Bath-born and raised, Keith Bissex now lives in Petersfield in Hampshire. But he’s recently been back to his home town and wants to take us on a trip down ‘Memory Lane.’
“Whilst visiting Bath recently (the city where I was born, spent my formative years and also worked for a number of years) I was reminded of a former shop/business in the city centre (corner of Cheap Street and High Street) which many – of my vintage – may also recall.
The site is currently occupied (at ground floor level) by ‘The Whisky Shop’ with an Indian restaurant (‘Temptations’) above but for a long period – at least from between the two World Wars and up until the late 1960s/early ‘70s – it was the home of W H Smith (Bath) Ltd – NOT to be confused with the national stationery firm of the same name. The shop occupied the ground and first floors, with workshops above.
I worked there as a Saturday Assistant, and during school holidays for a couple of years (mid ’60s).
As you will see from the attachments, they described themselves as a purveyor of ‘suitcases, trunks, personal leather goods, saddlery, harness and all requisites for your horse and dog’.
I recall that one of their most distinguished customers had been Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia/Ethiopia, who was exiled in Bath during WWII. There was a photograph of him, with some staff members, proudly on display in the shop at the time. Whether this qualified them for the honour ‘By Royal Appointment’ I’m not sure. Probably not!
The football programme containing their advertisement (and several other businesses, some of whose names I recall) may be of interest to Bath City fans. And the trunk is a fine example of their work – the Luis Vuitton of its day, perhaps?
I thought you and your followers might be interested in this little bit of Bath’s (retail) history. Keep up the good work! “
Fascinating stuff Keith and thank you.