Hopewells the furnishers
156-158 St Anns Well Road Nottingham
156-158 St Anns Well Road Nottingham
Margaret Anna Jennings: Still used for letters and sfuff. It was my grandads. They lived on Pym Street all those years ago.
22 February 2016
Margaret Ann Jennings put a picture of a Bureau mentioning one of our wonderful shops in St Ann's Well Road .
A beautiful wooden Bureau
Purchased from Hopewells in St Ann's
The year was 1919
when money changed hands
It's been in use for year's
Oh what a story it could tell
Of postcards and letters
About family, love, and war ?
All stored for safe keeping
That's what the Bureau was for
This wonderful piece of furniture
Handed down through the years
Kept as a family heirloom
No need for repairs
The craftsmanship was marvellous
Hopewells live up to their name
This shop can't be faulted
Superb quality has always remained
A few lines came to mind
So I'm putting them on this page
The Bureau's lovely Margaret
I can't believe it's age . X
Hopewells the furnishers
Hopewell's removal van, 1922 (image courtesy of Adam Hopewell).The oldest furniture retailer in the city was established in the late nineteenth century and has moved premises countless times. In 1885 Frank Edwin Hopewell opened a second hand furniture shop at 279 Great Alfred Street Central, Nottingham. Together with his wife, Annie, who he married in 1890, they built up a business which has outlasted many competitors and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010.
The couple had eight children and with this many mouths to feed life was a constant struggle. Frank had received no special education or business advice and suffered from ill-health, so he was fortunate in having Annie, who not only brought up the children but assisted in the firm and helped to develop it over the years until her death in 1943. From all accounts she was a formidable woman but not without a soft side; she was known to take in poor children, wash and feed them and send them home in decent clothes.
Although times were difficult for the couple and their ever growing family Frank was known to be trustworthy and creditworthy; the story is retold that he had insufficient funds to pay a Bill of Exchange on Monday, so he loaded his cart up with furniture and drove to Mansfield on the Saturday before, auctioned it off in the Market Place and came home with sufficient money to pay the bank on the Monday. The couple divided the work, with Annie looking after the shop and Frank going out to collect furniture or weekly hire purchase payments with one or more of their children.
The company moved several times in several years to larger premises for their ever expanding business. They moved along Great Alfred Street and then onto St Ann’s Well Road. They lived at the rear of 156 and 158 St Ann’s Well Road for many years, only moving into a separate home some years later. The eldest of their children, Frank, who was a pupil at Nottingham High School unfortunately died at the age of fourteen in the early part of the twentieth century. Two of the younger boys had joined the business on leaving school but with the start of the First World War they joined the many other young men fighting the Germans. Frank and Annie were left to carry on the business but because they had a strong foundation it kept going through the war years. The four remaining eldest boys re-joined the shop from the armed forces and from school. The youngest boy, Bernard, was articled to Nottingham City Treasury and then went on to join a firm of Chartered accountants in Nottingham before going to America for a period of time. He finally joined the business around 1930. He was a prominent member of various furniture and design associations, including being a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of furniture makers in 1963 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1968.
During the inter-war years there was some progress with the company developing a removals business, firstly with horse-drawn drays and eventually using motor vehicles. It went on to become the largest removal company in Nottingham. More showroom space was acquired on St Ann’s Well Road to make room for the growing removals and furniture business. A branch was opened on Radford Road, Nottingham and was managed by Jim, one of the elder sons, but in 1935 he left the parent company and went alone.
In 1936 the business suffered a severe loss when Frank Edwin was killed in a motor accident. Nevertheless the company finally made the move into the centre of Nottingham at 8 and 10 Parliament Street and things were looking up until the Second World War began, when once again the sons and staff left to join the Forces or take up war work. The only son left was Bernard who together with those who for various reasons could not join up, carried the company through the dark years of 1939-1945. No new furniture was made during the war years, apart from some Utility furniture which was extremely limited, so it was fortuitous that the warehouse was filled with furniture from before the outbreak of war. The second youngest son, Claude, took on the management of the removals side and kept on after the war on his own but later returned to the main furniture business in 1953.
Further development of premises on Parliament Street/Milton Street was undertaken after the war, but sadly to no avail as they were informed by the City Engineer’s department that they were going to compulsorily acquire the site and demolish the building and build a roundabout at the bottom of Milton Street. To find another suitable building proved to be no easy task because of cost and the necessity to have premises with enough space to house all the furniture. The building on the south side of Parliament Street known as Burton Buildings was purchased but converting what was essentially three separate shops and office space, again caused problems but eventually the premises were made ready for the business only to find that the Corporation had decided not to make the roundabout, so Hopewells remained on both sides of Parliament Street. By the late 1950s premises had been taken on Dame Agnes Street as a warehouse but with large swathes of this area earmarked for demolition the same problems were going to keep arising and it was decided to look for somewhere large enough to house all the stock and showrooms and central to the city centre. In 1966 an extensive site on Huntingdon Street and Great Freeman Street was taken on a 99 year lease from Nottingham City Corporation. Huntingdon Street was already earmarked for development, so the new store would be in the hub of the city. It took a further seven years before the store was up and running and another three years for the warehousing completed in 1976.
The company was very progressive and began introducing Danish and Scandinavian furniture to the customers a long time before other stores caught on. The store today still retails in a wide variety of furniture to suit most people. Departments have been added to the store’s base including, carpeting, fitted furniture and designing for industry as well as the supply of furniture and fittings. Hopewells has reflected social change with the growth of motor transport and mechanised production, the introduction of hire purchase and with communications came the ability to source furniture from around the world. The displays within the store have won awards. Two new shops were opened, one in Derby the other in Leicester, which was later destroyed by fire. In 2004, the Derby store had to close under threat of compulsory purchase for the expansion of the Westfield Centre and was reluctantly sold and regrettably there was no available opportunity to replace within the centre.
The company has remained loyal to its traditional standards in providing quality, value and individuality and giving satisfaction. Hopewells has a very loyal customer base and most of the 80 staff have been with the company for some considerable time. The store has a vast showroom space and on-site parking, both of which are beneficial to sales. In April 1985, in the store’s centenary year, Bernard, who had steered Hopewells for 50 years died. He had been the visionary in transforming it from a small time furniture store to a company with a reputation which was known far and wide. The Hopewell family, second and third generation, still play a major role in running the business; John the son of Eric is Chairman, Adam, Eric’s grandson and his wife are Directors of the company. In 2010 they celebrated their 125th anniversary and the store is still a significant company in Nottingham.
Christmas Party for the staff of Hopewells the Furnishers based in St Anns. My Dad who also worked at Hopewells as well as my mum and aunt remembers the chap at the top being the dispatch foreman Ted Meakin. Date somewhere around mid 1950s.