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119, High Street

No. 119 had an access to a small yard where there were some small cottages and a few outbuildings. The shop was used as a fruiterer’s before a succession of hosiers and drapers took over here.

 c1830 – c1836 (Thomas Ayre)

Pigot’s directory for 1830 lists Thomas Ayre, a merchant, at this address. He was listed again in 1836 (White) but not in 1839. A Thomas Ayre was baptised at St. Margaret’s church on 20th August 1771, and a man of the same name was buried at All Saints church on 16th May 1835. It is not known whether either of these was the occupier of No. 119 in the 1830s.

 c1839 – 1846 (William Richardson)

William Richardson is listed in Pigot’s directory for 1839 as a fruiterer, and as a greengrocer in Kelly’s for 1846.

Born in Lynn in about 1788, William Richardson did not marry and lived in the town all his life. Working as a gardener and as a fruiterer and greengrocer, he occupied the premises here for about seven years and was living here in 1841. By 1851 he had retired and had moved to Valingers Place in Lynn where he was living with his sister Ann (b. c1781 in Lynn – d. 1851) and niece Susan Richardson (b. c1802 in Wisbech). Both were spinsters and at that date were not working. However, in 1861 both William and Susan were working as greengrocers.

William died in 1861, aged 73. Susan moved to London Road and died in 1891, aged 89.

c1850 – c1865 (Maria Brighton)

The premises continued to be occupied by a fruiterer and greengrocer. Miss Maria Brighton (b. 1801 in Lynn) was here between 1850 (Slater) and 1865 (Kelly), and was living on here in 1851 and 1861.

By 1871, Maria had retired to live in Extons Road. She died on 5th April, 1880, aged 79.

 1866 (Frederick William Plowright)

On 14th April 1866, cabinet maker F. W. Plowright announced in the Lynn Advertiser that his old premises had been affected by the council’s North Clough Lane and New Conduit Street improvements and that he had moved his business to 119, High Street.

Born in Lynn on 26th February 1824, and baptised at St. Margaret’s church on the 12th March that year, Frederick was the son of James Plowright (b. 1786) and Susannah Sarah Chadd (b. 1796). James and Susannah had nine children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Maria (b. 1808 – d. 1808). 2) Mary (b. 1811). 3) Martha (b. 1813). 4) Susannah S. (b. 1815 – d. 1876). 5) Eliza (b. c1816). 6) Thomas W. C. (b. 1823 – d. 1823). 7) Frederick William (b. 1824 – m. Eliza Sarah Softley in 1846 – d. 1898). 8) John D. (b. 1825). 9) Caroline Anna (b. 1830 – d. 1900).

Frederick’s father was a master mariner, and the family was living in South Street in 1841. Frederick was apprenticed as a cabinet maker and later established his own business. In 1846 he married Eliza Sarah Softley and they set up home in Downham Market. Frederick and Eliza had seven children, the two eldest born in Downham, all the others in Lynn:-

1) Alfred, a shop assistant (b.  1847 – d. 1872, aged 24). 2) Walter (b. 1849/50). 3) Sarah (b. 1852 – m. William Harmston in 1870 – d. 1933, aged 81). 4) Jessie (b. 1858 – m. Richard McDonald in 1881 – d. 1935, aged 76). 5) Horace, a teacher in West Ham (b. 1862 – m. Amy Anne Hind in 1890 – d. 1942, aged 80). 6) Ellen (b. 1864 – m. Claude Le Comte Thompson Smith in 1888). 7) Herbert, a cycle agent in Cambridge (b. 1868/9 – m. Alice Daisley in 1894 – d. 1904/5, aged 35).

Frederick was here for just over three years and then moved to Purfleet Street, where the family was living in 1871. In 1881 he was in Friars Street and by 1891 had moved back to South Street.

Eliza died in 1890, aged 61, and Frederick died in 1898, aged 75.

 1869 (Arthur Merry Bywater)

The next occupier was Arthur Merry Bywater. He opened his hosiery shop here on 2nd October, 1869, and was living here on census night in 1871 with his wife, Lucy, their three-day-old baby and a nurse. The shop offered a range of presents for Christmas in the Lynn Advertiser on 14th December, 1872, including:-

‘glove boxes, purses, smelling bottles, cases of perfume, fans, crackers, sachets, bracelets, lockets, and drawing-room bells, and Rimmel’s elegant perfumes for the Handkerchief’.  

The perfumer Eugene Rimmel had founded the business with his father in 1834 and received prominence at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and through the publication of ‘The Book of Perfumes’ in 1864. Their main shop was at 96, The Strand, London, and their perfumes were luxurious and expensive.

By 1881, Arthur had changed jobs and was a commercial traveller, living in Downham.

Born in Stradsett in 1844, Arthur was the son of Thomas Bywater (b. c1813 in Shouldham – d. 1905, aged 92). Thomas was a butcher and innkeeper and was licensee of the New Inn at Fincham between about 1847 and 1865. He later became a farmer with a 27 acre holding at Stradsett. In 1838, Thomas married Martha West (b. c1811 in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire – d. 1893, aged 82), and they had three children:-

1) John Merry, a groom (b. 1839 in Fincham – m. Maria Durrant in 1863). 2) Arthur Merry (b. 1844 – d. 1915). 3) Elizabeth Merry, a dressmaker (b. 1845/6 – m. John Brown in 1891 – d. 1944, aged 98).

Arthur married Lucy Ann Frost in 1867 and they had two children:-

1) Clara Lucy (b. 1871 – m. Walter Henry Jubey in 1894 – d. 21/03/1921, aged 49). 2) Frank Arthur, an actor (b. 1874 –  m. Edith Ann Mayhew in 1904 and Florence Robina Conner in 1923 – d. 1944, aged 69).

Arthur Merry Bywater died in 1915, aged 71, and Lucy Ann died in 1922, aged 79.

 1877 – 1880 (Joanna Suggett)

On 13th September 1877, Joanna Suggett placed a notice in the Lynn Advertiser announcing that she had moved her baby linen business from No. 105 High Street to this address. More information about her and her family will be found under No. 105.

In January 1880, Joanna Suggett advertised a selling off sale prior to handing her business over to the Misses Plowright.

 1880 – 1888 (Jane & Alice Plowright)

The Misses Jane and Alice Plowright took over the baby linen business from Mrs. Suggett on 27th March, 1880. The sisters do not appear to have lived on the premises, and Alice may have moved to Cromer after a year or two. In 1881, the living accommodation was occupied by Josiah Goodwins (see below).

The only directory entry for their baby linen business here is in 1883 (Kelly). However, they were also listed in White’s directory for that year at No. 96, High Street, along with their sisters Annie and Mary. They were the children of George Plowright (c1802 – 1859) and Hannah Springfield (c1815 – 1877) – see Nos. 43 and 96, High Street. After George’s death in 1859, Hannah ran an ironmongery shop at No. 96 until her death in 1877 when her son George jnr., continued the business. It seems that alongside George jnr’s brazier’s workshop and ironmongery business, some of his sisters had established a baby linen and wool shop. They also advertised as stay makers.

There were eleven siblings (see more details at No. 43) and the youngest five, all girls, remained single and worked and lived together, on and off, over their whole adult lives. The five were Anna (b. 1849), Jane (b. 1851), Mary (b. 1852/3), Alice (b. 1855), and Lucy (b. 1858/9).

Anna worked as a draper’s assistant for some years. This may have been at Grundy & Pond (see Nos. 76 & 77, High Street) where her elder sisters Ann Elizabeth (b. 1839) and Hannah (b. 1842) had worked in the 1860s. By 1881, Anna was the head of the Plowright household at 96, High Street, and Jane was now working as a draper, employing one boy. Mary and Alice were assisting their brother George jnr., in the ironmongery business, and Lucy was a governess. However, George moved out of No. 96, leaving Anna and Mary to continue the ironmongery business (1891). They eventually gave this up and moved to Luton, along with Jane, where they established a drapery business.

Alice and Lucy, meanwhile, had moved to Cromer where they jointly ran the Sandcliffe Hotel for more than ten years. When they retired, they moved to Luton to join their sisters, and all five died in the town; Jane in 1922, aged 71, Anna in 1927, aged 77, Mary in 1929, aged 76, Alice in 1933, aged 77, and Lucy in 1939, aged 80.

 c1881 (Josiah Goodwins)

Josiah Goodwins, 51, a retired baker was living at 119, but there is no indication in the census as to what the shop was being used for. It seems that the Misses Plowrights occupied the shop but let out the house. Josiah had worked as a baker in the town and was at 47, South Everard Street in between 1875 and 1879 (Kelly).

Josiah was the son of James Goodwins (b. c1811) a blacksmith from Lamas in Norfolk, and his wife Matilda Savage (b. c1811 in Kirby Cane). James and Matilda had eight children, all born in Lamas:-

1) Charlotte (b. 01/06/1830). 2) James, a Norwich coach smith (b. 29/12/1831 – m. Sarah Ann Brooks in 1862/3). 3) Stephen, a Lynn baker – see No. 92, High Street (b. 05/03/1834 – m. Elizabeth Sly in 1860 – d. 1924, aged 90). 4) John (b. 1836 – died in infancy). 5) John (b. 1838 – d. 1839). 6) Emma (b. 1840/1 – m. David Carter in 1872 – d. 1893, aged 52). 7) Josiah – see below – (b. 23/07/1843 – m. Hannah Brown Rix in 1867 and Clara Knipe in 1896 – d. 1904, aged 61). 8) Anna Matilda (b. 1846 – d. 1847).

Josiah started out as a blacksmith and was working with his elder brother James in Norwich in 1861. A few years after that he had moved to Lynn and took up work as a baker. In 1867 he married Hannah Brown Rix in the town. She was the daughter of James Rix, the hosier who was at No. 90, High Street between about 1846 and 1876.

Josiah and Hannah had two daughters, both born in Lynn:-

1) Emma Rix (b. 1867 – m. Jacob Anderson in 1891). 2) Alice Maud (b. c1870 – d. 1931, aged 61).

Hannah died in 1891, aged 57, and Josiah married Clara Knipe (b. c1860 in Bourne, Lincs.) in 1896. They had two sons:-

1) Leonard Knipe (b. 1898 in Manthorpe, Lincs. – m. Winifred A. Gill – d. 13/12/1964). 2) Sidney Guy (b. 01/12/1899 in East Rudham – m. Ivy Mary Croft – d. 26/09/1965).

Josiah appears to have dropped the ‘s’ from the end of his name. He died in 1904, aged 61.

 1889 – c1916 (George Gemmell)

The next occupier of the shop was George Gemmell, a draper and outfitter from Scotland. He advertised in the Lynn Advertiser on 23rd March 1889, and this may have been at the time that he first moved in here.

George Gemmell was born in Ayr, Scotland in about 1857 and appears to have moved to Lynn with Scottish draper John French Kirkland (b. c. 1850 in Troon) and his family between 1875 and 1879. John Kirkland was a travelling draper living at 20, North Everard Street, Lynn at this latter date (Kelly).  John had married Margaret ‘Maggie’ Little (b. c1852 in Catrine, Ayrshire) before leaving Scotland. In 1881 he and Maggie were living in St. John’s Street in Lynn, with their daughter Agnes Jane Henrietta (b. 1880 in Catrine). Also staying with them were Maggie’s sister Annie Little (b. c1854 in Catrine) and their mother Agnes (b. c1830 in Catrine), together with George Gemmell.

In 1882, George married Annie Little in Lynn, and they had ten children, all born in the town:-

1) Duncan James (b. 1883 – d. 1964, aged 80). 2) Maggie Little, a confectioner in Sheringham c1911 (b. 1884 – m. George Cecil Bonner in 1912 – d. 1965/6, aged 83). 3) Nettie (b. 1886 – d. 1888, aged 2). 4) Dora (b. 1888 – m. William D. Barker in 1917). 5) George, a school master (b. 1889 – d. 02/01/1965, aged 75). 6) Agnes (b. 1890). 7) Arthur (b. 1892 – m. Lydia Radford in 1924 – d. 1961, aged 69). 8) Mabel (b. 1893 – died in infancy). 9) Annie (b. 1894 – m. Arthur R. Treseder in 1919 – d. 1938/9, aged 44). 10) Jane Constance (b. 1896 – m. Francis L. Hopkins in 1917 – d. 1966, aged 66).

Gemmell’s advertisements listed a clothing department, which stocked men’s and youths’ clothes, and a drapery department which included women’s clothes and furnishing and bedding materials. On 20th December, 1890, George placed the following advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘GEMMELL’S 119, HIGH STREET, LYNN. CHRISTMAS PRESENTS: We hold a Splendid Stock of Ladies & Gents Handkerchiefs – From 4½d each to 5/11. CHRISTMAS PRESENTS: Rugs, Shawls & Mauds, at Lowest Prices, at G. GEMMEL’S 119, HIGH STREET, LYNN.’

In May, 1902, George Gemmell applied for permission to extend the premises.

George appears to have retired from business in about 1917, and the business was continued by his sons Duncan and Arthur under the name of Gemmell & Co. The shop had been moved to No. 5, High Street by 1922 (Kelly), and by 1928 it was at No. 1, High Street.

Annie Gemmell died in 1917/18, aged 64, and George died in 1928, aged 71.

 c1920 – 1922 (G. M. Hartley Ltd.)

The baby linen and millinery business of G. M. Hartley Ltd., had a branch here for a short time in the 1920s. Their principal shop was at Nos. 5 – 7, High Street, where more details of the business and the founder, Mrs. Gertrude May Harvey, will be found.


1925 – c1951 (Pugh & Son Ltd.)

A branch of the Letchworth hosiers and shoe specialists Pugh & Son Ltd., opened here on 26th May, 1925.

The founder of the firm was Charles Pugh who was born in Leominster in 1860. He was the son of Shropshire shoemaker George Pugh II (b. c1820 in Ludlow) and his wife Ann Price (b. c1820 in Barnsley, nr Cirencester, Gloucs). George II had been brought up in Pontesbury, a village about eight miles southwest of Shrewsbury, where his father, George I, was a farmer.

George Pugh II and Ann Price married in 1837/8, and Charles was the youngest of their nine children, all but the first being born in Leominster:-

1) Ann (b. 1838 in Knighton). 2) Mary (b. 1845 – m. John Edwards in 1878 – d. 1917, aged 71). 3) Ellen (b. 1848 – d. 1852, aged 4). 4) George (b. 1850 – d. 1852, aged 2). 5) George (b. 1852, died in infancy). 6) George, a boot dealer (b. 1853 – m. Ann Eliza Bengree in 1872 – d. 1925, aged 72). 7) Thomas, a boot dealer (b. 1855 – m. Jane Stead in 1879 – d. 1941, aged 86). 8) Henry / Harry, a boot seller (b. 1858 – d. 1897, aged 40). 7) Charles – see below (b. 1860 – m. Ruth Elizabeth Morris in 1882 – d. 29/11/1925, aged 65).

George II established his boot and shoe making business in Etnam Street in Leominster, and remained there for the rest of his life. Etnam Street was a long street of shops, houses and hotels that ran from High Street to the railway station. George died in 1879, aged 59, and his widow Ann continued the business. In 1881 she was at No. 33, Etnam Street. By 1891, the Etnam Street shoe maker’s shop was under the control of Ann’s son-in-law, John Edwards, who had married Mary Pugh in 1878. Three of the brothers had boot shops in Herefordshire: George III at 27, High Street, Leominster; Henry at 123, St. Owen Street, Hereford; and Thomas at Weobley. Meanwhile, Charles Pugh had moved to Everton in Liverpool and established his own boot and shoe business there. While in Liverpool, Charles married Ruth Elizabeth Morris in 1882.

Pugh & Son advertised frequently in the Lynn newspapers. These advertisements featured their range of women’s shoes, and men’s raincoats, shirts and hats.

In October / November 1951, Pugh & Son closed their men’s department but extended their shoe department.

1953 (George M. Brown Ltd.)

On 11th December 1953, Mrs. Brown opened a branch of Browns furniture store at 119. They had shops at Tottenham Court Road, London, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, and at other towns across the country.

 1964 – c1968 (Radio Rentals Ltd.)

On 2nd June, 1964, the Lynn News & Advertiser carried an advertisement for Radio Rentals, who had opened a branch here. They had another Norfolk shop in Bridewell Alley, Norwich.

The company had been formed in 1930 in Brighton, Sussex, renting out radio sets. Later the business moved into television and video recorder rentals. In 1964 the company merged with RentaSet Ltd. The latter had been established by Mr. J. W. C. Robinson who later became chairman of Radio Rentals.

c1968 – 1972 (D.E.R.)

The D.E.R. (Domestic Electric Rentals) chain was formed in 1938 by Thorn Electrical Industries, and they acquired Radio Rentals Ltd., in 1968. The business at No. 119 was trading as D.E.R. by 1970/1 (Yates). In 1980, the business was absorbed into the merged Thorn-EMI, which in turn merged with Granada Ltd. in 2000 (see No. 111, High Street).