Jessops of Nottingham: Beginnings

Mr William Daft
Mr Zebedee Jessop

The early history of Jessops

Mr John Townsend, a businessman from London, opened a shop at 9 Long Row, Nottingham in October 1804. Offering articles of the highest quality at prices differing from those his competitors, Townsend hoped to create a profitable niche for himself in Nottingham. No business records survive from this period.  In 1832 Townsend took Mr William Daft into partnership. In 1841 Townsend withdrew, leaving Daft in charge of the business with a different partner, Mr Kirk, who himself only lasted only three years.

Becoming Jessops

Following Kirk’s departure, Daft managed the business alone until 1860, when he went into partnership with Mr Zebedee Jessop. Finally, the first Jessop had arrived.

After the death of Mr Daft in 1866, Zebedee Jessop carried on the business alone. There is no material evidence of Jessop’s experience in retail or in the drapery trade, but significantly, Zebedee Jessop was a close personal friend of Mr Marshall of Marshall and Snelgroves, a store in London stocking premium quality silks. It is apparent that Jessop modelled his own store on his friend’s successes. By 1876 Jessop had extended his offerings to Silks, Mantles, Shawls and Dresses. Three years later, he took into partnership his oldest son, William Jessop.

Moving premises

With the new name Jessop and Son, Jessops’ reputation grew. By 1894 stock included household linen, dress materials, millinery, underwear furs, lace and gloves. Eventually, stock and demand outgrew the dimensions of the shop. So when the end of the shop lease came around in 1897, father and son began looking for more spacious premises. In the same year, they purchased a property on King Street. At the start of the twentieth century, things were looking bright indeed.

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