Ravenstonedale Retailers

Meeting Report September 2015

Val Fermer from Ravenstonedale was our speaker for the September meeting and she came to tell us about young men who lived in Ravenstonedale in the 1820’s and 30’s but who travelled to London to make their fortune.

The main family were the Hewitsons but there were others who also went with them.  

Besides archive services etc she had also had access to a book called “The Hewitsons Family of Ravenstonedale”. Only 35 copies of this were printed and 21 of these are in different libraries, so she was extremely lucky to have been able to use this resource. One of these books is in Kendal library local studies. 

This evening we were to be told about William, John and Thomas Hewitson and William Milner. 

John Hewitson was apprenticed to a firm in Aldgate. In 1828 he acquired his own premises in Tottenham Court Road, with a help of a loan from his father, and the company was listed as upholsterers and furniture makers. His younger brother Humphrey joined him in London but after a few years returned to Ravenstonedale as he was unwell. By 1841 his brothers Thomas and William had also gone to London. John Hewitson and William Milner became partners in their own business with John being the major partner. In 1869 the business was doing well but John was thinking of his retirement and returning to Ravenstonedale where he proceeded to build his family a home. He started the build in 1870 and was completed in 1875 but John did not get to enjoy his new home for long as he died in 1876 leaving an estate of 45,000 (today that would be 2.25 million). Later the family tried to sell this property without success and the building was demolished in 1927. 

In 1839 Thomas Hewitson went to London with 100 and acquired premises in Oxford Street and he was a successful businessman and later sold out to Maples .He acquired several properties in London and Yorkshire before he died. He also built Weasdale Hall at Ravenstonedale.

William Hewitson later joined his brother John as an upholsterer in the family business. In February 1888 there was a fire at their premises- the cause was unknown. The business continued despite this for at least 12 years. They built up a good reputation but were forced to move premises in Tottenham Court Road at a higher rate of 3000 p.a. This increase was too much and in March 1906 they had a bankruptcy sale and  eventually the company was wound up in December 1907. 

The end of an era for the Hewitsons.