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54 & 54a, High Street


This was a shop with a frontage that was comparable in width with many others in High Street. However, it had very little in the way of external space, accommodation or storage at the rear of the premises.

In 1924, when Jonathan Empson had the premises altered, examination of the oak roof timbers revealed that construction could be dated back to the 17th Century. However, in 1984 when more alterations revealed further roof timbers, the date was put back to the late 15th Century, or earlier. It was claimed then that this was one of the earliest three-storey buildings still standing in the town.

At the time of the 1924 alterations, title deeds were found that dated from 1722, when Timothy Priest, a milliner, took possession from John Cade. However, it may be that he died that same year, there being a burial record for a man of the same name at St. Nicolas’ chapel on 4th September 1722. After Mr. Priest there came a tinsmith, followed by William Johnson, a baker.

No. 54a only crops up once, in 1846, when it is referenced in Kelly’s Nine Counties Directory as the address of John Laws’ boot and shoe shop.

 c1836 – c1849 (Phebe Lainchbury)

Phebe Lainchbury (nèe Scamall), a lady of independent means, was living here in 1836 – listed in White’s directory. In 1841, she was in Norwich on census night (6th June). Phebe Scamall had married Edward Lainchbury at St. Margaret’s church on 3rd October, 1816. Edward was a merchant’s clerk and the family were living on High Street at that date.

Edward James, a son of Phebe and Edward Lainchbury was baptised at St. Margaret’s church in 1816.

It is not known when Edward died, but Phebe died in Lynn in 1848/9.

Also listed as living at No. 54 in White’s directory for 1836 was George Daisley, a master mariner, who died at Lynn in 1848/9.

 1845 (William Moore)

The baker and confectioner William Moore was listed here in 1845 (White) – see also Nos. 93 and 94, High Street.

 c1849 – c1871 (Thomas Pung)

Thomas Pung, a silversmith and jeweller, was first listed here in Slater’s directory for 1850. Born in Roydon, near King’s Lynn in about 1814, he was the son of North Wootton farmer Thomas Pung (b. c1773 at Stibbard, Norfolk – d. 18/02/1864, aged about 90) and his wife Sarah Bagge (b. c1788 in Lynn – d. 1867, aged 80). Thomas and Sarah married at Roydon on 2nd July, 1807 and had seven children, all born at Roydon:-

1) Robert – a farmer – (b. 1809 – d. 1886, aged 77). 2) John (b. 1811 – d. 1855, aged about 44). 3) Thomas – see below – (b. 1813 – d. 1906, aged 92). 4) Mary Elizabeth (b. 1816 – m. Charles Plowright – d. 1890, aged 74). William Bagge (b. 1820 – d. 1843, aged about 23). 6) Sarah Ann, a farmer, author and journalist (b. 1822 – d. 1899, aged 77). 7. Susannah (b. 1828 – m. Edward Laird King in 1860 – see below – d. 1909, aged 81).

Thomas was staying in Shoreditch, London, at the time of the 1841 census. Although there is no record of his occupation in the census, it is apparent that he had been working in London as a watch and clock maker. On Tuesday, 12th April, 1842, he placed this notice in the Lynn Advertiser:

‘Mr. T. Pung (from London), watch and clock maker, silversmith and jeweller, announces that he will open the shop at No. 139, Norfolk Street, on Tuesday next’.   

By 1850 (Slater), he had moved from Norfolk Street into No. 54, High Street, where he was listed as a silversmith, jeweller, and watch & clock maker. He had one apprentice working for him in 1851.

On 29th April 1852, Thomas married Maria (b. c1826 in Lynn – d. 1912, aged 88), the daughter of Lynn banker’s clerk Charles Elmer Southwell (b. c1799 in Wisbech Cambs. – d. 1858) and his wife Jane (b. c1798 in Peterborough – d. 1868, aged 71).

Thomas Pung was listed here until 1868 (Harrod) and was still working in 1871, when he employed four men, and was living in Extons Road. However, by that date he had moved out of No. 54 and William Johnson King was occupying the premises.

On 12th October, 1872, he placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser:

‘T. PUNG, Watchmaker and Jeweller, 54, High Street, Lynn, begs to thank his patrons for the confidence placed in him for many years, and to announce that he has disposed of his Business to Mr. W. J. KING, who has been a long time in his employ, and whom he has much pleasure in recommending.’

Thomas and Maria did not have any children. Thomas died in 1906, aged 92, and Maria died in 1912, aged 88.

1872 – 1917 (William Johnson King)

William Johnson King had been working for Thomas Pung for several years by the time he succeeded to the business in 1872. He was living on the premises in 1871 and stayed for about 46 years.

He was the son of Thomas King (b. c1796 in Lynn), the Lynn Harbourmaster, and his wife Barbara Susan (b. c1803 in Lynn). Thomas and Barbara had at least seven children:-

1) Edward Laird – a banker’s clerk – (b. c1824 – m. Susannah Pung in 1860 – d. 1878/9, aged 54). 2) Susan (b. c1826). 3) Thomas William – a civil engineer – (b. c1828 – m. Harriet Elizabeth Simpson in 1852/3 – d. 1898 in Surrey, aged 70). 4) Sarah Mary (b. c1832 – d. 1867/8, aged 35). 5) Alfred (b. c1836 – d. 1842). 6) Eliza (b. 1838 – m. Isaac Brown Rix on 16/04/1868 – see No. 90). 7) William Johnson – see below – (b. 1840 – m. Rebecca Cole in 1868 and Jane Taylor in 1877 – d. 1924, aged 83).

William Johnson King was born in 1840 in Lynn and trained as a watchmaker after leaving school. He married Rebecca Cole (b. 1840 in Louth, Lincolnshire), a farmer’s daughter but they had no children and she died in 1876, aged 35. He married for a second time, to Jane Taylor (b. c1856 in Walpole St Peter), and they had five children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Ethel May (b. 1878 – m. Harry Clark Bradfield, a maltster’s manager, in 1901 – d. 1954/5 in Derbyshire, aged 76). 2) Grace Marian (b. 1879/80 – m. Patrick Gordon Glennie, a Civil Service clerk, in 1910 – d. 1935, in Surrey, aged 55). 3) Florence Taylor (b. 1881/2 – d. 1960, aged 77). 4) Ida Agnes (b. 1884 – d. 1966, aged 82). 5) William Edward (b. 1895).

Jane ran a registry for servants and her services were used by clients from other parts of the country. She placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 19th November, 1892:-

‘GENERAL Servant, good, wanted for London – Apply, Mrs. King, 54, High Street, King’s Lynn’.

Sometime between 1891 and 1901, the family moved out of the living quarters at No. 54 into a house on the Tuesday Market Place, close to the junction with St Nicholas Street. William Johnson King kept the shop here until 1917, when he moved his business to No. 83, High Street. Within six years he had moved again, to No. 80, High Street. He died on 6th January, 1924, aged 83 but the business seems to have been continued without a change in name, either being managed by one of his family or perhaps by another watch maker. It had moved again by 1929, when it was at No 80. Jane King died in January 1930 aged 74 but the business was still being listed in 1937 at No 80, High Street.

1917- 1938 (Jonathan Harvey Empson)

In September 1917, Jonathan Harvey Empson opened his own watch making and jewellery business here. He had worked for William Johnson King for over 32 years. Born in Lynn in 1871, he was the son of William Harvey Empson – a shoe maker – (b. c1829 in Lynn) and (Ann) Maria Dickerson (b. c1830 in Norwich). William and Maria married in 1851 in Lynn and had seven children, all born in Lynn:-

1) William John – an iron moulder – (b. 1854 – m.1880 – d. 1935, aged 81 in Yorkshire). 2) Thomas Robert – a printer compositor – (b. 1857 – m. Harriet Giles Griggs in 1881/2 – d. 1914, aged 56). 3) Kenneth Samuel – a sign writer – (b. 1858/9 – m. Annie Curtis in 1889 – d. 1930, aged 71). 4) George – a shoemaker – (b. 1860/1 – m. Elizabeth Dobson in 1889 – d. 1931, aged 70 in Barnsley). 5) Isabella Elizabeth – a housekeeper in 1911 – (b. 1863 – d. 1939/40, aged 76). 6) Ann M (b. 1866). 7) Jonathan Harvey – see below – (b. 1871 – m. Katherine Sophia Trevitt in 1910 – d. 1955, aged 83).

Jonathan Empson married Katherine Sophia (b. c1872 in Pittsburgh USA), the daughter of Birmingham jeweller Enoch James Trevitt, in 1910. They did not have any children. Katherine died in 1936, aged 64, and Jonathan died in 1955, aged 83.

In 1924, an application was made to install a new shop front at the premises.

Jonathan Empson was a very successful businessman and received patronage from HM the Queen and HM Queen Maud of Norway. In August 1932 he displayed a ‘Perpetual Motion Clock’ in his shop:-

‘A PERPETUAL MOTION CLOCK, which, it is claimed, will work by itself perpetually, without ever needing to be wound up, is on display at Mr. J. H. Empson’s, High Street, Lynn. The mechanism is driven by an ingenious device which swings to and fro with each change of temperature in the atmosphere. A difference of temperature of even one degree Centigrade supplies enough energy to keep the clock working for 120 hours (and whatever the weather and whatever the climate there is always a difference of at least one degree within that period). The mechanism consists of a U-shaped glass tube, sealed, containing in either arm mercury and a liquid gas with its saturated vapour. One side of the ‘U’ is kept at an even temperature, and the other is in contact with the air. A rise of temperature in the unprotected end increases the pressure of the gas within it and drives the mercury to the other arm of the tube. The weight of the mercury produces a swinging movement, which is renewed with each change of temperature, and winds up the clock by means of a ratchet wheel.’  

Jonathan Empson retired from business in 1938 and moved to Tennyson Avenue. All of his stock-in-trade was bought by S.S. Burlingham Ltd. (see No. 81, High Street), and much of it was sold by Burlinghams, along with some of their own stock, prior to a reorganisation of their business in May 1938.

1938 – 1947 (Occupier unknown)

1947 – 1953 (Mann Egerton & Co. Ltd.)

Mann Egerton & Co. Ltd., perhaps better remembered as car dealers, opened an electrical goods shop here in October 1947, where they sold washing machines and other domestic appliances. The company was formed in 1900 through a partnership between Gerard Noel Cornwallis Mann, an electrical engineer, and Hubert Wingfield Egerton, a pioneering motorist. Both men were the sons of country parsons. Gerard’s father, Charles, was the vicar of St Issey in Cornwall, and Hubert’s father, also Charles, was the parson at Weston Longville in Norfolk for many years.

Gerard Mann

In 1855, Charles Noel Mann (b. c1823 in Henbury, Somerset – d. 1903, aged 81), married Emily Mary Grylls (b. c1834 in St. Anthonys, Cornwall – d. 1918/19, aged 86). Charles was the rector of St. Mauganus church in Mawgan-in-Meneage, Cornwall for some years, before moving to the parish of St. Issey. Charles and Emily Mann had six children, all born in Cornwall:-

1) Charles (b. 1856/7). 2) Emily Mary (b. 1859 – m. solicitor Joseph Walker Tyacke in 1880 – d. 1938, aged 78). 3) Horace (b. 1860). 4) Julia Eleanor Louisa (b. 1861 – m. Archibald Robertson in 1885 – d. 1925, aged 64 in Oxfordshire). 5) Gertrude (b. c1866). 6. Gerard Noel Cornwallis (b. 1872 in Falmouth – m. Ethel Alice Palmer in 1899 – d. 1941, aged 68).

The same year that he married Ethel, Gerard bought the electrical business of Laurence Scott & Co., in Redwell Street, Norwich and moved to Norfolk.

Gerard and Ethel Mann had four children, all born in Norwich:-

1) Gertrude Mary (b. 30/01/1902 – d. 1980). 2) Charles Gerard (b. 1904 – m. Phyllis Davies in 1940 – d. 1969, aged 64). 3) Audrey Eleanor (b. 1906). 4) Edward Noel (b. 1907 – d. 1934, aged 26).

None of the children went into the business and Gerard Mann, who remained company chairman for many years, maintained a policy of promoting talented employees within the company. Mr. W. A. Paton, who served 42 years at Mann Egerton, became a director and general manager in 1944, managing director in 1946 and chairman in 1948.

Hubert Egerton

Charles Cadwallader Egerton (b. c1831 in Bunbury, Cheshire – d. 1906/7, aged 76), married Caroline Boys (b. 1852 at Wing, Rutland) in 1871. He had been the curate of Little Wittenham in Oxfordshire (c1861) before becoming rector of Weston Longville. Charles and Caroline had five children, all born in Norfolk:-

1) Edith Mary (b. 1872/3 – d. 1893/4, aged 21). 2) Justin Reginald (b. 1873 – m. Margaret Ruby Turner in 1907 – d. 1969, aged 95). 3) Hubert Wingfield (b. 1875). 4) Muriel Virginia (b. 1884) 5) Olive (b. 1885 – d. 1945, aged 59).

Hubert Wingfield Egerton had worked for the Dunlop tyre company in the 1890s before becoming a sales manager for De Dion-Bouton. He became a pioneering motorist, driving a De Dion-Bouton Voiturette in the Thousand Miles Trial of 1900. Later that year he drove from John O’Groats to Lands End in a Locomobile steam car and the following year he completed the reverse run on a 1½ HP Werner motorcycle. He married Valerie Sorel Cameron (b. 1885/6 in Littlehampton, Sussex) in 1904. Hubert and Valerie had two children:-

1) Charles Hubert Sorel (b. 1905). 2) Beryl Elizabeth (b. 1908 – d. 1972 in Berkshire).

At the time that he joined Gerard Mann, Hubert was helping his elder brother Justin Reginald (known by his second name) at his garage and car showrooms in Ipswich, Egertons (Ipswich) Ltd. Reginald, who was another pioneering motorist, continued to run the business for many years.

Hubert soon fell out with Gerard Mann and, by 1910, had sold all of his shares and had left the Mann Egerton partnership. In 1914, Hubert was given the role of temporary Inspector of Transport in the British Army, with the honorary rank of Lieutenant. He spent a great deal of his time in later life restoring veteran cars, including a Panhard that had once belonged to the Hon. C. S. Rolls. He died on 19th November 1950, aged 74.

By 1908, Mann Egerton had become agents for several car makers and also advertised used cars for sale. Their coach-building works were renowned for the bodies they built for Rolls Royce and other prestige motor cars. During the First World War the company built aeroplanes. After the war the aircraft factory was converted to making specialist furniture for schools.

During the Second World War, Mann Egerton built military vehicles, including troop carriers and ambulances. The motor car division expanded across East Anglia and there were branches in London and elsewhere. In King’s Lynn they had a garage at 145 Norfolk Street in the 1950s/60s, before taking over Johnsons’ garage at 36 St. James Street (on the Tower Place corner). They later had premises in Church Street and Maple Road.

The electrical division was sold to Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company in 1964 and the motor division was acquired by Inchcape plc in 1973.

By September 1953 the shop at 54, High Street had closed.

1953 – c1969 (Modelia)

Modelia, the fashion store specialising in women’s coats, opened here on Tuesday 8th September, 1953. The actress Joan Greenwood performed the opening ceremony. She had recently starred as Gwendolen Fairfax in ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’.

1984 (Wilsons Outfitters)

 1990s – 2000s (Occupiers unknown)

 2007 (T-Mobile)

T-Mobile UK was a mobile network owned by the German company Deutsche Telekom and originally launched as One2One. T-Mobile was merged with Orange UK under EE to create the UK’s largest mobile network. The T-Mobile brand was withdrawn in 2015.

 2015 (EE)

Following the withdrawal of the T-Mobile brand, this became an EE outlet.

 54a High Street


No. 54a only crops up once, in 1846, when it is referenced in Kelly’s Nine Counties Directory as the address of John Laws’ boot and shoe shop.  He was later at No. 53a High Street, where more details about him will be found.