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Nos. 103, 103a and 103b, High Street

Number 103, High Street, embraced a block of shops that operated as three separate units. They were referred to usually, but not always, as 103, 103a and 103b. It may be that they were all in the same freehold ownership at times during this period and this may explain why the numbering sometimes changed. In particular, the suffix letters appear to have been dropped by some traders. Because of the inconsistency of the use of the numbers, at some dates it is difficult to identify the exact shop unit occupied by a particular trader. A further complication arises where occupiers lived in accommodation that was not directly over their shops. The early censuses only rarely recorded house numbers. In 1883 Kelly lists Ellen Clarke at No. 103, while White in the same year lists her at No. 102.

References are made below to the addresses given in the directories and in advertisements.

When Martins Bank redeveloped premises here for a new branch in 1956, their building had a wide frontage and was numbered 103a., and the numbering becomes clearer. There was no No. 103 – Martins Bank was 103a and the shop on the northern corner of Baker Lane and High Street was No. 103b.

1830 (William Rait) (No. 103a)

William Rait, a china and glass dealer, was listed at No. 103a in Pigot’s directories for 1830 and 1839. No further references for him have been found. It is possible that the names Wright and Rait became mixed up, but Rait does appear in two directories.

1836 – c1846 (William Wright)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists William Wright, a dealer in china, glass and earthenware, at No. 103. Also listed here at the same date is John Blott, a grocer, tea dealer and cheese factor.

There are no numbers in the 1841 census but it would appear that both John Blott and William Wright were living in accommodation somewhere on the premises at No. 103, and had their shops here.

William Wright had been born in Lynn in about 1793. He married Phoebe Michelson (b. c1803 in Lynn) in 1847.

By 1846, William Wright had moved his china shop to No. 105, High Street (Kelly), and by 1851 he had moved to Pilot Street.

William had been admitted into Framingham’s Almshouses by 1861, and he and Phoebe lived there for the rest of their lives. William died in 1875, aged 82, and Phoebe died in 1878, aged 75.

1828 – 1853 (John Blott)

In October 1842, John Blott advertised his grocery business in the Norfolk Chronicle and stated that he had been trading for 14 years. Although it is not clear whether he had moved premises during that time, he was here in 1830 (Pigot) and it may well be, therefore, that he established his grocery shop at No. 103 in 1828.

In 1841 he appears to have been living at No. 103a with his wife Jemima, and daughter Eliza. Some of his grocery assistants and servants were living in accommodation above the shop at No. 103b. In February 1845, Jemima Blott died and John married Susannah Boulding in Lynn in 1847. He moved his business to No. 114 on 15th November, 1853, and was listed there in 1854 (White), as a grocer, tea dealer and cheese factor. He and his family were living at No. 114 in 1861, and more details of his family are given at that address.

1844 (Benjamin Lake Webber) (No. 103½)

In a notice placed in the Lynn Advertiser on 13th April, 1844, Benjamin Lake Webber announced:-

‘B. L. WEBBER, Tailor, Draper and Habit Maker, 103½, HIGH STREET, LYNN, Most respectfully informs the Inhabitants of Lynn and its surrounding Neighbourhood, that he has taken the above premises (which will be opened on Tuesday next) where he intends carrying on the business of Tailor and Draper in all its branches, and having just returned from London with an entire New and Fashionable Stock suitable for the ensuing season, which he has selected from the first houses of fashion, hopes by unremitting attention to business to secure a share of their patronage. B. L. W. invites the attention of persons purchasing their own cloths, to his Retail Cloth establishment, where they can obtain Cloths, Fancy Goods and Trimmings, at the lowest remunerating prices. LIVERIES MADE TO ORDER.’

Benjamin Lake Webber, tailor and draper, born on 22nd March, 1821, in Lynn, was listed at No. 103½ in the 1846 directory (Kelly’s Nine Counties). He was the son of Richard Webber (c1781 – 1859) and Eleanor Lake (c1786 – 1874), and had been living with his parents at their High Street shop, No. 79, in 1841. Details of Richard and Eleanor’s family are given at No. 79, High Street.

Benjamin married Elizabeth Palmer at All Saints church, South Lynn on 9th March 1844. Benjamin and Elizabeth had five children, the first three born in Norfolk and the two youngest born in Australia:-

1) Benjamin Frederick Palmer (b. 1845 – m. Margaret Ann Hughes – d. 03/09/1914 in Australia). 2) Richard John (b. c1847 – m. Lois Froy Amery – d. 1908 in Australia). 3) Jane Palmer (b. 1848 – m. Robert F. Hughes – d. 1899 in Australia). 4) Francis Ernest (b. 06/07/1860 – m. Emily Alice Cragg – d. 1947 in Australia). 5) Rosa Florence (b. 24/10/1863 – m. Thomas James Houston – d. 1948 in Australia).

On 19th September, 1846, W. Watts advertised an auction sale in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘To Tailors, Drapers, and Others. For Sale by Auction on 21st September and following days, the whole of the remaining STOCK IN TRADE, Fixtures, Gas Fittings, Part of the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and Other Effects of Mr. B. L. WEBBER (Who is leaving Lynn).’

He is listed in the Poll Book for 1852 as living in Railway Road, Lynn.

Benjamin and his family emigrated to Australia where he set up in business as a house and land agent in Melbourne, Victoria.

He died aged 64 on 20th July 1887 when he committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth.

1854 – 1899 (William Read Pridgeon) (103 & 103a)

William Read Pridgeon, a jeweller born in East Walton in 1824 was the next occupier of this shop. He had been running a very successful business at 4, Saturday Market Place, selling jewellery, watches, Bohemian glass, silver plate, vases, toilet bottles and fancy goods.

This W. R. Pridgeon is not to be confused with his uncle, William Read Pridgeon (1794 – 1871), the chemist (see No. 108, High Street). To avoid confusion, the references here are made to W. R. Pridgeon.

W. R. Pridgeon was also a dealer in stocks and shares, and placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 8th November, 1845:-

‘W. R. PRIDGEON. STOCK and SHARE BROKER, No. 4, Saturday Market Place, LYNN. Member of Lynn Stock Exchange.’

In the Lynn Advertiser, on 27th January, 1849, he advertised some patent spectacles:-

‘To all who value their Sight. W. R. PRIDGEON, 4, Saturday Market Place, Lynn. Sole Agent for the Patent PANTASCOPIC SPECTACLES Invites especial attention to the newly invented Patent Pantascopic Spectacles and Eye Preservers, by which the numerous inconveniences of the Spectacles now in use are entirely avoided, and every advantage secured which these articles can possibly afford in assisting the sight. Explanations why the Patent Pantascopic Spectacles are preferable to the old kind now in use and testimonials may be had on application.’

More properly spelled as ‘Pantoscopic’ the spectacles had been patented by George Richards Elkington in 1834. He introduced a tilted forward frame with a flattened rim to allow distant viewing over the top of reading lenses. He also developed a full-eye version with a bifocal division and inclined lens, but this did not catch on.

On 5th August 1854, W. R. Pridgeon placed a notice in the Lynn Advertiser announcing that he had moved from the Saturday Market Place into Mr. Blott’s former shop at No. 103, High Street.

White’s Directory for 1854 has no entry for No. 103, High Street. However, it would seem that the directory had been prepared in between the time that John Blott had vacated the premises and W. R. Pridgeon had moved in.

The following year, on 18th August, 1855, W. R. Pridgeon announced in the Lynn Advertiser that he had opened a glass and china department in No. 103a:-

‘OPENING of the NEW GLASS and CHINA ESTABLISHMENT, 103a, High Street, Lynn. W. R. PRIDGEON most respectfully announces that he has opened the Shop adjoining his Jewellery Establishment with a choice and elegant assortment of Glass, China, Earthenware etc., selected with great care from the first Manufacturers in England.’

W. R. Pridgeon was the second son of Thomas Pridgeon (1796 – 1868) and Maria Panton (1798 – 1878). Thomas was a farmer at East Walton, and he married Maria, from Holme, at Norwich on 15th October, 1821. Thomas and Maria had four sons, all born in East Walton:-

1) Richard Panton – see No. 101, High Street – a draper (b. 1822 – m. Ann Willis – d. 19/03/1855, aged 32). 2) William Read – see below – (b. 1824 – m. Harriet Eliza Crampton in 1847 – d. 28/05/1900, aged 75). 3) Henry, a farmer (b.1826 – m. Mary Atmore on 15/10/1849). 4) Frederic (b. 1830 – d. 1870, aged 39).

W. R. Pridgeon was apprenticed to Thomas Nurse, watchmaker and jeweller at his shop in Saturday Market Place during the 1840s, and he subsequently became owner of the business.

He was one of the leading Liberals in the town, along with George Holditch, and they managed to break the Tory stranglehold on the Council when they succeeded in unseating four of the sitting councillors. This propelled the Liberals into power in the Town Hall. He was elected mayor for two consecutive terms, in 1890 and 1891, and afterwards served as an Alderman until his death, when he was the senior member of the Council, having served a total of 29 years. He also held several other public offices, including as director of the King’s Lynn Gas Company and of the King’s Lynn Docks and Railway Company.

William and Harriet Pridgeon had two children, both born in Lynn:-

1) Eliza Amelia Crampton (b. 1849 – m. Walter James Beart, a Lynn veterinary surgeon, in 1871 – d. 1913, aged 65). 2) Thomas William Amory, a clerk in the Passport Office (b. 1850/1 – m. Emily Neame in 1877 – d. 1911, aged 60).

William and Harriet lived over the shop at No. 103 & 103a, until 1874, when a domestic dispute led to him facing a summons for assault, taken out by his wife. When the case came to the Lynn Police Court in December 1874, it was adjourned to allow the two parties to agree the terms of a separation. Harriet moved out of the marital home and was living in Portland Street in the town in 1901. William was not the only Pridgeon brother to have marital problems. Henry (b. 1826) allegedly ill-treated his wife Mary before abandoning her and their three children in 1857, saying that he was leaving for New Zealand. Mary, who became a butcher, took advantage of the new divorce act to seek protection of her property from any claims from her husband.

The business of W. R. Pridgeon continued to be very successful. In 1871 William’s son Thomas was working as his assistant and in 1881 he was employing five men and one boy. By 1891 William had moved out of the accommodation at High Street into a house in King Street.

On 22nd December, 1899, W. R. Pridgeon announced that he was selling off all of his stock:-

‘IMPORTANT SELLING-OFF. W. R. PRIDGEON, Is Now Offering The Whole Of His Valuable Stock Of CLOCKS, WATCHES, JEWELLERY, PLATE and GENERAL FANCY STOCK, at a Great Reduction in Prices, in order to effect a speedy clearance, the Premises being Sold. The Stock will be found to Contain Articles Suitable for the Christmas Trade.’

William Pridgeon died at his King Street house on 28th May, 1900, aged 75, following which, the remainder of his stock was disposed of at a further sale in June. His effects were valued at over £34,000.

Harriet Pridgeon died in 1903, aged 83.

c1879 – c1883 (Ellen Clarke) (No. 103)

In 1881, Miss Ellen Clarke, 48, a milliner born in Ashcott, Somerset, was living at No. 102, with her sister-in-law, Matilda D. Clarke, 50, from Poplar and two nieces, Fanny Clarke,18, a milliner and Sarah Clarke, 13, both born in Snettisham. She was listed by Kelly in both 1879 and 1883 at No. 103. However, White in 1883 has her at No. 102. It may be that the address for the Clarke’s living accommodation was No. 102, and the business address No. 103.

Ellen Clarke was born c1831 in Ashcott, Somerset. Her parents were John Clarke (d. 1838) and Priscilla Holland (b. c1791 – d. 1843, aged about 52).  After her husband’s death, Priscilla Clarke became licensee of the Red Lion at the Sheep Market, Crewkerne (Robson’s directory for Somerset 1839) and she was living there with her four daughters in 1841. John and Priscilla had married on 23rd April, 1818 at Norton-under-Hamdon in Somerset, and had five children:-

1) Robert John (b. c1819 – m. Matilda Dinah Kendall in 1856 – d. 1880, aged 60). 2) Asenath (b. 1820 – m. John Budden Buncombe in 1842 – d. 1893, aged 73). 3) Mary (b. c1827). 4) Ellen – see below (b. c1829). 5) Fanny (b. c1834).

Robert Clarke became a chemist and druggist and moved to Snettisham in Norfolk. It was his daughters Fanny and Sarah who were staying with their aunt Ellen at No. 102, High Street in 1881.

Ellen served as an assistant to a milliner in Great Portland Street in London for over ten years before coming to Lynn. It is not known what happened to her after 1881 or when she left Lynn.

1900 – 1911 (A & E Weston) (Baker Lane corner shop)

For eleven years the shop on the northern corner of Baker Lane was occupied by Messrs. A. & E. Weston. Confusingly, at the time this was referred to as No. 103, while the larger shop next to 102 was numbered 103a.

The Misses A. & E. Weston had opened their own business at No. 95, High Street in 1874, and more details of them and their family will be found under that address.

The partnership was between Anna Maria Weston (b. 1836) and her sister Eliza (b. 1846). Anna retired from the business in about 1890, and Eliza continued it at No. 95 until 1900, when she moved it here:-

‘NOTICE of REMOVAL. A. & E. WESTON Are Removing Their Business to 103, High Street (next BAKER LANE), premises formerly occupied by the late Mr. W. R. Pridgeon, and will open on MONDAY 26th November with a New and Choice Selection of LADIES’ and CHILDREN’S UNDERCLOTHING, GLOVES, CORSETS and HOSIERY. The ART NEEDLEWORK and BERLIN WOOL DEPARTMENT is replete with Novelties for the Season. AGENT for PULLAR’S DYE WORKS.’

Eliza continued the business here for eleven years. Her sister Anna Maria died in 1910/11, and on 27th October, 1911, Eliza placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘GENUINE SALE. Previous to Disposal of Business. E. WESTON, 103, High Street, King’s Lynn, will offer on MONDAY, OCTOBER 30th, and until further notice, AT GREAT REDUCTION, Her Stock of ART NEEDLEWORK, Also a Large Assortment of HIGH-CLASS WOOLS and EMBROIDERY SILKS, LADIES’ & CHILDREN’S UNDERCLOTHING, CORSETS etc.’

Eliza moved to ‘Springfield’, Goodwins Road in Lynn, where she died on 15th September, 1930, aged 82.

1912 – 1924 (Mitchell & Connelly) (Baker Lane corner shop)

A similar business continued under Mitchell & Connelly, ‘Fancy Drapers’. This was a partnership between Edward Mitchell and his wife Mary (née Connelly). Edward had a job as a railway clerk in 1911 and may have given this up when the opportunity arose to go into business with Mary. He had previous experience as a wool merchant’s clerk (1901) and his parents, Charles Alfred Mitchell and Ruth Cox, had a millinery and fancy draper’s shop at No. 56, High Street, where more details of the family will be found.

On 17th January, 1913, the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-


In 1916 (Kelly), the business is listed as ‘Mitchell & Connelly, costumiers’, but in 1922 Edward is listed on his own as ‘Edward Mitchell, fancy draper’.

On 24th March, 1920, Edward Mitchell applied to the Borough Council for permission to make alterations to the shop.

Edward Charles Mitchell was born in Lynn in 1884 and baptised at St. Nicholas’ Chapel on 29th August that year. He married Mary Moore Harper Connelly in 1907/8 in Lynn and they set up home in 1, Florence Villas, Gaywood, close to where his parents were living. They had one child:-

Kathleen Mary (b. 1908).

The business had ceased by April of 1924, when Bradfields (see No. 51, High Street) announced:-

‘BRADFIELDS of LYNN have removed the remainder of the Stock of E. Mitchell’s Successors, 103, High Street, to 51, HIGH STREET, LYNN, where the various brands of WOOLS, SILKS, D. M. C., CROCHET, and FANCY GOODS will be obtainable.’

 1916 – 1920 (Hayes & Porrett) (at No. 103a)

Hayes & Porrett had for many years been at No. 102, High Street, where a detailed account of the partners and their business will be found.

The business was moved from here into the next door premises at No. 103a, formerly occupied by William Read Pridgeon. The following announcement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser on 7th December, 1900:-

‘NOTICE of REMOVAL. MESSRS. HAYES & PORRETT have Removed their Business to Larger Premises, formerly the Late Mr. W. R. Pridgeon’s Jewellery Shop, HIGH STREET, LYNN, With a LARGE STOCK of NEW GOODS. LADIES’ and CHILDREN’S UNDERCLOTHING. HOSIERY, GLOVES, UMBRELLAS, etc.’

Hayes & Porrett did not take the whole of the premises previously occupied by W. R. Pridgeon, the smaller shop on the Baker Lane corner (previously Pridgeon’s glass and china shop) was taken by Messrs. A. & E. Weston (see above).

Hayes & Porrett are listed at No. 103a in Kelly’s Directories for 1904, 1912 and 1916, inclusive. The business appears to have ceased by the end of 1921, and possibly at an earlier date.

 1921 (Deakin & Watson) (No. 103a)

Advertising in the Lynn Advertiser on 7th January, 1921, Deakin & Watson had taken over the premises numbered 103a by the start of 1921, announcing that year:-

‘IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. Mesdames DEAKIN & WATSON, 103a HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN, will commence on SATURDAY, JANUARY 8th, Their Great STOCK CLEARING SALE. There will be some remarkable Bargains and Greater Reductions than ever. ALLWOOL Ladies’ Combinations, Jay finish, 15/11. ALL WOOL Cashmere Hose, from 1/11½. SPORTS COATS and Jumpers, a few only, at 10/-, others from 15/11. Other Special Bargains in GLOVES, BLOUSES and LADIES’ and CHILDREN’S UNDERCLOTHING.’ 1924 – 1927 (Jermyn & Perry) (No. 103b)

Jermyn & Perry opened a branch here in June, 1924, catering for ready-made menswear. They closed it down in November, 1927.

1928 (Hunters Tea Stores)

A branch of Hunters Tea Stores opened here on 14th December, 1928.

1927 – 1954 (Jane Hole)

 Jane Hole took over the business of Deakin & Watson on 1st December, 1927. Her business closed down on 30th January, 1954.

1956 – 1990 (Martins Bank Ltd.) (Barclays Bank Ltd.) (No. 103a)

The premises at 103a were purchased for a new branch by Martins Bank Ltd. The old building was demolished and the new one opened for business on 26th January, 1956.

The bank was noted for its very distinctive grasshopper symbol.

The first manager at the new Lynn branch was Mr. C. H. Goodband, who served until 1962, when Mr. E. G. C. Prentice took over. In 1967, Mr. J. R. Thorogood became manager and was in charge when the bank was taken over by Barclays in 1969. In 1982, the branch became one of the original 400 ‘Barclays on Saturday’ branches. Prior to that, banks were closed on Saturdays.

On 1th June, 1990, the branch closed.

Martins Bank had a rich history, claiming to have its roots in London’s Lombard Street as far back as 1563. This is based on the tradition that it was founded that year by Thomas Gresham. What is certain is that the company that became Martins Bank started in 68, Lombard Street, commonly known as ‘The Grasshopper’. A huge gilded grasshopper sign hung over the door and this symbol was associated with Thomas Gresham, being the crest above Gresham’s coat of arms. It is used by Gresham College and forms the weathervane on the Royal Exchange, both founded by Thomas Gresham. It is also associated with Gresham’s School at Holt, Norfolk. The Gresham family had its roots in the county.

Lombard Street was famous for its proliferation of large hanging signs. Although they hung outside the premises of the goldsmiths and the bankers, they appear to have been copied from inn signs. It is possible that the premises were formerly used as inns and that the names and signs remained when the new tenants took over. At one time No. 67 was the ‘Plough’, No. 68 the ‘Grasshopper’, and No. 69 was the ‘Unicorn’.  By the time of King Charles II, the signs had become became such a nuisance and a safety hazard that a law was passed prohibiting signs from overhanging the street. By the mid 18th Century, the signs had almost died out, although the symbols were still associated with the banks. To commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, Frederick Hilton Price and some friends came up with a scheme to reinstate as many of the Lombard Street signs as possible and to illuminate them as part of the celebrations. Hilton Price produced a list of 22 signs, including the Grasshopper at No. 68, which were to be kept as a memorial of the Coronation.

Sir Richard Martin, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1588 and Master of the Mint from 1572 until his death in 1617, was associated with Thomas Gresham and the Grasshopper on Lombard Street, and, although the early records of the bank were destroyed in the Great Fire of London, some of the 17th Century partners of the bank are known, including Thomas Martin (1679-1765). The partners and the name of the bank changed over the years. In 1774, shortly after the establishment of the clearing bank system, Martins, Stone, Blackwell & Foote, 68, Lombard Street, were included in the list of Clearing Bankers.

In 1918, Martin’s Bank (as it was at the time – with an apostrophe) was acquired by the Bank of Liverpool, becoming the Bank of Liverpool and Martins Limited. This was shortened to Martins Bank Limited (without the apostrophe) in 1928. The headquarters moved from Lombard Street to Water Street in Liverpool, and a combined coat of arms featured the grasshopper and the Liver Bird (the logo of the Bank of Liverpool). A new headquarters was built at 4, Water Street, Liverpool in 1932. Martins Bank was the only British national bank to have its headquarters outside London. Between 1958 and 1967, Martins Bank owned and operated Lewis’s Bank.

When Barclays took over in 1969, all Martins Branches changed their names immediately. About 30 of its 700 branches were closed and ten were downgraded to sub-branches.

The Martins grasshopper logo was retained for some business uses, appearing on the chequebooks and statements, until the early 1980s.

1957 (Gomer Kehely) (No. 103a)

Gomer Keheley was listed as living here in 1957 (Kelly).

He was living at 17, Baldwin Road, King’s Lynn in 1961 (Phone Book).

1960 – (Mac Fisheries Ltd.) (No. 103b)

The fishmongers Mac Fisheries were listed here in 1960 and 1966 (Kelly). They had the shop on the corner of Baker Lane.

c2014 (Alliance & Leicester Building Society plc) (103b)

A branch of the Alliance & Leicester Building Society was here in 2014.

c2014 (Gios Concept)