In March 1879, Mr J.G. Harper with Mr C.R. Pleasance, began trading as retail jewellers and watch specialists from a premises in Wine Street, Bristol.
In 1895 C.R. Pleasance died and J.G. Harper took control of what was becoming a well known and respected Bristol business. Over the years the company have shown themselves to be pioneers, being one of the first businesses in Bristol to have an overland telephone, which it shared with nine other users. In 1913 the firm were the first to have wireless time signals beamed direct from Paris to a receiving station above the shop and to the black sphere which descended at precisely 1:00pm every day. The Bristolians would gather to set their watches by this daily ritual.
In 1919 J.G. Harper’s three sons, Ernest, Gilbert and Leslie, came into the business and the company became a private limited company. An expansion programme began with the opening of shops in Shrewsbury and Newport followed by Swansea, Hereford, Oxford, Gloucester and Weston Super Mare.
Unfortunately both the Bristol and Swansea shops were destroyed by air raids in 1940. After the Second World War, the sons of Ernest and Gilbert Harper joined the family business, creating a third generation. It was the work of these three sons – Reginald, Michael and Antony – that brought the company through the last 30 plus years of the 1900’s.
During the 1920’s and 30’s when large Grandfather clocks were all the vogue the company were manufacturing their own long case clocks. One of these, known as the Louis XVI clock, was exhibited at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, and some can still be found in many odd corners of the world. Due to the limited demand for long case clocks the company no longer manufacturers individual clocks, although carriage clocks bearing our name have recently been sent to countries including South Africa and Canada.
In the 1920’s the company was one of the first to offer a year’s free insurance with all diamond rings sold over £10.00. We still provide this service today but unfortunately we cannot offer diamond rings for £10.00. Pleasance and Harper now combine this with a free lifetime promise on all diamond rings that we sell. We promise to clean your diamond ring and check the settings whenever you wish, free of charge, for the lifetime of the ring.
Due to the demise of the older directors, with fewer executive directors, the Shrewsbury, Oxford and Gloucester shops were closed and the business of Clement White in Yeovil was purchased. After the deaths of Reginald and Michael Harper only one active director, Antony Harper, was left, so in the 1990’s the decision was made to concentrate all the company’s efforts into one shop. Hereford was chosen, as the business had been established for over 60 years and enjoyed a good reputation, which continues today. Brian Hudd, who had been the manager since 1974, was made a director and the business continued with Antony Harper as chairman.
1997 saw the beginning of another era when Mark Harper, son of Antony, joined and became the fourth generation of the Harper family to work in the family business, taking the business into the 21st century, making many improvements to the shop on the way and opening a second shop on Broad Street, Hereford in 2010.
He strives to maintain the standards set by John George Harper 140 years ago, of choice, quality and value along with the high levels of customer service and care that has built the business.
Today we specialise in diamonds, fine jewellery and quality watches such as Omega and Longines. With our vast diamond experience we are able to supply diamonds of all sizes and qualities, to suit all pockets, including Certificated laser marked stones for that extra guarantee of quality and increased security.
We strive to offer our customers the same commitment to service, which John George Harper started in 1879, with a mixture of the past and the present, of a family business that cares.