150-year-old dress lost at dry cleaners

Tess Newall on her wedding day in her great, great grandmother's dress
Tess Newall on her wedding day in her great, great grandmother’s dress


A woman has told of her “heartbreak” at losing her great-great-grandmother’s 150-year-old antique dress that she wore on her wedding day, after a dry cleaners went bust.

Tess Newall, of Morham, East Lothian, said she had been “distraught” since discovering her dress was missing.

It follows the closure of Kleen Cleaners in St Mary Street, Edinburgh.

Mrs Newall, 29, was married in June. The dress was sent to be dry cleaned in September and the shop shut in October.

The business in now being dealt with under Scottish bankruptcy law in a process known as sequestration.

A post by Mrs Newall, about the loss of her dress, has been shared more than 200,000 times on social media.

She told the BBC News channel she was delighted with the response to her appeal for information.

“There’s been so many people just reaching out and being supportive and helpful. But there’s also been some really helpful leads,” she said.

She added that she does not blame her father in any way for choosing the dry cleaners.

“I’m not cross with Dad,” she said. “He did lots of research and it was supposed to be a really good one – it had a royal warrant – which obviously fell on hard times.”

Tess and her husband said they would be pursuing an insurance claim if the dress was not found.

But they insisted the family’s attachment to the dress meant far more to them.

Tess said: “It’s obviously completely priceless to us and it’s really just a piece of our family history which I was essentially just borrowing.

“It’s hard to think of the financial thing just now.”

The 29-year-old, who married Alfred Newall, 30, in East Lothian, earlier told the BBC Scotland news website: “When I got engaged my granny said I have this dress which has belonged in the family since 1870, it’s in the attic and I want you to wear it.

“I have always loved antique things and it was a huge honour to wear it on my wedding day.

“It was amazing opening it up in its box as it was wrapped in tissue paper. It was a bit yellow so I had it cleaned.”

She said her father took the dress to the dry cleaners in September following her June wedding.

“He was told it would take eight to 10 weeks to be cleaned, which my mum thought was a long time but we went along with it,” she said.

“He kept calling to check if it was ready and they kept saying no and so he went to the shop two days ago and to his horror he saw a sign saying the shop had gone into sequestration.

“When my mum called me to tell me we both cried for ages. It is so sad for our family and we are just hoping that someone knows where it is and is able to return it to us.

“There are so many things bound up in it, so many emotions, it’s heartbreaking.”

Mrs Newall’s father, Patrick Gammell, 61, from Haddington, said the family was distraught at losing the family heirloom.

He said: “I was told this was the dry cleaners that was appointed by The Queen and the one therefore to go to.

“I did think it was a long time to take to have it cleaned but I just thought these things take time and there were maybe a lot of vats it was to be put through.

“We are absolutely distraught as this dress has been in the family for five generations of my wife’s family, it’s just horrendous what has happened.”

He added: “We have been told by the sequestrators that some items have been sold off.

“We have driven to the registered house of the owner but it appears to have been taken over by a mortgage holder.”

He added that the next step would be to call the police.

The personal bankruptcy of the business is being sequestrated by Wylie and Bisset.

The Scottish government’s agency Accountant in Bankruptcy refused to comment on behalf of Wylie and Bisset.