Information from the Public!

Following the publicity about the interactive project website launch on 15th June we’ve had scores of messages of support…Thank you all who sent us a note, it was very much appreciated!

And a few very generous individuals sent us specific information about antique dealers to help build the website – thank you!

Jason West sent us some fascinating information and detail on his great grandfather, Charles Clayden, an antique dealer trading in London between 1919 and 1926. Here is Charles Clayden (below) in the entrance to his antique shop at 320 Euston Road, London – thank you again to Jason for also emailing us this photograph.

Charles Clayden's Shop - 320 Euston Road

Charles Clayden, 320 Euston Road London, c.1920. Photograph Copyright Jason West.

The shop window is packed with a wide variety of antique (and, it looks like, some modern/2nd hand) ceramics…I’m sure someone will be able to identify some of the objects? The figure of the the female Saint(?) is intriguing too….perhaps a carved oak Flemish piece, which were so popular amongst the 19th century curiosity trade?….how old it actually is, who knows?

As well as helping to identify the other addresses at which Charles Clayden traded (24 & 55 Park Crescent West, London) Jason also provided Charles’ place of birth (Saffron Walden, in 1871) and his full name, Charles Ernest Thomas Clayden, and some information on his great grandfather and his business culled from the memoirs of his great grandmother, Molly Mulford. Jason tells us that Molly died in the 1980s, and composed her memoirs as notes, which were typed up by her son Bill in 2013. Molly’s reminiscences give a fascinating insight into the life and business practices of an early 20th century antique dealer.

Molly writes:

‘My father was an antique dealer who had a shop in Euston Road, Marylebone, London. My mother kept the shop whilst my father was attending sales. He also had a weekly store (Friday) in the Caledonian Market and another one (Saturday) in Blandford Street, Marylebone. The shop had a room off from the shop in which we lived and upstairs there were two bedrooms – boys in one and I shared my parents’ bedroom.I can see it now – the big double bed took up all the room with a small cupboard and my small bed alongside.Step out of bed and you were on the landing. Every Saturday morning we had to clean the brass and silver ready for the evening trade in the shop. Those days shop would remain open until 10pm. There were a lot of items to do. My father would make chests and belt them with chains. We children could jump on them in our boots. The chests would be sold as antiques. One thing my father could be sure of making money at was from the ladies of the night (prostitutes) who would come in with their man.The men would buy them whatever took their fancy and the next day the ladies would return the goods and my father would buy back the goods at a discount. The police were a great nuisance. They would come and ask for something and if my father refused, they would stand outside the shop and then the customers would not come in. Before I started school I used to go to the auctions with my father.He had a Tin Lizzie, one of the first Fords.He taught himself to drive and was not a good driver. Everyone else on the road was wrong but him! One day I was playing in the shop, which I was forbidden to do, when a customer came in. I hopped in an Egyptian Mummy to hide when it feel over with me inside. The customer fled from the shop and I was given a hiding.
My life changed dramatically when I was ten years of age. My brothers, except one, had left home. My father went into the shop one night and a picture had fallen from the wall.Glass from the picture pierced his leg right through his pants.Septicaemia set in and he was taken to Middlesex Hospital, London, where he died in seven days.’

Jason tells us that the business was continued after the death of Charles in 1926 by his wife Mary Elizabeth Clayden; the business ceased trading by 1928.

We would like to thank Jason for so generously sending this information to us….it’s a major help to have new locations for dealers in the interactive website and so interesting to have such a rich description of Charles Clayden.


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