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History of Shops is Theme of Cowes Heritage Exhibition
A fascinating insight into what shops and public houses in Cowes, Northwood and Gurnard were like in the past is the subject of the latest Cowes Heritage exhibition, which opens on Saturday 22 October.
Called 'Turn Back Time' the exhibition, being staged for three weeks at the Regatta Office in Bath Road, will not only have many photographic reminders of shops and pubs in past eras, but also personal recollections of staff and customers.
There was a time when many shops had their own horse and cart to make deliveries, each business having a stable in a nearby back-street. Before the introduction of refrigeration and freezers, butchers' shops had their own slaughtering facilities at the rear. In addition there was a huge number of public houses, some even operating from people's front rooms.
There is also a reminder of the long established Jolliffe's shoe shop, now a Listed property and a coffee and art gallery. When it closed some of the exquisite hand-made shoes going back many generations were gifted to Carisbrooke Castle Museum.
But perhaps the most remarkable business to have once operated in the town was John Redfern, which in the late Victorian period became truly world famous as a ladies fashion house. From modest beginnings at Cowes, where yachting clothes were part of their range, Redfern shops sprang up in many cities, including London, Paris, New York, and Chicago. High society customers included Queen Victoria. By the 1890s no fewer than 70 of Redfern's staff, including over 50 dressmakers, both slept and worked in its extensive premises in the High Street and Sun Hill. Every year the management held a big staff dinner, reported on by the Isle of Wight County Press.
The exhibition will be open every day from 10 am to 4 pm until 13 November, and admission will be free.
A small number of specially invited guests will be attending a preview of the exhibition on Friday evening (21 October) at which the official pre-launch opening will be performed by Rod Ainge, chairman of Cowes Business Association.