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At 45 Hanbury St

February 18, 2017
by the gentle author

This is 45 Hanbury St in 1919, an address which hardly exists anymore – today these premises serve as the back end of a chocolate shop, one of more than six such establishments in Spitalfields. Yet a century ago it was home to the family business of JH Fisher, making and repairing umbrellas and parasols. In this photograph, taken on 19th November 1919, we see Juda Hersz Fiszer and his wife Malka standing outside their shop. They came to London from Warsaw at the beginning of the twentieth century and, although the family anglicised their name to ‘Fisher,’ Juda and his wife kept their Polish nationality.

Juda Fiszer was a skilled umbrella-maker and established his umbrella business in Spitalfields in 1907. During the First World War, the family moved to the more desirable area of Hackney and set up home at 123 Victoria Park Rd. Their son Morris Fisher continued the family business but, by the thirties, the Hanbury St shop was taken over by a tailor and Morris had a stall in the Whitechapel Rd, selling rather than manufacturing umbrellas.

Spitalfields has good reason to be seen as the place of origin of the umbrella-making industry in this country on account of the local availability of silk and whalebones from the London Docks at the end of the eighteenth century when these popular accessories first became readily available. James Ince & Sons is the longest established company of umbrella manufacturers in Britain and Richard Ince, the current incumbent, can trace origin of his business back to White’s Row in 1815, though he believes it was in existence before that. Today Inces’ Umbrellas trade from Vyner St but they were in Spitalfields for over two hundred and fifty years before moving to Hackney in the eighties.

The last remnant of this former industry in Spitalfields was E Olive Ltd, an umbrella shop and manufacturer at 10 Hanbury St which closed in the late eighties yet, such is the cyclical nature of history, the recent revival in quality British-made umbrellas has the occasioned the arrival of newcomer London Undercover which has traded successfully from 20 Hanbury St since 2013 – selling umbrellas less than fifty yards from JH Fisher a century ago.

45 Hanbury St today

E Olive Ltd, Umbrella Manufacturers, 10 Hanbury St, 1985 (Photograph by Philip Marriage)

E. Olive Ltd Umbrella Manufacturers, 10 Hanbury St, 1985 (Photograph by Philip Marriage)

Read my stories about umbrellas

James Ince & Sons Ltd, Umbrella Makers

Terry Coleman, Umbrella Maker

Albert the Umbrella

4 Responses leave one →
  1. February 18, 2017

    It looks like part of the wrought iron railing along the balcony, above the shop, has survived the years between the two photographs.

  2. Derek Stavrou permalink
    February 18, 2017

    Dear Gentle Author
    I have only just subscribed to your amazing enterprise so was especially pleased today to read about the umbrella makers of Spitalfields. I’m researching the life of my grandfather, Alf Levy (1890-1969), who, like his two brothers, was described as a stick-maker on the 1911 census. Do you think that stick-makers would also have made umbrellas, or were the two trades separate? Where can I learn more about stick-making?
    Your article was especially interesting to me because it mentioned Hanbury St. My grandfather’s family lived in Hanbury Street: on the 1891 census they were at no. 170, and then for most of the 1890s they lived at no. 78
    With admiration and kindest regards
    Derek Stavrou. Kfar Sava, Israel

  3. February 18, 2017

    I feel very happy for Derek, above, since he is about to make wonderful/daily discoveries.
    I am always fascinated at the specialized skills and earnest dedication revealed here……and
    can almost envision what the interior of the umbrella shop looked like.
    With the Gentle Author as historic chronicler, the City of London is in great hands.

  4. February 19, 2017

    Nana and Zaida lived at 23 Hambury Street.
    Opposite the Christian Mission to the Jews.
    23 has been pulled down now. The street is
    named after the brewery Truman Hanbury
    and Buxton.

    At the entry to 23 there was a long passage.
    Nana used it to make wine. Going up the stairs
    was Zaida’s embroidery factory to the left and to
    the right the family rooms.

    I thought all houses were like this. Zaida
    made embroidered runners with curly flower
    patterns.

    At the top of the house was a utility room with
    a stone wash tub and a mangle.

    When we stayed as children the brewers drays
    woke me up with the hoods on the cobbles.

    There was a brass plate on the door which I still
    have. It said M Rich.

    My parents got married from there. The wedding
    certificate says the bride is ‘of the same address’
    My mother says that was because her mother
    had moved to Cambridge so she had nowhere
    else to stay.

    Nana made cheese which she hung over a tap
    in the kitchen in muslin bags. She was a
    pupil teacher and came from Odessa. Zaida
    came from Vienna.

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