William Mawer traded as a linen draper from his premises at 228 High Street, Lincoln, from c1810. Joseph Collingham, born in New Brunswick, Labrador in 1798, became an apprentice to Mawer in 1812
Joseph married William Mawer’s daughter, Elizabeth, in 1820. In 1822 a partnership between William Mawer senior, William Mawer junior and Joseph Collingham was formed in the name of Mawer, Son & Co.
The premises of Robert Bunyan at 228 High Street were purchased in 1826 allowing the business to expand.
William Mawer senior died in 1829 and Joseph became sole proprietor of the business. By 1835 the name had changed to Mawer & Collingham.
Elizabeth died in 1848 and Joseph married Sarah Moss in 1849.
Joseph's son, Joseph Mawer Collingham, join-ed the business sometime before 1861. as a partner. By this time the business was employing 82 assistants and Joseph junior lived “over the shop” with some of them.
About the same time Joseph senior moved to Welham Hall, Clarborough near Retford, dying there in 1873.
Joseph M was sole proprietor until 1900 when Mawer & Collingham was incorporated as a limited company.
By this time the business had diversified from retail drapers to wholesale drapers, silk mercers, haberdashers, milliners, dress-makers, tailors, hatters, furriers, lace-men, clothiers, hosiers, glovers and general outfitters, carpet warehousemen, upholsterers and house furnishers and decorators.
Joseph Mawer Collingham was Managing Director and Company Secretary of Mawer & Collingham Ltd, he held this position until his death in 1902. His sons, Joseph William, John Cyril and David Horace, and Stephen Graveley, previously a buyer, became directors.
Ernest Albert Loeffler joined the company about 1890 and was the longest serving non-family member of the board of directors, he was managing director from 1908 until his retirement in 1946. He then became chairman and president of the company until 1966, when he died aged 96.
The company continued to purchase neighbouring premises in Lincoln until, by 1930, the company's property extended to the area it does today, other companies continued to trade from M & Cs shops, Harston's being the last company to vacate, during the 1940s.
Berrills Ltd, the Spalding based drapers became a subsidiary of the company. It operated under the Berrills name until its closure in 1971. Berrills also had a subsidiary, Arden Osborn Ltd (pharmacists) of Spalding, Lincolnshire, which traded throughout the 1950s.
Mawer & Collingham continually improved its store and facilities, major improvements in 1911-1912, 1960-1961, 1970 and in 1973.
The business was controlled by the Collingham family until 1955, and members of the family remained on the board of directors until Mawer & Collingham Ltd became part of the House of Fraser group in 1980. The store has traded as a member of the Binns division of House of Fraser since 2013