Bentley's is a ladies' outfitters selling dresses, hats, shoes and anything else a lady might need. It used to be the drapers shop in Erdington. The business has been owned by the Bentley family for two generations although the present premises were built after 1840 (stretcher brickwork) replacing the original Georgian row of shops, hence its neo-Georgian design.
Ellen's parents had run Bentley's, all their married life, having inherited it from Ellen's grandparents. With the booming prosperity and massive population growth in late Victorian Birmingham they made enough money to move out of the shop premises and into a large detached house (Summerlee House) and along came Ellen (!).
1878 Ellen is born
1879 Sept. First Blackpool illuminations
Oct. First female students allowed to study for a degree at Oxford
Electric Street lighting introduced in London.
1880 Aug. GMT adopted as standard throughout Great Britain.
1883 Aug. Age of consent rises from 13 to 16 therefore outlawing child prostitution.
Sept. Blackpool tramway opens. First electric trams.
First modern pedestal flush toilet demonstrated in Beaufort works, Chelsea
1887 June Queen Victoria's Jubilee (50 years)
1888 County councils established and women are allowed to vote in local elections.
1889 Birmingham is granted the status of city despite not (at that time) having a cathedral
which was previously a requirement for the honour.
1898 Overhead cables installed for the Blackpool trams.
1891 April London to Paris telephone system opened to the public.
Abolition of primary school fees.
1893 School leaving age raised to 11
1894 May Blackpool Tower opens
May Manchester Ship Canal opens
1896 Ellen becomes engaged to Albert
Feb. Lumière Brothers project the first film in Britain at The Empire Theatre of Varieties,
Nov. Speed limit for cars was raised from 4 mph to 14 mph. It was celebrated by the
Emancipation Run of Cars from London to Brighton which became the London to
Brighton Vintage Car Run.
First car factory opens in Coventry
1897 June Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee
1897 May Ellen's mother dies age 62
1898 Oct. The Second Boer War begins.
Dec. The Glasgow School of Art opens (Ellen likes the work of Charles Rennie
School leaving age raised to 12.
1899 Jan Albert, Ellen's fiancée is killed at the Battle of Spion Kop
1900 Jan The Gramophone Company copyrights its HMV illustration
Apr Ellen and Molly go to Paris for the Exposition, renting an apartment for 8 months
Nov Ellen and Molly return to Erdington
1901 Jan. Queen Victoria dies
Aug. First Cinema opens in Islington
Oct. First submarine launched at Barrow
Oct. Aero Club of the UK is established
Dec. First transatlantic signal is received by Marconi
Minimum working age raised to 12.
Electric trams introduced in London, Glasgow and Portsmouth
1902 Feb. Ellen's father dies aged 72. Ellen inherits the shop.
Aug. Edward VII crowned.
1908 Apr. Ellen refurbishes the shop changing it from a drapers to a ladies outfitters and
moves in above the shop. She helps John Dallow open a drapers across the road.
1909 December 27th The Electric Cinema opened in Birmingham, 47-49 Station Street
1910 Erdington library was built
Wednesday 11th October 1911 - the date for the projects setting
Nov. Erdington became part of Birmingham 9/11/11
The population of Erdington doubled from 16,368 in 1901 to 32,331 in 1911
1912 April 15th Titanic sank