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Iconic Hamilton store looking for new home

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Torwood Home, previously known as the Irish Linen Shop, is moving house after being in the same location since 1962 (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Torwood Home, previously known as the Irish Linen Shop, is looking for a new location after 61 years on the corner of Queen Street and Front Street in Hamilton.

The store’s lease runs out at the end of this month.

“We plan to look for a new location after we are fully extracted from the building,” said Elaine Murray, who owns the business with her husband, Richard Hartley. “We are hopeful that we will find an appropriate location for Torwood Home and our dedicated staff.”

A note to customers on the door states: “From the bottom of our hearts we will be for ever grateful for your incredible support and loyalty.”

An institution: the Irish Linen Shop, which became Torwood Home in 2019 (File photograph)

The note also said: “We have loved every single moment of our time at the shop, especially seeing you and your children and then your children’s families. Where did the time go? It is not every day that you get to be grateful when things don’t work out as planned. But if you stood where we are, you would agree we are very lucky. After all, we have all of you, our dearest friends who have shown us that we’re a lot more than brick and mortar.“

Torwood in Sandys, the original location of the Irish Linen Shop. Today the building is known as Cambridge House (Photograph supplied)

Mr Hartley’s grandmother Armine Gosling and aunt Frances Kennedy started the Irish Linen Shop on the ground floor of Torwood, the family home on Mangrove Bay Road in Sandys, in 1948. The original location is now known as Cambridge House and is an Airbnb rental property.

“In 1948 Irish linen was considered to be one of the most coveted textiles,” Ms Murray said. “The sisters were looking for an adventure and they had always played shop as little girls.”

But she said it was really Armine Gosling’s daughter, Jane Gosling Hartley Pocock, who got the business going. She opened the store in its Hamilton location in 1962.

An advertisement for the Irish Linen Shop placed in The Royal Gazette in 1949 (File photograph)

“Jane took it into Hamilton while simultaneously maintaining the Somerset shop,” Ms Murray said. “Then her son, Jeremy Hartley (Richard Hartley’s brother), got involved in the business, and when he retired in 2008, we took it over.”

A promotional photograph taken of the Irish Linen Shop in its early days when it was at Torwood (Photograph supplied)

They have tried to carry on Jeremy Hartley’s vision, while also evolving the business.

“He and Jane were definitely taste makers,” Ms Murray said.

The couple changed the name of the business to Torwood Home in 2019 to keep up with the changing times. Because of the pandemic, they did not make the change public until March 2021 after undergoing renovations.

“We did not feel the name was telling the full story of the business,” Ms Murray said.

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Published February 09, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated February 09, 2023 at 9:54 pm)

Iconic Hamilton store looking for new home

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