Cutting loose after 140 years tailoring in the city

Owner Stuart Fielding in his shop C.E Barrow on New Street which is closing after 140 years of trading in Lancaster.
Owner Stuart Fielding in his shop C.E Barrow on New Street which is closing after 140 years of trading in Lancaster.

A BESPOKE tailoring business in Lancaster that has made suits for Lords and MPs is closing after 140 years.

CE Barrow, in New Street, is due to close in September when its owner, Stuart Fielding, retires.

Originally coming to Lancaster from Blackpool as a cutter, Stuart took over the business in the early 1970s from Charlie Barrow, whose father founded the original shop in Church Street in 1870.

The shop moved to New Street in 1923.

The building, which dates back to the 1830s, was originally a wine shop, and still has a dumb waiter and wine bottles stored in the cellar.

Stuart, 69, said: “We used to have a cutter who went down there to have a tot of sherry.

“He lived up on Scotforth Road, and Charlie lived at Bailrigg, and when Charlie was walking back to work after lunch, the cutter would come past and offer him a lift in the car, which he would decline.”

Stuart remembers originally selling bespoke tailor made suits, but gradually bringing in ready mades.

“When we first got them in, Continental suits from Denmark sold for 18 guineas,” he said.

“By the following year we were selling more than 20-30 a week.

“We just adapted to what has been happening in the trade.

“It all comes round in circles, you look at a morning coat now, it’s exactly the same as what you could see in the 1700s, and I can remember my dad wearing them in the 1950s.

“Fashion just goes round and round in circles. We’ve tailored for all sorts, local people as well as Lords, Ladies and MPs from all over the country.

“In the early 1920s, there were 23 working tailors in Lancaster, and now it’s just us.”

The business stopped cutting its own suits only very recently.

Stuart said the best thing about the job has been the reaction from customers when they put on their new suit.

““You just enjoy seeing the finished garment when the customer tries it on. The fact that you can make people who are not entirely normal shape feel as though they’ve got something that actually fits them properly.”

He added: “I’d just like to thank all the customers for their support in the past and I look forward to spending a bit more time at home.”