Shopping in St Mary Street at the turn of the century:Part 2.

It’s an usually hot and sunny autumns day on Weymouth esplanade and Mrs Vearee Nozee is busy gathering together her flock of female friends.

They are off for another little jolly, a short stroll to peruse a few more of the shops in St Mary St.

The gaggle of giggling ladies  make their way down through the narrow Blockhouse Lane towards the town. At the bottom they  stop, looking around for their mother hen who is bringing up the rear, trying to chivvy malingering Millicent along.


Well ladies, here we are again, ready to start the next part of our perambulations of the towns shops here in St Mary St.

I do hope you all have your parasols at the ready, we really don’t want any sunburnt faces now do we… not at all comely to be looking as if you work in the fields.

The first shop we see here on the corner of the lane is no.10, and  is now the premises of James George Tinson.

J G Tinson

I don’t know too much about this family apart from they have two small children, Vera and baby Cyril James. (They had another daughter Dorothea Mary in 1902.)

Dad James runs the family grocery business along with the help of his wife Alice Victoria, (she used to be one of the Weymouth Ferry family.) Alice is advertising in the papers at the moment for a general servant to help about the home and shop, if anyone of you should happen to know of a suitable young girl looking for such a position please let me know and I’ll pass on her details to the family. (In fact Alice Tinson rather frequently placed adverts for young girls to act general servants over the years…maybe she never found quite what she was looking for…or maybe was a hard task master!)

So I’m told, James moved to Weymouth in about 1891, and was at first lodging in rooms in St Leonards Road, that was when he started working as a mere grocers boy.

James has only recently taken over this business and the family live above the shop.

Oh look, that must be little Vera peeping out from behind the curtains upstairs…Millicent!…please stop waving your parasol at her like that…you’ll frighten the little miss.

These premises originally used to be that of Robert William Reynolds & co; and a very nice shop it was too, they laid claim to the fact that they were trading by special appointment to HRH the Prince of Wales, they were wine, spirit, porter & pale ale merchants.

As one of my male companions tells me they were also sole stockists of the famous Bass, Allsopp and Guinness alcoholic beverages, much loved by the gentlemen.

I prefer partaking in a petite sip of porter myself…only every once in a while of course!

Someone told me that James first started trading in his own grocery shop in St Alban St and when these premises in St Mary St became available in 1900, he moved his family and business here.

Robert William Reynolds who had previously owned this successful wine merchants comes from a very long-established Weymouth family, their lineage go back centuries in this town.

Robert and his family, who are very good friends of mine,  are now living in a rather grand house, Hillside, in St Leonards Road.

He is  very much a pillar of the community, acting as  church warden in Wyke Regis. ( ) he  also holds the responsible post of the National schools manager for the Wyke Regis area.

Maybe Reynolds wine merchants was where James first started out as a grocers boy when he  arrived in Weymouth.

Poor old James Tinson wasn’t destined to make old bones, he died on the 12th October 1905 aged just 38, leaving a will, and all his worldly goods to his young wife Alice, who was left to bring up their young family alone.

Alice moved into 13 Trinity Road, where she set up home with her widowed father, Alfred James Ferry, an undertaker.

She continued to run a greengrocers from this address until her death.


Come along ladies…now, the next shop I expect that quite a few of you will have frequented this business over time, they do exquisite furnishings for the home.

I simply adore the new Liberty prints they have in stock, I might well get my little man to re-cover my chaise lounge with one of them.

For those  ladies new to the area, this is Hallett & Sons, perhaps they might have even transported all your precious worldly possessions when you moved to Weymouth.

The business is run by William Tamsett Hallett, he must be well into his 60’s by now, a town stalwart and magistrate to boot.


The Hallett family no longer live above the shop premises, having come up in the world, quite rightly, they moved to one of the larger private residences, Ingleside, in Stavordale Road.

The business was originally started by his father, Edwin Owen Hallett way back in the 1850’s. Having done well they expanded their shop to no’s 11 and 12.

Edwin the elder started out life as a simple cabinet maker, but by diligence, hard work and moving with the times, his business grew until it became what you ladies see here before you today

This poor family hasn’t been without its tragedies though!

William’s brother, Edwin Owen the younger, led a very successful life.

He joined the Royal Navy at a young age, he was another one that worked hard, making his way up through the ranks.

In 1868 Edwin married local girl Agnes Maunders .

Edwin was so well respected by his superiors that he was actually chosen to serve on the Royal yacht, Osborne, no less.  His mother was almost insufferable when he was selected to man the royal yacht, it was Edwin this and Edwin that, he could do no wrong in her eyes, (but there was a small incident while serving on her that marred his unblemished record.)

When he left the navy his career positively blossomed, Edwin joined the White Star company and worked for their Australian fleet, eventually becoming commodore. You can only imagine how his parents harked on non-stop about that turn of events to all and sundry!

Unfortunately, despite all his parents persistent boasting of his accomplishments, all was not well within the Hallett household , wealth and social standing does not always bring happiness with it ladies.

Edwin frequently suffered from black moods, and on one fateful day in June of 1895 it all became too much for him. Having recently discharged himself from Haslar hospital where he was undergoing treatment and despite being kept under close house watch, he managed to secrete a knife into his room, where he was found the next morning in the most gruesome manner by the poor little serving girl…he was laid out across his bed with his throat cut.

It was shocking!…so sad, a man of such promise, it completely devastated the whole family, and their friends…well, in fact the whole town.

Who would ever think that such dark deeds went on behind such well-heeled doors.

Of course, only adding to their shame and heartbreak, when his body was laid to rest on the 10th June, it had to be in unconsecrated ground because of the particular circumstances, you didn’t hear his family make quite so much about that little fact!

( A fascinating read about the naval life of Edwin’s time at sea and details of his death. )

Edwin’s surviving brother, William, was sole beneficiary to his fathers will. Edwin Owen senior, died only a couple of years later, leaving the business and everything to him.

Anyway…let us leave the melancholy behind us ladies, it’s far too nice a day to be maudlin.

Living in the accommodation above the shop premises now is William and Alice Coussens with their 23-year-old daughter, also named  Alice, they are fairly new  to the town, but seem very nice and polite whenever you go in.

In fact young Alice was showing me the latest brochures from London and was wittering on about some of these new fangled designs coming in…I’m sure they’ll never catch on.

William is the acting manager of the shop, but both mother and daughter help out from time to time when they get busy.

Business owner, William Hallett, died on the 23 Nov 1914 leaving a fairly considerable sum of money to both of his son-in-laws. Richard John Hardy, husband of his daughter Margeretta Sara, Richard was the manager of a match factory.

His second son-in-law, Irish born Thomas Bunting, who was Mabel Annie’s husband,  ran a private school in Grovesnor House, Weymouth.


Oh, mind your step Millicent…please do look where you are walking. You nearly trod in that great steaming pile of  doooh dahs, I do so wish these cab driver would clear up after their horses! I ruined a pair of my best brocade shoes last week stepping in a mound…eeeugh!

Here we are ladies, stood before the grand department store of Cornish born Mr John Geach Rowe.

His business has been in the town since 1864, but has grown over time until his shop now takes up the premises of no’s 13-16 St Mary St.

This is another gentleman who moved to our busy little sea-side town and made a great success for himself and his family. Similar to many of the other canny shop owners the family started out living above the premises, but moved out to far more suitable lodging when their finances permitted.

Like fellow shop keeper Robert Reynolds, John Rowe and his wife Emma are staunch christians and in 1891 so generously donated one of the eight new bells  now hung in the Wyke church.

By 1891 John and  Emma had moved to a very grand house, Trelawney, up at Bincleaves, along with their two delightful daughters, Emma Elizabeth and Alice Clay.

Within the aisles of this store you can buy the most exquisite and up to date costumes and millinery and their beautiful silk fabrics are just to die for. They also boast the most comprehensive baby linen warehouse around, friends of mine say that the little dresses are simply divine.

His shop staff are all accommodated in the premises you see above, they are under the eagle eye of housekeeper 64-year-old Helen Pinney, I hear she can be a real dragon at times, but quite rightly so, she keeps the staff under a tight rein. Some of these young shop girls can be so flighty…slyly batting their lashes at any man who accompanies his wife in the store. They even have a staff of domestic servants and cooks to keep them fed and watered…what ever is this world coming to when lowly shop assistants need servants to care for them?

Do you know, not a single one of those shop workers comes from Weymouth? John has brought his staff in from all over the country. His principle dressmaker is from London, of course, she is used to working with the latest fabrics and designs. The head milliner comes from Coventry, which is all very well and good, she certainly knows her feathers from her fancies …but you sometimes have a job to understand what the woman’s saying!

Like so many of our wealthier residents and business men in town, John holds many positions of trust on various boards and committees, he has even recently been made a borough magistrate.

By the 1911 census  John Rowe  had moved into another large and stylish Cornish named dwelling, Polmeund, in Rodwell Road, along with  Emma and their 2 children.

A few years later and part of his grand emporium was eventually taken over  by  Miss Nora or Nellie Russell, (no’s  13 & 14 St Mary Street.)…Nora lived above the premises of no 13.

Like many of those pesky family ancestors, when you try to trace them back through time, they seem to like to change their names, such was the case with Nora who went missing in the censuses. An Ellen Russell was at no 13 in the 1911 census. Nora had been born in 1857 at Sithney in Cornwall but was in fact christened as Ellen Russell, though she sometimes could be found as Nora or Nellie!

Maybe there was a Cornish family connection there with the Rowe family.


 …and no 15 became the premises of Garratt Jones, Tailors & Outfitters.

This was Ernest Garratt Jones, Welsh born and a single man who had swiftly worked his way up through the drapery trade  until he finally owned this fair sized department store in Weymouth, surprisingly he was only in his early 20’s at the time of opening his store, not bad going for the son of a National school master.

In 1901, at the time when our lovely ladies are stood admiring the shop front,  he had been living and working in London as a lowly hosier’s assistant.

By the 1911 census Ernest was still working as a tailor, but was he still running the shop?

Living on the premises was the Le Bretton family from Jersey, husband and wife, John and Mary, and their children, all listed as working as tailors and dressmakers from home.

Maybe Ernest’s voyage into the business world hadn’t lasted so very long after all.



Come along ladies…Millicent!…please act with some decorum as befits a lady of your class, stop making eyes at that soldier boy…you silly woman!

Here we are at no 17, this is the chemist shop of the Cole family, it used to be run by Walter Thomas Cole & Son.

(it was a family business name that remained in the town until my lifetime.)

Walter Thomas originally founded his druggists shop in Weymouth around the late 1840’s, the couple had moved here from Hampshire. Walter had met his wife while he was working as a chemist in Weymouth, and they were wed back in Andover in April of 1847.  He and his wife Martha, brought up their family living above the premises. Walter worked behind the counter until the middle of the 1870’s, when his son, Walter Benjamin Cole, took up the reigns of the family business after his father retirement.

When Walter was still alive he gave me a clipping from the Dorset County Chronicle dated 1866. It was a time in his life that he was so proud of, I think he must have brought most of the newspaper copies up and gave one to each of his best customers. I have it still tucked safely in my purse…where is it…ah, here we are…I’ll read it out to you ladies, you might find it very interesting, if you study the building as I read it to you, see if you can spot a few the finer details.

“STREET IMPROVEMENTS. The recently completed alterations at no 17 St Mary-street, by Mr Cole, chemist, are one of the greatest street improvements the town has witnessed for some time-indeed it is generally acknowledged that the front is one of the handsomest in Weymouth, although we can boast of better specimens of shop architecture than many other places in Dorsetshire. Mr Cole’s architect was Mr G R Crickmay, who has certainly produced a very tasteful plan, which the builder, Mr Dodson, has carried out in most satisfactory manner. The building has a rather novel element about it, being much enriched with the beautiful stone carvings of Mr Grassby, of Dorchester, whose skill in that line we had recently occasion to notice in connection with Wool Church. Mr Grassby has in this instance produced two splendid heads of Avicenna and Paracelsus, the founders of the medical science. They are acknowledged by all to be admirable instances of freehand carving, while the foliage and other ornaments that surround them, though of the most elaborate nature, are chiseled with masterly delicacy and freedom. In all respects, however, the building had been carried out most satisfactorily, reflecting credit on the architect, the builder, and enterprise of the proprietor.”

Walter was such a gentleman, he used to while away the time by telling us lovely stories all about his life working in the shop, some of them quite funny really.

It’s a shame, every one is rush, rush, rush these days, no time to stand and chatter any more.

He once told us how in the September of 1879 the shop had a rather surprising visitor…not one that you would normally expect to be waiting for service at a chemists counter.  A man had been driving his cow down through St Mary St when it suddenly bolted straight for the chemist shop’s doorway…pushed its way inside, after having a look around and deciding that he couldn’t quite see what he wanted on the shelves…it headed for the back door and made its way out into the back garden where it’s red faced keeper finally caught up with it.

Thankfully one doesn’t see too many cattle being herded through the streets nowadays, but the donkeys, well…that’s another matter altogether!

The elderly couple happily lived out the rest of their retirement at no. 7 York Buildings.

(An advert from a paper of the 1860’s shows Coles as stockists of the famous Horniman’s Pure Teas….at bargain prices of course. They managed to get the address wrong too!)


Walter Thomas sadly passed away in 1893, sorely missed by his loyal patrons, he was of a good age though, 73.

Martha, joined him couple of years later.

Son, Walter Benjamin, his wife Mary and their family now live above the shop, they have three delightful, well-cultured and very intelligent boys, Masters Percival Pasley, William Parmiter and Arthur Bertram.

The family are all very musically talented, at the New Years gathering in the Congregational Church, Mary and two of her sons,  Percival and William  played for us as a trio, on the piano, violin, and ‘cello, it was a very pleasant evening all round.

By 1911 Walter and Mary had moved out of the living accommodation above no 17 St Mary St to live in Ullswater Road, at a house named Lyndsmere. but they still owned the shop premises  along with various other properties around Weymouth.

Their three sons had flown the nest and done very well for themselves.

 Arthur Bertram Cole was married and had moved to Cheshire where he was trading as a chartered accountant.

Percival Pasley Cole was working as a surgeon  in London.

 William Parmiter Cole had followed in the family footsteps and was in business as a chemist and opticians in Herne bay, Kent.

The shop in St Mary St was now where  the Bullock family were in residence, Henry and Emily, their baby daughter Nancy,  shop assistants and house staff. They were running a photographic dealership and opticians. 

Walter Benjamin Cole died in 1927 at the ripe old age of 78 and was buried at Radipole church. The particularly meticulous records kept by the rector of the day, W J G Hobson, shows that Walter was buried at a ‘double depth,’ presumably leaving room for his wife to follow him into the ground when her time finally came to meet her maker.


Here we are ladies, the final premises of todays perambulations. It’s nearly time for some lunch…where shall we dine out today?

I’m sure that those of you new to the town will notice, Weymouth is such a thriving metropolis that it can boast many delightful department stores, and this is such a one.

Here are the very grand premises of Welsh born Thomas Henry Williams & Sons. (Where the Midlands Bank now stands.)

T H Williams & Son St Mary St

Again, like so many of our shop keepers, the Williams family moved here in the early 1860’s, and have quite become trusty pillars of the community.

Before they moved here from Chepstow and took over these premises, Thomas Henry was working long hours as a travelling salesman, out on the road at all times of the day and night, with long stretches away from home and his wife Harriet and their young son, David.

He might not have started out in a very reputable job, but the man has certainly worked his way up the social scale.

This is where my own dressmaker purchases most of her fabrics and accessories, I couldn’t possible do without her, she knows me so well, and my little idiosyncrasies.

As with most up and coming families they started out above the shop itself, where they lived at first cheek by jowl with their staff…I’m not sure that I could endure that myself.

By 1891 the family had moved to more fitting surroundings of 3 Augusta Place.

Son Thomas is still living and working in Weymouth, I think he’ll be taking over his fathers business before long. He has just been made a Justice of the Peace.

Brother David is now living in London with his Swedish wife, Signe. I do believe that Harriet and daughter Evelyn are up there visiting the couple at this very moment.

But as fate often dictates, success is often only skin deep.

By 1903 the family assume many responsible positions in Weymouth society.

Sons, Thomas Williams and David Henry Williams were made magistrates, Thomas was also the returning officer for Wyke Regis. Herbert Scott Williams, a physician, was the treasurer for the Weymouth Union, dealing with the workhouse.

By the time of the 1911 census, parents Thomas and Harriets entry on their census form reveals heartache for a family. they had 6 children,( 7 actually, but one died at or not long after birth,) they had done the unthinkable, what every parent dreads, survived three of them.


Ladies, that concludes our little tour of some of the shops of St Mary’s St, now we’ll find a nice cool tea room to partake in a spot of luncheon.

Millicent…Millicent…please don’t run, I know you’re hungry. Oh for goodness sakes, that silly woman could test the patience of a saint!


A large portion of this section of St Mary St was demolished and been rebuilt since Mrs Nozee and her friends were stood before the delectable sights of the 1901 shops.

Again, it can be hard to match exactly the numbers of the buildings as so much has changed.

It’s not until you reach todays no. 16, which I believe was the building of Mr Garratt Jones store, (listed as 15 in 1901,) that you can see the original buildings above the modern shop fronts, you can just make out the five same windows above his shop name in his advert.


According to Eric Rickett’s book, The Buildings of Old Weymouth, Part Two, the red brick building above todays Boots opticians and the Phones 4 U premises was once ” the tall brick front of an important double fronted residence which once graced this busy section of the town. It had a raised ground floor, stone dressings and fine classical entrance. “ he has drawn fascinating a reconstruction of what the original grand building had once looked like.

Oh to be able to travel back  and see the street as it was in those times.


The HSBC bank of the corner replaced the delightful Victorian Victorian building that housed T H Williams store. According to Eric Ricketts that was purpose built in the the early 1920’s and is now a listed building.


Here are a few adverts from my own collection of the Weymouth Rag Mag of the 1930’s, depicting shops from this section of St Mary St, a few which might jog the memories of some of the more mature Weymouthians.

redlands camp 5

riga shop st mary st

lovells st mary st

H P Hapgood sports clothing st mary st

Hallett & Sons st mary st

Hope you enjoyed our little stroll with Mrs Nozee and her female companions in St Mary St.

Look out for the next part of the ladies perambulations through old Weymouth town.


Many thanks goes to the Weymouth Library for the permission to use some of their archives and illustrations collection.

If you’re interested in local or family history, take the time to go and have a mooch in there, it’s absolutely fascinating what snippets you unearth as you rummage through their drawers, you might even come across one of your your ancestors.

I even found an old letter written by my Dad to the Echo dating back to the 50’s…

I understand that the copyright laws for the use of images is 70 years after the death of the owner. I have tried to identify the artist/photographer of the illustrations that I have used where possible, if I have innocently used an image that is still within the owners copyright I apologise unreservedly.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Excellent Sue, have you much information on St Alban Street to come? l was born at number 5, l have two guide books (the dates of the top of my head l cannot remember) when l am at home l will send you the dates, if you can use them you are more than welcome to borrow them


  2. cannasue says:

    Thank you Nigel, the offer is very much appreciated.
    At present I’m still researching the rest of St Mary St. That’s the part I really enjoy getting my teeth into most, the research and then fitting all the information together.
    Nothing like mooching in amongst musty old books and scraps of paper and photos.
    St Alban St will be on the agenda. From my point of view, the fact that many of the original buildings are still there makes it more relevant.


  3. Interesting, although I don’t know Weymouth too well, but your posts are so good. Thank you for sharing with us.


  4. cannasue says:

    Thanks Chris, I’m just intrigued by another era, especially when it’s the period of my parents and grandparents who would have walked these streets and shops.
    In fact I love anything to do with history.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s