Eve & Ranshaw celebrates 240 years of trading

Louth’s popular department store, Eve & Ranshaw, marks its 240th anniversary this week - just months after closing its doors for the first time in over two centuries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photographs and illustrations of Eve & Ranshaw throughout its long history.

The respected department store has traded continuously as a family-run business since it was founded in 1781 by local mercer and grocer Adam Eve.

Throughout the years, the shop was fronted by generations of the Eve dynasty and several owner partnerships, including that of Thomas Ranshaw who started as a 13-year-old apprentice in the shop in 1817.

Today, the store’s family-friendly tendency towards homegrown staff continues with owner Marcus Sandwith, a third-generation successor, and life-long staff members still in place.

Eve & Ranshaw in Louth town centre.

The business now also boasts an all-female staff, including the leadership of Retail Creative Director Nicoline Sandwith and Deputy Store Manager Denise Swift, who has been with the company since 1997, at the helm.

Denise commented: “Eve & Ranshaw is a captivating mix of new and old. Its success, which goes as far back as surviving the post Napoleonic war depression, has been built upon maintaining quality and traditional customer service excellence, along with an ability to stay relevant to the local community it serves.

“New consumer habits, technology and online shopping have outdated traditional retailing. Exacerbated by the pandemic, this consumer context provides both opportunities and challenges for us.

“However, we believe people still enjoy the social aspect of shopping; getting out of the house and seeking that customer care and physical shopping experience.

Photographs and illustrations of Eve & Ranshaw throughout its long history.

“Independent retailers like us can provide that unique experience and also play a valid role in the local community where we’ve always been.”

Eve & Ranshaw is still in its original two-storey building in the heart of Louth. Initially trading in grocery, wool and linen goods, it later expanded into high-class tailoring and fashion, as well as a wide range of home furnishing products and services for the gentry of Louth and its surrounding district.

Adam Eve went on to buy The Louth Carpet & Woollen Factory Ltd, helping the town become one of only three centres in England to make flat weave and reversible carpets. 

In the Victorian days, the living chambers above the shop were occupied by a total of 16 people, including Thomas Ranshaw’s two daughters, a cook, house and kitchen maids, a draper’s clerk, shop assistants, and a page boy who was made to sleep under the shop counter.

Photographs and illustrations of Eve & Ranshaw throughout its long history.

No assistants were allowed upstairs with their boots on, but were made to wear slippers. Alternatively, the page boy had to run and fetch anything required.

Moving through the times to the present day, the shop no longer makes its own coffins, nor does it offer full funeral services.

Instead, it continues to trade in fashion, accessories and homewares with a traditional appreciation for quality and personalised customer service.

With the steadfast loyalty and support of its staff, for many of whom the shop has been their lifelong livelihood, Eve & Ranshaw is now looking forward expectantly to an evolving but successful post-pandemic future.

Photographs and illustrations of Eve & Ranshaw throughout its long history.

• The store will be marking the occasion with a three day in-store event (from Thursday October 28 to Saturday October 30) where there will be a raffle and all customers will get a 10% discount across all products.