Graham Barker unearths some newspaper snippets on his ancestor Jesse Barker – hand-frame knitter and celery grower of Loughborough – in his latest Trading Stories, Working Lives article
Inside a marquee tucked behind the Peacock Inn, Jesse Barker is celebrating winning first prize in the Loughborough Celery Show. It’s a hard-won victory; his seventh attempt at the top prize. In earlier years he’d won a succession of all-comers’ prizes: half a dozen knives and forks, a tin coffee pot, a garden fork, a pepper pot. But now, on a Saturday afternoon in September 1869, he’s finally able to hold aloft the winner’s trophy – a copper kettle – to respectful applause from his fellow gardeners and cheers from his grandchildren.
As the Leicester Daily Mail describes, “There were twenty-one entries, and the exhibition was considered superior to any of the previous ones. The members and friends finished the day by taking supper together, and… were much enlivened by the musical strains of a harp and concertina, with some excellent singing by Mr Biddles.” Jesse was a touch tipsy when he left the Peacock that night, heading around the corner to his home on King Street.
Download the full story here: Jesse Barker, hand-frame knitter and celery grower of Loughborough
Continue reading Trading Stories, Working Lives: Jesse Barker, hand-frame knitter and celery grower of Loughborough
In his latest Trading Stories, Working Lives article, Graham Barker takes a closer look at how his relative Edward Collis earned a living as a cabinet marker, upholster and furniture broker in Victorian Leicester
There’s a tantalising glimpse of Edward Collis’ Church Gate premises in this photo taken around 1878-84. Alas, the Central Cabinet & Upholstery Furnishing Establishment was not Edward’s showroom – his was more modest, a door or two down Church Gate – but this corner appears to have been a furniture-buying hotspot, in the shadow of the Clock Tower. By 1885, the corner building had been replaced by the East Gates Coffee House, which stills stands there today.
An advert in 1870 presents Edward as running a steady, respectable business, sustained by “the kind and liberal support bestowed upon him during the past 17 years.” When the Church Gate premises are auctioned in 1874 – for the third time during his tenancy – it is time to move. Edward relocates to 9 Belgrave Gate but it proves to be only a short-term measure; two years later, he “is retiring from the Cabinet Manufacturing Department of his business, and in consequence of the premises being sold to the Leicester Tramways Company,” he not only auctions off his supplies of “superior Mahogany, Oak, and Walnut veneers” but also takes the opportunity to prune his stock of “massive oak and Spanish mahogany suites in costly Utrecht velvets, morocco and real leather… marqueterie and buhl cabinets… Arabian and French bedsteads…” and other opulent sounding pieces.
Continue reading Trading Stories, Working Lives: Edward Collis, a Victorian cabinet maker, upholsterer and furniture broker