51, High Street.
The old shop at No. 51 had three storeys, with residential accommodation on the first and second floors which was used by the owners for a family house until the early 1900s. There was a yard entrance to the left of the frontage, with the shop entrance immediately to the right of this. The yard gave access to the buildings at rear and was shared with No. 52 (for many years a gun shop). The yard opened out at the very back of the property but was completely enclosed. The rear boundary was the side wall of the Old White Lion Inn, later a house, which had access off Norfolk Street via White Lion Court.
In later years, the ground floor shop was extended at the back with a single storey addition. In 1959, Rivetts of Lynn bought the house in White Lion Court, giving them another building to adapt as a showroom and providing rear access to Norfolk Street.
c1836 – c1850 (George Cooper)
White’s Directory for 1836 lists George Cooper, hosier and haberdasher, at this address.
Born in Swaffham in about 1803, he was living on the premises with his wife Jane (b. 1798 in Watton). With them was their daughter Ann Mary (b. c1830 in Lynn), who married Leeds ironmaster Thomas Harding.
George Cooper had retired from business by 1850, at the age of about 46, and was staying at the Sportsman Inn at West Winch on census night 30th March 1851. Jane was up in Leeds with their daughter Ann Harding, who had just given birth to a daughter, Eleanor Jane. Tragically, Ann died within a few months, as did her mother Jane not long afterwards.
In 1861, Eleanor was staying with her grandfather George Cooper at his house in West Winch and she may have moved there permanently. In 1881, she was with George, now aged 78, at his house in St. Johns Terrace, Lynn, but she died in 1885/6, aged 34. George died on 5th June, 1888, aged 85.
c1850 – c1868 (Henry Charles Thistle)
Henry Thistle, a hosier and haberdasher, is first listed at No. 51 in Slater’s directory for 1850. He had been an assistant to William Rose Smith (see No. 37).
Born in Lynn in about 1825, he married Caroline Jane Nurse (b. 1829 in Snettisham) on 22nd December, 1848 at Great Massingham. Caroline was the sister of John Alfred Nurse (see below). Caroline and Henry did not have any children. They were living on the premises in 1851 and were still here in 1861. The last listing for Henry is in Harrod’s directory for 1868 (no number is given), and he retired from business in June of the following year.
In 1871, Henry and Caroline were living at Pentney, but six years later on 3rd May 1877, Henry died, aged 52.
The following year, Caroline married Robert Brooks (b. c1828 in Lynn), a retired Lynn baker, and they were living in London Road in 1881. Robert Brooks led a rather troubled life and spent time in a local asylum. He always courted controversy, and had clashed swords with the proprietor of the Lynn Advertiser. In 1885 he brought a libel case against the proprietor of the Norwich Argus, but his lawyers walked out during the trial and he represented himself in the later stages of the trial. The jury found in favour of the defendants and costs were awarded against him. At the time of the 1891 census, he was incarcerated in Cambridge prison. He died in Lynn in 1895, aged 68.
1869 – 1878 (John Alfred Nurse)
Born in Snettisham in 1834, John Nurse, a hosier and haberdasher, was listed on Saturday Market Place in Harrod’s directory for 1868, and took over Henry Thistle’s business in June 1869.
His parents were Richard Oldmeadow Nurse I (b. 13/11/1797 in Lynn – d. 04/10/1878) and Sarah Gamble (b. 26/02/1807 in Grimston). Richard I had a watch making business in Snettisham and he and Sarah had four children:-
1) Thomas Gamble, a county police superintendent (b. 23/02/1828 – m. Elizabeth Anderson, d. 26/10/1914 in USA). 2) Caroline Jane (b. 06/07/1829 – m. Henry Charles Thistle in 1848 – d. 22/02/1909). 3) Richard Oldmeadow II, a Lynn watch maker (b. 22/09/1831 – m. Mary Jane Mills in 1857 – d. 05/01/1917). 4) John Alfred – see below – (b. 08/07/1834 – m. Emily Taylor in 1858 – and Emma Bell in 1866 – d. 24/10/1890, aged 55).
Richard II followed his father into the watch making business and came to King’s Lynn. He had a shop at 147, Norfolk Street in 1861 and later moved to 11, St. James Street.
John’s career was less straightforward. He went by his middle name of Alfred for some years (1841 and 1851) and trained as an apprentice to Thomas Brett, a grocer of Bridge Street, Downham
In 1858 he married Emily Taylor at St. Margaret’s church in Lynn, and they moved to Doncaster where he took a job as a clerk on the Great Northern Railway (1861). Emily, who was the daughter of William Taylor, printer and book seller (see No. 13, High Street), died in Doncaster the following year, and in 1866 John married Emma Bell (b. c1840 in Gainsborough. Lincolnshire), before coming to Lynn and establishing himself in business as a hosier and haberdasher in the Saturday Market Place (1868 Harrod).
A joint notice in the Lynn Advertiser for 26th June 1869 announced that Henry Thistle had sold his business to John Nurse. The latter’s notice read:-
‘J. A. NURSE, Late of the Saturday Market Place, in succeeding to the above, pledges himself to keep up the noted character of this Old Established Shop, and hopes by strict personal attention to the requirements of his customers to merit a share of that patronage so liberally bestowed on his predecessor. TERMS STRICTLY CASH.’
The business was listed in Kelly’s directory for 1875,
Emma died in Lynn in 1876/7, aged 37, and John was declared bankrupt soon afterwards. He retired to Hampshire, where he died in 1890, aged 55.
1878 – 1886 (John Hamilton Clark)
John Hamilton Clark, another draper who had established his business in premises in Everard Street, succeeded to the business here in June 1878.
On 14th August, 1880, the following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-
‘HABERDASHERY (Wholesale) J. H. CLARK (Formerly Thistle) THE PEOPLE’S SHOP No. 51, HIGH STREET Begs to remind small shopkeepers in Town and Country that he keeps one of The LARGEST AND BEST ASSORTED STOCKS OF SMALLWARES IN WEST NORFOLK. (Opposite Burlingham’s Jewellers)’.
John Hamilton Clark had moved here from 20, Everard Street, where he was listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1875 as a draper and hosier. Born in Scotland in about 1842, he was the son of George Clark, a gamekeeper. John had moved to Norfolk by 1868 when he married Martha Elizabeth Johnson (b. 1843) in Great Yarmouth on 6th July. She was the daughter of Isaac Johnson, a baker, confectioner and fruiterer (see Nos. 38 and 38½, High Street). They were living in St. John Street, Lynn in 1871 and three of John’s brothers, who had all been born in Scotland, were staying with them; Peter (b. c1846), Niven (b. c1848), and Thomas (b. c1850). John and his brothers were all working as travelling drapers at that date.
John and Martha Clark had six children, four born in Lynn and the latter two in Snettisham:-
1) Jessie – a drapery assistant at Curl Brothers store in Norwich in 1891 – (b. 1869). 2) George Lorne – Staff Sgt. Major in 1911 in Sheffield – (b. 1870/1 – m. Catherine McBrayne Jamieson in 1910). 3) Mabel Louise (b. 1874). 4) Frederick William – a pastry cook in Nottingham in 1911 – (b. 1875 – m. Mary Allen in 1904/5 – d. 1940, aged 66). 5) Donald Arthur – an upholsterer – (b. 1876/7 – m. Jessie Gregory in 1908 –– d. 1959, aged 82). 6. Maud Marion (b. 1877).
John Clark continued to advertise as ‘Late Thistle’, offering cheap hosiery in this advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 9th January, 1886:-
‘FOR CHEAP HOSIERY OF ALL KINDS GO TO THE PEOPLE’S SHOP 51, High Street, King’s Lynn, and Market Place, Downham. J. H. CLARK (LATE THISTLE) A Large Stock of Small Wares WHOLESALE AND RETAIL.’
John Hamilton Clark sold his business to William Bradfield in 1886, and died in 1889, aged 48. Martha moved to Norwich, where she ran a stationery shop in Pottergate.
1886 – 1919 (William Charles Bradfield)
William Charles Bradfield placed the following notice in the Lynn News in September 1886:-
‘THE PEOPLE’S Shop. Genuine Clearance Sale of Hosiery, Haberdashery and Drapery.
C. BRADFIELD having bought the Business carried on By J. H. CLARK will hold a GREAT SALE commencing Tuesday September 7th 1886 when all GOODS will be offered at a TREMENDOUS REDUCTION as they must be cleared to make room for NEW GOODS.
Note the Address:- THISTLE’S OLD SHOP, Wholesale & Retail Hosiery & Haberdashery House, 51, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN.’
William, who was married with a seven-year-old son, was living on the premises in 1891 and had a lodger, Thomas Henry Meadows Smith, aged 32. Thomas, who had been blind from childhood, was a piano tuner and a teacher of music (see No. 50, High Street).
William’s Norfolk ancestors can be traced back to the late 18th century. They were principally farmers and farm bailiffs from the villages around Dereham and Downham Market, including Elmham, Shingham, Westfield, North Pickenham, Babingley and Beachamwell. His great grandparents, Charles Bradfield I and his wife Ann lived in North Pickenham, where his grandfather Charles Bradfield II was baptised on 12th January, 1803.
Charles Bradfield II, a farm bailiff, married Hannah Andrews at Westfield on 27th July, 1828. He lived at the Old Hall, Babingley, Norfolk for many years and was a well-known sheep breeder. Hannah (b. 16/05/1803 in Westfield – d. 1855/6), was the daughter of John Andrews and Ann Mayse. Charles II and Hannah had at least ten children:-
1) Charles Andrews III – a farmer – (b. 1828 in Westfield – m. Mary Bayfield in 1852 – d. 20/09/1892 in the USA). 2) Jesse – a farmer at Holme Hale – (b. 08/01/1832 – m. Mary Anna Burcham in 1866 – d. 1904, aged 71). 3) William – see below – a draper and farmer – (b. 30/11/1833 – m. Sarah Barnes in 1858 – d. 1905, aged 72). 4) Ann (b. c1836). 5) Fisher Mayes – a farmer – (b. 02/02/1838 – d. 12/06/1879). 6) Esther Mary (b. 18/11/1839 – m. Abraham Johnson Dyer on 26/04/1865 – d. 1933). 7) Hannah (b. 1843 – m. Charles Robert Lewis in 1870). 8) Alfred – emigrated to New Zealand (b. 1845). 9) Frederick – emigrated to New Zealand (b. 1847). 10) Felix (b. 09/11/1848 – d. 08/01/1859). W.C. Bradfield’s father was William Bradfield, who was born on 30th November, 1833 in Elmham, Norfolk and baptised at Shingham in January, 1834. On the census returns, his place of birth is given as Shingham, which is a small parish near Swaffham. He spent his early years at his father’s Babingley farm and then (c1851) became an apprentice to tailor and shopkeeper William Coker of Wells-next-the-Sea, whose daughter Elizabeth married Alfred C. Jones (see No. 46, High Street). In 1858 William married Sarah Barnes of Spalding, Lincolnshire, where he moved to open his own drapery shop in the Market Place. It would seem that farming was still in his blood because he moved his family to Whitchurch in Hampshire, in about 1868, where he farmed over 500 acres for ten years or so. By 1881, William, then aged about 47, had resumed business as a draper and he was running a combined grocery and drapery business in Town Street, Upwell. He then moved again, first to Kingston-upon-Hull, where he had a drapery store c1891, and then to Sculcoates. William and Sarah had seven children, the first three born in Lincolnshire, the four youngest born in Hampshire:-
1) William Charles – see below – (b. 1859 – m. Ellen Winlove in 1886 – d. 1919, aged 59). 2) Alfred Edward – a ship’s steward – (b. 1865 – m. Mary Emma Harrison in 1891 – d. 1922, aged 58). 3) Alice Mary – ran a drapery store in Hull – (b. 1866 – d. 1952 aged 85). 4) Lilly – a milliner – (b. c 1867/8 – m. Samuel Lea in 1891 – d. 1949, aged 81). 5) Minnie – a draper – (b. 1868 – d. 1959, aged 92). 6) Herbert – a butcher – (b. 1871 – m. Edith Annie Walker in 1893 – d. 02/12/1947, aged 76). 7) Edith Sarah – a sub-postmistress – (b. 1873/4 – d. 1929, aged 55).
William Charles Bradfield served his apprenticeship at the large drapery establishment of Frederick Gransley, 5-8, Silver Street, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and was there in 1881. Within a few years he had moved to Lynn and opened his own shop here at No. 51, High Street. In 1886 he married Ellen Winlove (see No. 50, High Street) and they had three children, all born in Lynn:-
1) Violet Evelyn (b. 1887 – m. Harry L. B. Lawrence in 1913 – d. 1919, aged 32). 2) Reginald Charles – a draper – (b. 1889 – killed in France 10/09/1918, aged 29). 3) William Leslie – a draper – (b. 1893 – died in France 20/06/1917, aged 24).
William Bradfield had plans for the business to pass to his sons Reginald and William jnr. Reginald worked as an assistant to John Bulling, draper and milliner of 25, Abbeygate Street, Bury St. Edmunds (1901), and then became manager here at Bradfields. As a trooper in the Norfolk Yeomanry, Reginald was called up at the outbreak of the First World War. William then called for his younger son, William jnr., who had been apprenticed at Palmers of Great Yarmouth and was working at Selfridges in Oxford Street, London, to come back to Lynn and take over as manager. However, in November 1915, William jnr. commenced military training with the Artist Rifles O.T.C. and volunteered to complete his training in France. For a time he was a member of the guard at Sir Douglas Haig’s headquarters. He soon gained a commission as 2nd Lieut. in the Royal Berkshire Regiment but even before he was able to join his new regiment, he died following a fall at his barracks, on 20th June, 1917. Meanwhile, Reginald was serving as Chief Gunner in the Machine Gun Corps. Having fought in the Dardanelles campaign and in the expedition against the Senussi tribe in the Libyan Desert, he moved to the Western Front when the German offensive of the spring of 1918 opened. On 10th September, 1918, he was shot and killed by a sniper, aged 29.
The devastating loss of his two sons spelled the end to William’s hopes for the succession to the Bradfield family business, and when he too died in January, 1919, aged 59, the business abruptly ceased trading.
This was not the last of the family’s tragedies, because later that year, William and Ellen’s daughter Violet Lawrence died, aged 32.
Three years later, Ellen too died, aged 62. All five of the family had died within the space of five years.
1919 – 1935 (Fred E. Hares)
The following notice appeared in the Lynn News on 14th February, 1919:-
‘IMPORTANT NOTICE. THE TRUSTEES of the Late Mr. W. C. BRADFIELD, Having disposed of the Business and Goodwill of his DRAPERY BUSINESS in HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN, to Mr. Fred E. Hares, the Premises will be CLOSED from Tuesday, February 18th, for a few days, during the Valuation of the Stock by Messrs. Beecroft, Son and Nicholson, Valuers, 12 Wood Street, London. A SPECIAL SALE OF THE STOCK will be held shortly. See coming announcements as to date.’
Fred Hares retained the name of Bradfields for his business
Frederick (Fred) Edward Hares had been born in Alcester, Warwickshire in 1872. His parents were George Daniel Hares (b. 1840/1 in Bristol) and Harriet Emma Pullin (b. c1842 in Deddington, Oxfordshire). George and Harriet married in 1869 and two years later they were living in High Street, Alcester where George had an ironmongery business. He was also an ale and porter merchant. George and Harriet had eight children, all born in Alcester:-
1) Alice Blanche (b. 1870 – died in infancy). 2) Carrie (b. 16/05/1871 – d. 1937, aged 65). 3) Francis William – an accountant – (b. 1872 – d. 1953, aged 80). 4) Arthur George – a butcher – (b. 1874 – m. Elizabeth Hancock in 1899 – d. 1958, aged 84). 5) Walter Pullin – a clergyman – (b. 1877/8 – d. 17/09/1962, aged 85). 6) Emily Florence (b. 1878 – d. 1959, aged 82). 7) Frederick Edward – see below – (b. 1880 – m. Gertrude Maria Shaftoe in 1908 – d. 1966, aged 86). 8) Ernest James – an ironmonger at 147, Norfolk Street, Lynn – (b. 1881 – m. Alice Matilda Oliver in 1916/7 – d. 1956, aged 75).
The family came to Lynn for a few years around 1883 and were living at 7, Bridge Terrace, near Dodman’s Bridge in the town in 1891. This was where Fred spent his school years. Leaving school in 1894, aged 14, Fred went to work for Arthur Trenowath (see Trenowath Brothers at Nos. 108-110, High Street), who had a drapery shop at 143, Norfolk Street. Arthur Trenowath had another shop in High Street, Hunstanton, where he lived, and Fred was appointed manager of the Lynn shop in 1919. This coincided with Fred’s acquisition of Bradfield’s business, in which he was helped financially by Arthur Trenowath and Charles Bristow, manager of Barclay’s Bank.
It became Fred Hares’ practice to retain some of the names of the businesses that he acquired and No. 51 continued under the Bradfield name. In August 1920, the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-
‘Previous to Extensive Alterations to Shop Front and Interior we shall offer the whole of our SUMMER STOCK AT ENORMOUS REDUCTIONS to Clear Space and Avoid Depreciation. BRADFIELD’S ALTERATION SALE Commences Saturday, August 14th, for 12 Days Only. Special Bargains in Blouses, Wool Coats, Overalls, Girls’ Dresses, Underwear, Corsets, Gloves, Hosiery, Skirts, Lace Goods, Fancy Linens, Towels, Quilts, Bed Linen, Shirts, Wools, Prints, Muslins, Dress Goods, Silks, Floorcloths, Furnishings.’
Fred Hares continued to buy up other businesses, both in King’s Lynn and in other Norfolk towns, including Downham Market and Swaffham. He also bought stock from businesses that were ceasing to trade. In 1923 he bought Ibberson’s tea and grocery store (see No. 57, High Street), and in October 1928 he bought the general drapery stock of Howard & Howard (see Nos. 76 & 77, High Street.
In 1929, there was a change of name when the Bradfield and Ibberson trading names were combined, and the business here at No. 51 became that of ‘Bradfield Ibberson’. His businesses listed in Kelly’s directory that year were:-
Fredk. E. Hares & Co., drapers at 133, Norfolk Street; Bradfield Ibberson & Co. Ltd., 51, High Street; Bradfield Ibberson & Co. Ltd., wholesale confectioners, grocers and tobacconists, 51a, High Street; and Bradfield’s drapers, 51, High Street.
The staff and stock of Arthur Trenowath Ltd. were transferred from Norfolk Street to No. 51 in June, 1934, and a year later a new wholesale warehouse was opened in Norfolk Street. The directors of Bradfield Ibberson at that date were Fred E. Hares (chairman), Mrs. F. E. Hares, and Mr. L. Herrington.
In December 1835, a closing down sale was held at No. 51 and the business moved to the new premises in Norfolk Street.
Bradfield Ibberson continued to operate as wholesale drapers, supplying many village shops in East Anglia, together with the chain of small shops that Fred Hares had acquired over several years.
Fred Hares became a very successful businessman and expanded his interests by purchasing land for residential development. His first venture was to buy the Old Mill House at 21, Gaywood Road, by Dodman’s Bridge and opposite the Bridge Terrace house where he had spent much of his youth. He then built houses in Homelands Road and at 23 to 29, Gaywood Road. He had seen that there was a shortage of housing after the Second World War and bought an orchard in Tennyson Avenue, building houses and creating Milton Avenue. His development company was named ‘Milton Garden Estates’. Other developments included land off Loke Road, where the Harwood Estate was built and an estate in Cromer.
In 1951, Kelly’s directory listed the following businesses at 78, Norfolk Street:-
Bradfield Ibberson & Co. Ltd., warehousemen; Bradfield Trenowath Co. Ltd., property owners (reg. office); Milton Gardens Estate Ltd., property agents (reg. office); and Hunstanton Property Co., Ltd., property owners (reg. office).
Fred and Gertrude had three daughters:-
1) Doris Marion (b. 28/05/1910 – m. Horace James Thomas Ives in 1935 – d. 1965). 2) Winifred Mary (b. 1915 – m. William R. Fogg in 1945 – d. 12/03/2009). 3) Marjorie (b. 1920 – m. Leonard Wilfred Allenson Barrett in 1941). Leonard Barrett was the son of Charles Golding Barrett jnr., of C. G. Barrett & Co., dyers and cleaners – see Nos. 4, 9, 86 and 117, High Street.
Gertrude Hares died in 1955, aged 75, and Fred married Alice Carrington in 1956. He died in 1966, aged 86, and Alice died in 1972, aged 85.
1936 – 1973 (Rivetts of Lynn)
Following Bradfields’ move to Norfolk Street, their premises here were closed in January 1836, and a general drapery shop was opened by Charles Edgar Rivett (b. 1881/2 in Beeston – m. Constance Rutter in 1908 – d. 20/11/1947) and his son Eric Donald (b. 1911- m. Margery J. Smith in 1940 – d. 1989).
The shop became more and more specialised until it dealt only with ladies’ fashions, hosiery and wool. The wool department moved across the road into No. 77 in 1938.
Charles’ ancestors were farmers and, as in the case of many sons of farming families at that time, he and his brothers had two main career choices; farming or drapery.
Charles’ parents were Henry Rivett (b. 1848 – d. 1913) and Rebecca Atthow (b. c1851 – d. 1940), who married on 14th July 1875 at West Bradenham, where Rebecca’s father John was a farmer. Henry was born in Shipdham. He and Rebecca moved into Church Farm, Beeston, and they had nine children, all born in the village:-
1) Albert Harry – a farmer – (b. 1886 – m. May Middleton on 04/12/1901 – d. 1964, aged 88). 2) Frederick George – a farmer (b. 1878 – m. Rosa Mary Middleton in 1908 – d. 1953, aged 75). 3) Mabel Helena (b. 27/05/1880 – m. Edward William Crane in 1900 – d. 1970, aged 89). 4) Charles Edgar – see below – (b. 1882 – m. Constance Rutter in 1908 – d. 20/11/1947, aged 65). 5) Ray – a farmer – (b. 1883 – m. Gertrude Winnie Chilvers on 20/06/1917 – d. 11/12/1950, aged 66). 6) Ethel Maud (b. 30/04/1885). 7) Reginald Richard – a draper – (b. 1887 – m. Marion Herington in 1912 – d. 06/09/1963, aged 76). 8) Florence Amelia (b. 1889). 9) Olive Beatrice (b. 13/03/1896 – m. Ronald A. Burr in 1923 – d. 1993).
Charles Rivett had trained as an apprentice to a draper in Great Yarmouth before working in the prestigious Ipswich department store of E. Brand & Sons. He was one of over 30 young drapery assistants from as far afield as Wales and Ireland who were boarding at the Tacket Street store in the town in 1901. He married Constance Rutter (b. 1876 – d. 1966, aged 90) from Stradbrooke in Suffolk in 1908 and was running a general grocery, drapery store and post office in Beeston, near Dereham in Norfolk in 1911.
Charles enlisted in the Army and fought in France during the First World War. Upon his return, his brother Reggie persuaded him to join him in High Wycombe, but they both eventually returned to live in Norfolk – Reggie in some style at Brisley Hall.
Charles and Constance had four children, all born in Cawston:-
1) Joan (b. 16/07/1910 – m. Frank William Mason in 1935 – d. 22/08/1977, aged 67). 2) Eric Donald – see below – (b. 1911 – m. Margery Jean Smith in 1940 – d. 1989, aged 78). 3) Francis Antony (b. 13/03/1914 – m. Marjorie Irene P. Edwards c1937 – d. 1971, aged 57). 4. Margaret C. (b. c1917 – m. Arthur Edgar Sansom in 1947).
Charles and his son Eric, who was 27 at the time, were the founding partners of the business. However, within a year of opening Eric was called up for active service in the Army. Charles would have been left to run the business on his own but Constance stepped in and took over the running of the fashion shop at No. 51, while her daughter Margaret (later Mrs. Sansom) took charge of the wool shop at No. 77.
Eric returned after his discharge from the Army to find the business at the two shops had been kept going in spite of the wartime restrictions.
Charles Rivett died at his home at 129, Gaywood Road in Lynn on 20th November 1947, aged 65. That same year, Eric announced the opening of a new showroom for coats and suits, and advertised the range of goods that they sold:-
‘RIVETTS in High Street have two little Specialist Shops of Feminine Interest with Big Ideas. At 51 HIGH STREET – Hats, Coats, Suits, Frocks, Raincoats, Knitwear, Skirts, Blouses, Gloves, Scarves & Hosiery – in fact all outerwear. At 77 HIGH STREET – Knitting Wools and Sparva Fabrics – in fact anything for the needle.
There are no other branches of Rivetts. They are personal and individual little shops in King’s Lynn only at 51 and 77 HIGH STREET.’
Eric Rivett and his mother, Margaret, were in overall control of the business and the manageress of the two shops was Mrs. S. Loades. They reported that they had served 92,000 customers in 1958 and that they were aiming to cater for even more. To facilitate clients wishing to pay by monthly account rather than by cash, they introduced ‘Budget Accounts’ and ‘Credit Sales’.
The business continued to flourish and in 1954 a pair of cottages on the north side of the yard were demolished to make way for a new showroom for coats. Soon afterwards, part of the yard was covered in, and in October 1959 some even more ambitious expansion plans were announced. Rivetts had acquired the house, once part of the former White Lion Inn, on the other side of their rear boundary, giving them room for expansion together with rear access from Norfolk Street, via White Lion Court. The plan was to remove the top floor of this house and to convert the first floor into a showroom, with a stock room below. New stairs would be built from the ground floor shop to the new first floor showroom. Further plans were also announced for a new first floor extension to be built above the single storey showroom. The first phase of the work was completed within a year and this provided for:-
‘An entirely new department for Dresses; a department entirely for skirts; increased space for knitwear & slacks; more space for rainwear and casual clothes; and a spacious department for rug making, knitting machines & ‘lay-by’ wool as an extension to Rivetts Wool Shop’.
The second phase started in January, 1960 involved the work on the old house in White Lion Court. This phase was completed by October 1960.
The wool shop at No. 77 (or 77a) remained open until September, 1966 when further renovations at No. 51 created a very long, wide and high showroom, and provide room for the wool department to move into the main shop.
Rivetts of Lynn moved to Broad Street in 1973 and traded there until 1978 when the business ceased trading.
Eric Rivett died in 1989, aged 77.
1973 – c1990 (Dunn & Co.)
Dunn & Co., the men’s clothiers opened a branch here in 1973. They were renowned for their more formal clothes, including suits, blazers, flannels, tweeds and, especially, hats.
The business was established by George Arthur Dunn who started selling hats in 1887 in Birmingham. After moving to London he opened a hat shop in High Street, Shoreditch.
George’s father was George Dunn (b. c1838 in Birmingham – m. Sarah Stevens in 1861), who was a publisher’s manager at the time of the 1881 census. George and Sarah had four children:-
1) Catherine Emma (b. 03/12/1863 in Birmingham – m. John Frederick Penn in 1885). 2) George Arthur (b. 01/02/1865 – m. Lucy Day in 1884 – d. 14/08/1939, aged 74). 3) Edith Amelia (b. 1866 – m. George Rogers in 1889 – d. 1943/4, aged 78). 4). Louisa Alice (b. 1868 – m. Arthur Kerr in 1889/90 – d. 1952, aged 84).
George Arthur Dunn married Lucy Day in Birmingham in 1884 and they had nine children:-
1) Randolph Ellis (b. 1886 – d. 1967, aged 81). 2) Lloyd Stafford (b. 1887 – d. 1967). 3) Howard Oswald (b. 1889 – m. Elsie Harriet Strong in 1924 – d. 21/08/1964). 4) Clifford Arthur (b. 1890 – d. 1966). 5) Yolande Hilda (b. 1892 – m. Arthur Norman Barrett in 1918 – d. 1965). 6) Winifred Evelyn (b. 28/10/1893 – d. 1971). 7) George Stanley (b. 06/01/1898 – d. 1986). 8) Lucy Corween (b. 18/10/1898 – d. 1981). 9) Gilbert Morton (b. 1900 – m. Alice M. Crofts in 1926).
By the late 1920s Dunn & Co., had over 200 hat shops around the country, as well as many franchise outlets in other stores. They continued to expand into a countrywide chain of high street men’s clothiers, and the business flourished until about the 1980s when their fashions became less popular. They struggled to maintain their place in the market against the more modern men’s fashion stores and their debts built up until the receivers were called in on 19th December, 1996. At that date they had 130 shops and employed 429 staff, with an additional 75 employees at their Swansea head office.
George Dunn retired from business in 1929, handing over control to his managers. He divided his time between his home, ‘The Aubreys’ in Redbourn, Hertfordshire, and Branksome Dene Hotel in Dorset, which he had developed as a specialist ‘food reform’ vegetarian hydro. The hotel was set in extensive grounds overlooking the sea and close to the sandy beach at Alum Chine.
George Dunn was a wealthy man, and when he died on 14th August, 1939, at the age of 74, he left an estate worth over £295,000.
1990s – (Clinton Cards) (Clintons)
Clintons Cards (now trading as Clintons) has had a branch at 51, High Street for many years. The business was founded in 1968 by Don Lewin, OBE, who opened his first shop selling greeting cards in Epping, Essex. The company grew and opened branches across the country, having 277 shops in 1994. The acquisition of other chains, including Hallmark Cards, Carlton Cards and Birthdays increased the total number of shops. In May 2012 Clinton Cards went into administration. The King’s Lynn branch remained open after the purchase of 397 stores by American Greetings.