[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: LII | By Viveka Hansen]
The research project “The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914” which stretched over almost a decade and was published earlier this year has left me with some documents, photographs and odd bits of facts not possible to fit into the book. Sources sometimes linked to parts of the monographs and in other cases originating either before year 1700 or after 1914. My hope is that a continuation of textile observations with connections to the coastal community of Whitby can reveal some further previously unknown historical events and details. This first case study will give a glimpse of the female shopkeepers The Misses Scott, who can be traced to a number of primary sources dating from the 1890s to 1918 – via the local newspaper Whitby Gazette, photographs, censuses and directories.
The Misses Scott, Ladies’ and Children’s Outfitters at Bridge End advertised in Whitby Gazette in the period 1894 to 1912 and announced in April of their first year: ‘Miss Scott’s Return from the London Markets. A Grand Selection of New Spring Goods – Stylish Costumes, Dresses, Pelisses, Coats and Capes, Pinafores, Sashes and and Ribbons. Hoods, Bonnets, Mob Caps, Handkerchiefs, Gloves.’ A few years later, in 1897, and by now in Baxtergate, they laid particular emphasis on underclothes, including some in ‘Hand-Made Irish Linen’. Ireland had long been known for top-quality linen, so this was often used as a selling-point in advertisements. For ten years the firm did not advertise at all in the paper, but in June 1912, the season inspired them to inform their customers of a ‘New Delivery of all the latest Novelties in Summer Blouses’.
The Whitby Gazette was not the only source for advertisements, which can be studied via the guide book above where ‘The Misses Scott 76 Baxtergate’ was one of the advertising businesses. These two ladies specialised in Ladies and Children’s outfitting, according to both their advertisements in the local paper between 1894 and 1912, Cook’s 1901 directory, and the census of the same year in which the 28 year-old ladies’ outfitter Sarah Scott is listed in Elgin Street.
It seems to have been a regular habit for shop owners in Whitby – judging by advertisements and announcements in Whitby Gazette – to move to more suitable, larger, smaller (rarely mentioned) or most importantly better positioned premises to attract each and everyones desired clientele of customers. Here these circumstances are exemplified with two other shopkeepers, firstly an advertisement from the spring of 1895: ‘Notice of Removal. Robert Spanton – Hatter, Hosier and Shirt Maker, Desires to inform his Friends and Public generally that he has removed to the large commodious Corner Premises, immediately opposite his Old Shop.’ While locals and visitors twenty-five years earlier were informed that: The General Draper at 9 Flowergate, Henry Duck in the spring of 1870 noted ‘a Large Display of New Goods in his Extended Premises’ with not only the usual drapery items but every imaginable accessory for women’s clothing: ‘Crinolines, Sunshades, Umbrellas, Stays and Corsetts, Ribbons, Feathers, Flowers, Lace, Hosiery, Gloves, Handkerchiefs, Veils, Chemisetts etc.’
- Hansen, Viveka, The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914 – A lively coastal town between the North Sea and North York Moors’, London & Whitby 2015. For full list of Notes & Bibliography, pp 404-423. (Additionally: Research material from the period 2006-2014, including surplus photographs and various facts not possible to fit into the book)
- Photograph: Baxtergate, Whitby c.1918 (unknown photographer).
- Whitby Gazette, 1870 1894, & 1895 (Whitby Museum, Library & Archive).
(The monograph: The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914… is available here: The IK Foundation)
PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:
- Hansen, Viveka, ‘Textile Shopkeepers in a Coastal Town – A Case Study’, TEXTILIS (December 17, 2015); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)