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120, 120a & 120b, High Street

An archway between numbers 120 and 121 gave access to a large yard, with a big warehouse and some workshops. For many years, the sail making and ship chandlery business of Joseph Linay and his successors, Linay & Cooper and Linay & Bullen, had their business here. There was also a building and joinery company at this address. The ship chandlery may have occupied the front shop as well as some of the warehouses in the yard. The builders and joiners would have occupied buildings at the rear.

From about 1900 until 1960, the building firm of George Neal had workshops in the yard (known as Barnard’s yard for some years). There were also a number of very small cottages, and in 1901 seven separate family units were housed in the yard, including carpenter John Thing.

In 1905, the premises were converted into a ladies’ fashion shop.

1836 – c1863 (Thomas Whitby) (James Whitby)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists Thomas Whitby, a joiner and builder, at No. 120. However, Pigot has him at No. 121 in his directories for 1830 and 1839. Kelly (1846 and 1858) puts him and his son James here at No. 120, as does Harrod in 1863, when James had his business here but lived at Portland Street. His premises were in the yard which during the time of his occupation was referred to as ‘Whitby’s Yard’ (1851).

Thomas Steed Whitby was born in Lynn in about 1787, being baptised on 16th July that year at St. Nicholas Chapel. His parents were James and Hannah Whitby.

Thomas married Lucy Inkson (b. c1787 in Lynn) in Norwich on the 5th November 1814, and they had at least seven children, all born in Lynn:-

1) James, a building surveyor (b. c1814 – m. Margaret Inkson in 1854 – d. 1885, aged 69). 2) Thomas (b. c1818). 3) Sarah (b. c1819). 4) John, a baker (b. c1820). 5) Hannah Lucy, a school mistress (b. c1823 – d. 11/06/1864, aged 41). 6) Henry (b. c1828). 7) Colin (b. c1831).

Thomas died in 1854, aged about 67. For about nine years the business was continued by his son James, who lived in Portland Street (Harrod 1863). James later became a building surveyor and moved to Sutton in Surrey. He died in 1885, aged 69.

Lucy moved to Feltwell for a time and was living there in 1861 with her daughter Hannah and son John. She died in 1864, aged about 77.

c1836 – 1846 (Joseph Linay)

Also listed here in 1836 is Joseph Linay, a sail maker and ship chandler. His father Thomas was also a sail maker and ship chandler, who had established a business in about 1816 with premises on Church Street (Pigot 1822) before moving to Buckingham Terrace (White 1836). Thomas and his wife Mary had nine children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Sarah (b. 29/04/1797). 2) Joseph – see below (b. 30/12/1798 – m. Mary Cooper on 22/12/1822 – d. 30/06/1858, aged 59). 3) Mary (b. 16/04/1800 – m. William Armes on 25/12/1827 – d. 05/06/1892, aged 92). 4) Lucy (b. 06/09/1802). 5) Thomas, a draper – see No. 102, High Street (b. 19/06/1805 – m. Sophia Love on 10/10/1831 and Letitia Stanley on 06/05/1847 – d. 1880, aged 74). 6) Samuel – a sail maker (b. 13/07/1806 – m. Eleanor Mede on 11/10/1830 – d. 1871, aged 64). 7) Elizabeth (b. 18/06/1808). 8) Carter (b. 21/08/1810 – d. 1894, aged 83). 9) Jemima – see No. 58, High Street (b. c1815 – m. Edward Longbottom on 04/07/1844 – d. 1898, aged 84).

Thomas Linay snr may have died before 1830 (there was a burial of a Thomas Linay at St. Margaret’s church on 11/04/1828). His widow Mary continued the business with her son Samuel for a few years. Samuel married Eleanor Mede on 11/10/1830 at St. Margaret’s Church in Lynn and he then moved the business, still under his father’s name of Thomas Linay, to No. 6, Saturday Market Place. Samuel continued to run the Thomas Linay sail making business for a few years (White, 1854) but by 1863 (Harrod) he had moved to 3, Nelson Street and was the head meter and inspector of weights and measures for the Borough Council.

Meanwhile, Joseph Linay continued his sail and rope making business at 120, High Street until his death in 1858. However, the company had become that of Linay & Cooper by 1846 (Kelly’s Nine Counties). The Cooper connection came from Mary Linay’s side of the family and, following Joseph’s death, she took over the reins of the business.

1846 – 1868 (Linay & Cooper)

Joseph continued to run the ship chandlery under the name of Linay & Cooper until his death on 30th June, 1858, following which it was continued by his widow Mary. It is not clear what the partnership entailed, but it may have been solely a financial arrangement. Joseph and Mary were living on the premises in 1851. Mary continued to live here for another twenty years or more. In 1861, her niece Sarah Jane Cooper (b. 1839 at Boston, Lincs) was staying with her, and in 1871 her sister Ann Cooper (b. c1801 at Swaffham) was here. Mary and Ann had moved to the corner of the Tuesday Market Place and St. Nicholas Street by 1881. They were still there in 1891 but their niece Mary Maria Cooper (b. 1843 in Boston) had become head of the household, looking after her two aunts who were both in their nineties.

Both Ann Cooper and Mary Linay died within a few weeks of each other in 1892, the former aged 91, and the latter aged 94.

c1871 – 1889 (Linay & Bullen)

The business continued under the name of Linay & Bullen for another eighteen years or so, through the management of James Bullen (b. c1810 in Lynn – m. Mary Barker and Jane Tingay – d. 1883, aged 73), and his sons James William  and Walter.

James Bullen snr. married twice and had at least six children with his first wife Mary Barker, all born in Lynn:-

1) James William (b. c1834 – m. Emily Poll – d. 1894/5, aged 60). 2) Mary Ann (b. c1835). 3) George William (b. c1837). 4) Henry Ebenezer, a mariner (b. 13/09/1839 – m. Elizabeth Haynes). 5) Frederick, a mariner in 1881 and stationery engine driver in 1891 (b. 1841 – m. Louisa Mindham on 17/09/1868). 6) Emma (b. 1845).

Following the death of his first wife Mary in 1847, James Bullen married Jane Tingay the following year. They had three children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Robert (b. 1849). 2) Eliza (b. 1854/5). 3) Walter – see below (b. 1857 – d. 15/02/1885, aged 27).

Linay & Bullen were ‘ship chandlers, rope manufacturers, sail and cover makers and dealers in paints, oils, colours, tar, pitch, oakum etc.’ (Kelly 1879).  An advertisement for staff in the Lynn Advertiser of 19th September, 1874, illustrates the range of manufacturing work that was still being undertaken at High Street premises at this date:-

‘To Ropemakers and Twine Spinners. Wanted immediately one of each of the above. Constant employment – Apply to Linay & Bullen, 120 High Street, Lynn’.

James Bullen snr. died in 1883, aged 73, by which date the business had become Bullen & Sons.

1882 – 1889 (Bullen & Sons).

In 1882, the company changed its name, giving notice of this, dated 3rd November that year, in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘KING’S LYNN AND WEST NORFOLK ROPE, SACK AND TARPAULIN MANUFACTORY and PAINT, OIL & COLOUR WAREHOUSE, 120, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN The above business will be carried on under the Same management as hitherto by Messrs. JAMES and WALTER BULLEN, under the style and title of BULLEN & SONS. In thanking the public in general for past favours, we trust to receive a continuance of your liberal support. All orders entrusted to us will have our best and prompt attention. BULLEN & SONS, LATE LINAY & BULLEN, 120 High Street, King’s Lynn. November 3rd 1882’.

Walter Bullen died in 1885, aged 27, and his elder half-brother James continued the business for four more years. James died in 1894/5, aged 60.

1861 – 1891 (Barnabas Thing) (William Barnabas Thing).

Bullen & Sons vacated the premises in 1889, leaving them in need of repair, as the following advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser of 2nd November that year implies:-

‘TO BE LET FOR two years, RENT FREE, if a responsible Tenant will agree to spend an equivalent Sum for repairs, the Shop and Dwelling House. Situate in High Street, Lynn, lately occupied by Messrs. Bullen & Sons, Ship Chandlers – Apply to Messrs. Thew & Son, opposite’.

The offer was taken up by William Barnabas Thing who had been operating a carpentry business from the yard behind No. 120, High Street. He briefly moved into the buildings vacated by Bullen & Sons, after which he remained in the yard premises where the family also had a cottage.

In a notice in the Lynn Advertiser for 15th March 1890, William Thing announced:-

‘120, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. W. B. THING. BUILDER & UNDERTAKER. In thanking his numerous friends for the support received during the last ten years, begs to inform them that he has opened the Old-established Premises lately occupied by Messrs. Linay & Bullen, as an IRONMONGER, OIL, COLOUR & GENERAL WAREHOUSEMAN, and hopes, by strict and prompt attention, to merit a share of public patronage. A LARGE and EXCELLENT STOCK Of General Ironmongery, Paints, Colours, Varnishes, Red & White Leads, Turpentine, Oils of all descriptions, Brushes, Mops, etc. MANAGER – H. N. THING (Late of Stanton & Son).’

Stanton & Son were ironmongers and oil merchants with premises at Nos. 130 & 131, Norfolk Street, Lynn.

William was the son of carpenter Barnabas Thing who was born in Whissonsett, Norfolk on 19/11/1820. Barnabas married Mary Neal in Lynn in 1847. Mary had also been born in Whissonsett (c1823), and she and Barnabas had eight children, all born in King’s Lynn:-

1) John, a carpenter (b. 1847/8 – d. 1904, aged 56). 2) James Neal (b. 1849 – d. 1851). 3) Mary Ann (b. 1851/2 – m. Charles Henry Snelling in 1876). 4) James Neal – see below (b. 1853 – d. 1902, aged 49). 5) William Barnabas – see below (b. 1855/6 – d. 1897/8, aged 42). 6) Harriet Elizabeth (b. 1858 – m. Horace Wells in 1889 – d. 1949, aged 90). 7) Henry Neal – see below (b. 1862 – d. 1910, aged 47). 8) Emma Martina (b. 1866 – m. Robert Love Gates in 1894 – d. 1938, aged 73).

When Barnabas Thing came to Lynn from Whissonsett, he established himself as a carpenter in premises off New Conduit Street (1841). Ten years later he was living in South Clough Lane with his family. By 1861 he had moved to yard premises off High Street, possibly to the rear of, No. 120. In 1871 he was employing three men and one boy in the business.

Barnabas Thing died on 18th August, 1880, aged 59, and his son William took over the business, with his elder brother James working for him as one of his carpenters. In 1881, Henry was still living at home and was an ironmonger’s apprentice – presumably with Stanton & Son.

The business was listed in the directory for 1883 under ‘Thing & Son, carpenters, High Street.’ William advertised in the Lynn Advertiser on 10th May, 1890:-


The 1822 date is of interest and may indicate that William’s grandfather had established the business in Whissonsett at that time.

In White’s Directory for 1890, B. Thing & Son are also listed as undertakers. Henry Neal Thing, William’s younger brother, was living here in 1891, and was manager of the business. William and James, both bachelors, were living with their mother in the cottage in the yard. Staying with them were two of Mary Thing’s grandchildren, Charles and Eva Snelling. Young Charles was apprenticed to his uncle, William Thing. Barnabas and Mary’s daughter, Mary Anne Thing, had married Charles Henry Snelling, the son of a Lynn sailor, in London in 1876. Charles was a railway coach body maker. The Snellings were living in Wanstead with their other five children in 1891.

‘Thing & Son, carpenters, 120a, High Street’, are listed in Kelly’s Directory of 1892. This is the last year that they appear in the directories.

Whether William discharged his obligations to repair the premises or not is unclear but he left at the end of his two years.

William Barnabas Thing died in 1898, aged 42.

John Neal Thing continued to work as a carpenter from the yard premises for a few years, but he died in Lincoln in1903/4, aged 56.

1891 – c1904 (William Osbert Smith).

On Saturday, 5th September, 1891, the following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘KING’S LYNN HIGH STREET – TO BE LET, with immediate possession the Shop, Dwelling House and large Warehouse for many years in the occupation of Messrs. Linay & Bullen and latterly of Mr. B. W. Thing, where an extensive trade in paints, oils, colours, ironmongery and ship chandlery has been carried on. The premises are well situated, and are suitable for any Business – Apply to Messrs. Thew & Son, Lynn’.

The first trade directory entry for William Osbert Smith is in Kelly’s for 1879, when he was at St. Anns Street. He was not listed in 1883 (Kelly) but is included in Kelly’s directory for 1892 as ‘William Osbert Smith, sail, tent, marquee, rick, stack & wagon cover maker& contractor, 120 High Street & South Quay’. He remained at both addresses up to and including 1904 (Kelly), but moved out by 1908 when he was at 12a Lansdowne Road (Kelly).

On 3rd June, 1893, the following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-


Born in Lynn in 1843, William was the eldest child of Osbert Hampton Smith (b. c1822 in Lynn – d. 1880, aged 58) and Jane Bunting (b. c1824 in Lynn). Osbert Smith was a sail maker and was living in Chapel Street in 1871. He and Jane had nine children, all born in Lynn:-

1) William Osbert – see below (b. 1843 – d. 1912, aged 68). 2) Jane (b. 1844/5). 3) Ephraim Wright, a brush maker in Bradford c1911 (b. 1846/7). 4) Venice, a housemaid c1881 (b. 1848/9 – d. 1904, aged 55). 5) Charles (b. 1850/1). 6) James (1852/3). 7) Mary Ann (b. 1854). 8) George (b. 1857/8). 9) Susannah (b. 1861).

William Osbert Smith married Elizabeth Pye (b. c1847 in Coltishall) in 1869. They did not have any children. In 1871, William and Elizabeth were lodging in Wisbech but by 1881 they had moved into a house in Regent Street, Lynn, where they stayed until 1892 when they came here, 120, High Street. They left High Street in late 1904 or early 1905, moving to Lansdowne Road. William died in 1912, aged 68.

1905 – 1925 (Ethel Letzer)

The premises were offered to let in February 1905 and were immediately taken by Mrs Ethel Letzer and converted for use as a ‘high-class millinery establishment’. Her shop was opened on 4th April that year.

Ethel Letzer’s attempt to obtain permission to alter the premises in 1924 was put off by the Borough Council who were considering whether the frontage could be set back. However, in February 1925, she moved her business into Nos. 115, 116 & 117, High Street. More details of her business and family will be found at that address.

1925 – 1960 (Barnards)

Barnards, the florists were here from about 1925 to about 1960.

In June 1960, permission was given to Norvic Investment Trust Ltd. for the premises to be redeveloped for use as a supermarket and warehouse.

c1900 – c1960 (George Neal) (Neal & Son)

Listed in 1900 (Kelly) as a carpenter, George Neil had premises in the yard (known as No. 120a or 120b).

c1930 – c1950 (Hall & Stringer) (L. Hall & Co.)

The furniture business of Hall & Stringer was here in 1930 (Kelly), and advertised as cabinet makers, upholsterers and French polishers. By 1932 the partnership had ended and L. Hall & Co. advertised a three piece suite in Rexine that year for £4.15.0.

1966 – 1973 (Matthes)

A branch of Matthes Bakery opened here and was listed in Kelly’s directory for 1966.

The Matthes family of bakers may be traced back to Johan Conrad Matthes who was born in Germany in 1762. His sons continued the tradition, and two of his grandsons emigrated to England in the 1860s.

Wilhelm Ludwig Matthes was born in Braunsbach, Wurttemberg, in about 1837. On arrival in London, he took a job as a baker in Battersea (1861) and a few years later he married Barbara Elizabeth (surname not known but possibly Batten). They had seven children, all born in Rotherhithe:-

1) Louis John William – see below (b. 1864 – d. 1913/4, aged 49). 2) Barbara Mary (b. 1866). 3) Elizabeth Maria (b. 1868 – m. Charles Thomas Thompson in 1892). 4) Frederick Stephen, a baker in Rotherhithe (b. 1870 – m. Elizabeth Sarah Wheeler in 1898 – d. 1959, aged 89). 5) Helena Magdalene (b. 1871/2 – m. Samuel Thompson in 1901 – d. 1957, aged 85). 6) Alice Fredericka (b.  1873/4 – m. Frank Andre in 1904 – d. 1940, aged 66). 7) George Samuel (b. 1875 – m. Edith Annie Osborne in 1902/3 – d. 1968, aged 93).

Wilhelm changed his name to William and became a naturalised British citizen on 13th December 1876. Barbara Matthes died in 1877, aged 37, and William married Emma Blagdon the following year.

William ran his bakery in Rotherhithe for about 30 years, and several of his children helped in the business. He had retired by 1901. Emma died in 1920, aged 80, and William died on 30th October, 1924, aged 87.

Louis Matthes married Maria Stewart in 1888 and established his own bakery in Church Street, Rotherhithe, where the family was living in 1891. In 1900 he moved to Gorleston, Norfolk, and founded a large bakery in England’s Lane. Their ‘Sunshine Bread’ was delivered by van to many towns and villages in East Anglia.

The Matthes bread shop was listed here in 1973 (Kelly).