Edwardian Preston, trade advertisements, and a brief history of pants

Posted on - 3rd July, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Friargate, History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston News
Into the radio era Pic: Wikimedia
Into the radio era Pic: Wikimedia

The Preston Digital Archive has a fascinating collection of old trade advertisements from local guides and newspapers. Most magazines carried advertisements for everything from underwear to quack cold remedies. Here we look at the Edwardian era.


A brief history of pants

Commercialisation really took off in this period, with many of the products we are familiar with today becoming available. However there were also many that are long lost, such as drawers, a kind of undergarment that was drawn together with a string. Briefs appeared in the 1930s. One also wonders what ‘reliable’ underwear was.

Edwardian advert for pants and vests Pic: Preston Digital Archive
This ad is pants Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Home on the range

Another shop in Friargate was R Slinger and Son. No Victorian or Edwardian home was complete without a range. These were mostly used for cooking as well as heating. The fire was placed in the centre with an oven on the side. Unfortunately, many things became coal flavoured. 

A common ritual involved ‘blacking’ the range. This meant rubbing graphite powder onto the cheap iron, to prevent rust. You got your range from an ironmongers, who also sold woodworking machinery!

Edwardian advert for ranges Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Edwardian ranges Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Music to the ears

Also in Friargate was George Devey, photographer and gramophone salesperson. Note the odd four digit and letter telephone number. Phone numbers with letters persisted until 1966.

Advert for gramophones and photography in Friargate Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Gramophones and photography in Friargate Pic: Preston Digital Archive

By the early 20th century home entertainment was beginning to appear, and gramophones and records were sold locally. Gramophones used a spring motor to spin the record and had to be wound up. Bamboo or fibre needles only lasted for one record. Consequently a craze grew up collecting gramophone needle tins.

Later steel needles came along, and these lasted a bit longer. Radiograms were invented in the 1920s, using vacuum tubes or valves.

When coal was king and less than 100 people had a phone in Preston

W & J Turner, coal merchants Pic: Preston Digital Archive
W & J Turner, coal merchants Pic: Preston Digital Archive

W & J Turner were Preston coal merchants. In the Edwardian period every house had several chimneys. The world ran on coal and there was an ever present fug of smoke and soot. Most new buildings turned black in a few weeks, and respiratory illnesses were common.

Fleet Street was where the coal exchange was located, between the canal and the railway, as seen in the ad. Note the small shunting engine and the private owner wagons, for the Turner company.

Horse drawn wagons took coal, in cloth sacks, from the railways to the home. Many houses had a coal hole usually leading to the cellar. It was not unusual for poorer houses to have a pile of coal in the corner of the living room.

The 1960s saw smokeless zones introduced, and coal burning was banned. However, on a cold winters night, after dark, everyone threw cheap coal on the fire, thinking no one could see the smoke!

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