Shopkeeper pioneered sale of ethnic wares

Ruth Stockland

Ruth Stockland

First published in News

A SHOPKEEPER and designer who pioneered the sale of ethnic wares has died aged 74.

Ruth Stockland ran Stockland in Little Clarendon Street, Jericho in the 1960s to 1980s with first husband Jonathan.

It opened in 1965 and became one of the first in the country to sell homeware products made in the developing world.

It sold items like shopping baskets woven in Kenya, a customer favourite, and products from acclaimed British brands Liberty and Laura Ashley.

The couple also began selling their own clothes range for women under the label Bluestocking and ran an interior design business, Stockland Dickens, from the second floor.

Major projects it was to take on included the decoration of new buildings like Merton College.

The shop was dubbed “the Sloaniest shop in Little Trendy Street”, a reference to London’s high-end fashion, top-label Sloane Street, by infamous 1980s shopper’s guide the Official Sloane Ranger Directory.

After her first marriage was dissolved she decided to focus on her Bluestocking range, opening a shop in North Parade, which sold nationally via mail order.

Son William Stockland said: “The Bluestocking brand became synonymous with a traditional, but chic style, ideal for the liberal and aspiring Oxford woman.”

Ruth Carole Berger was born in Manchester on August 29, 1939, to parents Leon, an architect, and Mary, a teacher. She has two siblings, Angela Pullin, 71, and Stephen Berger, 72.

Mrs Stockland went to school first in Cheadle, Greater Manchester before her family moved to Southampton, where she attended Southampton Grammar School for Girls.

In 1957 she won a place to study archaeology and anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge, where she met some of the finest anthropologists of her generation, including Sir John Goody.

After completing her degree she spent over a year in rural Tanzania, living with a remote tribe to research oral histories on behalf of the British Institute of History and Archaeology in East Africa.

In 1963 she returned to Britain and took a job at Oxford-based Oxfam, in the information department.

There she met her future husband, Jonathan Stockland, who was the deputy director of the education department. They married in 1965 and had their first child, Rebecca, in 1966 followed by William in 1970.

The couple shared an interest in developing countries, particularly those in eastern and southern Africa and so opened Stockland to sell their wares shortly after they wed.

They traded from the premises until 1985.

In 1986 Mrs Stockland opened Bluestocking, in North Parade, and further expanded her clothing brand.

She closed the business in 1994 due to health problems as well as economic problems.

She met second husband Ronnie Sonneborn in 1988.

Until 1999 she was then a co-ordinator for the Access scheme in Oxford, which helped students from disadvantaged backgrounds get into university.

In retirement she enjoyed watercolour painting and spending time with her grandchildren, Milly and Imogen.

Ruth Stockland died peacefully at home on July 24 after suffering from metastatic breast cancer. She is survived by her husband, her brother and sister, her daughter and son and two grandchildren.

A funeral at Oxford Crematorium took place on July 31.

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.


Our top stories

Witney job centre cordoned off after suspicious package scare

Oxford Mail:

11:38am Wednesday 1st October 2014

A job centre was cordoned off after reports of a suspicious package.

Two road closures next week on A34 and in Oxford

Oxford Mail: Traffic Alert general

10:52am Wednesday 1st October 2014

PARTS of the A34 and Walton Street will be closed next week as roadworks are carried out.

Thames Water under fire from residents who say they’ve been left in the dark

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 1st October 2014

ANGRY residents flooded out of their homes say they are being left in the dark by Thames Water a week after disaster struck.

One lane of Botley Road shut for emergency work

Oxford Mail: Burst water main closes Lower Hall Lane in Chingford

9:00am Wednesday 1st October 2014

THAMES Water started emergency roadworks in Botley Road last night.

WATCH: Right royal occasion as RAF hands on helicopters + video

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 1st October 2014

PRINCE Andrew joined RAF personnel and Royal Navy staff as they paraded at RAF Benson yesterday to mark one of the base’s helicopter squadrons being officially disbanded.

Bridge fall man is still critically ill in hospital

Oxford Mail: Foorball forges links between police and youngsters

8:30am Wednesday 1st October 2014

A man was last night still fighting for his life in hospital after falling from a bridge and colliding with a vehicle.

 

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree