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Rags to riches: 200 years of S&M Myers carpets in Finchley

PUBLISHED: 10:19 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:30 05 June 2019

Myers Carpets started out in the 19th century as a rag recycling business.

Myers Carpets started out in the 19th century as a rag recycling business.

Archant

Richard and Alan Myers look back through their history, from their founding in the Georgian era as rag recyclers to where they are now, selling mid-range carpets to the domestic market

Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England. Porters unloading goods into a warehouse in the docks.Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England. Porters unloading goods into a warehouse in the docks.

Now a retailer of quality domestic carpets, S&M Myers can trace a long and interesting journey back through time that led to the business they run today.

Humble beginnings

When Samuel and Morris Myers's brother, Angel, took out a policy to insure their family business at 5 White Street in London's East End, he could not have imagined that S&M. Myers would still be flourishing in the hands of a seventh generation, 200 years later. It was described on the license as a 'Rag merchant and Dealer in Old metals.'

Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England.   Men at work loading goods into and out of a warehouse in the city.Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England. Men at work loading goods into and out of a warehouse in the city.

Today its current owners, Richard, aged 61 and Alan, 56, are five-times great grandsons of Samuel and Morris. The brothers don't have much detail about the earliest years of the business, only that Morris and his half brother Samuel, were buying clean and soiled rags, cutting and cleaning them and selling them on for either reprocessing or for cleaning machinery. This, carried on until the 1980's, though with only clean rags being bought.

Samuel and Morris were situated mainly in Wentworth Street, E1, for over 150 years. They also owned a pub, the Cross Keys, from the early 1860's to 1881, where they kept animals at the back of the premises.

They moved from Wentworth Street to 100-106 Mackenzie Road, N7 (originally a bakery) in 1969. Later they opened their current store in East End Road, East Finchley in the mid 90's.

Business going strong

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Their place in Mackenzie Road was well known and thought of as a real 'Aladdin's Cave' from the 1970 -1990's, with a whole assortment of government surplus blankets, pillows and sheets, bunks to bolts of material, as well as a myriad of other unconnected items such as communion sets and second hand curtains from various embassies.

In their time, they owned the original Doctor Bernardo's home in Copperfield Road, E3, which they used as a warehouse. Richard and Alan's father then sold it back to the charity for less than the market price back in the 1980's to house the Ragged School Museum. They were also known for their charitable work as early as the 1920's. They joined the National Scheme for Disabled Men, with the necessary undertaking to employ an approved percentage of disabled ex-service men, the logo of which is still on their headed paper.

They have a precious personal letter, written in the early 1940's from Prime Minister Winston Churchill's wife, Clementine, thanking them for 'the marvelous result which you are helping to achieve by your generous gift to my Red Cross Aids to Russia Fund.' The business is also one of the earliest recorded customers of the National Westminster Bank, originally the London and Westminster bank formed in 1834.

The carpet side was started properly in the mid 1970's by Richard, the elder brother. He took great interest in the different styles and textures of the second hand carpet which had come in from the RAF and army depots. Before that, his father, just sold it to individual customers, or to stall holders in the markets, including the infamous East End criminals, the Krays brothers' father, who he described as being a really nice guy. They then started buying specials, clearance and seconds from top manufacturers, which unfortunately, are much harder to come by now. This diversified their stock and attracted new customers.

S&M. Myers Ltd. today

The business now sells a range of carpets, with a shop and warehouse in East End Road, East Finchley to the middle and higher end of the domestic market, as well as to a strong core of rental property customers.

S&M. Myers Ltd, 81-85 East End Road, N2 0SP

Open Monday - Friday 8AM-5PM, Saturday 9.30AM - 4PM. Easy, free parking available.

Visit myerscarpets.com or call 0208444 3457 for more information.


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