Hector Powe and the West Country

When my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Abraham Powe, moved to West London from Devon in the 19th Century, he took up residence and work as a grocer on Latimer Road, an area infamous for social deprivation. Contrary to the fashionable perception of contemporary Notting Hill, the London boroughs of Hammersmith and West Kensington were notorious for poverty and hardship throughout the Victorian era and beyond.

Despite the focus of politicians and philanthropists, even as late as 1915 the columnist Horace Newte observed: “Between Notting Hill and Wormwood Scrubs lies a vast desert of human dwellings … by scarcely perceptible degrees, there is a declension of so-called respectability, till at last the frankly working-class district of Latimer Road is reached.”

Outside a West London pub, 1860s

Outside a West London pub, 1860s

Whilst Abraham was a West Country man at heart, he took to his new West London home in the middle of the 1800s with gusto and optimism. A visible and vocal member of the Latimer Road community, in 1865 he was elected as a Guardian of the Poor for his parish.

Over half a century later, the young tailor Hector Powe held a deep affection for his grandfather Abraham and his charming West Country lilt, that became poetically apparent in his early business decisions.

After Hector had developed his unique form of “New Tailoring” in the early 1920’s, the rise in popularity of the brand led Hector to believe that there was a demand for the “HP Cut” that went well beyond our Regent Street headquarters and London’s West End.

1928 - Clare St in Bristol, where the Hector Powe store was opened.

1928 - Clare St in Bristol, where the Hector Powe store was opened.

In a nod to his family roots and his Grandfather Abraham, Hector wanted his first store outside of London to be opened in Bristol, to firmly establish the name Hector Powe in the West Country. This was announced on 16 May, 1928 in the Western Daily Press: “London’s Most Successful Tailoring Service Comes to Bristol”.

In advance of this move, elements of the capital’s media scoffed at the idea that Hector’s avant-garde style, and his new approach to West End tailoring, could prove popular outside of London.

16 May 1928 - Hector Powe statement in the Western Daily Press

16 May 1928 - Hector Powe statement in the Western Daily Press

Undeterred, Hector Powe’s statement included a commitment to the principles that had made our London offering such a success. Authentic style, attention to detail, customer satisfaction and a choice of exclusive cloths designed and selected by Hector himself.

The huge success of the Clare Street store was a catalyst for even greater expansion of the business, and led to openings in all corners of the United Kingdom in the years that followed.

Oliver Powe