George Holdron’s linen drapery shop in Commercial Road was one of the best-appointed businesses in Portsmouth, situated at the junction with Arundel Street.
Perhaps it was competition from the Landport Drapery Bazaar on the opposite corner that prompted him to diversify.
Holdron had a acquired a new product, a lotion that was guaranteed to promote hair growth. Could this make his fortune? He decided to give it his best shot.
On this day in 1900, Holdron appeared before magistrates, summoned by police ‘for that he, by means of the exhibition of two females with long hair hanging down their backs and as an advertisement, seated in the window of his shop, did unlawfully cause such a number of persons to collect together on the footway as to obstruct free and uninterrupted passage’.
Holdron’s solicitor pointed out to the bench that similar advertisements had been used in Regent Street, London, and other places and that police ‘in none of these towns had thought it proper for them to interfere’.
After some deliberation and concern that they should not interfere with trade, the bench ruled that an offence had been committed, but imposed a nominal fine of 1s (5p) with 13s 6d (67.5p) costs, presumably easily covered by Holdron’s profits for the day – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.