The history of Gamages and its link to Hatton Garden jewellers


The history of Gamages and its link to Hatton Garden jewellers


When looking along the long strip of Hatton Garden jewellers, you would think that a retail outlet not specialising in fine jewellery would stick out like a sore thumb! Try telling that to Gamages, the hugely successful department store setup in 1878 and closed in 1972.


A partnership between Arthur Gamage and Frank Spain saw the opening of a small watch repair outlet, with both Arthur and Frank dedicating their time to developing a profitable business. Having seen a successful first few years, Gamage made the bold decision to buy the other half of the business from Spain, with the intention of expanding the premises by acquiring nearby property. With time, as the size of the business expanded, so did Gamages product portfolio, focusing on additional lines such as clothing, furniture, bicycles and toys.


Although Hatton Garden jewellers remained scattered down the street, Gamages expansion solidified its position as a London hotspot amongst shoppers from all walks of life. Alongside its in store offerings, Gamages also ran a successful mail order business which allowed customers to order from the comfort of their own homes. Large catalogues were produced detailing the business’ items of interest, in what proved a popular marketing technique at the time. Whether Gamages benefitted the local jewellery trade remains a contended question, however one that undoubtedly brought a great number of potential customers to the region.


A second store was opened in Essex in the late 1960s to try and emulate the same levels of success as its Holborn counterpart. Unfortunately, the store was closed just two years later after the Sterling Guarantee Trust took over the company. The Holborn store soon followed with the plan that an Oxford Street store would be a fitting replacement, however this too ended in failure. Today, numerous Hatton Garden jewellers have moved into the redeveloped site of the department store, including Rennie & Co.


Gamage’s entrepreneurial mind-set allowed him to forge ahead from competition and has been a much admired figure since his passing in 1930. From its humble origins to the grand scale of its closing, the Gamages tale remains an important piece of Holborn history. Why not pop by Hatton Garden the next time you are passing to see how much the area has changed!

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