United Kingdom

Sailing equipment shop Arthur Beale's is set to close after nearly 500 years

One of London's oldest shops that has been trading for nearly 500 years is to shut up shop for the final time after being hammered by the coronavirus lockdown.

Sailing equipment shop Arthur Beale will be closing its doors on Shaftesbury Avenue in London's West End on June 24th as the business moves permanently online.

The iconic shop, which stocks a wide variety of nautical equipment and accessories, was started by the rope-maker John Buckingham in the 16th Century.

It then moved to its current location in 1843, where it has been selling nautical equipment and accessories ever since. 

The shop became the exclusive provider of climbing rope to the world's first mountaineering group the Alpine Club, which was founded in the mid-19th century. 

It is also said to have supplied an ice axe to the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, as well as the flag pole for Buckingham Palace.

Speaking to yachting industry publication Boating Business, a spokesperson for the shop said: 'We were left in a very precarious financial state as a result of the pandemic and were unsure if we were going to survive at all.

'We have no choice but to leave and move on to pastures new.'

One of London's oldest shops that has been trading for nearly 500 years is to shut up shop for the final time after being hammered by the coronavirus lockdown. Sailing equipment shop Arthur Beale will be closing its doors on London's Shaftesbury Avenue on June 24th as the business moves permanently online

The shop became the exclusive provider of climbing rope to the world's first mountaineering club Alpine Club, which was founded in the mid-19th century

It is also said to have supplied an ice axe to the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, as well as the flag pole for Buckingham Palace. Pictured: Ernest Shackleton with fellow explorers Edward Adrian Wilson and Captain Robert Scott during the Discovery expedition to Antarctica in November 1902

Arthur Beale's closure received little media attention until consultant Dan Barker, posted a Twitter thread yesterday.

In the thread, Mr Barker  pointed out that a clearance sale was currently underway at the store, writing: 'A few weeks ago, there were a couple of popular tweets declaring that the "mad umbrella shop" and "mad sailor shop" in London had survived the pandemic.

'It is with regret that I report that the "mad sailor shop", Arthur Beale's, is closing, one of the oldest shops in London.' 

The shop can be traced back to as far as 1791 under its original name, 'John Buckingham, Hemp & Flax Dresser, Two-dealer & Rope-maker'. A card with this title exists in The British Museum.

However, it is thought to be even older, with heritage organisation Grace's Guide to British Industrial History saying John Buckingham established his company in the 1500s.

Before eventually settling in Shaftesbury Avenue, the shop was based on Brief Street and High Holborn.

The iconic shop, which stocks a wide variety of nautical equipment and accessories, was started by the rope-maker John Buckingham in the 16th Century

The shop moved to its current location in Bloomsbury, North London in 1843, where it has been selling nautical equipment and accessories ever since

Speaking to yachting industry publication Boating Business, a spokesperson for the shop said: 'We were left in a very precarious financial state as a result of the pandemic and were unsure if we were going to survive at all. 'We have no choice but to leave and move on to pastures new'

Susan Wilkin, working at Arthur Beale, a yacht store that is closing down after almost 500 years of being open

The shop can be traced back to as far as 1791 under its original name, 'John Buckingham, Hemp & Flax Dresser, Two-dealer & Rope-maker'. A card with this title exists in The British Museum

In 1890, Arthur Beale joined the company as an office boy aged 15.

Arthur established a name for himself and the shop was renamed as Beale and Clove, followed by its current name, Arthur Beale.

When he died in 1932, Arthur's son (Arthur Beale Junior) took over the shop. 

People on social media were shocked to hear the news of the shop's closure.

One person said: 'Imagine surviving from 1700's but the rate of central London rent greed in 2021 is the thing that makes you close.'

Before eventually settling in Shaftesbury Avenue, the shop was based on Brief Street, in Camberwell and High Holborn. Pictured: Goods on sale in the shop 

In 1890, Arthur Beale joined the company as an office boy aged 15. Arthur established a name for himself and the shop was renamed as Beale and Clove, followed by its current name, Arthur Beale

General view of Arthur Beale, a yacht chandler that is closing down after almost 500 years of being open

People on social media were shocked to hear the news of the shop's closure. One person said: 'Imagine surviving from 1700's but the rate of central London rent greed in 2021 is the thing that makes you close'

While another tweeted: 'This is terrible. It was a beautiful place. I don't sail but never once passed it without stopping at the window. What a huge loss to the West End.'

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'A part of London's soul just gone,' said another. 

Arthur Beale has also leased a new warehouse in Buckinghamshire and will be expanding its clothing range.

The directors have said they are hopeful the business will regain some form of London presence before the end of the year. 

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