171 Commercial Road

19th century two-storey narrow building with ground floor shop.

M.A. Kutchinsky Ltd
Contributed by Aileen Reid on Aug. 18, 2016

No 171 Commercial Road was home from 1914 to c. 1959 of the jewellery business (shop and workshop) of the rabbinic scholar M.A. Kutchinsky (1874-1960), seen in the attached newsreel film (referred to as "Jo"). He had moved his business from Cannon Street Road to 171 Commercial Road in 1914 and moved it again to Knightsbridge not long after this film was made.1

Further information about Kutchinsky's from the website of the jewellers Hancocks:

"The Kutchinsky business was established in the 1890s when Joseph Kutchinsky's grandfather fled Poland, bringing his family to England, where he set up a jewellery manufacturing company in the East End of London. They brought with them centuries of experience in the jewellery trade where they had been jewellers to the court of Ludwig of Bavaria. Joseph Kutchinsky, known simply as "Jo" was born 27th September 1914. He was the youngest of the four children of Moshe-Aron Kutchinsky and his wife Hannah. He was educated at the Whitechapel Foundation School but left school at the age of just 14 to take up a position in the family jewellery business. By 1928 Joseph was only fourteen years old, but was already an experienced diamond polisher and was soon promoted to oversee the production of platinum and diamond watches. Joe worked his way up through the trade based family business, learning the importance of good client service alongside quality jewellery. Kutchinsky was a natural salesman and thrived in the colourful commercial environment that was the pre- war East End. In 1938 he met Lily Diamond whist they were both on Holiday in Torquay. It was love at first site and despite being the outbreak of the war they were married on 23rd June 1940. By that time Joseph Kutchinsky had been called up and was serving his country with the same enthusiasm as he had previously served his customers. In July 1945 just as the war was drawing to a close their first son Roger was born. His brother Paul arrived in March 1950. As soon as he was demobbed Joseph returned to the task of rebuilding the family business. Kutchinsky pioneered the use of platinum in fine jewellery and the jewellers shop in Commercial Road soon became a mecca for lovers of fine jewellery. By the late 1950s the commercial climate was changing again, the once bustling East End was on the wane and the time had come for Joseph to transplant his family business into the richer soil of London's Knightsbridge. Joseph had inexhaustible energy and charismatic charm. His customers liked and trusted him, his employees admired and respected him, and his family loved and revered him. Roger and Paul Kutchinsky both joined the family business as soon as they had completed their education and training. The business went from strength to strength, specialising in pieces of the highest quality designed to appeal to London's booming export market. Kutchinsky jewellery found its way into the homes of the rich and famous all over the world, particularly in the newly prosperous Middle East. Kutchinsky’s wife Lily was the true love of his life and he was devastated when she was taken seriously ill in 1989. He devoted the next three years to caring for her and to looking after her as tenderly as he could. Despite all this efforts and the very best medical attention she passed away some three years later. Caring for Lily meant that Joseph had to take a less active part in the jewellery business and much of the day to day management of the shop was entrusted to his sons Roger and Paul. Unfortunately the invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing Gulf War proved a disaster for the family firm, which had taken on some ambitious and capital intensive projects and was poorly equipped to combat the sudden fall in turnover. The business was eventually sold in 1991 to Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd. Joseph Kutchinsky retired as soon as the take-over was completed. The final few years of Joseph’s life were possibly his least happy. Without his wife, and deprived of his business interests he often found time hanging heavily on his hands. His sons and other members of his family paid regular visits to his home in Brondesbury Park and did what they could to provide him with comfort and cheer. Tragedy struck in March 2000 when his younger son Paul was killed in a road accident in Spain just days after celebrating his 50th Birthday. This disaster could only have speeded the onset of Joseph's own final illness. He passed away peacefully on 26th October 2000 aged 86. Despite the take over by Moussaieff, there is still a Kutchinsky boutique in Knightsbridge, on the Old Brompton Road."2

  1. Post Office Directories: Tzvi Rabinowicz, 'A World Apart: The Story of Chasidim in Britain', 1997, p. 72 

  2. http://www.hancocks-london.com/content/kutchinsky 

1957 Pathé newsreel about M.A. Kutchinsky Ltd, jewellers

This newsreel features the jewellery business (shop and workshop) of the rabbinic scholar M.A. Kutchinsky (1874-1960), seen in the film (referred to as "Jo") discussing the work with his staff.

Contributed by Aileen Reid on Aug. 18, 2016