Jane Wray Gowns – Victoria Colonnade, Royal Leamington Spa
Although the elegant figure on the left may not be instantly recognisable, many older Leamingtonians will remember her as ‘Jane Wray’, owner of the fashionable dress shop in the Colonnade. She was my mother, Mrs Jane Wheatley, seen here at home in Lansdowne Circus,modelling one of her gowns, in a study by Leamington photographer Waldon Hammond. Jane started the business in Dormer Place, just across the river. When the lease of the building ran out, the owner helped her find new premises in the Colonnade, – he was anxious to expand his own business, the café next door.
The move to the Colonnade, overlooking the river, and close to The Loft, was a very happy one. The premises were light and airy, and the covered walkway of the Colonnade allowed the clientele to browse in all weathers, drawn by the fashionable model displayed in a glass display cabinet at the corner of the Colonnade and Victoria Bridge.
When I was a teenager, I helped at the shop, spending many happy hours there. It was my treat to dress the model in the glass cabinet in the latest fashionable outfit. When I left the High School (now The Kingsley School), I studied fashion in Birmingham, travelling backwards and forwards every day by train, usually with a group of friends.
Deirdre Draper 2011
Courtesy of D Draper