South Street – Houlden

Photograph courtesy of Eileen Mumby. Caistor Heritage Trust

Eileen Mumby gives the following description: “This shop was for many years Houlden’s (2 generations) then Dawson’s, men’s and women’s drapery; boots and shoes – a very good shop indeed. Mrs. Grace Watson (nee Houlden) gave the following information: Her father John William Houlden came to Caistor from Woodhall Spa in 1900, aged 24, to manage a tailor’s shop in the Market Place (now part of Costcutters). In 1908 he moved to an empty shop to start his own business in Cornhill. This shop was owned by Mr. Robert Taylor, a nephew of a Miss Turner who lived to be 100. Mr. Taylor lived in London. At some later date, Mr. Houlden bought the premises from Mr. Taylor and continued his business as a tailor, draper and boot and shoe retailer until he retired in 1956. Mr. Houlden’s daughter, Grace Watson, continued to run the business until her own retirement in 1972 then Dawson’s took over for about ten years.

In Mr. Houlden’s day, there were three men working ‘on the board’ at tailoring – two of these were Mr. Hugh Wilkinson and Mr. Dixon. Mr. Dixon lived in the house where Nurse Towle now lives. The Dixon’s had a lodger who was a motor-bike riding district nurse. Mr. Dixon later set up as a tailor on his own and made Jack Mumby’s wedding suit. He later went to Scunthorpe.

Young Grace Houlden had violin lessons with Miss Bullen and piano lessons with Mr. Storr. She went to the Methodist School until the age of eleven (the family was Wesleyan) then to the Grammar School. She went into her father’s business and eventually became a partner. Her brother William Priestley Houlden also followed a career in the retail trade being first apprenticed to Mawer and Collingham in Lincoln; then he had further experience in Hull and eventually became a buyer for Selfridges in London.

The Caistor business became a very successful shop selling men’s and women’s clothing, drapery, haberdashery and later, in Mr. Watson’s time, curtains and carpets. A Mr. Mudd came as another tailor in the town and Mr. Houlden discontinued this side of the business and concentrated on ready-made clothes. Mr, Mudd made blazers, etc. for the Grammar School. A Miss Glew kept wools and embroidery materials in a separate shop and Mr. Lane sold children’s clothes and Houlden’s did not rn the same lines as other small retailers. ‘We didn’t overrun each other in those days,’ Mr. Watson said.

Houldens sold all sorts of ladies’ wear and underwear besides men’s clothes including strong cords for the men working on the land and in the mines at Nettleton. Before rubber wellington boots came in galoshes were sold in the boot and shoe department. Pre-war the underwear was cotton then rayon and locknit.”

Steve Critten I almost bought this property in the ’80s but I couldn’t get a mortgage as it had what they call a “flying freehold”. The 3rd window on the top floor (right) belonged to this property, but it was over the property next door. Because of the lack of computerisation, it was difficult to insure as you couldn’t guarantee next door was insured to the same level or at all.