Edwin Jones (1832-1896) was born in Romsey, the son of a Welsh coal merchant and carrier. After school he was apprenticed to a local draper and outfitter in Romsey before moving to similar establishments in Winchester, Southampton High Street and then London. He returned to Southampton in 1860 to open his first shop, a single-fronted haberdashery in East Street. He ran the shop with the help of his two sisters and an apprentice. He prospered and soon moved to larger premises at 31-32 East Street, later acquiring other adjoining properties in East Street including the Blue Boar public house. The extended property became known as Manchester House.
In about 1880 he bought a row of cottages facing Hoglands Park, demolished them and extended his premises, now known as Queen's Buildings, over the site. The expanded area allowed him to add further departments including a food hall and a large furniture section. The store was now one of the finest of its kind in the south of England. The store continued to prosper in the 20th century and became part of the Debenhams group in 1928. The original store building was destroyed during the Blitz and replaced with an entirely new building in 1959.
Politically, Jones was a Liberal. He was elected councillor for All Saints ward in 1870; he became senior bailiff in 1871 and a sheriff and magistrate in 1872. He was mayor of the town in 1873 and 1875. He made a number of attempts to enter parliament as a Liberal MP, but was unsuccessful each time. In 1890 he retired from the council and was appointed deputy lieutenant of Hampshire.
He married Annette Sharp in the late 1860s. He was living at 'Fairlea' in Bassett when he married his second wife, Fanny Louisa White of Cowes, in 1875. He moved to Harefield House in 1889 and died there in 1896.
Edwin Jones Store
‘Edwin Jones: The Man and his Business’, by T. Witt, in Essays on the History of Southampton p1-65. (HS/h)
Commemorative Blotter, by Edwin Jones & Co. (HS/pn)
‘Cashing-up in the 1920s’, by Kathleen Butt, in Hampshire, Vol. 36, No. 3, January 1996, p46. (H/h)
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