Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Marshall & Snelgrove: The Other M&S.

The Oxford Street shop c1912

The first shop was opened in Vere Street - just off Oxford Street in 1837 by James Marshall. The name of Marshall & Snelgrove was established in 1848 when John Snelgrove who had been an assistant in the shop became a partner. Initially the shop was a drapers, buying high quality fabrics directly at source. Eg Silks from Lyons, selling mantles, hosiery, costumes, furs and lace.

Advert in London Illustrated 1884

Several shops were opened in the counties, mostly in Yorkshire and the north Midlands initially to serve the London clientele when they were on holiday. Resorts such as Harrogate and Scarborough. Then the industrial towns which had a burgeoning rich middle class - businessmen and their wives who wanted the best quality goods. Each shop had an individual character and played to its own strengths suiting the local clientele and their needs. The London shop was situated on the edge of a professional district and also was convenient for Mayfair.

By 1900 the shop was synonymous with fashion and quality but an economic depression in the first decade of the 20th century and the impact of the First World War left the company in financial difficulties. A merger with Debenham & Freebody in 1919, in which both companies retained their individuality but expanded their buying power benefited both. Marshall & Snelgrove continued to sell high-end goods, moving from drapery to ready to wear and associated accessories, though the Oxford Street shop retained its couture workroom.

Advert in The Bystander 1905

Advert in The Bystander 1906

The early ready to wear era was a period in English fashion where exclusivity was paramount and the small workshop system of manufacturing was ideally placed to supply this need. Adverts often used the tagline 'Exclusive to Marshall & Snelgrove' or 'Only at the Marshall & Snelgrove Country Shops'. Well-known manufacturers such as Rayne shoes or Resnor coats and dresses designed models that could only be bought at Marshall & Snelgrove, though similar models with slight differences could often be bought at other shops.

The Second World war changed this system when mass manufacturing of utility goods replaced the workshops. Changes in fashion and less formal lifestyles led to a steady decline in business throughtout the 60s and eventually Debenhams re-branded the shops with only one or two locations surviving into the 80s and by then feeling very down market.

Advert 1929

Advert 1936

Advert December 1947

Advert 1952

Packaging 1940s and early 1950s


Vintage Jane said...

What an interesting post. Love the adverts and gorgeous packaging int he last pic. M x

Rachael said...

ooo I remember walking past that building while in London. Shame such old business never latest, I'm sure their customer service was to a tee and would beat anything around today hands down.

MistressCatgirl said...

I look at vintage advertising ads and am amazed at how tiny women were. It's amazing to see how much people as a whole have changed.

I love the wrapping paper. It would make an awesome fabric.

Mary Lou said...

oh wow these ladies had a really really tiny waist, i even can´t believe my eyes!!!
but the dresses on the ads are to die for!
love and kiss,mary

Br G-M said...

These illustration bring back some wonderful memories of my years at M+S Oxford Street.
Graham Wills

moviepearles said...

Audrey Hepburn modelled for some of their ads in 1951..do you have more examples of their adverts

Miss Rayne said...

No I haven't seen any of these ads