[No: LXII | By Viveka Hansen]

Over time between 20 to 30 women worked in the millinery trade in the last two decades of 19th century Whitby, some as employed and others as apprentices or shop-keepers. The Misses Stangoe can be traced via censuses and regular advertisements in Whitby Gazette during twelve years, where it is possible to get a glimpse of their daily working life, what types of goods they had for sale and when apprentices were needed or any other event of importance took place. This small case study is part of a comprehensive study of the town’s milliners – published in my book Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914 – and here added with a few more details about these particular female shop-keepers’ situation. 

The Misses Stangoe needed apprentices for their millinery business in the spring of 1880 – notice in Whitby Gazette (Whitby Museum, The Library). Photo: Viveka Hansen.

The Misses Stangoe needed apprentices for their millinery business in the spring of 1880 – notice in Whitby Gazette (Whitby Museum, The Library). Photo: Viveka Hansen.

Many small female businesses seem to have been worked from home or in an adjoining shop judging by comparison of census returns and directories. This circumstance also fits into the 41-year old Ann Stangoe and the 35-year old Dorothy living at 12 Flowergate; together with the older sister Catherine (43) as Housekeeper, their retired father (88), a grandson (8) and a 16 year old servant as listed in the 1891 census. In the 1881 census only the youngest sister Dorothy (26) of the two milliners was present, but the family at that time already lived at 12 Flowergate.

The sisters repeatedly advertised through appeals for apprentices in the style of ‘Apprentices Wanted’. The Misses Stangoe of Flowergate ran a ‘Millinery Establishment’ from at least 1880 to March 1892 when they were on the point of closing their business; they also sold corsets and other clothing accessories. The many tourists in the coastal town were without a doubt an important part of their clientele, judging by the spring and summer advertisements in the Whitby Gazette.

Models like this could probably be purchased or ordered at the Misses Stangoe’s millinery in the 1880s. Hats during this period were often very small, their variations created with considerable imagination using added fur, feathers, hair, straw or velvet etc. They were designed to perch on top of the hair and to be secured under the chin with a ribbon. (Whitby Museum, Costume Collection, L 11). Photo: Viveka Hansen.

Models like this could probably be purchased or ordered at the Misses Stangoe’s millinery in the 1880s. Hats during this period were often very small, their variations created with considerable imagination using added fur, feathers, hair, straw or velvet etc. They were designed to perch on top of the hair and to be secured under the chin with a ribbon. (Whitby Museum, Costume Collection, L 11). Photo: Viveka Hansen.

Bulmer’s directory of 1890 gives a detailed additional list of milliners and dressmakers who either worked on their own or employed other similar workers. The directory marks their shops or workshops ‘d.’ for dressmaker or ‘m.’ for milliner, while several names are unmarked to indicate both activities. In this list of 27 establishments ‘m. Stangoe Misses Cath., Annie, and Dorothy, 12 Flowergate’ was included. Given proof for that the oldest  sister Catherine, listed as housekeeper in the census one year later, also took part in the daily run of the family business.

This 1880s photograph – contemporary with the Misses Stangoe’s millinery – gives a good impression of the daily life on Flowergate in Whitby. It has not been possible to find a photograph of their shop, but the sisters’ worked and lived a bit further down on this side of the road. (Photo: Frank Meadow Sutcliffe).

This 1880s photograph – contemporary with the Misses Stangoe’s millinery – gives a good impression of the daily life on Flowergate in Whitby. It has not been possible to find a photograph of their shop, but the sisters’ worked and lived a bit further down on this side of the road. (Photo: Frank Meadow Sutcliffe).

The Misses Stangoe’s last advert was placed on March 15th, 1892. Despite the detailed information, it has not been possible to clarify the reason for their hurry to close the business.

‘Millinery Establishment

Misses Stangoe will offer their Entire Stock 

For Sale as below

All the best corsets, piece velvets, plushes, silks, satins, ribbons, laces, flowers, feathers

&c. Marked in red ink at thirty per cent under cost price: and other stock of all

kinds much below that namely evening dress

and tea gown trimmings and many things suitable for bazaar work.

All must be cleared out within a very short time.

Terms Cash.

Sale to Commence Saturday 19th March 1892

12 Flowergate

The Premises to Let. with early possession. – Apply W. Harrison, Esk House.’

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Sources:

  • 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)
  • Whitby Gazette, 1880-1892 (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, ‘The Misses Stangoe – Milliners in Late Victorian Whitby’, TEXTILIS (May 18, 2016); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)