Our History

W Hourstons has a long and interesting history of trading.

In the 17th century Hourstons was originally a grand Town House owned by the Sinclairs of “Essenquoy” in Holm.

At the turn of the last century it was a Drapers Shop and became the property of Mr William Hourston in the 1920’s trading jointly as a jewellers and optician business.

1960 Alison’s mum and dad (Bryan and Sheila Clark) bought W Hourstons. At that time they continued to jointly trade as a jeweller and optician business. Heating of the shop in those early days was simply by 2 coal fires lit by staff every morning, imagine the dust!

By 1960 and 1970 the shop area was gradually modernised and extended to include the front arcade. The present iron gates used to be wooden doors which directly accessed into the shop with the shop floor area running to the foot of the present stairs.

In 1968 there was a small fire in the building which caused considerable smoke damage to some stock.

1970 the optician business moved to Mounthoolie Lane and all of the building at 34 Albert Street became used for jewellery and gifts.

1991 We returned to Orkney and jointly ran the business until 1995 thereafter we were in sole control.

August 1998 we purchased the business of Christine Clarke’s to discover that when W Hourston’s first opened as a business, in 1844, they traded from that same property at 57 Albert Street. What a coincidence!

In 2000 a total refurbishment of W Hourston’s took place because we hold great importance and pride towards presenting and displaying our comprehensive stock in the best possible way.

Many visitors remark on the wide range and quality of up to date stock that we offer in our shop and are intrigued by the style and history of the building. How lucky we are to to be able to provide a modern display of jewellery and gifts in a beautiful traditional wood lined building.

Although we are very conscious of the benefits of the tourist trade we believe that our main emphasise of sales is to our year round local trade. We work hard and spend a lot of time ensuring that people in Orkney get the choice of all the latest gifts and jewellery as fast as it appears in any shop south.

We travel south at least 4 times a year to the major British Trade Shows thus being able to buy and bring to Orkney the most up to date jewellery and innovative gifts.

When the manufacture of jewellery first started in Orkney W Hourston supported these local enterprises and still stocks ranges of Orkney jewellery in both shops.

Always on the look out for more well designed jewellery at affordable prices we stock Kit Heath Silver and exclusive silver designs by LBJ Jewellery and Martick.

We are the comprehensive stockist of the top 12 watch brands in the UK which we regularly review and update. Classic Seiko, Rotary, Timex, Pulsar, Sekonda and Skagen

Fashion orientated Ice, D&G, DKNY, Bench, Police and Fossil

We have worked hard to offer exclusive gold and stone set designer jewellery using the award winning diamond company Alfred Terry. In a small town it is nice to offer customers unique jewellery designs that reflect current trends in style and colour. Our Christmas Wish List Service is used well here to guide loved ones to their selected items of jewellery which along with our complimentary gift wrap service results in a very Happy Christmas Day.

Although we stock crystal and glass we have recently moved into more cookware and dinnerware as current living trends have evolved.

We offer established services to the public with a Christmas Wish list Service, Wedding List Service, Watch and Jewellery Repairs, Engraving, Insurance Valuations and in 2008 a key cutting service.

We are fortunate in having excellent staff who take pride and enjoyment in their customer service and gift presentation.

In the future we would like Hourstons to continue offer the best possible selection of jewellery, watches and gifts to our customers and that Kirkwall Town Centre remains a vibrant shopping experience for all to enjoy.