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3 & 3a, High Street.

A shop with upper floor accommodation. From about 1873 to 1923 this was part of Thew & Son’s premises which stretched from No. 1 to No. 4. This was where the Lynn Advertiser was produced.

Details about Messrs. Thew & Son will be found at Nos. 1 – 4.

After Thews left, the premises reverted to individual shops, offices and other uses. There was a separate trading unit at No. 3a.

1830 (Michael Goodale Tilson)

Michael Tilson, a candle maker, was here in 1830 (Pigot). Born in Lynn in about 1800, Michael Goodale Tilson had a number of jobs. In 1830, when his son Thomas was baptised, he was recorded as a grocer but by 1841 he was working as a tailor and living in Purfleet Street. By 1851 he had established himself as a ship broker.

Michael Tilson married Susan Hacon (b. Docking c1806) at St. Nicholas Chapel on 10th July, 1828. They had two sons:-

1)Thomas Michael – an engineer – (b. 14/06/1829 – d. 1851, aged 22). 2) Edward – a solicitor’s clerk – (b. 1842 – d. 1889).

Michael Tilson’s business flourished and in 1877 (Harrod) it was listed as ‘Tilson & Co., ship and insurance brokers, custom house and forwarding agents, South Quay’.

Susan Tilson died in Lynn in 1888, aged 82, and Michael died the following year, aged 89.

 c1836 – c1873 (John Everitt).  

White’s Directory for 1836 lists John Everitt, a plumber and glazier, at this address. Slator’s Directory for 1850 also lists him here at No. 3, under ‘Painters, Plumbers & Glaziers’.

Born in Stanhoe in about 1811, he married Mary Hafrick (b. Denver c1807) at St. Margaret’s church on 14th October, 1832, and they were living here in 1841.

They were recorded here in every census from 1841 to 1871, inclusive. At this latter date John was still listed as a plumber, glazier and painter, and was employing 2 men and 1 boy.

By 1879, he had moved to 6, Blackfriars Street (Kelly’s Post Office Directory).

Mary died in 1886/7, aged 80 and John died in 1900, aged 89.

c1873 – 1923 (Thew & Son).

By about 1873 / 4, Thew & Son were occupying the property as part of their premises that extended from No 1 to No 4. More details about them will be found in the account for Nos. 1 – 4, High Street.

Thew & Son vacated their High Street premises in 1923 when they moved to Purfleet Street.

1925 – 1933 (J. Pullar & Sons Ltd.)

There is no record for the years 1923 to 1928 but after Thew & Son moved out, these premises were soon occupied by other businesses. In February, 1925, Messrs Pullar & Sons Ltd., applied for permission to install a new shop front.

In Kelly’s Directories for 1928, 1929 and 1933, J. Pullar & Sons Ltd., dyers & cleaners, are listed at No. 3. They were not listed in 1934/5. Before they opened their own receiving centre here, Pullars had an agency arrangement with G. M. Hartley Ltd. – see Nos. 5, 6 & 7, High Street.

Pullar & Sons was a pioneering dyeing and cleaning family firm that rose to become a huge business but crashed spectacularly through a combination of an intractable management style, its Scottish base being far removed from its main customer base and from stiff competition.

The founder was John Pullar who in 1824 placed the following advertisement in the Perth Courier:-

‘Burt’s Close, 129, High Street or 19, Mill Street. J. Pullar respectfully intimates that he has commenced business in the above situation, where he carries on the dyeing in all its branches.’

He described the range of clothes and fabrics that he could handle, and concluded:-

J.P having been lately employed in some of the first Dye-houses in London, as well as in Scotland, and having acquired considerable knowledge and experience in his business, he hopes, from the style in which he executes his work, together with strict attention and punctuality, to secure a share of public patronage.’

John was joined in the business by his son Robert (1828 – 1912) who was apprenticed to his father before being made a junior partner in 1848. Robert, who took the reins when his father died in 1878, travelled widely in Russia, Scandinavia, America and the Middle East. He became a JP, was knighted in 1895, and elected as MP for Perth in 1907 when he was almost 79.

Robert Pullar drove the company forward, in particular by developing a network of agents which expanded outwards through Scotland and into England, taking advantage of a reduction in the parcel post rates. The works expanded rapidly and was fully mechanised with some machinery being specially imported from America.

Robert was in many ways an enlightened employer but he was reluctant to listen to the grievances of his workforce and from the 1870s onwards found it more and more difficult to negotiate on his terms with employees and their union representatives. The vulnerability of their business model, with its base in Perth, was exposed by the impact of a rail strike in 1890. Nevertheless the business continued to expand and by the turn of the century, Pullars had 2,600 employees, 300 branches and 4,000 agencies. In 1907 the girls in the ironing department complained that 11/- per week was not a living wage but the management felt able to dismiss their claim as being offset by the firm’s other working conditions and benefits. The problems were unresolved and the workers became increasingly restless. The Trade Unions grew in strength and it was inevitable that matters should come to a head. In 1911, food price rises prompted further demands for an increase in wages, and there was a short strike which quickly collapsed. The management responded heavy-handedly by dismissing 27 workers, almost all of whom were Trade Unionists.

Sir Robert Pullar died in 1912, and was succeeded by his son Rufus Daniel Pullar, who was a very knowledgeable and professional dyer but, like all of the family, profoundly lacking in management skills.

The continuing troubles between the management and the staff were exacerbated by the squeeze put on their prices by the competition that Pullars faced from English companies – there being no less than 600 firms in London alone. The outbreak of war in 1914 meant that many of the younger men left to join the Army. Other effects of the war were that essential materials were scarce or unavailable, and that living costs for their staff rose steeply. In 1916 the company made a big trading loss and the directors lost much of their capital. The following year they refused to appoint an independent arbiter, as requested by the Trade Unions, who called a strike in August, 1917. Although the Union eventually recommended a return to work, this proved to be the beginning of the end. The chairman Rufus D, Pullar collapsed and died on 19th September that year and his successor, A. E. Pullar announced that he was going to sell the business or close it down if no buyer could be found.

The business was eventually sold to Eastman & Son, of Acton Vale, London, who continued to use the name of J. Pullar & Sons Ltd.

Pullars’ dye works finally closed in 1993.

1925 – 1935 (Theodore Hamblin Ltd. – at No. 3a)

In the same years that J. Pullar & Sons Ltd., were listed at No. 3, Theodore Hamblin Ltd., dispensing opticians, were listed at No. 3a.

It would seem that the opticians were accommodated on one of the upper floors.

In an advertisement from 15th February 1935, Theodore Hamblin Ltd., promotes examinations available through the National Eye Service:-

‘ASK YOUR DOCTOR. He will tell you that the NATIONAL EYE SERVICE provides for those of limited means and National Health Insured persons, the ideal form of eye treatment – examination by a medical specialist.

The eye is a living member of the body, not a detached mechanical instrument, and can only be dealt with safely by a doctor who has made a special study of the eye.

Full particulars of NATIONAL EYE SERVICE may be obtained from the local representatives THEORORE HAMBLIN Ltd., dispensing opticians , 3a, High Street, King’s Lynn. Telephone 410.

NATIONAL EYE SERVICE.’

Hamblin’s business was at No. 3a until 1935 when they moved their business into the ground floor shop after W. & F. Easter had left.

More details of Theodore Hamblin Ltd., are given below (1935 – c1951).

March 1934 – August 1935 (W. & F. Easter)

Easter’s radio shop opened here on 19th March 1934. The company was under the name of W & F Easter – two brothers, Walter and Frederick – and they ran their business from No 3 High Street for about 16 months before moving to No. 9 High Street.

The announcement of the business opening at No. 3 was placed in the Lynn Advertiser on 16th March 1934 and read:-

‘MR. FRED EASTER has pleasure in announcing that he is commencing business as a RADIO SPECIALIST at No. 3, High Street, King’s Lynn. The premises will be opened on the 19th inst. There will be a stock of the best of Modern Receivers, accessories and components. Personal and prompt attention assured. Enquiries respectfully solicited. No matter what your Radio difficulty, Mr. Easter will be pleased to hear of it and offer his practical experience to your satisfaction. Accumulators charged in accordance with Manufacturers’ Instructions.’

Although Frederick William Easter had placed the notice in the newspaper on 16th March, 1934, he was the younger of the two brothers in the business of W & F Easter, and it was Walter Henry Easter, ten years his elder, who’s initial was placed first in the business name, as seen in another advertisement from 1934. However, in Kelly’s Directory for 1937, Frederick’s name was placed before Walter’s. It would appear that Fred was the trained radio engineer and that Walter may have brought capital and business acumen to the partnership. Fred later left the business and worked as a Post Office engineer.

In 1891, their father, Walter Easter snr., (b. 27/03/1865 in Lynn – m. Elizabeth Eager Barwick on 26/08/1889 – d. 24/03/1942, aged 76), was working as an assistant to his father-in-law (Henry William Barwick) at 54, Norfolk Street. Henry gave his occupation as that of a farmer.  Walter and Elizabeth had 13 children, but four died in infancy:-

1) Elizabeth Adelaide (b. 09/12/1889 – m. Joseph E. W. Ilett in 1913 – d. 24/05/1975, aged 85). 2) Florence Hannah (b. 14/06/1891 – m. Alfred J. W. E. Giles in 1918 – d. 30/06/1971, aged 80). 3) Walter Henry – see above, below and at No. 9, High Street – (b. 12/04/1893 – m. Violet Stella Lynes in 1931 and Diana M. Riches in 1969 – d. 26/08/1976, aged 83). 4) Ethel Eager (b. 12/10/1894 – m. William Jerry in 1916 – d. 10/01/1985, aged 90). 5) Frederick William (b. 1896 – d. 1897). 6) Lilian Kate (b. 23/01/1897 – m. William A. E. Giles in 1919 – d. 23/02/1982, aged 85). 7) William Henry (b. 1898 – d. 1898). 8) Percy Charles (b. 12/02/1899 – m. Grace Jessie Newman in 1924 and Honrita Joyce Dean in 1971 – d. 06/03/1981, aged 82). 9) Edward John (b. 25/06/1900 – m. Lilian E. M. Fuller in 1932 – d. 11/05/1968, aged 67). 10) Frederick William – see above – (b. 29/05/1902 – m. Ketura M. A. Barnes in 1933 – d. 22/11/1984, aged 82). 11) Mabel Agnes (b. 13/03/1904 – d. 30.07/1904). 12) Mildred Grace (b. 13/05/1905 – m. Louis C. Chapman in 1934 and Bertie R. Hunt in 1944 – d. 24/12/1969, aged 64). 13) Mabel Agnes (b. 1906 – d. 1906).

Henry Barwick’s property at No. 54, Norfolk later passed into the possession of Walter and Elizabeth Easter, and the family lived there for several years. In 1901 Walter snr., was working as a corn meter (checking the weight of corn at the market for the council). He later became a greengrocer and a butcher and for a time had two shops (Nos. 54 and 55) in Norfolk Street.

In 1911 Walter jnr., then aged 18, was a shipping clerk and his brother Fred, aged eight, was still at school.

Walter enlisted in the Army in 1916 and served as a clerk in the Machine Gun Corps. He married (Violet) Stella Lynes in 1931 and they lived for many years in Dersingham. Following Stella’s death in 1968, Walter married Diana M. Riches.

The business of W. & F. Easter continued at No. 3 until August, 1935, when they took over the premises at No. 9 previously occupied by Miller’s Music Shop. The business had closed by June 1961 when the property was demolished, along with the former ‘Cheshire Cheese’ public house next door at No. 8. Two new shop units were built on the site.

Walter Easter died on the 26th August, 1976, aged 83.

1935 – c1966 (Theodore Hamblin Ltd. – at No. 3)

Theodore Hamblin Ltd., opticians and contact lens specialists, who had been occupying part of these premises, No. 3a, since the late 1920s moved into the ground floor shop after Easters left and this is the only business listed at No. 3 in Kelly’s Directories for 1937 and 1951.

Henry Thomas Hamblin, who was born in Walworth London in 1873, was the founder of the firm. His father was Ebenezer Hamblin (b. 1838 – m. Mary Ann Clark in 1866 – d. 1928, aged 89), who worked as a stationer’s assistant in Deptford for several years before setting up on his own account in Eastbourne. Ebenezer married Mary Ann Clark in Kent in 1866 and they had three children:-

1) Frank – a Refractionist and ophthalmic optician – (b. 1867 – m. Rosa Fincham in 1901 – d. 1929, aged 61). 2) Grace Maria (b. 1869 – m. Robert G. Manning in 1917 – d. 1951, aged 82). 3) Henry Thomas – see below – (b. 1873 – m. Eva Elizabeth Harvey in 1902 – d. 1958, aged 85).

Henry and his brother Frank both qualified as ophthalmic opticians but there is no evidence that they collaborated or worked together in partnership, although they may well have done.

From the census information, Frank started out as a greengrocer’s assistant (1891 – Deptford) before qualifying and practising a refractionist (1901 – Eastbourne).

Henry started out as a watchmaker (1891 – Deptford), but by 1901 he was already the managing director of two private limited companies – one manufacturing and the other dispensing ophthalmic aids. He founded the firm of Theodore Hamblin with headquarters in Wigmore Street in London, which became one of the best known and most respected opticians with branches across the country. They held many Royal Appointments from Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In 1931, the King’s Lynn branch was one of only nine outside London – the others being in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Edinburgh, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Bournemouth and Windsor

In spite of his success, Henry Hamblin turned his back on the business that he had created and sought fulfilment through writing and the promotion of positive thinking. He founded a magazine called ‘The Science of Thought Review’ (later titled ‘New Vision’). Advertisements from 1923, and possibly earlier, contained the following or similar details:-

‘The Science of Thought Review – a monthly magazine Devoted to the Teaching of Affirmative, Constructive Thinking, Metaphysics, Healing and Christian Psychology. Edited by Henry Thomas Hamblin. Contains about 70 pages of articles and lessons by the foremost writers on the above subjects. Price 4d monthly or 4/6 per annum, postage free. A specimen copy will be sent to you gratis and post free on application to the publishers: The Science of Thought Review, Bosham House, Chichester, England. The magazine contains the teachings that transforms the life.’

Henry’s work continues today through the Hamblin Trust.

Henry Hamblin married Eva Elizabeth Harvey in 1902, and they had three children:-

1) Herbert Wilson (b. 1906). 2) Richard Harvey (b. 1908). 3) Joan Grace (b. 1911).

Henry Hamblin died on 28th October 1958, aged 85.

Taking over from Henry as managing director of Theodore Hamblin Ltd., Gerald Henry Wingate guided the business from strength to strength and they had branches across the country. He was the son of George Melson Wingate (born 1848) and his wife Ann. George was a refractionist (optometrist) and his three sons, Frank (born c1873 in the USA), George Melson (born 1888) and Gerald Henry (born c1891 at Plymouth) went into the same line of business.

In 1911 Gerald was boarding at an address in Crumpsall, Manchester and was working as an optician. By the 1920s he had joined Theodore Hamblins, and was responsible for developing their contact lenses. In 1927 R. S. Smellie, who was working for him, first at 31, New Cavendish Street and then at 18, Cavendish Square, fitted ground glass contact lenses that were made by Zeiss in Germany. The practice was the first in the UK to specialise solely in contact lenses. Gerald Wingate gave lectures on abnormalities of the eye, illustrated by a large collection of slides that he had taken. He also developed new or improved instruments for use in optometry.

Gerald Wingate died on 13th September 1952, aged 61.

Theodore Hamblin Ltd. was listed at No. 3 in the local street directories up to 1966. By 1970, they had moved to No. 25, New Conduit Street.

The business was eventually taken over by Dollond & Aitchison, who were absorbed into Boots Opticians in 2009/10.

1969 – c1994 (Fairtax Travel)

Fairtax Travel agency occupied No. 3 from about 1969 onwards and were still here until about 1994. Their manager William Irwin bought these premises in December 1968 and the business opened early the following year. The company had started life just after WW2 as a taxi service in Bury St. Edmunds with a sideline in travel agency. The latter grew until, following a change of ownership in 1963, it became solely a travel agency. By 1966, branches had opened, in Coulson, Surrey and in Thetford. The Company was dissolved on 5th March, 1996 but may have ceased trading in Lynn a year or two earlier.

1999 – 2011 (Harrison Holidays)

Harrison Holidays opened here in January 1999. They ran a specialist coach holiday business. The company went into administration in October, 2011, following a difficult trading period and cash flow problems.

2012 (Harrison Holidays / OzBus)

For less than four months, the East Anglian coach holiday firm OzBus, based in Diddington, Cambridgeshire, took over running Harrison Holidays, having purchased the company from the administrators. However, OzBus ran into financial difficulties themselves and by the beginning of April they were unable to meet their debts, and both companies ceased trading.