16 Strait Bargate to 49 Market Place

16 Strait Bargate to 49 Market Place

Posted by Matt OCallaghan on

16 Strait Bargate to 49 Market Place

After a very successful run at 16 Strait Bargate it was time for change. The business was flourishing in the 1960's and Stanley's son, Gerry Hopper could see the shop in Strait Bargate was bursting at the seams. An ever increasing clientele and stock had led to the thoughts of acquiring a larger building as Gerry knew a jewellers shop should have a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. Flattening customers against the counter as you open the shop door was no way to achieve this. With this problem another came up, the lease was up for renewal and the property was going to be put up for sale. Stanley was very tempted to purchase the building as Stanley didn't like to take chances and gambling with a shop which was thriving, to move to another property wasn't in his mind a very good idea. The problem was Mr. Mason from Mason & Son who owned the building next door also had an interest in the property and was planning on extending his shoe shop. A bidding war was on the cards but Gerry Hopper mentioned his plans of moving to a bigger property to his good friend Michael Emmitt who was a local estate agent. Together they found the perfect candidate, 49 Market Place, known at that time as Woodthorpe's a coal merchants office which at the time of looking came up for sale. Gerry knew this was the perfect place, it had space and an extra floor. No other property fitted Gerry's vision, so after nearly 50 years at the same address the move was on.

 In 1968 Hoppers took possession of 49 Market Place it can be seen here as Woodthorpe

Stanley who at this point was close to retiring was not happy. The building was expensive and in dire need of restoration but Gerry knew that buying 49 Market Place outright was the right move. It was in a prime position just as Strait Bargate was but this time a lot more spacious. So in 1968 the Hopper family took possession of the property. But everything had to be stripped down and completely gutted, even down to most of the floorboards and walls. The expense did not stop there the roof was also in need of major work, you could be in the cellar on the ground floor and look up and see a hole which ran through all levels of the building including the roof! you could see daylight, the building was that bad.

 Woodthorpe coal merchant offices moved to 18 Dolphin Lane

 The door way to Woodthorpe coal merchants is now where you will find our jewellery windows!

 Another angle of the Market Place on a cold, wet Market Day in 1968

 These colour pictures were found by accident last year and were taken in May 1968

 May 1968 again with a closeup of the S.T Hopper headquarters to be! Note the F reg Mini parked outside which would have been under a year old!

During the renovation period they realised that they had to cut back on costs where possible, an idea arose that a cost efficient way to remove all of the rubble and debris was to put it in the cellar instead of paying someone to have it removed. It did help with costs but it is a decision that we now wished was never made! The cellar was filled, concreted and sealed and debris cleared. It took a vivid imagination to see former coal merchants offices transform to an elegant jewellers shop, but by 1969 the transition was made. Gerry who had recently attended the watchmakers of Switzerland International Centre in Lausanne came back with ideas on how the new shop should look like. Fortunately these ideas coincided with those of the architects of the Omega Watch Company who used their experience and know how in planning the new shop. Situated near Lloyds Bank and a few yards away from the main traffic so ideally placed for a private atmosphere. Swiss type windows formed a deep arcade where window shoppers can browse undisturbed by passers by. Inside the shop repairs were taken in and purchases were made just as they are today. The rear of the shop was the directors office where very private transactions were made. For many years now the rear room has now been opened up to display more stock and is also used for private purchases for anyone who wants to do. The staircase which is made of padouk wood looks as good today as it did then led to the 1st floor which was a showroom and workshop area.

The following pictures were taken by Addys of Boston for us in 1969 after all the refurbishment work to the shop was completed.

 This picture shows the cabinets to the right of the front entrance. Note the ashtrays for the customers to use! Also the till was used at the front of the shop

 The main part of the shop. Note that there are no desks along the length of the shop and no counter next to the stairs as there is now

 Corner of the shop now has table and chairs for purchases but in 1969 it was home to a very trendy leather chair!

 This is the only picture we have of the 'old' office. You may not recognise this room but it is actually the back room of the shop where the ear piercing is done

 The padouk wood staircase leading to the Showroom and Workshop still looks as good today as it did the day it was made

 This is the first floor also known as The Showroom. This picture shows a grandfather clock, mantle, alarm clocks, ornaments and barometers all ready for sale

 This Showroom display cabinet stretched across the whole floor full of clocks, porcelain and tableware

 Here's a zoomed out picture of the same cabinet full of goodies! Worth noting that none of the items were locked away in 1969

 The original look of the shop which was designed by Gerry Hopper and Omega Watches. Picture taken during the 1970's

Gerry's vision paid off in a very big way, the building is paid for and at a prime location, Boston's historic Market Place. We will continue to keep the Hopper name in the hearts of old and new customers alike for generations to come.

 How the shop looks today after its 2019 refurbishment



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  • Great article Matt. It was such a modern shop for the time. I don’t it had changed that much when I joined. Except the back office was by then a showroom. Thanks for sharing.

    Steven Jordan FGA DGA FNAJ FNAG on

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