History of Hewitts
My Great, great-grandfather
started the business 153 years ago now,
it was a great idea of his,
it seemed to work, we are still here
and we are the oldest family run
business in Croydon retail,
if you exclude undertakers
who I don’t consider are actually retailers.
No we are the oldest family run one.
The business has changed
over the years we started,
it was started as a men’s and boys
wear ready-made clothing.
Schools didn’t come in to it,
scouts didn’t come into it and guides
didn’t even exist then.
Everything was going rather well
until 1960. \we had a fire which
destroyed the first and second floor
here totally. It was rather dramatic
it was on the hottest day of the year
we had just had an extension built
out the back which hadn’t
even been opened still there,
the basics of it.
The builders on the Friday night
had finished work, it was all due
to be opened in a few days.
They’d tarred the roof as they did then
with normal tarring and a hot day.
The fire brigade in fact the official
in the end was it was just an accident
where they had brushed up bits
something sparked off the tar caught fire.
Because it had been partitioned off
from the rest of the shop nobody
spotted it until it had been going for
about half an hour
by which time it was going well.
Destroyed the first and second floor totally.
What was absolutely brilliant
and I still can’t believe it,
the amount of help we got
from existing shops in Croydon,
competitors and I mean
it was people like Horne Brothers,
Pickford and Newton’s,
Burtons were all our competitors
they were all selling school uniforms.
By the Monday morning
they had all said to us
what do you want?
You’ve got no stock
let us know what you want.
We shared schools with them;
no we will give you half our stock.
Unbelievable really and they were
I can actually remember coming back
from school one day
and waiting for dad to take me home
he said pop up to Pickford and Newton’s
they’ve got some more blazers for us.
I am literally walking down the road
with their stock for us.