Victorian ironmongers comes back to life

A new shop has now opened on York Castle Museum’s Victorian Street, Kirkgate, as part of our ongoing development work on the street, writes Gwendolen Whitaker, curator of history.

The Little Dust Pan

The Little Dust Pan is named after a real York shop in Fossgate, which was the Victorian version of today’s Barnitts, a city ironmongers which aimed to sell anything you could want for your home.

It is situated opposite the stairs where visitors enter the street and greets them with an array of everyday goods crowded into its bay windows.

Daru Rooke with a Victorian vacuum cleaner

We spent a couple of days finishing off the displays trying to show as many objects from our collection as possible, with the help of two guest experts from Bradford Museums and Galleries, Daru Rooke (who you may have seen on Channel 4′s The 1900 House) and Dale Keeton.

Dale squeezes in to the shop window to see if the vacuum cleaner will fit...

It is decided a water filter fits better into the space

The real Little Dust Pan was owned and run by entrepreneur John Parkes. Originally from the Midlands, John moved to York with his wife and started a business as a Commission Agent, buying and selling goods. By 1881 he was running a furniture dealership in Fossgate and he soon took over his neighbour’s shop and opened The Little Dustpan.

A shelf in the window

He advertised his business widely and offered a diverse range of goods including ironmongery, glass and china, general home furnishings,  brush making, cutler, general dealer, hardware, mattress maker, bedding warehouse, locksmith, iron and tin plate worker and tool warehouse.

Advert for the Little Dust Pan

He and his wife had seven children and the eldest son John trained as an ironmonger. He died in 1920, but shortly after his death the business was sold by auction. J Parkes&Sons Ltd continued trading until 1927 and was then replaced by a grocery business, marking the end of an era of a self-made man’s emporium.


I recall that ‘Star’ vacuum from ‘The Every Home Should Have One’ exhibition

drake February 22nd, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Ah…those were the days!

Janet Woodward March 13th, 2012 at 12:06 am

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