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Eton School Stores Association



Administrative / Biographical history

In the 19th century, and no doubt before, the "sock-cad" or food seller was a familiar sight around the College. Boys often ran up large debts with these men as indeed they could do at the "sock shops" in the town. In 1900, Edward Powell, one of the most successful of them, died and a group of masters decided to purchase his stock and carry on the business, but without allowing credit. They also hoped to be able to supply better goods more cheaply. Any profits were to be devoted to school objects. The premises were at old and new Fives Courts, Queen's Eyot, Cuckoo Weir and Athens and a manager with the title of School Steward was appointed. A committee of masters, known as the School Stores Committee, was appointed by the Head Master and in 1902 a Boys' Committee of ten members, mainly luminaries such as the Captain of the School and President of Pop, was set up. In 1904 the committee acquired the shop Little Browns and masters guaranteed the cash required to float it. The committee was reconstituted with increased boy representation in 1908. (Adjustments to boy involvement were made at intervals, and eventually an Advisory Committee was set up to allow them more say in the distribution of profits.) In 1909 another private sock shop, Phoebe's, was offered to the School Stores and the Little Browns business moved to those premises. The cricket professional, Mat Wright, sold the Stores the goodwill and stock of his sports goods business in 1917 and in 1920 there was further expansion with the acquisition of Rowell's the jewellers (renamed Merrick's). At the same time the Stores began to stock stationery and it is clear that the Governing Body felt that there would be advantages in the School Stores, Spottiswoode's, the Boat House and the Laundry forming a sort of federation. Other businesses were acquired in the course of 1921 and at the end of 1922 the Eton School Laundry Co. offered the business to the School Stores. The Laundry owned several freehold properties and it was therefore necessary to constitute the School Stores on a rather more formal basis. In 1926 the Eton School Stores Association therefore came into being. In 1925 another private sock shop, Rowlands, had come into the hands of the School Stores. By 1926, the departments were Fives Courts and Grocery, Laundry, Mat Wright's, Stationery, Boots, Merrick's and Rowlands. Hardware was later added and the Association also became responsible for Tap for senior boys. As a result of this expansion, a full-time general Manager was appointed. Business was at one stage very profitable but gradually the food side in particular needed subsidy from the School, especially after the opening of Bekynton removed from the Stores the catering for visiting teams. In 1977 the Association was wound up and its assets transferred to Eton School Stores Ltd, a company owned by the College. The company in 2001 became dormant.


1900 - 1996

Content description

The minute books give a very full picture of the development and running of the Stores, and the debates about which school objects to support are of particular interest.

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Number 26 of 30 at this Level

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