Thomas Fenn Clarkson

This building belonged to a musical-instrument dealer, Thomas Fenn Clarkson, who ran a music warehouse here from 1835 until 1858.

The shop where Thomas Fenn Clarkson ran his music business.

Coney Street and the surrounding area was popular with music dealers - instruments and sheet music were among the luxury goods any well-to-do family would visit the street to purchase - but it was not necessarily an easy living.

Previously Thomas had run a music shop on Spurriergate, and it was outside there in 1834 that he was arrested and declared bankrupt. He must have hoped his new music warehouse at no.20 Coney Street would be a fresh start.

An advertisement for Thomas Fenn Clarkson’s music warehouse at No. 20, Coney Street.
Image courtesy of York Minster Archives.

At Thomas’s shop, on days when the proprietor wasn’t being arrested, you could buy a pianoforte, pick up some of the most popular piano pieces and songs delivered every week from London, and go for a dental checkup. Yes, you heard me correctly - a dental checkup in the music shop.

Perhaps as a way of paying his debts, Thomas rented out space in his shop to a dentist from Sheffield, so that said dentist (a ‘Mr Eskill’) had somewhere to attend to his clients in York. An advert from the York Herald of 1848 reads:

TEETH. MR ESKELL, SURGEON & MECHANICAL DENTIST [...] most respectfully informs [...] the Inhabitants of York and its vicinity that he may be consulted professionally every FRIDAY and SATURDAY at Mr T. F. Clarkson’s, Music Seller, No. 20, Coneystreet, opposite the Black Swan.
[...] Teeth Extracted, Cleaned, Scaled and Filled; Loose Teeth Fastened by a New Method [...] without the use of Ether, or any other chemical compound. Hours of attendance from Ten till Five.

The following year, customers could still go to Thomas’s music shop for dental services, but this time courtesy of Messrs Mosely - London dentists, no less! For Thomas to have allowed not one, but two dental businesses to operate from his shop, it must have been a successful business tactic, and was certainly an unconventional use of his space.