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Joan Leach was a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.

 

Bet you don't remember John Slater?
by

Joan Leach
 

Even those of us locals who only gamble on the lottery will have noticed the old Timpsons' shoe shop has now turned into the Betting Shop. It moved from a few doors away. An old picture shows that shop as a shoe shop earlier this century so it seems appropriate that the Betting Shop should again occupy a former shoe shop.

Jacksons shoe shop princess st knutsford

The new Betting Shop was once the pride of John Slater, tailor and breeches maker. If you look at the row of windows on the first floor you can see that one has been replaced by a raised plastered panel and that was where John Slater displayed his 'By Royal Appointment' escutcheon sign having made riding breeches for Prince Albert, as he did for many a Cheshire Hunt rider.

Henry Green wrote about John Slater in his "History of Knutsford": "…many still remember the zest and the racy simplicity with which he described his summons to Buckingham Palace and his interview with the Prince Consort."

Jacksons shoe shop knutsford

Such was the fame of John Slater and his shop that a poem was written in 1844:

'Thou prince of tailors! Tailor of the Prince!
Whose mansion doth our Princess Street adorn:
The purest taste thy marts of trade evince
And I could gaze from night to earliest morn

Aloft the Prince's glorious arms do shine
Over the porch way to they counter bright
'Tis something quite uncommon - 'tis divine,
And we are dazzled by the light.

(You can read the full poem if you have a mind to in Green's History of Knutsford pg. 148 - the Library has copies)

The plate glass window must have been a new wonder at that date as most shops would have small panes for at one time glass and windows were expensive and taxed.

Some of you will know of Slater's Yard or Court which runs from Princess St down to King St, behind the Royal George; at one time this was where John Slater, father and son, had their workshops and they then lived at the King St end in the present Boutique d'or. John Slater, the son who won the Royal Appointment accolade, was in the 1841 census listed there as 'breeches maker'. Brass buttons arrived there in barrels of the adornment of uniforms both martial and service.