John Dean, Draper of St Peter’s Street, Derby

This rather nice image of the St Peter’s Street, Derby shopfront of John Dean, draper, was sent to me by Nigel Aspdin. The image has been included in previous articles on John Palmer’s Wirksworth web site and on You & Yesterday. However, the shop also appears in an image of St Peter’s Street that I included in a previous article about the Nag’s Head Yard, so I thought it would be of interest to reproduce it here too.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
It shows a group of young men posing in the doorway of the shop, including the shop’s owner, John Dean (1853-1918), at right. John Dean was born in Kirk Ireton, son of farmer and publican Samuel Dean. After attending James W. Beeson’s Excelsior Academy in Wirksworth, John became a draper’s apprentice in Wirksworth by 1871. On 16 March 1881, John married Annie Mary Harvey, daughter of a Derby druggist, and they initially lived in a house at 3 Bramble Street. The 1881 Census on 3 April showed them at this address, together with John’s younger sister Sarah Jane, and a boarder by the name of James E. Hurd. Hurd was, by then, John Dean’s partner in a drapery business located, according to the 1881 edition of Kelly’s Trade Directory (on microfiche from the Derbyshire Family History Society), at 18 St James’ Street (south side).

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
They appear to have moved from this address to 54 St Peter’s Street some time after 1881. The second photograph, a more general view looking north up St Peter’s Street from immediately south of St Peter’s church towards the intersection with East Street, includes the same shop premises as that shown in the first photograph, but with signage showing clearly that the partnership of “Hurd & Dean” was still in existence (see below). However, it must have been taken prior to 1887, as Kelly’s Trade Directory for that year shows only John Dean to be in business at number 54. There is another firm, “Hurd & Bentley, general drapers, silk mercers, hosiers & glovers, milliners & dress & mantle makers” shown with premises at 38 Corn market, one half of which may have been Dean’s former partner.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
The detailed image shows several people, once again, standing in the doorway of the shop, but this time they appear to be looking at something happening in the street, rather than posing for the camera. Examination of the larger version of the photograph shows, apart from three horse-drawn trams, which must have been a regular sight, a procession of horse-drawn wagons parked on the east side. The waggons are piled high with rectangular bales, identified on the front one as containing tea! The sign above the shop windows of the premises on the north-eastern corner of St Peter’s Street and East Street demonstrate that at least part of the building was occupied by the Star Tea Company. Kelly’s 1887 directory confirms that company occupied offices in St Peter’s Chambers at this address, presumably on one of the upper floors, as the Midland Drapery Company were on the ground floor.


~ by gluepot on Thursday, August 14, 2008.

3 Responses to “John Dean, Draper of St Peter’s Street, Derby”

  1. It would be interesting to see that street scene today from exactly the same angle.

  2. Hi Andre – I’ll do my best.

  3. Andre………Brett asked me if I would take a shot as at today, which normally I would be delighted to do. But when I studied again the likely location of the camera, it seems to be what is the first floor offices of Natwest Bank. Given that these days Natwest can never offer anyone able to talk sense to a customer of some 39 years standing, and don’t usually reply to correspondence from me without significant threats, the thought of asking to visit their first floor is simply too daunting. The other issue is that the current street scene is just so extraordinarily dull and drab that frankly I am a little ashamed of it. But I will be tempted one day, so watch this space !

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