Based on childhood recollections
of shops in Edmonton, north London in Edwardian times.
The meaning of 'draper'
'Draper' is a word that has gone out of fashion. Before around the middle
of the 20th century, it meant a shop that dealt with fabrics, sewing items
A typical drapers shop
When I was a child on the Huxley Estate
in Edmonton in the early 1900s, our local draper's
shop was in Silver Street, kept by the Roth family. Mr Roth was always in the
shop but when there were a lot of customers he would call to his wife, who was
upstairs, "Are you busy my dear?" She would reply, "I'm always busy", but she
would always come down to help.
Information on local drapers
from the 1911
census and people who remember it
The 1911 census shows that my mother's memory was absolutely
right: Morris Roth, 35, draper shop owner, a Russian Poland resident, lived
at 79 Silver Street with his wife Jenny Roth, 34, born London City, with
their sons Leonard, 6, born Edmonton and their daughter Queenie, 4, born
in Edmonton. Pat Cryer
According to the Roth's granddaughter, Kate Varney,
79 Silver Street was the address of the shop. The family lived above it
- which fits with my mother's recollections of where Mrs Roth spent most
of her time. The Roths moved to 74 Silver Street in
Pymmes Villas during the 1920s.
Doreen Buckland remembers from the 1930s that it was
amazing how Mr Roth could find anything in his shop although it was so untidy.
Her mother always said that her sideboard looked like Roth's counter when
her children piled things on to it!
webmaster and daughter of the author
The shop was fascinatingly tiny, with so much merchandise that there was
hardly room to get in. Yet Mr Roth always seemed to have whatever you wanted
and could lay his hands on it immediately. Nothing was pre-packed, so if you
only wanted a yard of tape or elastic, he would measure it out and cut it off
In the 1930s there was another draper in the area. See the
How drapers' wares where priced
Above: the stacks of glass-fronted wooden drawers that lined
the walls behind counters of drapers' shops. Screen shot from an old film.
Typical wooden storage and display units, as used
inside drapers shops, photographed in the Black Country Museum.
More typical wooden storage and display units, as used
inside drapers' shops, photographed in the Black Country Museum.
Farthings [quarters of old pennies] were coins
used a lot in the drapers, and if our mothers were owed a farthing in change,
they could opt for a small sheet of pins instead. The sheet was always blue
and was about 6 inches by 4 inches.
The Roth family
Two of the Roth children were about my age: Leonard Roth and Queenie Roth
who were outstandingly brilliant. Queenie went to
The Latymer school like my
brother, Jim, and she and her brother went on to university.
I feel a certain bond with the family because they lived in one of the large
houses in Pymmes Villas, Silver Street
which was destroyed, along with my husband's Clarke family's house there, in
the German bombing of World War Two.
Mrs Roth was killed in the bombing. Mr Roth was dug
out alive after two days and lived until 1953.
I knew that Mr Roth was in hospital and asked for his bible, and I wish I
had asked about Mrs Roth, but I had moved out of the area by then and the bombing
of the Clarkes took all my attention.
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.