Over 150 Years of Excellent Service & Quality
Howell 1870 is a family run antique jewellery and vintage watch business specialising in fine jewellery from Georgian to Edwardian and Mid-century to contemporary. The business was founded in 1870 by Edward Howell, the paternal great-great grandfather of the present co-director. Established in Oldham (Greater Manchester, England) at a time in the town’s history when the cotton industry was booming and at its peak was 'the world centre for cotton production'. As a result it's been estimated there were over 50 independent jewellers in the town during this period. We are the last remaining Oldham jeweller from that period and one of the oldest still running in the North of England.
Yorkshire Street, Oldham c. 1900
The original shop c. 1880 at 10 Mumps an area of Oldham whose name is possibly derived from the archaic word "mumper", slang for a beggar.
In 1921 Joseph Howell becomes Vice President of the Jewellers Association (a precursor to today’s NAJ (National Association of Jewellers) and the business continues to thrive. With business prospering Charles’ son Fred (Charles) Howell joins the company. The business expands again by developing on the site at Mumps now occupying 8-10 Mumps, Charles pictured to the right aged just 24 outside the Yorkshire street shop.
Joseph Howell is elected Member of the Executive of Oldham Chamber of Trade and in 1933 attends the Royal opening of Higginshaw Gasworks where Prince George and Lord Derby are present.
As the firm nears its 60th anniversary it is decided that the Yorkshire street shop is to be updated with modern façade greatly inspired by the Art Deco period the shop takes on a new lease of life. Opened by the Mayor of Oldham Councillor F. Tweedale the ‘new look’ of the shop marked a significant departure from traditional shop front designs and was at the forefront of a move towards modernisation that was quickly emulated by other retailers in the area.
War breaks out and the business is forced to dramatically reduce its opening hours to Friday and Saturday only with other members of the Howell family enlisting in the military and RAF.
Having worked in a local jewellers for a number of years Edward Howell took out a sizeable loan and decided to go it alone. He was an accomplished business man working not only as a jeweller and watchmaker but also an optician.
In 1912 the business expands on the existing shop at 10 Mumps to also include 84 Yorkshire street which coincides with Edwards two oldest sons Joseph and Charles entering the business. Seven years later Thomas Walsh (Charles and Joseph’s brother inlaw) joins the firm bringing in his share of the premises and a third at 336 Middelton Road. This later leads to the partnership of Howell & Walsh which is seen on the signage and inside box below.
Top - Howell & Walsh box c.1919
Middle - Charles Howell at 24 outside the Yorkshire street store c.1930 (grandson of Edward)
Bottom - Charles in his 40's and the new improved facade of the shop c.1935
Sadly, in 1967 Charles dies suddenly and Mary Howell (Charles’ wife) takes over the business at Yorkshire St. having no prior experience in the trade and having to raise 4 children, her work is cut out. Despite this Mary being resourceful and determined to succeed commemorates the firm’s centenary by presenting a silver plate to the town of Oldham, seen below, to the Mayor in 1970.
(L - R) Mary Howell c.1940 in the RAF and to the right the annual 'trading account for year ending 1942' with a interesting expenditure 'War damage Insure - £25.11.6'
In order to aid the business Nicholas (Nick) Howell enters the business at the tender age of 16 shortly after his fathers death. He spends the next 15 years working and gaining qualifications at the esteemed Boodles & Dunthorne in Liverpool and also studies Horology in Geneva, Switzerland at the Centre International de L’industrie Horlogère Suisse.
In 1983 Nick assumes ownership of the business at Yorkshire St. as Mary retires and to coincide with the generational transition the branch moves to the Georgian listed building at 2 Lord Street. Once again this branch of the business thrives under Nick’s directorship and the firm opens a second store in 1989 in Atherton with his wife Lorraine as manager.
In 2009 CHJ becomes the first antique jeweller in the North-West of England to be come a member of the prestigious LAPADA association, maintaining the high standards of service, quality and experience that the firm has been renowned for over a century.
Today over 150 years later the business is run by Lorraine Howell, Nick’s widow, and their son Alex who will be the 5th generation of Howell’s to run the firm. Whether online or at one of the many fairs we exhibit at nationwide we look forward to welcoming you and showcasing our fine and impressive antique jewellery and watches.
(L - R) Nick Howell in the Lord Street shop c.1980, Lorraine Howell outside the shop c.1990 and the Lapada logo.