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39, High Street.

c1821 – c1836 (Henry Pond)

Listed in Pigot’s directory for 1822/3, as Henry Pond & Co., linen and woollen drapers, the business may well have been at this address, although no numbers are given.

In the St. Margaret’s parish registers, the baptism of Maria, daughter of Henry Pond (High Street, draper) and his wife Sarah is recorded. She was born in 1824.

In 1821, a bizarre and tragic incident occurred at Henry Pond’s shop when he shot dead a burglar. The inquest into the burglar’s death was reported in the Norfolk Chronicle on 15th December that year:-

‘A ROBBER SHOT. – On Tuesday last, an inquest was held at the Queen’s Head in this town before Samuel Hadley, Esq., one of the Coroners to this Borough, on the body of Robert Roberson, who was shot by Mr. Henry Pond, linen draper, in High-street, whilst in the act of breaking into his shop. The Jury, after a very minute investigation, unhesitatingly returned a verdict of Justifiable Homicide. It appeared in evidence, that about a fortnight since a fan-light over the door of Mr. Pond had been broken during the night, and a quantity of silk handkerchiefs stolen through the aperture; Mr. Pond wishing to detect the thief would not have it repaired, but tied a piece of handkerchief to the bell-wire for the purpose of giving alarm; a week afterwards, nevertheless, some of the handkerchiefs were stolen, and the depredators escaped. Mr Pond therefore determined to watch in the shop in the expectation of discovering the offender. He had observed that the robberies had each time been committed at about a quarter before five o’clock in the morning, the watch having at that hour discontinued their rounds. Mr. P. intended to have commenced his watch on Tuesday morning, but finding it nearly five o’clock when he arose was returning again to bed: he thought, however, that he heard footsteps passing and re-passing, on which he hastily dressed and went down stairs, taking with him a double-barrelled gun, which he had previously loaded for the purpose of fowl shooting; the left barrel was loaded with shot No. 1, the right with No. 5; on entering the shop he perceived by the reflection of the moon a man’s arm through the hole in the fanlight, and rightly judging that he would have time to effect his escape before he could open the door to secure him, hastily fired at the arm, the only part that he could see and that but indistinctly; the deceased must at that instant have altered the position of his arm, which otherwise would have received the charge, the whole of which entered his body under the shoulder wounding the aorta. – On opening the door, the deceased was found lying on the pavement bleeding most profusely; Mr. Pond with the assistance of two or three Scotch drovers who were passing, lifted him into the shop, and instantly went for the surgeon; he was however quite dead. Roberson was well-known at our Quarter Sessions, where he had been repeatedly tried and convicted of various crimes; on a late occasion he was the means (by turning King’s Evidence) of transporting one of his comrades, and young as he was, being under twenty years of age, was the reputed head of a gang of pilferers who have long annoyed this town. Two persons have been taken up as suspected accomplices in the above robbery, as the deceased must have had assistance to support him at the height at which he stood.’

It would appear that for some years Henry Pond was in partnership with Robert Wall, although the latter is not listed in the directories. On Saturday, 7th May, 1840, this notice appeared in Perry’s Bankrupt Gazette:-

‘PARTNERSHIP DISSOLVED: Robert Wall and Henry Pond, linen drapers at King’s Lynn, 20th April.’ By 1841 Henry had moved, and details of his family will be found under Nos. 76 & 77, High Street.

 c1836 (William Gilbert)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists William Gilbert at No. 39 as a bookseller, printer, stationer and binder. He was also listed a carver and gilder in the same directory. No other records have been found. He was listed at No. 38, High Street in 1830 (Pigot).

 c1841 – c1858 (Henry Wells)

First listed in the 1841 census and in Kelly’s directory for 1846, Henry Wells, a chemist and druggist, had been in the town since at least 1839 and remained at this number until 1858 (Kelly) or later. He was born in about 1815 in Sporle, Norfolk, and his wife Ellen was born in about 1819 in Dover, Kent. They had two children, both born in Lynn; Evelyn Mary Standen (b. 1839), and Arthur Henry (b. 1857). The family were still living in High Street in September, 1857 when Arthur was baptised at St. Margaret’s church.

By 1861, Henry had moved to No. 12, Norfolk Street, and he is listed there in Harrod’s directory for 1863 and in the 1871 and 1881 censuses. Sometime after that, the family moved to Brixton in London, where Arthur worked as a bank clerk. Neither he nor Evelyn married and they stayed together after their parents died.

Henry died in 1892, aged 78, and Ellen died in 1901, aged 82. Arthur died in 1912, aged 56, and Evelyn died in 1913, aged 74.

c1858 – c1863 (Samuel King)

Born in Leicester in about 1830, Samuel King was working as a draper’s assistant in Westminster, London, in 1851. Within ten years he had established his own drapery business and had taken the premises here at No. 39.

His parents were Samuel King (b. c1795), a framework setter in Kirkby Mallory, Leicestershire in 1841, and his wife Elizabeth.

In 1851, Samuel jnr., married Hannah Cooper (b. c1826) at Halstead in Essex. They settled in Lavenham, Suffolk, for a short time before moving to London and then to King’s Lynn, where they arrived in about 1858. Samuel and Hannah had three children:-

1) Samuel J. (b. c1853 in Lavenham). 2) Albert H. (b. c1855 in London). 3) Hannah Mary (b. c1858 in Lynn).

Samuel King’s business is listed here in 1863 (Harrod) but the family left Lynn at about that date and moved to Lancashire. He was working as a salesman in the dye department in a mill in Stretford in 1871 but was a warehouseman in Chorlton upon Medlock in 1881.

 1864 – 1865 (Joseph Moretti) (aka Guiseppe Cassera Moretti)

The jeweller, watch, clock and barometer maker Guiseppe Cassera Moretti II moved here from No. 65, High Street in about 1864. However he suffered financial problems and under a deed of assignment, his stock in trade and shop fittings and equipment were sold at an auction on the premises on 15th November, 1864.

It would appear that he was able to retain some of his stock and that he continued in business here for three more months before instructing the auctioneer William Miles to hold a further sale on the premises. The sale was advertised as an ‘Important sale of gold and silver watches, clocks, time pieces, pianoforte, electro-plate, gold and plated jewellery, cutlery, concertinas, etc.’ The notice explained that Joseph Moretti was leaving Lynn.

In June 1869 he was formally declared bankrupt, by which date he was working as a ship broker and living in King Street. More details about his family may be found at No. 65, High Street.

1865 – 1973+

The properties at Nos. 39 and 40 were combined in 1865 when Thomas Samuel Stevenson expanded his grocery and tea dealership from No. 40 into this next door shop.

39 to 40, High Street. (1865 – 1900)

39 to 41, High Street. (1900 – 2005)

39 to 42, High Street (2005 – )

Thomas Samuel Stevenson’s grocery and tea dealership had expanded into No. 39 by about 1865 (see account under No. 40).

The grocery shop appears to have been in No. 39, while No. 40 provided accommodation for a tea room housed under the ‘Tea Pot’ sign – a symbol that later became associated with J. H. Ladyman & Co., who had taken over here by about 1875.

Ladymans added No. 41 to their shop premises in about 1900.

c1868 – c1877 (Stevenson & Co.) (Thomas Samuel Stevenson)

For details about Thomas Samuel Stevenson and his family see No. 40.

The 1871 census records Thomas Samuel Stevenson, a 44 year-old grocer and tea dealer from Lincolnshire as living here. Also here was John Bunkall, 22, a grocer’s assistant from Northwold (see below under J. H. Ladyman & Co.).

Stevenson & Co, Tea Dealers, were offering a range of teas with politically inspired names:-

‘The People’s Tea’ at 2s 8d per pound. ‘The Chancellor’s Tea’ at 3s per pound. ‘The Premier Tea’ at 3s 4d per pound. ‘The Gladstone Tea’ at 2s per pound.

Thomas Stevenson retired as a retail grocer in 1875, placing the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 2nd October:-

‘I have the honour to inform you that I have disposed of my business to Messrs. Ladymans & Sons, of Norwich, and in retiring most respectfully thank you for the confidence so long reposed in me, and for the large share of patronage conferred upon me. I beg to solicit a continuance of the same to my successors.’

He took his family to live at Wildfield House, Clenchwarton.

1875 – 1969 (Ladyman & Sons) (Ladyman & Co.) (J. H. Ladyman & Co.)

Ladymans & Sons advertised the sparkling ‘Saumur’ wine in the Lynn Advertiser on 11th December, 1875. They also offered to deliver customers’ orders for new fruit on the same day.

The company was formed by Joseph Harrison Ladyman (b. c1819 in Keswick, Cumberland – m. Sarah Bailey on 03/09/1846 – d. 09/07/1888, aged 69) a tea dealer. His father was a woollen manufacturer, John Ladyman. Other members of the family, including his elder brother Thomas (b. c1809 in Keswick), were also in the tea business.

By 1845, the tea dealership of Sidney & Ladyman at 6, Gentleman’s Walk, Norwich, was advertising in the regional newspapers.

Thomas Sidney (b. c1805 in Stafford – m. Sarah Hall on 11/01/1831 – d. 10/03/1889, aged 84) created a country-wide tea and coffee importing and distribution business, based initially at the ‘Golden Canister’ warehouse in Leeds. He formed a number of partnership companies, including: Sidney & Co., 8, Ludgate Hill, London; Sidney & Horsman, Manchester; Sidney & Hall, Hull; and Sidney & Stables in Leeds. Importing large amounts of tea through the Port of London allowed the companies’ retail and wholesale outlets to offer competitive prices and a variety of blends. Thomas Sidney became M.P. for Stafford (1847-1852 and 1860-1865) he was elected as an Alderman and became Lord Mayor of London in 1854.

The partnership of Sidney & Ladyman was dissolved by mutual consent on 5th July, 1861. An advertisement for coffee appeared in the Norfolk News on 21st December under the name of:-

‘J. H. Ladyman & Co., (Late Sidney and Ladyman), THE TEA MARKET, No. 6, THE WALK, NORWICH’.

The business was listed in White’s directory for 1864 as:-

‘Joseph Harrison Ladyman & Co. Tea and Coffee Merchants’.

Joseph Harrison Ladyman had married in Cockermouth, Cumberland in 1846 and he and his wife Sarah settled in Norfolk. In 1851 they were living above the Norwich shop, overlooking the Market Place. They had three sons, all born in Norwich:-

1) John – a journalist – (b. 1849 – d. 1907, aged 59). 2) Thomas Bailey (b. 1849 – d. c1885 in Zanzibar, aged 35). 3) George Harrison – see below – (b. 1850/1 – m. Mary Helena Stevenson in 1875 – d. 1899, aged 49).

Sarah Ladyman died in 1853, aged about 34, and Joseph married Jane Sarah Jarvis (b. c1819 in Swaffham, Norfolk) in 1860. Jane had been working as housekeeper to Thomas Jarrold, the head of the Norwich book sellers and publishers.

The King’s Lynn branch was established under the direction of George Harrison Ladyman and was named ‘Ladyman & Sons’.

George had married Mary Helena Stevenson from Brighton, Sussex, in 1875. They had three children born in Norwich and two in Lynn:-

1) Grace Christianna Jane (b. 1875/6 in Norwich – d. 30/08/1956, aged 80). 2) John Charles Harrison – a commercial clerk – (b. 18/06/1877 in Lynn – d. 1931, aged 53). 3) Katharine Ethel Louise Mary (b. 06/03/1878 in Lynn – m. Arthur Benjamin Youngman in 1899/1900 – d. 1958, aged 80). 4) Edith Mary G. (b. 1880 in Norwich – m. Percy Joseph Jones in 1910 – d. 1962, aged 83). 5) George Thomas Peter Mancroft – a bank clerk in 1911 – (b. 1881 in Norwich – m. Mary Eleanor Dixon in 1906 – d. 12/03/1955, aged 73).

George Harrison Ladyman stayed in Lynn for only a few years, returning to Norwich in about 1879, and where he was living in 1881. He retired from business and was living in Walthamstow, London in 1891. His wife, Mary Helena, died in 1898, aged 49, and he died the following year, also aged 49.

The first directory record for ‘Ladyman & Co.’ (rather than Ladyman & Sons) is in Kelly’s for 1879, when the listing is for:-

‘Ladyman & Co., wholesale & retail tea dealers & agents for W & A Gilbey, wine & spirit merchants’. They are listed at Nos. 39 & 40 in subsequent directories through to 1896.

The management of the Lynn shop was entrusted to John Thomas Bunkall, born in Northwold, Norfolk in 1849. He was the son of butcher Thomas Bunkall (b. 1820 in Northwold – d. 1861, aged 41) and his wife Elizabeth Collinson (b. c1825 in Shouldham) , who had five children; 1. John Thomas – see below – (b. 1849 – m. Fanny Bullen Drewry in 1874 – d. 1910, aged 61). 2. William Collinson – a butcher c1871 – emigrated to New Zealand (b. 1850 – m. Mary Ann Green in 1875 – d. 11/10/1927, aged 77). 3. Hannah Ellen (b. 1854 – d. 1859). 4. Alfred Charles – an accountant – (b. 1857/8 – d. 1903/4, aged 46). 5. Thomas Joseph (b. 1860/1 – d. 1864).

John T. Bunkall began work for Thomas Stevenson and was one of his assistant grocers in 1871. Joseph Ladyman engaged him after taking over the business, recognising his potential and promoting him shortly afterwards to manage the store. John Bunkall married Fanny Bullen Drewry (b. 1854 in Massingham, Norfolk) in King’s Lynn in 1874. She had been a millinery assistant at Thomas Girling’s shop (see No. 34).

John and Fanny Bunkall had eight children-

1) Etheldreda (b. 1876 – m. Ashley W. Flatt in 1912 – d. 1939, aged 63). 2) John Drewry – see below – (b. 1876/7 – m. Edith A. G. Oglesby in 1912 – d. 22/09/1921, aged 45). 3) Frank Drewry – a grocer & draper – (b. 1883 – m. Beatrice Martha Allen in 1910/11 – d. 1956, aged 72). 4) (Gordon) George – farmer – (b. 1885 – m. Amelia Sarah Hall in 1910 – d. 31/12/1941, aged 56). 5) Gertrude Daisy (b. 1888 – m. Edward Harrison in 1912 – d. 1954, aged 66). 6) Dorothy Gladys (b. 1890). 7) Alfred William (b. 22/11/1891 – d. 1969). 8) Adelaide Mary (b. 02/08/1893 – m. John H. Dennick in 1913 – d. 1979).

Ladymans became prolific advertisers in the local press, taking a space every week on the front page of the Lynn Advertiser. In an advertisement placed in the Lynn Advertiser on 1st January, 1887, Ladyman & Co gave their address as 39 & 40 High Street and 1 & 2 St, Ann’s Street. Ladymans’ advertisements frequently included comments and information that throws light on the types of food that were in demand in the late 1800’s and their availability. The following advertisement, concerning tea is one such and appeared in the Lynn Advertiser on 2nd January, 1892:-

‘A WORD ABOUT TEA – One would think that at last there is something new under the sun when you see Sir Andrew Clark’s speech on tea trotted out. It is not so; the evil he points out was known many years ago. (Hood represented Tea as Sloe Poison). The medical faculty for years past have condemned the use of rank, dark liquoring Indian Teas, which possess a very large amount of the indigestible property, Tannin, and a very small quantity of Theine, the essential oil which gives Tea the delightful fragrant flavour that cheers and does not inebriate. As practical tea Merchants and Blenders we have for years avoided those dark liquoring Teas which some dealers say the British public will have, with their excessive colouring matter, or Tannin, and confined our attention to pure liquoring Teas of China growth, judiciously blending them with bright fresh liquoring Teas from India, Ceylon, Formosa etc. If the Teas we supply are infused for 6 minutes with fresh boiled water in an earthenware tea-pot, our patrons will find themselves Quaffing without waste of time or wealth, the sovereign drink of pleasure and of health.’ 

Like other progressive businessmen, John T. Bunkall ran a profit-sharing scheme for his staff, and held an annual supper, with entertainment for them and their partners. In the Lynn Advertiser for 29th March, 1901, there is a report of one of these gatherings which mentions some of the staff by name. These include: William N. Myall (b. 1866) – head of the grocery department; and assistants Charles Robert Bullen (b. 1866/7), Herbert William Fysh (b. 1878), Thomas C. Green (b. c1880), Cecil John Tucker (b. 1882), and Percy T. Montain (b. c1884). Tribute was paid to the late John Rowell (b. 1850 in Berkshire), who had been head of the grocery department until his death in 1900, aged 50.

John T. Bunkall was a Liberal town councillor in 1893 and was elected as Mayor in 1898. In 1906 he was elected to fill a casual vacancy of alderman for one year, before re-election in 1907.

Ladymans’ shop was notable because of the red tea pot sign that hung outside. This symbol had first appeared over Thomas Stevenson’s shop doorway and followed in the tradition that had sprung up around the country for hanging signs and emblems that related to specific goods and trades.

John T. Bunkall died on 9th September, 1910, aged 61, after a long illness.

The business passed to his son John Drewry, who had served his apprenticeship in Stockton before returning to Lynn and joining his father at Ladymans. He travelled widely as the wholesale representative for the business. He lived at ‘Kia Ora’ in Tennyson Avenue, where Ladymans had a branch, which opened in July, 1903. This branch was sold in 1921 soon after John Drewry’s death, at the age of 45. There was another branch of the business in March, which had a drapery department.

John Drewry Bunkall married Edith A. G. Oglesby in 1912, and they had two children, both born in Lynn:-

1) Edith Joan (b. 27/07/1913 – m. Jack Friend on 17/11/1933 – d. 1989, aged 76). 2) (John) Derrick (b. 04/05/1915 – m. Margaret V. Sandall in 1947 – d. 1999, aged 83).

In 1812, the premises at Nos. 39 & 40 were demolished and completely rebuilt, sporting a distinctive black and white half-timbered façade.

On August 17th that year, the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘DURING the completion of our New Retail Premises we have transferred this department to 41, HIGH STREET. We beg to thank our numerous clients for the consideration shewn to us during the re-building of our Retail Department. Yours very respectfully, J. H. LADYMAN & Co. King’s Lynn.’ 

The impact of the scarcity of supplies and the increase in costs during the 1914-1918 War was acknowledged in a notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 12th January, 1917:-


DIFFICULTIES – With the increase in Railway Fare and the well-known study of War Economy by our Lady Clients, we do not expect to see them as frequently as during 1916. A Post Card to us will bring you a supply of Order Forms and Envelopes, thus enabling you to obtain LADYMAN’S WONDERFUL VALUE.

AN APPRECIATION – New blood always tells, and the most successful addition to our Staff has been our Esteemed Retail Manager, Mr. A. J. Bettle. That he has your full confidence and appreciation has been well proved during 1916. All your orders by post in 1917 will have his personal attention, and he has a most minute memory for your personal requirements. We anticipate, and no stone will be left unturned to merit increased support during 1917.

Yours respectfully, J. H. LADYMAN & Co.

JOIN OUR CHRISTMAS CLUB AT ONCE . THE OLD TERMS. 10 per cent., or 2/- in the £ added to all subscriptions.’

Alfred John Bettle (b. 1872 – m. Hilda Vickers in 1907 – d. 1959, aged 87), who was appointed as manager towards the start of the Great War, came from Stamford in Lincolnshire and had been manager of a grocery business in the Market Place in Louth immediately prior to his move to Norfolk.

His grandfather was Thomas Bettle (b. c1811 – m. Hannah Morrell – d. 1849), who was a Northampton tailor. Thomas and Hannah had five children, all born in the St. Sepulchre district of Northampton. The eldest, Alfred’s father William Jonathan (b. c1837 – m. Helen Hardwick in 1864 – d. 1923, aged 86), moved to Stamford, and was listed in the Post Office Directory for 1868 at St. Mary’s Hill as a grocer, provision factor, tallow chandler and dealer in British wines.  He moved to 13, St. Georges Square, Stamford where the business stayed for over 20 years, and was elected as an alderman. Alfred joined his father in the business, which became Wm. Jonathan Bettle & Son, moving back to St. Mary’s Hill by 1909. Alfred Bettle appears to have returned to Lincolnshire before the end of the war.

He was succeeded by Kenneth Bell Davey. Always known as Ken, he was apprenticed to Ibbersons (see No. 57) and travelled for them extensively for some years before joining Ladymans. During the First World War he was made manager but left the firm in 1923 to form the business of Messrs. Ken Davey & Co., wholesale grocers of Wellesley Street, Lynn. He died in 1931, aged 60.

The branch of Ladymans in St. Ann’s Street was managed for some ten years by James Frederick Burrell (b. 1858/9 in Lynn), who later bought the business, which he owned until his death on 8th February, 1934, aged 74.

Mrs A. Booty was the manageress of Ladymans’ restaurant, known as the ‘Gallery Restaurant’ from about 1923 until 1929.

Following the death of John Drewry Bunkall on 22nd September, 1921, in London, his widow Edith oversaw the arrangements necessary for the uninterrupted operation of the Ladymans business and issued a statement in the Lynn Advertiser on 30th September, that read:-

‘Please may we say “thank you”. First for your kind sympathy. Second for your support in the past. We ask for your increased Support. We shall do our best to merit it. Business as usual.’ 

Their son (John) Derrick was only six years old at the time of his father’s death and it would be a few years before he could take the reins of the store.

In June, 1938, a new fish, game and poultry department was opened in No. 41, High Street – premises that had been added to Ladymans’ shop in about 1900. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Ladymans, who delivered several times a day to people living locally, had to restrict these services. They announced that deliveries would be limited to:-

‘One Delivery Daily to Gaywood and South Wootton; One Delivery Daily to Tennyson Avenue, Tennyson Rd., Goodwins Rd., and Vancouver Avenue; One Delivery Daily to South Lynn; Saddlebow – Wednesdays only; North Wootton and Castle Rising – Thursdays only; West Lynn and Clenchwarton – Fridays only; West Winch, Setch, Wormegay, North Runcton, Blackborough, Middleton, Leziate, and Ashwicken – Saturdays only.’

Derrick Bunkall joined the board of directors before the start of the Second World War, but he enlisted in the Army and was taken prisoner-of war at the fall of Singapore in February, 1942. He had been in the Territorials and was granted a commission in 1933 in the Cambridgeshire Regiment, gaining the rank of Captain by the time that he went missing.

With the advent of food rationing, Ladymans offered a bacon substitute:-

‘BACON is RATIONED. If you find yourself unable to manage on your allowance, try the NEW BACON SUBSTITUTE – ULSTER FRY – Fries like bacon, tastes like bacon, no waste, all lean. NO COUPON REQUIRED. Reasonably priced at 1/3 per lb.’

The Gallery Café continued to serve coffee during the war:-

‘A Favourite and Popular Meeting Place for Morning Coffee – LADYMANS GALLERY CAFÉ – For over a century, Ladymans have been building a reputation for good Coffee. The finest growths procurable, expertly selected and blended, are roasted each day and freshly ground. The fragrant Coffee served in the GALLERY CAFÉ can be purchased – unrationed – at the grocery counters to supplement your Tea ration. 2/8 per lb.’

The chief clerk and cashier at the start of the Second World War was Sidney George Carter, who lived at 51, Wootton Road. He had been born in Hackney in 1888/9, spending his youth in the Tottenham area of the city. He married Gertrude B. Whitear in 1911. He died on 17th February, 1943, aged 54.

After the end of the war, supplies were scarce and Ladymans issued the following notice on 14th December, 1945:-

‘AUSTERITY!!! We regret that, notwithstanding Press announcements to the contrary, WINES and SPIRITS are in exceedingly short supply and insufficient to fully satisfy the most modest requirements of our regular customers. THERE ARE NO EXTRA SUPPLIES FOR XMAS THIS YEAR. CIDER – both Gaymers’ and Routs’ celebrated brands are in better supply.’

After many years of opening from Mondays to Saturdays, inclusive, Ladymans decided to move to a five day working week at the beginning of 1947. The directors at this date included: William E. Sanderson (managing director – ex Manchester Co-operative Society), who had joined the board in 1944; Derrick Bunkall; and Joan Friend (née Edith J. Bunkall).

Leonard (Len) Childerhouse for many years managed Ladymans’ wines and spirits department, and was one of their longest serving members of staff. Born in Norwich in 1914, he came from a long line of farm workers from the Wymondham area of south Norfolk. His great, great grandfather was Stephen Childerhouse (b. 27/06/1799 at Wymondham), who was an agricultural labourer. The next two generations lived in settlements near Wymondham, including Besthorpe, Wattlefield and Spooner Road, but his father George Arthur (b. 1878 – m. Alice E. S. Varvel-Medlar in 1913 – d. 1953) lived and worked in Norwich. George and Alice had eight children, all born in Norwich:-

1) Leonard (b. 1914 – m. Maud Florence Houchen in 1936 – d. 1981). 2) Bertha Ethel (b. 1916 – d. 1998). 3) Victor George (b. 1918 – d. 1994). 4) Hilda (1921 – died in infancy). 5) Edith Alice (1925 – ). 6) George (1928 – 2009). 7) Kenneth Jonas (1929 – 1999). 8) Mary Margaret (1934 – 1998).

Len had served an apprenticeship at Chandlers Stores in Yarmouth Road, Norwich. He joined the staff of Ladymans in about 1936. In 1969, when the High Street business closed, he took on the management of Ladymans’ new shop around the corner in New Conduit Street. He died in 1981, aged 67.

Len and Maud had five children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Brian Leonard (1937 – ). 2) Daphne Elizabeth (b. 1940 – m. Ernest A. Eagle in 1958/9 – d. 1999). 3)  Derrick John (1942- ). 4)  Pamela Joy (m. Marcus A. Twite in 1963 – d. 2007). 5) Michael George (1948 – ).

Brian, Daphne and Derrick all experienced work at Ladymans, as did Michael (Mike), who recalls the following members of staff from the late 1950s and early 1960s:

General Manager: William Sanderson.

Grocery (40, High Street): Bernard Tyrell (Manager), Pam Cook (Cashier), Janet ‘Picnic’ Ess, Stan and Rose (Clewlow) Garrett, Barbara Harrod, Janet and Beryl Hawes, Florence (Auntie Flo) Howard, Diane (Nicholls) Newdick, Betty (Nicholls) Seaman, Barbara Stafford, June Ward, Janet Watson and Margaret Wyles; Melvyn Wright and Eddie Rackham (Delivery).

Wine, Spirits & Coffee (41, High Street): Leonard (Manager), Brian and Daphne Childerhouse.

Wholesale: Bill Jones (Manager); Bill Groom and Margaret Jordan (Dry Warehouse); Phil Syson and Ernie Hart (Bulk Warehouse); Don Pearce and Eric Bowman (Cooked Meats and Smokehouse); Eddie Long (Sales Rep.); Ray Secker (Delivery).

Office: Ada Boughen (Manager); Gwen Gaskin, Gwen Hearne. Pat, Sylvia and Margaret (Clerks and telephone switchboard operators).

Restaurant: Mrs. Johnson (Manager – Ada Boughen’s sister).

Mike Childerhouse recalls how Ladymans’ shop looked and operated prior to alterations made in the 1960s:

‘Customers would sit on a chair whilst placing their order for the assistant to assemble and add up their purchases. The money or account sheet would be sent on a Lamson overhead wire and pulley system to the cashier, who sat in a glazed oak kiosk with a four-drawer National cash register. The kiosk was sited next to the central oak staircase, which led to the Gallery Restaurant on the first floor. For home deliveries, the order would be assembled in the Dispatch Department and sent out later that day by bicycle or van.

Until the modernisation, customers requiring fresh-ground coffee or alcohol would exit the main shop and go to No. 41, High Street. To the right of the frontage was a doorway numbered 39, which connected to a long narrow passage sandwiched between the main shop and Maypole Dairies, also at that time numbered 39, High Street! (This explains why Maypole which had been numbered 38a for many years was listed at 39 in later directories.) This passage led through to the Dispatch Department behind the selling floor, the wine ‘cellar’ and some store rooms.’

In 1960, Ladymans undertook a major refit of their store. The modernisation of 1912 had been considered to have created one of the most up-to-date food stores in the Eastern Counties, proudly boasting its distinctive overhead cash railway, but times had changed and their service methods now seemed very old-fashioned. The main aim of the reconstruction of the interior of the store was to introduce self-service. In an advertising feature in the Lynn News & Advertiser marking the re-opening of the store on 8th March, 1960, the alterations were described as follows:-

What of the new store? Gone is the overhead cash railway – the delight of generations of children – the wooden arches and heavy ceiling beams and old fashioned lighting and heating. Instead, a vista of gleaming white pale blue vitreous enamelled fixtures with every conceivable aid to speedy service. Provision has been made to handle credit orders and cash at separate desks. Cooked meats and provisions will be personally served – but pre-packed supplies can be had on a self-service basis. The range of goods in this section of the store has been greatly augmented and the cheese display will include most of the English and Continental varieties – over 50 kinds. In another section there is a comprehensive selection of pre-packed fruit and vegetables – and in another will be found a good choice of breads, cakes and pastries. Mr. Sanderson, who is deputy chairman of the Council of the Institute of Certified Grocers, said “This is the old and honourable trade of the grocer allied to the modern methods of our times. It is exciting shopping.”

Mike Childerhouse recalls the changes:

‘All the buildings were re-wired, an opening made to access the wine , spirits and coffee department and the restaurant staircase was re-sited along the rear of the selling floor. The restaurant was now accessed behind the cheese and meat section on the right hand side using the old passage space of No. 39, High Street – the doorway to which remained part of the shop frontage until demolition, but was invariably locked.

The principal colours in the refurbished shop were pale blue with grey linoleum floor. It now boasted perimeter and island self-selection fixtures, a refrigerated cabinet, a cheese counter and staffed meat section. There were two cash register suites at the customer exit and a desk at the rear of the selling floor for customer accounts and enquiries. Adjacent doors led via the order assembly area to the warehouses, offices and private car park. Vehicle access to the back of the store continued to be via a narrow archway in New Conduit Street, and Ladymans’ large wholesale van had to be purpose-built to get through unscathed.’

It was not long after the completion of these alterations that the decision was taken to sell the High Street site and move into smaller premises in the new development of shops in New Conduit Street. Mike Childerhouse remembers the move:

‘After the abolition of re-sale price maintenance and the growth of aggressive supermarket pricing, trade inevitably suffered. In 1966 the decision was taken to move into New Conduit Street. The London selling agents (Healy & Baker) negotiated a sale for the whole site with Littlewoods Stores, on the understanding that Ladymans could continue to trade at 41, High Street until their new shop was available. Initially the wholesale, meat processing and smoke house closed down, followed by the main shop and restaurant. Finally the wine, spirits and coffee shop at No. 41, which had been running as a delicatessen closed. Although the business was still trading, the shop felt quite a forlorn place and it was almost a relief when J. H. Ladyman moved on 13th June, 1969.

The new shop opened at 21, New Conduit Street with just Derrick Bunkall, Len Childerhouse, Daphne (Childerhouse) Eagle, Betty Seaman, Doreen Kirk and Gwen Gaskin as staff.

Due to his failing health ‘Chilly’ (an affectionate name used by colleagues of Len) retired in the mid 1970s. In the 1980s, the company was sold as a going concern to Paul Loades, who continued to trade as J. H. Ladyman until the business was wound-up on 27th May, 1988.’

1970 – 2005 (Littlewoods)

On 2nd August 1968 it was announced in the Lynn News & Advertiser that Littlewoods Mail Order Stores Ltd. had purchased the premises at Nos. 39 to 41 High Street from Ladymans.

The old buildings with their distinctive frontage were demolished and a new store built in their place. The store was officially opened by the Lynn mayor, Harold Birdseye in November 1970. The first manager was Frank Brazier. He had been educated at Reading School and joined Littlewoods as a trainee at their Reading store in 1961. He progressed to becoming assistant manager at the Cardiff store, and deputy manager at Aberdeen before taking charge at Gosport and then Islington.

One of the first employees at Lynn was Mrs. Sylvia Richardson, who served here for 20 years until her retirement in June, 1998.

In 1997 the news broke that the company was to be sold off. However the business continued under the Littlewoods name for a few more years.

 2005 (BHS – British Home Stores)

The premises were redeveloped in 2005 when British Home Stores (Bhs) opened a store here embracing the old site of Littlewoods at Nos. 39 – 41 and taking in No. 42 as well.

Bhs was founded in 1928 by American entrepreneurs, who wanted to create a chain of stores in the Woolworths style but with a higher value ticket price and a wider range of goods. The price was limited originally to one shilling but later increased to five shillings.

Their first store was at Brixton.  Further branches followed, each with a cafeteria and a grocery department. The company went public in the early 1930s and after WWII it grew until there were nearly 100 stores in the 1960s.

In 1986, Bhs merged with Habitat and Mothercare to form Storehouse plc, and it was shortly after this that the branding changed to Bhs in place of British Home Stores.

Sir Philip Green bought Bhs from Storehouse in May 2002, before also acquiring the Arcadia Group, which also included Topshop, Burtons, Evans, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis.

The chain struggled against stiff competition and in 2010 ten of the stores, including the King’s Lynn branch, were sold to Primark

Following further losses over a number of years, Sir Philip Green sold Bhs in 2015 and the new owners, Retail Acquisitions reverted to the use of the name British Home Stores. A number of stores have closed since then, including several in city centres.

2010 (Primark)

Following the takeover of the store by the clothing chain Primark in 2010, the premises were completely refurbished and given a new frontage. The new store opened on 31st March 2011.

Primark was founded by Arthur Ryan in Mary Street, Dublin in 1969, under the name of Penneys. Within two years it had expanded into the UK with a large Belfast store in the city centre, followed by three out-of-town stores in England.

Primark offers trendy fashions at very low prices.

Arthur Ryan retired as chief executive in 2009, but stayed on as chairman.