Popping out to buy Cadbury’s finest does not take much effort these days.
But back in the 1830s, tracking down a nice mug of drinking chocolate was a little harder. And to help you on your search, the City and County Guides provided the essential guide to the British high street.
Published from 1677 to 1946, the guides were the forerunner to the Yellow Pages and provide a fascinating glimpse into the shops of old – and they are available online at Ancestry.co.uk.
Everything from leeches to weapons importers and chimney sweeps are mentioned.
And Cadbury’s is one of the household names to feature early on.
The records show despite being famous for chocolate, John Cadbury began selling tea.
The brand, founded in 1825, went on to sell chocolate from their Bull Street store, and is listed in the 1826 guide.
In 1884, Michael Marks founded his ironmongers’ stall in Leeds market, later becoming partners with Thomas Spencer and forming M&S.
Charles Kalm and Co founded electrical retailer Dixons – because their name wouldn’t fit above the Essex shop front.
Other familiar names include the first shop of John Boot, in Nottingham in 1849, which became Boots, and John Lewis’s ribbon and haberdashery shop on London’s Oxford Street in 1864.
The first shop of William Henry Smith (WH Smiths) is mentioned, with Charles Henry Harrod’s grocery in East London.
Cities and districts are also given an introduction.
The 1835 Pigot’s Directory for Warwickshire describes Birmingham as “one of the most celebrated manufacturing towns in the United Kingdom” and praises the work ethic of residents.
“The traveller who delights in seeing the human race profitably employed, to their own county’s advantage, will disregard the smoke which sometimes envelops the town, and discern, through the veil, the bright beams of industry enlightening vast piles of riches.”
Olivier Van Calster, managing director of Ancestry.co.uk, said: “This collection of directories covers 250 years of the UK’s social and commercial history and include many famous names.
“Because the collection spans most of the UK just about everyone will be able to discover something of relevance.”