SIXTY years ago the Douglas family moved to Bicester to take on a new venture.
And six decades on, their family business, the shop Henry’s menswear, is still going strong.
Last weekend, the shop celebrated its 60th anniversary in the town with balloons, cake and a special discount offer.
Over the decades they have kitted out the men of the town, grooms for their weddings and, more recently, young men as they attend school proms.
The Sheep Street shop was set up by Henry Evans in 1932. Initially it was called WH Evans, then became Henry’s in the early 1940s.
Fred Douglas, who had moved to Bicester from Harrow-on-the-Hill with his wife Constance and their six children, bought the shop in 1953 and retained the Henry’s name.
Three generations of the Douglas family have now taken the helm of the business.
Fred’s son Tony ran the store from the 1960s, and his grandson Rob is now the manager.
Tony Douglas said: “We are now into the third generation — Fred Douglas in the 1950s, Tony and Malcolm in the 1960s and now Rob and James in the 1990s.
“The most trying times in the business have been the last 18 months when the main car parks in the town were closed.
“This coincided with one of the worst recessions in our county’s history, so trade has been difficult.”
SIXTY years ago a bespoke suit would have cost from six guineas, just over £6 today. A shirt, around two guineas, £2 today. Socks cost about six shillings, 30p in today’s money.According to Bank of England figures, to get today’s true price from these 1953 figures you would need to times by 20, to take inflation into account.
The family expanded the business in the early 1970s, opening a second shop in Banbury, and then Aylesbury and Market Harborough — the latter two were later sold.
Rob Douglas, 44, said: “Fred had seen the shop on his travels as a representative for Double Two shirts and thought the town had potential for the trade he knew.
“The family lived in the accommodation at the back and above the shop until 1966, when the ground floor living space was incorporated into the expansion of the shop.
“The shop dated from 1900 when the owner Walter George combined tailoring with lay preaching.”