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112, High Street

For one hundred years or more, the premises at 112, High Street were occupied by bakers and confectioners. A passageway between Nos. 111 and 112 gave access to the sides and backs of the two properties.

The shop front was affected by the fire of 27th December 1897 but Abel Howard continued to operate his bakery, although customers had to gain access via the side door until the shop had been repaired.

 c1830 – c1892 (Robert Willis) (Ann Willis) (Willis & Co.)

In the 1890s, Willis & Co. was a family firm that had been in business for some 70 years. In many respects, they were more of a family firm than any other on the High Street, because so many members, through three generations, were involved in managing and running the business.

The founder of the firm, Robert Willis (c1790 – c1873) was listed here as a baker and flour dealer in Pigot’s directory for 1830. Although he is not listed in Pigot’s directory for 1822, he was already working as a baker in the town – possibly as an assistant.

Born in Raynham, Norfolk, in about 1790, he married Ann Onyon (born c1802) at St Margaret’s Church, Lynn on 29th December, 1823. Robert and Ann had five girls:-

1) Rosamond (b. 12/08/1824 – died young). 2) Ann Willis – see No. 101, High Street – (b. 23/08/1825 – m.  Richard Panton Pridgeon on 16/09/1847 – d. 1910, aged 85). 3) Elizabeth – see No. 17, High Street – (b. c1831 – m. William Carter Wigg in 1860 – d. 1912, aged 80). 4) Rosamond (b. 18/08/1828 – m. William David Marler in 1849 – d. 1894, aged 65). 5) Emma (b. 1836 – d. 1894, aged 57).

Robert and his wife Ann ran the shop here at 112, High Street for upwards of 43 years. In 1871, they were employing three men and one boy.

Ann Pridgeon’s husband Richard had died in 1855, aged 35 (see No. 101, High Street). After his death, she let apartments and lived at St. James Street while she was bringing up her children. By 1871 she had moved in with her parents and she and Emma were assisting in the business.

Robert Willis died in 1873, aged 83 but his widow Ann continued to run the shop with the help of her two daughters, Ann and Emma. In 1881, Ann employed three men and two boys.

Ann Willis died in 1883, aged 79, and Ann and Emma continued to run it in partnership. They were assisted by Ann’s daughter Elizabeth Pridgeon, 29, and they employed three men and two boys.

The business is listed in White’s Directory for 1890 as ‘Willis & Co., bakers, confectioners, and refreshment rooms’. It would seem likely that the two sisters gave the business the name of Willis & Co., when they took over following their mother’s death. They are listed again in Kelly’s Directory for 1892.

Emma died on 31st January 1894, and it seems probable that her sister Ann closed the business at that date or soon afterwards.

Ann Pridgeon moved to live in St. James Road. She died in 1910, aged 85.

1894 – 1898 (Abel Howard)

Another baker, Abel Howard, took over the premises when Ann Pridgeon retired. He was born in Gayton in 1857. His parents were William and Mary Howard. William had been born in Gayton in about 1812 and he married Sarah Neal, who came from Congham (b. c1815). William and Sarah had at least nine children, all born in Gayton:

1) Maria – a servant in London c1861 – (b. c1835). 2) Thomas – a farm labourer – (b. c1837 – m. Frances Wagg in 1865 – d. 1881, aged 44). 3) Frederic – a baker in Gateshead – (b. 1839 – m. Maria Cressy in 1864 – d. 1884, aged 45). 4) Mary Ann (b. 1842). 5) Elijah – a brass smelter in Gateshead – (b. 1845 – m. Anna Gooderson in 1865 – d. 1926, aged 81). 6) Harriett (b. 1847 – m. Thomas Gates in 1869 – d. 1941, aged 94). 7) Martha (b. 1849 – d. c1851). 8) Betsy (b. 1854). 9) Abel – see below – (b. 1857 – m. Mary Ann Elizabeth Collison in 1876 – d. 1898, aged 41).

William Howard worked as an agricultural labourer in Gayton and found it hard to earn enough to maintain his large family. In 1851 the family were at the Freebridge Lynn Workhouse in the village. Two of the siblings, Frederic and Elijah moved to Gateshead. Frederic had his own bakery there but, like two of his brothers, died in his forties. Elijah started out as an agricultural labourer in Gayton but became a foundry worker in Gateshead, and lived to the age of 81.

In 1876, Abel married (Mary Ann) Elizabeth Collison, a dressmaker born in 1855 in Grimston. They set up home at Pleasant Place in Lynn. Abel and Elizabeth had three children:

1) Ernest Albert (b. 1878).  2) Maud Rosalie (b. 1879 – m. Alfred Edward Holmes in 1904 – d. 1933, aged 53). 3) Ethel (b. 1881).

Abel was apprenticed as a baker in the town, and by 1891 he had a bakery of his own, appropriately in Baker Lane, where he was listed in 1890 (White). His business was just off High Street and close to No. 112, and he took the opportunity to move when Willis & Co., moved out.

Abel’s business seems to have flourished. Under the name of the ‘Central Café’ he catered for lunches and afternoon teas, and offered a wide variety of pastries and confectionery, including cakes, muffins, pork pies, jellies and ices. He took bookings from parties for the evening trade. Tragically, however, on 29th March, 1898 Abel died at the relatively young age of 41, having been running his own business here for just four years.

1898 – 1904 (Elizabeth Howard)

Following Abel Hoard’s death, his widow, who always used her third given name of Elizabeth, continued to run the business until 1904, assisted by her son Ernest.

Elizabeth Howard died on 26/09/1937, aged 82.

1905 – c1910 (Thomas William Brown)

The business was taken over by Thomas William Brown, who placed a notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 13th October, 1905. Thomas Brown was born in Hawton, Nottinghamshire, in 1871. His parents were Thomas Brown snr. (b. c1842 in Owthorpe, Lincs. – d. 1897, aged 55) and Adeliza Freeston(e) (b. c1848 in Hough, Lincs. – d. 1933, aged 84). They married in 1878, and had nine children:-

1) Arthur George (b. 1869). 2) Thomas William – see below – (b. 1871). 3) Kate (Katie) Zephela (b. 1873/4 – m. Robert Pratt in 1914 – d. 1952, aged 78). 4) Emma Freeston (b. 1875/6 – m. George Harry White in 1900 – d. 1946, aged 70). 5) Evelina Stafford (b. 1878 – d. 1966, aged 88). 6) Henry Lumley (b. 1880 – d. 1882, aged one). 7) Adeliza Louisa (b. 1884 – d. 1964, aged 79). 8) Charles Stafford (b. 1886 – m. Henrietta Walker in 1918 – d. 1957, aged 70). 9) Cephas John (b. 1890 – m. Alice M. L. Möhring in 1918 – d. 1956, aged 66).

Thomas Brown snr. appears to have inherited his father’s farm in Hawton, but in 1881 he was a lodging house keeper at Skegness. By 1891 he was farming again, at South Muskham in Nottinghamshire, but he died in 1897, aged 55.

After her husband’s death, Adeliza lived at Morton Grange, Fiskerton-cum-Morton. She died in 1933, aged 84.

Thomas William Brown was apprenticed to Harry Caswell Browning, a confectioner of St. Peters Road, Leicester, where he was living in 1891. In 1898, he married Kathleen Lizzie Mann, and they both took jobs at the Kidderminster Union Workhouse – Thomas as a baker and Kathleen as a cook. They had four children. The two born in King’s Lynn were twins and one died:-

1) Thomas John (b. 1902/3 in Long Sutton). 2) Kathleen Mary (b. 1905 in Newark). 3) Adeliza Zilpha – b. 1906 – m. John T. Hallam in 1936). 4) Louisa Stafford (b. 1906 – died in infancy).

Thomas and Kathleen did not stay in Lynn for long and moved to Leicester, where they were in 1911. Thomas was employed as a baker at that date. He died in Leicester in 1935, aged 64. Kathleen Brown died in 1954, aged 81.

1911 – c1951 (Adcock & Son Ltd.)

By 1911, the tobacconists Adcock & Son had moved from No. 117 into No. 112. More details of the company will be found under No. 117.

c1951 – c1972 (Palmer & Harvey Ltd.)

Palmer & Harvey, the wholesale confectioners and tobacconists were here from about 1951 to about 1972, being listed here in 1970/1 (Yates).

1972 – 1974 (Vacant)

The premises were vacant between 1972 and 1974 (Kelly).