William Henry Barrett


Market Cross, Chichester (Barrett's shop on the left)

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Bookseller, stationer, newsagent, bookbinder, artists' colourman and fancy leather goods dealer at the junction of South Street and West Street, Chichester, next to the Market Cross. Barrett, who founded his business in 1878, also ran a subscription and circulating library. His shop appears in many picture postcards of the Market Cross, including some that he issued himself. Advertising in a 1900 Chichester Directory, he offered shoppers a "large assortment of views of Chichester and neighbourhood".

Barrett's name appears as the publisher on many sepia, silvered and coloured collotype cards of Chichester that in most cases were supplied by Valentines of Dundee and are so labelled. It would be easy to dismiss him as a mere proxy publisher except that he also sold printed cards of Selsey in quantities that suggest he must have supplied at least one local shopkeeper, possibly Elizabeth Gardner. The Selsey cards were on sale by 1904; their manufacturer has not been identified but was almost certainly not Valentines. A printed card of Boxgrove Priory and Church reinforces the impression that Barrett was a wholesale stationer, buying in cards centrally to distribute to shops in and around Chichester.

Barrett lived not far from his shop, in the Cathedral Close. He was born in 1844 or 1845 at Deptford in Kent. His wife, Ellen, who was about a year older, came from Buckingham. The 1891 census lists six children, who were all born in Chichester: Katrine E. Barrett aged 21, Emma Susan Maria Barrett aged 18, Harold Barrett, aged 15, Eliza G. Barrett aged 13, Archibald Barrett aged 9, and John H. Barrett, aged 6. Katrine, Emma and Harold worked in the shop. By the time the 1901 census was held all the children had left home. Emma later married a Frank Hornsby.

Barrett died at Chichester on February 26, 1923 and his business was taken over by E.H. Thompson, whose name appears on some of the cards that Valentines printed. The business continued under successive managers until the mid 1950s.

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