George Tate’s two volume history of Alnwick still remains the most important source for local historians. In describing development of the town Tate was discovering and recording its history. In his other activities he was keen to both preserve and improve the town. For that we recognised him in Some Alnwick Heritage Heroes.
George was born in Alnwick on the 21st. May, 1805. He was educated at the Borough School and the Grammar School, then apprenticed to Thomas Riddell, a linen draper in the Market-place.
In 1826 he set up in business on his own account, here, in Paikes Lane. In 1832 he married Ann Horsley, who was, says Robert Middlemas, an excellent wife who ‘so assisted him in his business that he was able to devote a large portion of his time to antiquarian and scientific research’. Ann died in 1847. His father, Ralph, had been a stonemason, but joined him here, briefly, before being killed in an accident during construction of the Presbyterian Chapel in Warkworh.
The building has two entrances: 6 Paikes Lane, and 14 Fenkle Street. It’s likely that what is now 14 Fenkle Street was built first (around 1750), and followed by 6 Paikes Lane soon afterwards. The buildings were occupied early on by draper families the Greens and Millers. A courtyard existed initially between the two buildings for the draper’s wagon but the properties were soon joined into one town house.
George continued living here, as Alnwick’s postmaster, until 1855, when the Post Office was moved to the other side of Fenkle Street, at number 25, next to the old Star Hotel. That building was demolished when construction of the new post office began in 1939.
The building has a long history of being used by drapers and clothes shops. It was owned for many years by Forresters, and many Alnwick children have been fitted here for their school uniform.