William Whiteley
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Type 68

William Whiteley ran a Department Store (also known as a Universal Provider).

They traded from:

    London W2

The relatively new store (opened 1989) known as Whiteleys is housed in a Grade II Listed building which was the former home of William Whiteleys main store in Queensway, Bayswater, London (from 1907).

Two current views of Whiteley’s - inside and out

As a young 24-year-old Wakefield born Yorkshireman, William Whiteley had the dream of creating a department store that would offer the public anything and everything under one roof.  Whiteley worked hard and bought his first store for £700, but that was only the start.  By 1875 he owned several stores in the Bayswater area of London (all along Westbourne Grove) and was cutting prices and offering a huge range of goods and services - naturally making him unpopular with his competitors.  It was during his time here that the underprint was in use.

A Post Office Commercial Directory of 1865 list the firm as:

“Whiteley Wm. Linendraper, 31 Westbourne grove W”

On opening in 1885, Whiteleys had a staff of over 6,000 and was the first department store of its time proud to say it could offer and quote for everything from a pin to an elephant.  In 1896 William Whiteley earned an unsolicited Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria and then opened the current Whiteleys building in 1907.

Whiteley.jpg (36888 bytes)
William Whiteley late in life

Tragedy struck in 1907 when a man claiming to be his illegitimate son murdered William Whiteley in his store.  After several different owners, Whiteleys eventually closed in 1981.

There is even a reference to Whiteley’s in the musical My Fair Lady:

HIGGINS: Where does one buy a lady’s gown?
PICKERING: Whiteley’s of course.
HIGGINS: How do you know that?
PICKERING: Common knowledge.

William Whiteley’s will specified that the then considerable sum of £1,000,000 be used to purchase freehold land “... as a site for the erection thereon of buildings to be used and occupied as homes for aged poor persons”.  The result was Whiteley Village, Walton on Thames, Surrey.  This village is still in operation providing residences for retired people from mainly the retail and agricultural trades.  See their web site for more details of the foundation of the village and the current services provided.


1877. Unofficial underprint type 68 (over the gum) in red.

PP224 1d lake-red (SG 43 or G1)
Plate 205

This has only been found with the underprint inverted.


PP225 1d Venetian red (SG 166 or K3)

PP225a 1d Venetian red (SG 166 or K3) Underprint Inverted

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