In 1871 Thomas Foster opened his tobacconist shop at 34 High Street, Winchester in the Piazza, or Pentice as it is now known. The business quickly gained itself a reputation for quality merchandise and was able to provide everything for the discerning smoker. As a result it established a regular clientele which included many distinguished names who appreciated the personal service offered.
After the First World War Stanley Cobb started working at the shop as an assistant after leaving school and in 1935 he inherited the business from Foster’s estate. Stanley Cobb changed little in the shop and apart from the installation of electricity in 1938 the shop retained its Victorian appearance and Edwardian service traditions.
When Stanley Cobb died in 1978 the decision was taken to rebuild the shop within the City Museum, Winchester and since 1980 the shop has continued to be visited by a host of visitors, both local and international.
The shop is an interesting reminder of the independently owned shops of the past when large chains did not dominate the high streets of Britain. The shop is also a reminder of how smoking was an accepted and celebrated activity before the knowledge of the health dangers.
The mahogany counter in the shop is over 20 feet (6.1 metres) long and is constructed from tobacco shipping crates.
Have a story about "Foster's tobacconist shop", or simply want to tell us what you think?
Add your thoughts below. You can sign in with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo! to get your story posted straight away - or just post a comment to be published later.
Let us help you plan a route and make a visit