion and skilled dressmaking in my forthcoming book [PUBLISHED JUNE 15TH, 2015].

This lady is dressed in a dark – probably black – satin dress decorated with broad velvet ribbons. A sort of dress which requires a professional dressmaker's hand to reach perfection in cut and sewing. The photograph is taken in 1866 by the photographer W. Stonehouse. The Pier Portrait Rooms in Whitby. Courtesy of: Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society, Whitby Museum, Photographic Collection.

This lady is dressed in a dark coloured satin dress decorated with broad velvet ribbons. A sort of dress which requires a professional dressmaker’s hand to reach perfection in cut and sewing. The photograph is taken in 1866 by the photographer W. Stonehouse. The Pier Portrait Rooms in Whitby. Courtesy of: Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society, Whitby Museum, Photographic Collection.

A fair number of items in the collection were donated in the 20th century by ladies most likely descended from families with draper’s businesses in Whitby. Of these, ‘Mrs Frankland, Carr Hill Lane, Briggswath Whitby’ was probably connected with Frankland & Son of 88 Church Street, a draper’s shop that advertised in the Whitby Gazette during the 1860-1880 period. She gave a well-sewn skirt and bodice in striped blue silk (GBD19) from the early 1870s, with wide sleeve ends and decorated with blue and black silk details. Another lady who gave several items was ‘Miss G. Wellburn, Sleights’, whose name links her with the long-lived Wellburn Brothers Linen and Woollen Drapery Establishment in Bridge Street that advertised regularly between 1857 and 1914.

A third donor, 'Mrs Seaton Gray, Carr Hill Sleights', was related to 'Robt Gray & Co. General Drapers 2 & 3 Old Market Place' who advertised between 1874 and 1914. From her came an exclusive beige silk dress from the 1890s (GBD20) decorated with blue silk ribbon and silk-covered buttons of the same colour together with linen lace and unbleached tulle (Owner: Whitby Museum, Costume Collection) Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

A third donor, ‘Mrs S. Gray, Carr Hill Sleights’, was related to ‘Robt Gray & Co. General Drapers 2 & 3 Old Market Place’ who advertised between 1874 and 1914. From her came an exclusive beige silk dress from the 1890s (GBD20) decorated with blue silk ribbon and silk-covered buttons of the same colour together with linen lace and unbleached tulle (Owner: Whitby Museum, Costume Collection) Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

During the Whitby Gazette’s second year of publication Edmund Crane’s Linen and Woollen Drapers, apparently the largest such local firm, advertised continually. The shop had a rich stock to offer its customers, mainly clothing and accessories for clothes but also textiles for home furnishing. G.S. Breckon’s smaller advertisement from the same year was less comprehensive, but readers were informed that Breckon’s sold ‘Smith’s Patent Royal Symmetrical & Radion Corsets’. These corsets were most likely machine-sewn in view of their patent, although many corsets were still being hand-sewn in the mid-1850s. Thanks to the introduction of the sewing machine at the beginning of that decade, the production of underclothes and corsets developed into a substantial industry at a speed that would not have been possible with hand-sewing…

Advertisement in Whitby Gazette. On 27 July 1855 Crane's listed the following material and ready-made goods (Owner: Whitby Museum, The Library). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Advertisement in Whitby Gazette. On 27 July 1855 Crane’s listed the following material and ready-made goods (Owner: Whitby Museum, The Library). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

To be continued with more extracts…

[Extracts (Chapters 3 & 5) from the forthcoming book ‘The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914’, see “NEWS]. PUBLISHED JUNE 15TH, 2015.

PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘Victorian Fashion’, TEXTILIS (October 14, 2013); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)