Thursday 26 May 2016

A dear little vintage tape measure ... with a story.

Behind every business there is a story
worth knowing....

First let me introduce you to this piece of vintage Taunton history ......
This is a story that started when I found a tiny vintage tape measure in a pack of vintage goodies I bought.  It is so beautiful and has W & A Chapman Ltd of North Street Taunton printed on it, and it was a Drapers shop which was founded in 1864 by William Muggleton Chapman and Arthur Allen Chapman.  It developed into a department store, which sold furniture, drapery and household goods.  I wonder who owned this particular tape measure, was it one of the shop assistants or were they sold in the shop for home use?

I started to wonder about it and of course being a very curious person about any form of history I had to do some research thus the information I am about to depart on you.

I googled the name and could not find much but then came across the South West Heritage Trust and looked into their on line archives to see what they had on this shop.  They had a photo and a shop paper bag.  Interest was then up so I contacted the South West Heritage Trust to get
permission and copy of a photo dated C1900 of the Drapers shop itself and with their kind co-operation here it is.  It is not an easy thing to do because you have to have permission to publish and it can take up to four weeks.  I paid for the photos for you to look at and feel it is worth it to tell a little story of the daintiest little tape measure that there ever was.

 I had to wait weeks for the photos of the shop and the bag and get permission to publish them on here for you to look at but it has all been well worth it to show a piece of history ....  I also had to seek copyright permission but because the shop is no longer and the art work on the bag could not be traced to anyone I have decided to put them on here anyway when I talked it through with the great help of staff at South West Heritage. It is a very very old photo and very grainy but that is the shop that this dear little tape measure came from.   The photo of the shop is C1900.  Now the question remains was it wrapped into bag like this one or indeed was it
used in the shop by one of the assistants ... who knows!  The bag is much later and is C1960.

I looked at newspaper cuttings as well and found some adverts for the shop in the forties and thought you might like to see a few of those as well ... This little tape measure sure started my blood hound gene going!!

I do a lot of genealogy so I belong to several sites so I was able to go through and look through the Taunton Gazette.  I love the old adverts taken out in the papers.  These are from the 1940's which was the Second World War era.  The one about ladies wearing trousers tickled me... Saying be sensibly dressed, lots of woman are wearing trousers and feel the comfort in them!

This is from Find my Past with William Muggleton Chapman and his family on the 1891 census.

William MuggletonChapmanHeadMarriedMale531838DraperSt Pancras, Middlesex, England

HelenChapmanWifeMarriedFemale531838-Somerset, England
KateChapmanDaughterSingleFemale241867-Williton, Somerset, England
EdgarChapmanSonSingleMale231868House Furnisher AssistantTaunton, Somerset, England
HowardChapmanSonSingleMale191872Drapers AssistantTaunton, Somerset, England
Julia HelenChapmanDaughterSingleFemale151876ScholarTaunton, Somerset, England
Annie ElizabethChapmanDaughterSingleFemale151876ScholarTaunton, Somerset, England
William HenryChapmanSon-Male111880ScholarTaunton, Somerset, England
Florence MaryHaywardDaughterSingleFemale161875General Servant DomesticRumwell, Somerset, England

All of this because I found in a tiny tape measure in a  vintage bag bundle that I bought at a vintage fair ....

I would like to thank The South West Heritage Trust for their work and help so that I could bring the photos to you and for their advice on Copyright, especially Esther who is the head archivist for her patience and support.

I hope you have enjoyed a little bit of Taunton history and enjoyed the photos ...

Have a wonderful day and as always Happy Stitching!


  1. That is so interesting, I live down the road from Williton (third down on list), and Taunton is forty-five minutes away and is our main town.

    Julie xxxxxxxxx

  2. So pleased you enjoyed Julie .. I loved finding out about it all.
    Sarah xxx

  3. I'm just waiting for some visitors ti arrive and thought I'd have a read of your past posts. I love this one Sarah. We shop in Taunton all the time as it's only 30 mins away.
    Many years ago I found an old photo in a curiosity shop and found out all about the person in the photo. If you'd like to read my story just type Captain Arthur Bullock and Dawn Robson into the internet. It's not the final story as a lot more happened afterwards. Xxx