J. Alex Brown: ironmonger and hardware shop

The shop in Silver Street was started as an ironmonger by John Brown in 1853 and continued under his son John Alexander Brown (1863-1937). It is still known as J. Alex Brown, although it has been under different ownerships.  The Glass and cast-iron fronted building next door was built as an extension to Brown’s business in the late 19th century.

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John Brown billhead 1861A billhead from John Brown in 1861 for supplying three gallons of petroleum and other goods to John Harding, grocer in Holt.

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John Brown, ironmonger, Bradford on Avon account bookAn account book of John Brown’s ironmongery shop from the 1860s. Customers then had their purchases entered into a book and paid later, on account, usually quarterly.

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John Brown brazed pipe collarA metal collar for joining two lengths of pipe with the plate of John Brown, “ironmonger & manufacturer”. It was made with his brazier’s hat on- sheets of steel have been brazed together with solder.

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Brown's shop in 1859An engraving of Brown’s shop in about 1860. It has already extended into the two buildings to the right, which are called the No.2 Showrooms. The chimney of these buildings is topped by a kettle.

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J. Alex Brown's shop 1887By 1887 the adjacent buildings had been demolished and rebuilt with cast iron and plate glass windows across all three floors.

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J. Alex Brown advertisement, 1897The same engraving was used in an advertisement placed in a booklet that was published by Bradford printer William Dotesio as a souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.

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J. Alex Brown's shop, 1890sA photograph of the shop in the 1890s with the delivery cart outside. Alex Brown himself is standing in front of the window, behind the horse. The bowler-hatted bearded man is Edmund Long, carpenter.

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J. Alex Brown's shop, 1920s?In this photograph from the 1920s little has changed, except for the Ruberoid roofing sign and stonework that is even more blackened by smoke from home and factory chimneys. The shop still displays many of its wares in every window -buckets are still hanging under the left window. Brown continues to act as an agent for the Royal Insurance Company.

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J. Alex Brown advertisementAn advertisement from the 1930s with an idea for a Christmas present.

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J. Alex Brown advertisement 1950An advertisement for the shop in the April 1950 edition of The Churchman, the magazine of the Holy Trinity and Christ Church parishes. It features a paraffin (kerosene) heater and a baby carriage, known in those days as a perambulator, or pram for short -a far cry from today’s light buggies. The advert has a look of 50 years earlier and perhaps the printing plate had been used for some time.

 

J. Alex Brown advertisement, 1950sBy the time of this advertisement in a Bradford town guidebook in about 1960, the shop was owned by Hugh Holloway, although he continued to trade under the name of J. Alex Brown.

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J. Alex Brown and the Cheeseboard, 1990sBusiness declined in the late 20th century with competition from the new d-i-y stores. The glass-fronted building had been sold off and has had a variety of uses when this photograph was taken in the 1990s. Further contraction meant that the upper floors of the old building had become flats and the left side had been converted into a separate small shop. The award-winning Cheeseboard briefly became the Neston Farm Shop. In 2011 Brown’s, then called Allin Engineering, expanded back into the small shop, but in 2013 became a sportswear shop. In November 2013 the ironmongery shop reopened under its old name of J. Alex Brown.

J. Alex Brown billhead 1909A billhead from J. Alex Brown at the end of 1909, listing some of the goods and services supplied by the shop and a store for cast iron articles in Coppice Hill. In those days people did not pay cash, but settled up their account quarterly; Christmas was one of the quarter days.

 

 

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