Advertisers in Sneinton Parish Magazine: 1901-1910
Part 1. The goods will speak for themselves

By Stephen Best

BARKER'S GROCERS (formerly BENDALL'S) in 1962, not long before demolition. BARKER'S GROCERS (formerly BENDALL'S) in 1962, not long before demolition. The shop is on the corner of Upper Eldon Street, with the row of houses called Minerva Terrace stretching away down Sneinton Road. (Photo: Anne Day collection).

IN THE TWO MOST RECENT ISSUES OF this magazine we attempted to recapture the essence of Edwardian Sneinton through the parish magazines of the time. A patchwork of events and issues emerges from their pages; some of great moment, others of slight importance. Whether sacred or secular, portentous or petty, they all help to build up a rich picture of the local community in the first decade of the twentieth century.

One aspect of these old magazines remains to be mentioned: one whose survival could not have been taken for granted, but which adds greatly to their interest as social documents. For this we are indebted to the unknown person who gave instructions that the covers be retained when all the monthly parts were bound up; thanks to his foresight their advertisements can still be enjoyed. As much as anything else in the magazine, they provide the colour which identifies Sneinton as a neighbourhood with its own character, set in a time whose values and aspirations can sometimes be savoured from even the smallest bit of publicity.

This local air is all the stronger because the advertisements are, without exception, truly local ones. None were placed by businesses outside Nottingham, and just a sprinkling by firms who did not have at least a branch in Sneinton. Some of the latter were calculated to appeal especially to the readership of a parish magazine. Sisson & Parker’s Wheeler Gate bookshop was recommended for its stock of Bibles, Sunday School prizes, prayer books and hymn books, while Newhall & Mason of New Basford promoted their coffee essence, extract of herbs, and wine essences - all refreshing but free from intoxicants. A third likely to catch the eye of a devout churchgoing family was that of Jackson's Christian Memorial Depot in Mansfield Road, who offered a catalogue of their granite and marble monuments, headstones and crosses.

During the years 1901-1910 the parish magazine included advertisements for nearly forty businesses based in, or on the fringes of Sneinton, and for a further six firms with branches here. For all their proud and confident claims, it it clear that advertising did not always pay: although a number of long-lived and prosperous businesses appear in this account, so do enterprises that rose and fell in a moment, leaving hardly a trace in the community - sometimes no mark at all, save their advertisement in Sneinton Parish Magazine.

As ever, it is helpful to remind ourselves of what sort of place Sneinton was at this date. It was no longer the semi-rural retreat whose picturesque features, the Hermitage in particular, had brought visitors out from Nottingham at weekends and holidays. The settlement of Old Sneinton, near the church, had long been encroached upon by housing from the Nottingham direction, and was now seeing widespread development on its 'country' flanks, along Sneinton Dale and towards Colwick.

Large and comfortable houses could still be found around the church, and among the older buildings at the town end of Sneinton Dale. Notintone Place, Belvoir Hill, Castle Street, Victoria Villas - these and other addresses were home to some substantial citizens of Nottingham. Yet, as they died, or, as many did, moved out to more fashionable areas, the houses tended to go downhill on the scale of smartness and desirability. What had been the home of an architect or a company director, might, for instance, become rooms for commercial gentlemen. Sneinton Manor House had been demolished in the 1890s, its site and that of its grounds rapidly occupied by housing. Nevertheless, Old Sneinton remained the most agreeable part of the district.

Between Sneinton church and inner Nottingham lay a teeming mass of houses.

Many of these were small, and many were appalling. New Sneinton, lying on either side of Sneinton Road, had been increasingly built-up since the 1830s. Between Manvers Street and Dakeyne Street lived a large working-class population, a lot of them in back-to-back dwellings. Others - some residents of Sneinton Road, for instance - enjoyed bigger and relatively grand homes. Those lucky enough to have the use of a water-closet almost certainly had to go out of doors to use it. The least fortunate still relied on pail-closets, of which 40,000 would still exist, in Nottingham, at the end of Edward VII's reign, and on a water-tap in the communal yard.

Three other localities, however, made New Sneinton seem comparatively idyllic. In the area now occupied by the Nottingham City Transport and Trent bus garages lived almost 2,000 people; their home was the Manvers Street/Carter Gate Unhealthy Area, one of the black spots of Nottingham, and one of its poorest. Conditions here were so bad that the City Council made strenuous efforts to get all its inhabitants rehoused before the Great War.1

Between Southwell Road and Gedling Street were several streets of old back-to- back houses. These were, incredibly, not to be demolished until the mid-1930s, when the new Wholesale Market was built on their site. Beyond them, off Platt Street and Colwick Street (now Lower Parliament and Brook Streets,) lay the notorious Meadow Platts area. This, like the Carter Gate area, was an abominable slum, but with a far worse reputation. For all its poverty the latter was judged by the police to be a basically honest neighbourhood, while the Meadow Platts was widely considered a nest of crime.

Other pockets of old housing existed in Sneinton Elements, and in the Fisher Gate, Poplar Street, and Handel Street areas. Sneinton was, however, seeing huge changes at the beginning of the new century, as the result of the new housing previously mentioned. The Manor House site had released land for St Stephen’s Road, Manor Street, and Lees Hill Street. On either side of Sneinton Dale as far as Edale Road and Hardstaff Road, new houses would continue to be built until the outbreak of the Great War. Extensive development was also taking place north and south of Colwick Road, including an important new street named Sneinton Boulevard.

These new houses brought a different feel to Sneinton. They were, apart from those in and around Old Sneinton, much better than the older dwellings, and their rents - they were almost universally rented consequently higher. So, while New Sneinton and the other poorer areas we have discussed remained overwhelmingly the home of what were then called the labouring classes, the streets off the Dale, the Boulevard, and Colwick Road constituted what the directories described as 'an improving suburb.' This was a place of good terrace houses and semi-detached villas: home to clerks, superior artisans, and tradesmen, who enjoyed their bit of back garden, and perhaps managed to get to the seaside for a day or two in the summer. Some incomers were insistent that their address should be ’Sneinton Dale,' or 'Colwick Road.' Not Sneinton, which retained overtones that some considered 'not quite nice:' the kind of attitude that made people remind someone with his hands in pockets that he had ’Got his Sneinton gloves on.'

There were, then, plenty of people in and around Sneinton at whom advertisements could be aimed - and plenty of tradesmen, shopkeepers, and others, to do the aiming. A proportion of the local population, while no doubt having the inclination to respond to their blandishments, certainly did not have money for anything other than basic necessities. However, all those who advertised in Sneinton Parish Magazine did so because they expected to attract customers from the locality. Their shops were in the neighbourhood, and familiar to Sneinton people, whether parish magazine readers or not. It is time to find out who they all were.

In the following account the exact words of the advertisers are quoted, but one small alteration has been made. Victorian and Edwardian advertisements made heavy use of capital letters to emphasize words - not always the most obvious or important ones. This can be amusing when reproduced in small extracts, but tedious and distracting with constant repetition. Capitals have therefore been limited to the opening of sentences, to proper names, and to whatever else seems to me to merit them.

More than a third of our advertisers were, not surprisingly, shopkeepers who dealt in food. The most numerous of these were grocers. First to be mentioned is Albert John Bowyer, 'Grocer and provision dealer’ of 64 Trent Road, who informed the public that he had previously worked for 12 years with E. Scarrott of Arkwright Street. His 1901 notice pointed out that his shop was 'Near bus terminus.’ This was the short-lived horse bus service which ran from the centre of Nottingham to the junction of Thurgarton Street and Trent Road. Bowyer would remain in business here for only a year or two, but as late as the 1950s his shop at the corner of Jubilee Street was still a greengrocers, Grice’s. Though now a private house, it is still obviously a former shop.

F.R. Lilley & Son of Thurgarton Street Postal and Telegraph Office were just over the road from Bowyer. In 1900 Lilley had been a grocer and seedsman, but soon afterwards assumed the additional duties of sub-postmaster. In his 1909 advertisement he stated that he was a 'Family grocer and provision dealer, greengrocer, fruiterer, etc. Family orders promptly attended to.' This particular family had embarked on a lengthy occupation of the shop, and as late as 1953 Mrs Florence Lilley was dealing in groceries at 17 Thurgarton Street. A food shop still trades here, but the post office is now at the corner of Sneinton Boulevard.

Lilleys’ longevity is in stark contrast with the shop of J.A. (or J.H.) Wood, '10 years with T. Furley & Co., Parliament Street,' who set up in 1901 as grocer and general stores at the corner of Sneinton. Boulevard and Lyndhurst Road. Assuring the customer of moderate prices and good quality, Wood pleaded: 'A trial is solicited.' Sadly, it appears that his venture was a failure. A second advertisement changed J.A. into J.H. Wood, but whether this was a correction or an error can only be conjectured, for no further mention of Wood can be found. His association with Furley’s was not to be sneezed at; this was a high-class firm with a shop at the corner of Clinton Street. Now Lloyds/TSB, it still has four lovely little terra-cotta reliefs on the Parliament Street frontage, depicting some of the more exotic aspects of the grocery trade.

J. Belton, 'Grocer and tea dealer,' of 134 Sneinton Road, on the corner of Notintone Street, advertised very modestly in 1903. Belton acted as sub-postmaster at the same address, just across the road from the church. Having been here since the 1880s, when he had described himself, like Lilley, as grocer and seedsman, he moved in about 1904 to 62a Sneinton Road. Here, at the corner of Beaumont Street, near the Albion Chapel, Belton traded for a number of years more. His old shop at 134 became Smith's chemists for several decades: its site adjoined the pleasant little grassy space, dotted with trees, at the top of Notintone Street.

A shopkeeper on a grander scale was S.J. Bendall, 'Wholesale grocer, provision merchant, and cheese factor,' with premises at 45-47 Manvers Street and 85 Sneinton Road, in addition to two shops elsewhere in Nottingham. Both of Bendall's Sneinton concerns were extant in the 1920s, and the business was still going strong at no. 85, on the corner of Upper Eldon Street, early in the Second World War. Another grocer, Horace Barker, had the shop by 1950, and a small modern bungalow now stands on the corner. The site of Bendall's Manvers Street premises is the car park in front of Bentinck Court.

Proctor's Stores appeared in the parish magazine just once, in October 1909. 'Tea dealers, etc.' at 111 Colwick Road and 141 Sneinton Dale, their slogan ran: 'Our teas will save you pence per lb. week by week.' George Procter [sic] had been a grocer at the corner of Colwick Road and Trent Road since about 1903, when the building was first occupied, and remained there for over ten years. A hairdresser had taken his old shop by 1920, but other grocers were back a couple of years later, to stay for three more decades.

Procter must have rented his other shop, at the Ena Avenue corner, when it was newly built, but traded here for only the shortest time. A grocer named Slight was there soon afterwards, and in more recent times Bramley's shop at 141 Sneinton Dale was widely-known. These premises now house the Azadi Asian Resource Project.

The final grocer from our period of Sneinton Parish Magazine was a much bigger operator. J.D. Marsden had opened his first shop in Woodborough Road in 1880, when a very young man, and over the next 25 years his chain had grown to some eleven shops in Nottingham, with about the same number of branches further afield. He had two outlets in Sneinton before the Great War, in Gedling Street and Sneinton Boulevard. Numbers 14-16 Gedling Street lay between Finch Street and Sheridan Street, at the city end of the present-day Sneinton Square (the former Wholesale Market.) This was in the extremely poor neighbourhood already mentioned; by contrast, the other, newer, branch in Sneinton Boulevard was in an up- and-coming and highly respectable quarter of Sneinton.

Marsden's advertisements were frequent, enterprising, and eye-catching. What is more, they were regularly altered to hold the interest of the public. In 1901, as Marsden's Cash Stores, he highlighted his 'Delicious pork sausages, made from fresh pork at our Ripley Branch.' Two years later he emphasized the value of his tea: 'The success of Marsdens' business is proof enough that small profits and business principles can still win their way with the people who can pay ready money.' By 1904 it was the quality of the tea, rather than its low price, which was being trumpeted: 'The flavour is so charming. The colour is so inviting. The quality is so pure...Marsdens employ a specialist in tea for the purpose of buying and blending, whose business is always to watch that their teas come up to one high standard of excellence.' In 1909 the advertisements became even more confident: 'Our provision trade has special supervision, and is increasing by leaps and bounds.' Marsden could now boast shops as far away as Matlock and Hull.

One of his schemes, however, was evidently less successful. For a short period around 1902 Marsden's announced an extra amenity at their Gedling Street branch. This was their Popular Price Cafe, serving teas, coffees, chips and steaks; it seems likely that the cafe hoped for custom from the nearby wholesale market, which had moved to Sneinton from the Great Market Place at the turn of the century. Ever one to entice patrons in, Marsden beguiled them with extra attractions, and 'Ping pong, draughts, &c.' were on hand to help the diner relax mind and body.

The imagination dwells on the scene: four burly market traders enter, to feast on tea and steak. Two of them, full of energy, try their skill at the ping pong table, while the other pair - less vigorous, or more reflective - challenge one another to a game of draughts. Today, no doubt, this would have been a cybercafe. Marsden's were, of course, quite capable of running a successful cafe, and their city centre establishment in Milton Street prospered for half a century. Although the Gedling Street branch had closed by 1916, the Sneinton Boulevard premises remained open until quite recent times. The painted sign: 'Marsden Quality Stores: Marsden Quality Bacon' is still clearly legible on the wall at the corner of Kentwood Road.

Two bakers promoted their wares in the parish magazine between 1901 and 1910. One was perhaps the oldest of the local shops, having been in business in Sneinton Street as early as 1844. T. Flint, of no. 2, was proud to be the only Nottingham baker awarded a prize at the 1894 Bakers' and Confectioners' Exhibition. He was still eager for new customers: 'A trial is respectfully solicited. Try our Special Prize Blend pastry flour.' Flint's stock was in fact much more comprehensive than the term 'baker' implies, comprising a mouth-watering assortment: 'Scotch oatmeal, groates, rolled oats, flaked rice, rice, Scotch and pearl barley, corn flour, jams, marmalade, jellies, salmon, lobsters, sardines, tomatoes, sauces and pickles in variety...Cocoas, coffees, plain and fancy biscuits in all varieties.’

Nor were humans his only potential customers. 'Shell gravel, nest bags, dog biscuits, linseed and cotton cake, linseed meal, horse corn, pigeon corn, chicken mixture' were also on sale at this cornucopian establishment. A rather confusing change in house numbering followed, but the 1920s found Flint's, now no. 12, still occupying the corner of Sneinton Street and Newark Lane. The site of the shop now lies beneath the new Ice Arena - or, perhaps, under the adjacent carriageway of Lower Parliament Street.

On the demolition of the old shop, Flint's moved about 200 yards to 25 Goose Gate, where they traded until well after the Second World War, still advertising their 'Tea, coffee, corn and seeds.'

The second bakery, P.E. Bates of 102 Sneinton Road, was always keen on publicity. This usually featured a drawing of a loaf of bread bearing the word BATES, with the exhortation: 'Don't worry about the big and little loaf. Eat P.E. Bates's bread. Once eaten, always eaten. The purest and best.' Bates rivalled Flint's earlier distinction, in having achieved 'Highest honours at the Bakers' Exhibition, London. Holder of 3 first prizes.' In 1906 the shop was using its punning sales line, doubtless considered a real rib-tickler throughout Sneinton: 'Eat Bates' bread. It bates all.' Alfred Bates, who had been in charge of the business since about 1900, was still there in 1916; after the Great War, however, the shop was in the hands of the Day family, who remained its. owners until the premises were pulled down at the beginning of the sixties. The bakery stood on the left side of Sneinton Road going towards the city, a few yards higher than the junction with Upper Eldon Street across the road.

Peter Elliott Bates, founder of the firm, was a prominent local figure. In his time landlord of the Old Wrestlers pub in Sneinton Hollows, he was also a property developer, for whom the handsome semi-detached houses in Ena Avenue were built.

THIS PHOTOGRAPH, though of appalling quality, is of great interest, showing Wilcock’s butchers at the junction of Southwell Road and Sneinton Road. Across the latter street stands the Sneinton Picture Palace, on the corner of West Street. c.1912. (Photo: Anne Day collection).

From bakers we turn to butchers. Of those who favoured the magazine with an advertisement, G.T. Clay of 79 Sneinton Road was typical in assuming a title rather grander than the simple 'butcher.' His notice in July 1901, liberally embellished with curly typefaces, proclaimed: 'Family butcher and English meat purveyor. Pickled tongues and corned beef...All orders strictly attended to.' Clay, who had previously been in business in Arkwright Street, was to enjoy only a few years in Sneinton. By 1907 Mrs Agnes Susannah Clay was in charge, and not long after that another butcher had the shop, a few doors down the hill from Bendall's grocers.

E. A. Wilcock, 'Established over 25 years,' occupied a small, cottage-like shop near the bottom corner of Sneinton Road, set back behind a little paved area. His display in the parish magazine of January 1909 featured a smudgy engraving of sheep and cattle grazing, emphasizing his 'Prime beef, mutton, lamb and veal.' One of the minority of Edwardian Sneinton advertisers to quote a telephone number (1750), he promised: 'Our motto is QUALITY.' Wilcock’s shop was to be a fixture for over half a century after this, tucked away close to the Westminster Bank. Although believed by many to be in Sneinton Road or Southwell Road, its address was in fact 8 Carlton Road. Nothing has since been built on the site of the shop, whose former location is hidden by advertising hoardings at the Sneinton Road corner.

Only a few doors above Wilcock’s, George Fletcher took over Mrs Sarah Ann Checkland's butcher's shop at 12 Sneinton Road in about 1907. These premises had been occupied by butchers since 1874, and would continue to be so until the end of the 1950s. Fletcher announced himself in 1909: 'Purveyor of high-class ENGLISH meat. Corned beef and pickled tongues a speciality. Families waited on daily.' Fletcher evidently pleased his customers, the business still being listed in 1941. As described in a recent Sneinton Magazine, G. Fletcher’s painted name was recently revealed above his former shop window during the building's conversion into flats, and has, surprisingly, not yet been blotted out.2

Another George in the Sneinton butchery trade was Geo. B. Newton of 90 Sneinton Boulevard, who was, like Wilcock, sufficiently enterprising to be on the telephone in 1909 - no. 421X1. Newton was something of a nomad in Sneinton. In 1902 he had been at 24 Sneinton Dale, on the Pullman Road corner (about which we shall soon hear more,) and he also occupied 132 Colwick Road for a short while. This was at the corner of Trent Lane, opposite the Manvers Hotel. He remained in Sneinton Boulevard for much longer, until the end of the twenties.

Newton must have liked corner shops, as this one stood at the junction of Trent Road and the Boulevard. Now a private house, it was most recently Dave's Fruit & Veg. Stressing that he sold - or purveyed - high-class English meat, Newton laid out his special lines: 'Home made potted beef 6d per lb. Home dressed tripe. Also a constant supply of Lincolnshire eggs the year round.' Lincolnshire eggs, produced so close to Nottingham, could be on sale here very quickly, with the implicit assurance of freshness.

Three further traders advertised in the magazine specifically as pork butchers. The well-known local firm of T.N. Parr had been established in the 1870s, and by 1904 was running four shops in Nottingham, one of them at 27 Fisher Gate. It is surprising that such a prominent concern did not publicize itself here more often, but faded from the parish magazine after reminding readers that: 'Parr's pies and sausage are simply delicious.' Their Fisher Gate shop remained open until the early 1920s.

C.C. Duckering had a short, career as a Sneinton shopkeeper, being in business at 15 Colwick Road for a mere year or two after 1907. By 1910 another pork butcher had succeeded him. here. Duckering followed Newton in asserting that he sold 'Fresh laid Lincolnshire eggs.' His former shop is now Shehzad Fashions.

Frederick Hoffmann was well-established as a 'Wholesale and retail pork butcher...Home cured hams and bacon of the finest quality.' His shop was at 29 Sneinton Street (now part of Lower Parliament Street,) close to the corner of Southwell Road, where a little car park now marks the site of Price & Beal's. For many years he lived nearby at 121 Sneinton Road, on the corner of Windmill Lane; the house later became a post office. Hoffmann - telephone no. 487Y in. 1909 - was one of several Nottingham traders with German surnames to have his premises mindlessly attacked during the Great War. No wonder, then, that although he was still trading at 29 Sneinton Street in 1920, it was under the name F. Mason. 3

A different sort of food shop first advertised in the magazine in July 1901. This was owned by C.S. Millhouse of 66 Trent Road: 'Fish, poultry, & rabbits. (14 years with J. Burton & Sons, Ltd.)' Millhouse's previous experience with Nottingham’s premier provision merchants would have been considered by his customers to be quite a testimonial. Like his next-door neighbour Bowyer he reminded shoppers that he could be reached by public transport, albeit horse-drawn: 'Buses stop and start from door.' Charles Summerby Millhouse remained in Trent Road for more than a decade, until a fishmonger named Rayson succeeded him at no. 66. The shop is now converted into a dwelling house.

W.M. & E. Whitworth may also have been in the food trade, but we cannot be certain. They advertised in 1901 as 'Market gardeners and florists,’ of 41 Lund’s Allotments, Colwick Road. It seems reasonable to infer that, as market gardeners, they might have produced vegetables for local shops; however, the only added information in Whitworths' notice was that they offered: 'All kinds of wreaths and bouquets made to order. ’

Lund's Gardens lay on the south, side of Colwick Road, to the east of Meadow Lane. Long a feature of 'village' Sneinton, they had suffered their first reduction in the 1880s, with the building of the London & North Western Railway embankment carrying the branch line into Manvers Street Goods Station. Plenty of space still remained for garden holders at the turn of the century, but the erosion of the allotments continued until they disappeared altogether with the building of council housing in the Cosby Road area between the wars.

Tobacconists, with their related trades of newsagent and stationer, follow food shops in this survey, chiefly on account of their link with confectionery. It is strange, then, that not one of our three tobacconists referred to sweets or chocolate at all in their sales talk. Indeed, W. Carrington of 13 Fisher Gate made no mention in his advertisement of March 1901 of anything that could not be smoked. He had been at this shop since the mid-1890s, and as late as 1956 a Miss Dorothy Carrington was carrying on the business. No doubt it took the demolition contractors to shift her. Carrington urged the public to 'Smoke Sherwood Rangers. Finest and most popular 2d. cigar in the market...Ask. for them and have no other.' These highly-praised cigars were made quite close to Sneinton, in Castle Gate, Nottingham.

E.M. Edwards of 24 Sneinton. Dale was a tobacconist, but one who also dealt in a rather special product. To give his full description he was 'Tobacconist, stationer, & talking machine dealer.’ Alone among our gallery of advertisers in selling this increasingly popular feature of the smart Edwardian home, he informed potential customers in 1909 that: 'We stock the new Amberol Record. (Plays 4min. 45sec.) Come and hear them.' In spite of this bold enterprise, Edwards was in Sneinton Dale for only a brief time. Two butchers had preceded him here, (one of them George Newton, whom we have already met,) and by 1913 Belfield’s tobacconists had taken over the shop at the corner of Pullman Road, where Akbar's Mini Market now occupies a new no. 24.

A much more permanent business was located at 128 Sneinton Road, just below the Notintone Street corner. This was the shop of E. Hainsworth, who had arrived at the turn of the century. Hainsworth was another who changed his advertisements from time to time, emphasizing different aspects of his stock. In the parish magazine of March 1901 he set out his stall: 'Newsagent and stationer. Toys and fancy goods dealer. All kinds of school, requisites, stationery, smallwares, kept in stock. Daily, evening and weekly papers delivered to any address in the district. Birthday cards. Please don't forget the address, 4 doors from the church.' Hainsworth was quick to remind readers of the parish magazine that he was conveniently situated for them to call in after services. (Another local businessman, only three doors from the church, would later introduce a more ominous touch to such a message. More of him in. due course.)

In March 1903 Hainsworth informed the Sneinton public that he was an 'Importer of French and German toys,' with 'a good selection of the latest seasonable novelties and games...Special terms for schools, treats, etc.' The December magazine found . him supplying a timely reminder to his customers: 'Private Xmas cards. See our sample books. All of this year's latest artistic patterns. Quality, variety & prices cannot be beaten.' Hainsworth also commissioned and sold picture postcard, views of Sneinton; although generally mediocre examples of photography, these remain invaluable as a record of the local scene.

This shrewd trader continued in business until the end of the 1920s. 128 Sneinton Road was clearly a good location for a newsagent and stationer, as a succession of them followed Hainsworth. The last was King's, who retained the shop until it and. its neighbours were pulled down about 1961.

Perhaps the best-remembered Sneinton businessman of all was Alfred Pullman, whose drapery stores in Sneinton. Street and Derby Road were notable features of the Nottingham retail scene. Pullman has been discussed in Sneinton Magazine on previous occasions,4 but a short account of his career is appropriate here. Born in Devon, he came to Nottingham as a very young man, opening his first shop in 1859. With the growth of his business, Pullman’s Sneinton Street premises gradually expanded, until they occupied most of the row betwen Gedling Street and Southwell Road. Pullman was a remarkably good employer by the standards of his day. A strong proponent of the welfare of shop workers, he was a leading light in the Nottingham Thursday Half-Holiday Association. Active in public life as a Liberal, Frederick Pullman served as both sheriff and mayor of Nottingham. He lived for many years at Jasmine Cottage, Castle Street, Sneinton, and on his death in 1906 was buried in Nottingham Church Cemetery. Pullman Road, off Sneinton Dale, is named after him.

His firm was virtually ever-present as a Sneinton Parish Magazine advertiser, always displaying a sharp eye for effective publicity and a sales opportunity. In January 1901 appeared the following: ’Important announcement. Frederick Pullman is now showing a well-assorted and up-to-date stock of drapery and furnishing goods. Departments: Mantles: Dresses: Gloves: Hosiery: Oil cloths: Carpets: Rugs: Linens: Calicoes: Flannels: Flannelettes: Shirtings: &c. &c. The prices will stand against the keenest competition, and a visit to this store will be very beneficial to intending purchasers. Terms cash, small profits, and a genuine article.' These were to be constantly repeated Pullman slogans throughout the next decade: fair prices, no tick, and the widest variety of goods in the Sneinton area.

Three years later, Pullman & Sons Ltd., as they had become, were publicizing their premises in Sneinton Street and Derby Road.' The cheapest firm in the city for general household drapery...All goods sold at cash prices.' January 1906 found the store underlining the excellent value it gave: 'A genuine article at a low price! We hold the highest reputation for sterling value.' By 1907 the company was confident that everyone knew what they sold: now styling themselves cash drapers, Pullman’s asserted: 'Our variety of goods is greater than ever: it is impossible to enumerate all the bargains to be found in the different departments. We prefer to solicit the favour of a personal visit. The goods will speak for themselves.'

Special offers and events called for special notices by Pullman's, and one such was printed in the magazine for January 1909. 'The extraordinary features of our winter sale... are the offering of Messrs. Elnor & Briggs’ entire stock, of dress materials and the celebration of our Business Jubilee. Do not miss this sale.'

Our final glimpse of this shop in Edward VII's reign is a wonderfully evocative advertisement from February 1910, in which we find a prosperous company awarding itself a well-merited pat on the back. '1859- 1910. Pullman's for value. For more than fifty years the name of Pullman has been associated with value in all that appertains to the establishing or the replenishing of the linen chest. It is not given to many firms to have the privilege of hearing their customers say that they come to us because their Mothers and Grandmothers came before them. The reason is really more deeply rooted than the mere question of 'habit' or custom. No business can exist long on past reputation alone. The real reason we retain our old friends and make new ones is, that we live up to our reputation, or in other words, we are doing in 1910 what the founder of our business did in 1859, viz.- giving the absolute limit of value.'

This was no idle boast, as my own family illustrates; my grandmother and mother shopped there in turn, as I also did as an unwilling child in-tow. Pullman's continued to trade in Lower Parliament Street until 1961, although the Derby Road shop had been closed a decade or so earlier, following a decision to concentrate the business at the Sneinton premises. The Lower Parliament Street store, extending in higgledy-piggledy fashion, and embodying a variety of architectural styles, was demolished, to be replaced by the dispiriting and anonymous row which now faces the equally unlovable Ice Arena. The Derby Road shop (nos. 56- 60) has fared better. All three shop fronts survive, and the one on the corner of Derby Street, now a branch of Nash Interiors, has retained the old Pullman fascia. Full marks to somebody.

From the biggest fish among Sneinton drapers, we turn our attention to one of the minnows. February 1904 saw the only notice ever placed in the parish magazine by C. Campion, 'General draper, milliner and haberdasher,' of Meadow Lane Post Office, which stood on the corner of Moreland Street. Mrs Charlotte Campion was in business here only briefly, being followed in close sucession as sub-postmistress by two other ladies, both also drapers. It is unlikely that any branch post office advertisement nowadays would feature one of Mrs Campion's selling points: 'Corsets a speciality.'

PRICE AND BEAL’S FIRST SHOP, the only known view; at the corner of Southwell Road and Abinger Street. From the magazine of August 1900.

Although Pullman's may well be the best- remembered Sneinton shop, one of its near neighbours must run it close in that respect. Already mentioned incidentally, this business was to serve the area for over ninety years. Readers of the parish magazine for March 1901 saw this full-page announcement: 'Price & Beal, the Sneinton outfitters, are now showing all the leading styles in gents', youths' and boys' clothing for the Spring. Note address: Southwell Road.' A month later the firm reminded readers about its stock of 'Little boys' suits.'

Current generations of local people will recall Price & Beal's shop at 1-5 Southwell Road, on the corner of Lower Parliament Street. At the time of our advertisements, however, the firm was in business across the road at nos. 12-14, near the corner of Abinger Street. They moved to the odd numbers in the early 1920s, when the southern side of Southwell Road was demolished to make way for the Nottingham City Tramways offices and depot.

This review of Sneinton Parish Magazine focuses on the years 1901-10, but in the case of Price & Beal it is worth going back to July 1900. Here we find publicity for the shop, accompanied by a photograph of 12- 14 Southwell Road: not a very good photograph, admittedly, but the only one I have ever seen of the building. On a corner site, the shop had three large lamps to illuminate a meticulous window display. The building was embellished with polychrome brickwork, its upper floors sporting a curly gable and corbelled-out angle turret. But for the inclusion of this view in the parish magazine, we would have no idea of what Price & Beal's original shop looked like. As it is, we see a newly-established business in smart and self-confident premises. There is no hint of the tract of slum housing lying immediately to its rear, in the Carter Gate and Manvers Street area.

Price & Beal, which in its heyday operated six shops in Nottingham and one in Boston, closed down in 1991, to the particular regret of men of larger build. The empty shop, which., compared with the row alongside it, possessed considerable character, lingered in a state of increasing dereliction for several years. Now demolished, its site today is, almost inevitably, a parking space.

(To be concluded in the next issue)


1.     Unfit for human habitation: the Carter Gate/ Manvers Street Unhealthy Area. Sneinton Magazine 14, Autumn 1984.

2.     One man's meat: a taste of Sneinton's past. Sneinton Magazine 84, Autumn 2002. One of the pleasures of writing about local history is that a reader can sometimes add, from personal knowledge, information which no amount of research would have unearthed. I am therefore indebted to Mrs Irene Meakin of Charlton Kings, who writes with the charming and unexpected detail that George Fletcher’s wife was noted in Sneinton for the ballet dresses and other costumes she made for her daughters. They were members of the Catling School of Dancing, who gave frequent displays for local charities. Mrs Meakin adds that, after living behind the butcher's shop at 12 Sneinton Road, the Fletcher family underwent a dramatic change of residence, moving to Sneinton Mill Bungalow, up on Belvoir Hill.

3.     For an informative account of the Hoffmann family, see Brian Lawrence’s The Hoffmanns of Sneinton: a story of changing attitudes. Sneinton. Magazine 37, Winter 1990/91.

4.     Picturesque and worthy of inspection: Sneinton echoes in the Church Cemetery, Nottingham. Sneinton Magazine 72, Autumn 1999. Preceding the cataclysm: Sneinton and its parish magazine in the Edwardian era. Sneinton Magazine 86-87, Spring & Summer 2003.