Early years

Humble beginnings

The ‘Silk Shop’ began life as a residential property, but was converted in 1843 to become a woollen draper’s. Then owner Duncan McLaren started an association with textiles that would last until well into the next century, the only break coming when the shop became a publishers briefly at the end of the 19th century. The ‘Silk Shop’ originates from Newcastle, the shop there opening in 1922. Its owner, a Mr W A Brearly, brought the ‘Silk Shop’ to Edinburgh in 1927. Both shops specialised in dress fabrics, soft furnishings and haberdashery. It was a small but attractive building and full of the old charm that characterised 1920’s Edinburgh. There were only two floors of selling space, and frontage stood at a meagre forty foot, but crucially, it was located very close to Princes Street, one of the main streets in Edinburgh, well known for the huge crowds that gathered there.

Increasingly exotic Edinburgh

The profile of Edinburgh was on a steady rise by the 1920’s. The boundaries of the city were extended in 1920 to take in the port of Leigh, the largest port on the East Coast of Scotland. This would be highly significant in later years, particularly when the Partnership opened a service centre there. In this early period, Silk Shop Limited made a name for itself by providing high quality goods, but equally, it specialised in the exotic, becoming well known for its Japanese silks. Its growing local reputation was not going unnoticed.

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