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17a, High Street (The Arcade).

Sandwiched between No. 18 and the shop on the corner of Union Lane (No. 17) were these premises. There appear to have been two business premises here at times, numbered 17a and 17b, known singly or collectively as ‘The Arcade’. They had very narrow frontages and not much depth. A small rear yard could be accessed via a passage off Union Lane.

The premises were burnt down in the big High Street fire of 27th December, 1897. The progress of the conflagration along High Street was described in the Lynn Advertiser:

‘Only the narrow Union Lane separated Messrs. Jermyn & Sons’ furniture store from the next block of buildings northwards. The corner shop (No.17) was Mr. Sydney Count’s chemist. Then came, in order named, the establishments of Mrs. H. M. Pegg, milliner (No.17a), Mr. Bullen Curson, haberdasher & clothier (No.18), and Messrs. Cash & Co., boot shop (No.19). The flames leapt the narrow lane between Messrs. Jermyn & Sons and Mr. Count’s, and the chemist’s shop and premises were soon numbered with the things that have been and are not. Next Mrs. Pegg’s then Mr. Curson’s and, finally, Messrs. Cash & Co’s shops were involved in the general ruin. There was a good supply of water, and everything possible was done to prevent the destruction of these various premises; but the fire held on its masterful way, and by half-past-nine o’clock, or within two hours of commencement of the outbreak, they were all destroyed.’

For many years, from about 1908 onwards, the dyers and cleaners Jas Smith & Sons were here.


1839-1862 (Benjamin Belchambers)

Benjamin Belchambers, a hatter, was first listed here in Pigot’s directory for 1839 as Belchambers & Son. There is no record of him in earlier directories and he may have worked as an assistant to another of Lynn’s hatters before establishing his own business.

Born in Lynn in about 1791, his parents were Benjamin and Mary Belchambers. He married Sarah Green at St. Margaret’s church on 25th March 1813, and they were living on the premises at No. 17 in 1841 with their son, also Benjamin, who was a tailor.

The business was listed in the directories for 1846, 1850 and 1854, but not as Belchambers & Son.

Benjamin jnr., who was born in Lynn in 1814, may have left his father’s business to work as a tailor elsewhere in the town. He did not marry, and died in March 1853, aged 36.

Sarah Belchambers died in March 1845, aged 54, and Benjamin senior, who was still here in 1861, died in July 1862, aged 71.


1863-c1890 (William Boyce)

William Boyce, a hatter and clothier had a small shop at 17a, High Street. He opened in October, 1863, placing the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser:

‘W. BOYCE (Successor to B. Belchambers). HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN.

Begs to announce that he intends re-opening the above shop, on Tuesday, Oct. 13th, with a stock of Hats, from the firms of Lincoln, Bennett, and others, and Gentlemen’s Hosiery Goods of all descriptions, and respectfully solicits the support of his friends and the public.’

Born in Littleport in about 1828, his parents were John Boyce (1802 – 1866) and Rebecca Little (106 – 1848). He had started out as an assistant to Samuel Pridgeon, woollen draper, at 108, High Street in 1851, working alongside Edward Trenowath. William is recorded as lodging at the Castle Inn in St. James Road in 1861 and was living at No. 17a, High Street in 1871. Harrod’s Directory for 1868 lists him as a ‘Hatter and Gentlemen’s Mercer’ but gives no number. On 9th October, 1875, he placed the following advert in the Lynn Advertiser:


  1. BOYCE, Hatter and Hosier, begs to call the attention of his friends and the public to his stock of Silk and Felt Hats and Caps, bought from the best makers; and also to his stock of Wool Shirts, Collars, Scarfs, Gloves, Merino Shirts and Pants, Umbrellas, Rugs, Waterproof Coats, etc.


He was listed here at 17a in the directory for 1879 as hatter and hosier, and he appears to have been living here still in 1881, when he is recorded as a ‘hosier etc.’ unmarried and aged 52, although the numbering in the census is not clear. He died in 1890 at the age of 62.

Mr Bullen Curson (see Curson Brothers at No 113a) worked for William Boyce for two years.


c1890-c1911 (Harriet Maria Pegg & Frederick Parker Pegg)

In Kelly’s Directory for 1892, Mrs. Harriet Maria Pegg, a milliner, is listed in High Street but no number is given. It seems that it was here at No. 17a, because in 1891, Frederick Parker Pegg, a draper born c1864 in Starston, Norfolk, was living here with his wife, Harriet Maria, a milliner.

Frederick Pegg had been born in Starston in south Norfolk in about 1864. His parents, William Pegg (b. c1819 in Aslacton, Norfolk) and Susan Parker (b. c1828 in Ellingham, Norfolk) were married on 3rd October, 1852 in Starston. William and Susan both worked on a farm – he being listed as a farmer in 1871 and as a cowman in 1881. Susan worked in the dairy.

William and Susan had five children, all born in Starston:

1) Alfred William, a gardener (b. c1855 – m. Elizabeth Mary Ann Streek on 14/11/1880). 2) Alice Arnold (b. c.1859). 3) James, a manager at a grocer and draper’s shop in Long Sutton in 1891 (b. c1861 – m. Elizabeth Ellen Riordan in 1884 – d. 1906, aged 45). 4) Frederick Parker (b. c1864 – m. Harriet Maria Foulger in 1888 – d. 1937, aged 72). 5) Edwin John, a draper’s manager (c.1867 – m. Elizabeth McCann – d. 02/07/1933).

Frederick and his younger brother Edwin both served their apprenticeships to a grocer and draper in Starston.

In 1887/8, Frederick married Harriet Maria Foulger in Bungay. She was the daughter of Robert Foulger, a cabinet maker. Frederick and Harriet did not have any children.

The premises were destroyed in the fire of 27th December, 1897. The Peggs quickly found temporary accommodation, placing the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser:

‘F. P. Pegg, milliner – Business as usual at Temporary Premises – W. H. Johnson’s cycle works, St. James Street.’

Harriet and Frederick Pegg were still living here in 1901, but they also had business premises at 43, Railway Road, where they were listed in the directory for 1890. In Kelly’s Directory for 1900, there is a listing for Frederick Parker Pegg as a ‘High Class Milliner’, here at The Arcade, but in White’s directory for the same year, the Peggs are listed at 43, Railway Road, Lynn. In this latter directory, Harriet is described as a milliner, while Frederick is an assistant.

By 1911, the Peggs had left Norfolk and were living in Exeter. Frederick was listed as a milliner but no occupation is given for Harriet. It would appear that their business was doing well because they had four millinery assistants and a cook living on the premises. They retired to Bournemouth, where they both died, Frederick in 1937, aged 72, and Harriet in 1960/1 aged 96.


1904 (Arthur et Cie)

In Kelly’s directory for 1904, Arthur et Cie, high class milliners and fancy drapers are listed at The Arcade.


c1908-c1966 (James Smith & Sons Ltd) (Johnson Cleaners Ltd)

James Smith & Sons Ltd., dyers and cleaners had premises at the Arcade for many years, being listed in Kelly’s Directories from 1908 to 1966.

James Smith was born in Allerton, Yorkshire, in about 1825. He married Martha Bowker in 1848, and they had five sons:

1) William Shaw, an accountant (b. 1849 – d. 1921, aged 73). 2) Fred Bowker, a solicitor’s clerk (b. 1852 – m. Elizabeth Bates on 29/11/1888 – d. 1900, aged 49). 3) Thomas Edmund (b. 1852 – m. Emma Woodhouse in 1880 – d. 1893, aged 39). 4) John, partner in James Smith & Sons. Ltd. (b. 1859). 5) Sam, an inspector of weights and measures (b. 1861).

In 1851 they were living in Bradford, with their two-year-old son William. James was working as a boot and shoe maker, employing nine men. By 1861 he had moved to Dewsbury and was working as a silk dyer. There were now five boys in the family; William (c1849), Fred B. (c1851), Thomas (c1854), John (c1859), and Sam (c1861). It is not until 1891 that the cleaning business is recorded in the census returns, and by that date James had died. His widow Martha is listed as ‘Dyer & Cleaner’. Her son John, a bachelor aged 32, was acting as the manager of the business, while Sam, also unmarried, was practising as an ‘Analytical Chemist and Druggist’. The other two brothers had both married. William was working as a commercial traveller in 1891, and living in Bradford with his wife Martha and their twin sons James B. and Edward C. (born c1879 in Manchester). Fred, a solicitor’s clerk, was also in Bradford at this date, with his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Annie L. (born c1890 in Dewsbury).

The company was later run through a partnership between John Smith, Harry Leonard Mitchell and William Henry Askham and continued until December 1918 when it was dissolved by mutual consent.

The business was amalgamated with Johnson Brothers of Liverpool in 1920 but continued under the same name.


c1924-1926 (Elizabeth Ann Connelly)

In October, 1924, Miss Elizabeth Ann Connelly moved her dressmaking business, which she ran from No. 16, Church Street, to No. 17a High Street, where she advertised also as a milliner and costumier. However, she had only £200 capital and no experience of millinery and she quickly fell into debt, with several writs being served against her in November that year. The following January she executed a deed of assignment in favour of her creditors but they presented a petition against her. At the London Bankruptcy Court in March 1926, Miss Connelly’s debts were assessed at £1,058, and her assets £306.

Elizabeth had been born in Portsmouth in 1873 to John Connell and his wife Amelia (it would seem that Elizabeth added the ‘y’ to the Connell surname).

John was born in County Cork, Ireland, in about 1859 and served with H. M. Coastguard. This meant that he moved about the country, including Southampton, New Ferry (on the Wirral), Sand Le Mere in Yorkshire, West Hartlepool and King’s Lynn. In 1901 the family were living at Valingers Road in Lynn. John and Amelia had five daughters:

1) Elizabeth Ann (b. 1873 – d. 09/01/1957). 2) Mary M. (b. c1889). 3) Nellie / Ellen Agnes (b. c1889). 4) Nora (b. c1893). 5) Theresa Margaret (b. c1895).

Elizabeth had retained the house at 16, Church Street and retired to live there. She died on 9th January, 1957 at St. James Hospital in Lynn, aged 83.


c1933 (Pumfreys, costumiers)

Pumfreys, costumiers, are listed here in Kelly’s Directory for 1933.


c1951 (Nellie Dixon, ladies’ hairdresser)

In Kelly’s Directory for 1951 Mrs Nellie Dickson, a ladies’ hairdresser was listed at 17a.


1951 (Femina, ladies’ hairdressers)

In November 1951, the Lynn News & Advertiser carried an advertisement for ‘Femina’ ladies’ hairdressers. It may be that Mrs Dixon was still the proprietor of this business but no further details have come to light.


1951 (Power Petroleum Co. Ltd.)

In Kelly’s directory for 1951, the Power Petroleum Co. Ltd. is listed as having offices here.


1993 – To Date (Russen & Turner) (Note: their address is No. 17 but they occupy the premises previously known as ‘The Arcade’ or 17a)

Larry Russen established Russen & Turner’s Chartered Surveyors’ practice in 1981. In 1993, their business opened an office here at No. 17a High Street. The firm provides services in estate agency, surveying and valuation and architectural design.