Sunday, 31 May 2015

Women as Shop Commissionaires

From the Daily Record, 31st May 1915.


In the West End yesterday I noticed that at some of the big emporiums women are now being employed as door porters or commissionaires.  At one leading shop the women wear a uniform which strikes the observer us being both sensible and serviceable.

It is something after the style of a riding habit in blue cloth, and with it is worn a smart military looking hat.  The women are provided with the taxi-calls, and on wet days stand on the pavement with huge umbrellas for the protection of the lady customers as they pass from the shop to their motors.

Many of the London shops have suffered serious depletions of their staffs through enlistment of their young men, but the employment of female labour in many branches has very materially lessened the difficulties of the situation.

[The role of a commissionaire was, I think, to shepherd lady customers to and from their cars (presumably driven by chauffeurs), open the doors for them (the car door and the shop door), and as the piece suggests, to provide umbrella shelter in wet weather.   They also evidently called taxis for ladies who did not have their own 'motor' - I guess that the taxi-call was a whistle.] 

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