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111, High Street

This was another of the shops that were burnt down in 1897 and rebuilt.

Although smaller in overall size than No. 110, this was a good sized shop. For many years it was a drapery shop before becoming a grocer’s. After another few years as a drapery store, it became a branch of the national chain of Lipton’s grocery stores. Just over seven months after opening, Lipton’s store was badly damaged in the fire of 27th December 1897, and they moved temporarily to No 133, Norfolk Street.

 1836 – 1867 (Alfred Palmer Hunt)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists Alfred Palmer Hunt, a hosier and haberdasher, at this address.

On 24th April 1847, the shop was advertised for sale:-

‘In High Street. An old-established Draper’s Shop, with Dwelling-house, Out-buildings, Yard and Appurtenances, on the West side of High-street, in the occupation of Mr. A. P. Hunt.’

Alfred Hunt continued to trade from this address after that date, and it appears that he was able to continue renting from the new owner. On 26th March, 1853, the following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘A. P. HUNT, Haberdasher, Hosier and Glover (Wholesale & Retail), 111, HIGH STREET, LYNN. Merino, Lambswool & Cotton Waistcoats and Drawers. Umbrellas and Parasols. Berlin Wool and Fancy Knitting Worsteads, Ribbons, Flannels, Handkerchiefs, etc., etc. BENT’S KID GLOVES.’

Alfred Palmer Hunt was born in Lynn in about 1804, being baptised in the town on 29th June that year. His parents were Richard Hunt and Sarah Palmer. Alfred had at least two siblings:-

1) Henry Palmer (b. c1800 – m. Ann Hammond in 1822 – d. 1830). 2) Raymond Palmer (b. c1809 – m. Martha Elizabeth Groome in 1829 – d. 1887, aged 78).

On 5th September 1840, Alfred married Elizabeth Lee at St. Margaret’s church. They did not have any children.

Elizabeth died in 1867, aged 55, and it may be that Alfred fell ill at this time, too, because on 5th October that year, G. A. C. Clackson (see No. 113, High Street) advertised that he was selling off Alfred’s stock.

Alfred died on 21st February, 1868, aged 64.

On 21st March, 1868, the following auction notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘VALUABLE BUSINESS PREMISES, With Immediate Possession. HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. To Be Sold By Auction, By Messrs. CRUSO & SON. At the Globe Hotel, King’s Lynn, on Friday, the 27th day of March, 1868, at Six for Seven o’clock in the evening, subject to such Conditions as will be produced at the time of Sale. ALL that FREEHOLD MESSUAGE or DWELLING-HOUSE, with Yard and Outbuildings thereto belonging, situate on the west side of High Street, in King’s Lynn, and comprising a large SHOP, convenient Sitting-room, Kitchen, Outbuildings and Yard on the ground floor; three Good Rooms on the first floor, and an Attic above. The property adjoins premises of Mr. John Thorley north and west, High Street east, and premises of Mr. Robert Willis south, and is excellently situated for trade, and was late in the occupation of Mr. A. P. Hunt, by whom the business of a hosier was carried on there for a great number of years.’

1868 – 1883 (Bentley & Webber)

On 6th June 1868, Mrs. Bentley and Miss Webber announced that they were moving in to No. 111, High Street:-

‘111, HIGH STREET. Mrs. BENTLEY and Miss WEBBER beg to inform the Clergy, Gentry and their Friends generally that they have taken the above premises, where it is their intention to continue their SERVANTS’ REGISTRY as usual; also the TEA TRADE, being appointed SOLE AGENTS to the EAST INDIA TEA COMPANY, and having received a fresh stock of NEW SEASON’S TEAS, hope by industry and perseverance to ensure a continuance of patronage they have been formerly honoured with. The East India Tea Company are the only importers and dealers in the Kingdom who supply the public with their own importations direct from China. These Teas may be had in packets in every variety from one ounce and upwards, at 2s 4d to 4s per pound; also COFFEES, COCOA, CHOCOLATE & COCOA NIBS.’

Bentley & Webber, ‘agent to the East India Tea Company, and registry for servants’ was listed here in Harrod’s Directory for 1868.

The partners in the business were sisters, Mrs. Sarah Lake Bentley, a widow born c1809, and Miss Eleanor Lake Webber, born c1817. They were the daughters of tailor Richard Webber (see No. 79, High Street), and their brother Benjamin had a shop at No. 103½ (c1844 – 1846).

Sarah, who had been widowed since before 1841, had established a registry for servants in New Conduit Street, where she was listed in Harrod’s Directory for 1863. The sisters were living here at No. 111 in 1871. They had a boarder and a servant living in. Bentley and Webber appear to have given up the tea dealership and to have moved into the drapery business, advertising their business as a ‘Register Office and Fancy Repository’ in the Lynn Advertiser on Saturday 28th February, 1874. The register office was one of several in the town finding employment for servants. They also ran an agency business, finding suitable accommodation for clients seeking premises to rent, including furnished houses and flats, advertising in the Lynn Advertiser on 16th May, 1874 for ‘furnished accommodation for a lady & gentleman’.

Bentley & Webber were still here in 1881. Sarah was then about 70, and listed as ‘Register Office for Servants Keeper at Hospital’. Eleanor was about 65, and gave her occupation as a ‘Fancy Repository Keeper’. They had two draper’s assistants lodging with them. They gave up the business in 1883.

Sarah died in 1888, aged 81 and Eleanor died in 1896, aged 83.

1884 – 1896 (John Gates) (Sarah Gates)

The shop was taken over by John Gates, a draper, born c1826 in Grimston. He is listed as a ‘draper, dyer, and cleaner’ in White’s Directory of 1890. He was here in 1891, aged 65, with his wife and their son, who was a solicitor’s clerk. In Kelly’s Directory for 1892, he is listed as a hosier.

John Gates was the son of Francis and Sarah Gates of Grimston. He trained as a shoemaker and had moved to Lynn by 1851 when he was lodging in Providence Road in the town. Aged about 35 at the time, he was still single and was working as a boot and shoe maker and leather seller. He married Sarah Cottingham in All Saints church, South Lynn on 25th June, 1865, and they moved into a house in South Everard Street. Sarah had been born in Brancaster in about 1831, the daughter of bricklayer William Cottingham and his wife Martha.

John and Sarah had two sons, both born in Lynn:-

1) Robert Love, an assistant overseer and rate collector to the Borough Council (b. 1865 – m. Emma Martina Thing in 1894 – d. 06/10/1932, aged 67). 2) John Cottingham, a drapery traveller (b. 1869 – m. Elizabeth Jones on 1st June 1899 – d. 1938, aged 69).

Soon after John Gates had taken occupation of the shop, it was affected by the first Jermyns fire of 17th December 1884. Jermyn’s store was all dressed up with Christmas displays which quickly caught light when the gas mantles were lit in the windows at 8.30 that morning. Fortunately, the shops opposite were not burnt down as they were to be in second big Jermyns fire of December 27th 1897 (see Liptons below). Nevertheless, the flames stretched across the street and burnt the paint off the front of the shop.

John Gates continued trading until his death in 1895, aged 82.

After her husband’s death, Sarah Gates placed the following announcement in the Lynn Advertiser, on 3rd August, 1895:-

‘MRS. GATES, General Draper etc., 111, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN, Is very grateful for the favours accorded to her late husband for the past 30 years, and wishes to inform her customers and friends that the above business will be carried on as usual, and begs to solicit a continuance of their kind support.’

However, Sarah Gates continued trading here for only seven months, and the following auction notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser on 5th March, 1896:-

‘111, HIGH STREET, LYNN. W. J. FREEMAN has received instructions from Mrs. Gates, to Sell by Auction, on Wednesday March 10th, 1896, all the SHOP FIXTURES & FITTINGS, comprising all the shelves in shop, 3 counters with 8 drawers, brass and iron rods with uprights, sockets and brackets complete, iron rods round shop, 2 pole hooks and steps, 4 show outside irons, outside blind and irons, 8 shop chairs, gas fittings and globes, gas stove, all the window blinds and fittings, 4 portable fixtures, and sundry other brass rods and fittings. Sale to commence at 11 o’clock.’

Sarah went to live with her son Robert at his house, No. 52 Railway Road, where she died on 19th December, 1913, aged 82.

1897 – c1957 (Lipton Ltd.)

A new branch of Liptons, the tea agents, opened here on 18th May, 1897, with the following announcement appearing in the Lynn Advertiser on 15th May:-

‘GRAND OPENING of LIPTON’S NEW BRANCH at 111, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN, on Tuesday, 18th May, 1897, with a High Class Selected Stock of Teas, Cocoas, Coffees, Provisions, Biscuits, Confectionery, Jams and Other Goods – all of the choicest Quality, at Remarkably Low prices. LIPTON – TEA MERCHANT by SPECIAL APPOINTMENT to HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN. LIPTON –  Fruit Grower. Cocoa and Chocolate Manufacturer. Fancy Cake and Biscuit Maker. LOCAL BRANCH: King’s Lynn, 111, High Street. CHIEF OFFICES: City Road, London. Branches Everywhere. Agents throughout the World. Over One Million Packets of Lipton’s Teas Sold Weekly. LIPTON’S TEAS HAVE THE LARGEST SALE IN THE WORLD.’

Within seven months of opening, Lipton’s shop was destroyed in the huge High Street fire of 27th December, 1897. The following is a short extract from the account of the fire in the Lynn News & County Press on 1st January, 1898:-

‘Further towards the north, still on the west side of the street, matters were worse – much worse. Next to Mr. Howard’s were Mr. Lipton’s premises. These caught fire and burned fiercely and quickly, so much so that in under half an hour the shop was a heap of smoking ruins. Messrs. Trenowath Bros.’ two drapery establishments, recently enlarged, had meanwhile caught and were blazing fiercely, and in an incredibly short space of time they too had entirely disappeared from view as buildings. All that remained of them was a heap of smouldering debris, to keep company with the too many other unrecognisable masses of ruins.’

Liptons moved temporarily to No. 133, Norfolk Street, and their shop here was rebuilt, being set back to a line determined by the Borough Council.

The founder of the business was Thomas Johnston Lipton (later Sir Thomas), born in Glasgow on 10th May, 1850. His parents were Irish; Thomas Lipton (c1811 – 1890) and Frances Johnston (c1811 – 1889). He was one of the most colourful and famous tycoons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1865, the young Thomas Lipton left Scotland for the United States. There he had a variety of jobs, which included working on a tobacco farm and a rice plantation. He also had a job in the grocery department of a large department store and this gave him the inspiration to establish his own grocery business.

Returning to Glasgow he opened his first store in 1871, describing his occupation as that of a ‘butter and egg merchant’ in that year’s census. He had been much impressed by the power of advertising in the States, latching on to the idea of promotional stunts and catchy slogans. To promote his first shop, Thomas paraded the largest pigs that he could find, bearing signs saying ‘I am going to Lipton’s – the best shop in town for Irish bacon!’ Of course this parade stopped the traffic and created great publicity.

The store flourished and within ten years there were twenty Lipton stores, and by 1890 there were three hundred.

Thomas Lipton was a great traveller and on one of his voyages to Australia, in 1890, he stopped at Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where he bought up a number of plantations that had gone bankrupt. Originally coffee plantations, they had turned to growing tea, and Thomas Lipton set out to market Ceylon tea with the slogan ‘Direct from the Tea Gardens to the Teapot’. This venture marked the start of a hugely successful side of the business, continuing to this day as one of the largest tea trading companies in the world, now owned by Unilever. His best tea was known as ‘Quality No. 1’, and was sold in distinctive yellow and red packets.

Following a generous donation by Lipton towards the Princess of Wales’ fund for a dinner for the poor to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, he became a friend of Royalty and earned himself a knighthood in 1898.

Between 1899 and 1930, Sir Thomas was well known for his attempts to win back the America’s Cup.

Sir Thomas Lipton died on 2nd October 1931, aged 81.

In 1929, Lipton’s grocery business merged with Home and Colonial Stores to form a food group with over 3,000 stores across the country, and used the latter name for the group’s trading title, being rebranded in 1961 when it became Allied Stores. The Argyll Group acquired Allied in 1982 and the supermarket stores were rebranded as Presto.

Liptons were at No. 111 for about 60 years, from 1897 until about 1957. Their stay here started in dramatic fashion because they were one of the stores on the west side of High Street that were totally burnt down during Jermyn’s second great fire of 27th December, 1897. As soon as the front of Jermyn’s store came crashing down, the flames shot across the street and engulfed Lipton’s store, Salter & Salter’s boot and shoe shop and Howard’s confectionary shop. Lipton’s was completely burnt out in less than half an hour. Like all the other traders affected by the fire, Lipton’s lost no time in opening a temporary shop, taking the premises previously occupied by the Consumers’ Tea Company in Norfolk Street.

Liptons advertised in local newspapers throughout the country on a regular basis, including the Lynn News and the Lynn Advertiser and rarely if ever missed an issue. Frequently, special offers were promoted in large advertisements. Seasonal promotions, such as dried fruits for Christmas puddings, would alternate with advertisements for sugar, eggs, jams and margarine.

Liptons had closed by 1958.

 1958 – c1966 (Express Cleaners)

On 11th April 1958, Express Cleaners (Norwich) Ltd. opened at No. 111, High Street. For the first two weeks they had an introductory offer of half price cleaning  and gave a 3-day service. They had left No. 111 by 1966.

1963 (Robinson Rentals)

By the mid 1960s, television rental had become a big business and there were three companies operating from shops in this stretch of High Street; Robinson Rentals at No. 111, Gibbard Television at No. 118, and Radio Rentals at No. 119.

In 1963 Robinson Rentals advertised that they had over 100 branches, including in Norwich, Peterborough and Stamford. They merged with Radio Rentals in 1964.

1970 –  (Granada)

The television rental company Grenada were listed here in 1970/1 (Yates).

Granada Group plc is now a leading UK television and entertainments company. In the early 1900s the Edmonton Music Hall was opened by Alexander Bernstein. His sons Sidney and Cecil continued the business and opened a chain of cinemas. The name Granada was adopted in 1930 and Granada Theatres Ltd., was formed in 1934.

By the late 1940s Granada were moving into the television industry and were awarded a contract in 1954 to broadcast five days a week across the north of England, becoming one of the four founding companies of Britain’s Independent Television Network.

Granada entered the television rental business in the early 1960s. One of their television adverts for featured verses sung to the old popular song composed by Agustin Lara in 1932 and performed by many famous singers over the years, including Frank Sinatra. Their version included the verse ‘Great service, great sets, that’s what you get, from Granada! Better TV, that’s what millions agree, great Granada!’