73 – 74

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Nos. 73 – 74, High Street.

Nos. 73 and 74, High Street were combined by Walter Trenowath in about 1889 when he established the cabinet making and furniture removals branch of Trenowath Brothers here.

In 1922, F. W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd. opened a branch here. After Woolworth’s moved in 2006, the premises were divided into two shops.

c1889 – 1922 (Trenowath Brothers) (Walter Trenowath) (Percy Trenowath)

Following the death of Edward Trenowath (b. 29th December, 1813 – m. Rebecca Eaves in 1862 – d.29/01/1883), his drapery business (see Nos. 108 to 110) was left to his younger brother William (b. 23rd January, 1821 – m. Rebecca Susanna Garner in 1848 – d. 1904) for the benefit of Edward’s three nephews:-

1) Tomson Garner (b. 1856 – m. Ada Edith Woods in 1890 – d. 1926). 2) Arthur Richard (b. 1857 – m. Louisa Anne Booth in 1902 – d. 1922). 3) Walter (b. 1861 – m. Annie Louisa Blackster in 1893 – d. 1922).

William Trenowath had a cabinet making, upholstery and furniture removal business at Blackfriars Road in Lynn, and he also provided an undertaker’s service.

An advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 10th September 1887, gives Nos. 109 & 110 High Street as the address for all the departments of Trenowath Brothers (also listing Nos. 146 & 147, Norfolk Street where Arthur had his drapery business). It is clear from that advertisement that Trenowath Brothers was an established firm of removers. A few months earlier, on 19th March, they had advertised from Blackfriars Road and it would appear, therefore, that they commenced occupation of the 109 & 110 High Street address sometime around the middle of that year. Their March advertisement read:-

‘HOUSEHOLD REMOVALS to and from all parts of the United Kingdom without the expense of packing, trouble or risk to the owner. Dry and commodious warehouses for the storage of furniture, pianos, pictures, wine etc., under the superintendence of the “Queen Insurance Company”. Estimates free, which, with prospectus and testimonials, will be sent on application.’

The three brothers ran different branches of Trenowath Brothers’ business and these were, to all intents and purposes, separate trading entities. Arthur, who had the drapery shop in Norfolk Street (which included an ironmongery business at No. 146 – burnt down in February, 1896), went his own way and on 24th December, 1894, the partnership was formally dissolved by mutual consent, with Arthur trading under his own name but with Tomson and Walter continuing in business as Trenowath Brothers. Tomson, who continued the drapery business started by his uncle, remained at Nos. 109 – 110 High Street, where details of his family may be found.

William Trenowath leased horses and provided transport for many purposes, describing himself as a ‘horsing contractor’. A photograph dating from 1887 shows his horses ready to pull the Lynn Fire Brigade’s appliances. William Trenowath provided the coachmen for the appliances, which were: 1. A steam-operated fire hydrant, with a crew of six firemen plus a coachman. The coachman was given 12 months supply of coal to keep red-hot coals burning in his double range stove ready for the fire engine. 2. A hand-operated pump, with water bowser and sand and coal trailer, with a crew of six firemen and a coachman. 3. A turntable and ladders trailer, with crew of six firemen and lead coachman.

Walter appears to have entered into the furniture business at an early age as an apprentice cabinet maker and upholsterer working for his father. In 1891, aged 28, he was living at home with his parents at 73 & 74 High Street and his occupation was given as ‘cabinet maker and upholsterer’.  The business had not been listed in the trades directories prior to 1875 (Kelly), when ‘William Trenowath, cabinet maker, Melborne Street’ was included. In the 1879 and 1883 directories, the address was 2, Blackfriars Road and the business was listed in the latter as ‘William Trenowath & Son, undertakers, cabinet makers, furniture removers and upholsterers’. In the directory for 1890, the Trenowath Bros. partnership is listed for the first time. But although Tomson (miss-spelt Thompson) and Arthur are both listed separately, Walter’s name does not appear. This would seem to indicate that his father William was still playing the major role in the furniture side of the business.

Trenowath Brothers also provided a funeral service.

Walter’s father William died in 1904, aged 80, and is unlikely to have played a major role in running the business for several years prior to that.

In 1893, Walter married Annie Louisa Blackster. Annie was the daughter of Louisa Blackster, licensee of the Green Dragon at 145, Norfolk Street, next door to Arthur Trenowath’s drapery store. Walter acted as executor when Louisa died in 1896. Walter and Annie had seven children, the youngest of whom died in infancy:-

1) Walter Percy (b. 1894). 2) Stanley William (b. 1895 – d. 1906). 3) Nelly Louisa (b. 1897 – m. George F. Drudge in 1919 – d. 1980/1). 4) Raymond (b. 1898/9 – d. 1957, aged 58). 5) Elsie Annie (b. 1900 – d. 1984). 6) Norah (b. 1902 – d. 1981). 7) Gladys Blackster (b. 1912 – died in infancy).

In 1889, Trenowath Brothers moved their drapery branch (under Tomson’s management) into No. 110, High Street, and their furniture removal, cabinet making and paper hanging branch to Nos. 73 & 74, High Street. They placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 23rd March that year:-

‘PLEASE NOTE: TRENOWATH BROS., LYNN, HAVE REMOVED their Drapery Branch from 109, High Street, to their larger premises next door (No. 110), where the alterations and improvements, now complete, they trust will tend to your further support. SEE THE NEW WINDOWS. THE FURNISHING REMOVAL & PAPER-HANGING DEPARTMENTS Are removed to 74, High Street (the White Shop facing Norfolk Street), of which an inspection is respectfully invited. March 23rd 1889’.

Although this notice gives only No. 74 in the address, it seems that both shops were combined at that date.

Walter and Ada’s eldest son, (Walter) Percy, born in 1894, joined his father in the furniture and removal business, which remained Trenowath Brothers until about 1921 when the original partnership was formally dissolved and Walter and Percy formed Trenowath & Son.

One of the services offered by Trenowath Bros., in the early years of the 20th Century was carpet beating and cleaning, and in an advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 8th May 1903, they promoted this service with these words:-

‘It is an undoubted and established fact that to have one’s Carpets Beaten and Cleared from Dust, is the bête noir of every household. By the establishment of the above Works this need be no longer so, as Trenowath Bros. take the whole trouble from off the hands of the Owner by collecting the Carpets in their dirty state, thus taking the entire nuisance of beating and its consequent discomforts into their hands, and returning them ready for relaying, perfectly cleared of dirt and dust, moth and their larvae eradicated, whilst the colours and texture are revived in a wonderful manner, every inch of Carpet having been acted upon with mathematical precision and without the slightest damage to the fabric – a result that cannot be obtained by the old-fashioned and time-honoured methods of hand-shaking, beating with sticks, etc., and this at such a small outlay as not to call for consideration when contrasted with the great advantage gained. This desirable result is attained by the use of the acknowledged Best Patent Carpet-Beating Machine Extant. We therefore solicit your patronage and support, knowing that “once used always used” will be your verdict. Prices for Washing and Cleaning Carpets upon application. We have special arrangements for Disinfecting Carpets after illness, etc. Carpets can be Collected and Returned any day during the season April, May and June; out of season we beat Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, or oftener as required. We would particularly ask your inspection of our Large Stock of New and Second-hand Carpets – Axminster, Turkey, Wilton, Persian, Japanese, Velvet Pile, Brussels, Kidderminster. Etc., at prices which will compare favourably with any London House.’ 

Unfortunately, not every contract for carpet cleaning was successfully completed. On Friday, 30th January, 1903, a fire at their carpet cleaning works destroyed some carpets from Sandringham House, as reported in the Manchester Courier on 2nd. February:-

‘THE KING’S CARPETS DESTROYED. Among the goods destroyed by a fire at King’s Lynn on Friday night were several of the largest and best carpets from Sandringham House. The building in which the fire occurred was used by Messrs. Trenowath Brothers as a sawmill, carpet beating works and furniture store. A large quantity of antique furniture was destroyed. The local fire brigade was enjoying their annual dinner when they received the call.’

Trenowath Brothers moved furniture to destinations throughout the British Isles and overseas. Amongst their testimonials is one dated 2nd June 1886 from Gerald Cresswell who had moved to Texas, USA:-

‘Sirs, – I have the pleasure of informing you that the furniture, glass, china, marble slabs, looking glasses, etc., which you packed for me last year have arrived and all have been unpacked to my great satisfaction, only trifling damage occurred in one case. The cost of making the cases (which was well done), packing same, all of which I left to you, was, I consider, very reasonable, and I return you many thanks for the care, courtesy, and business-like way which all was carried out.’

Their list of customers at around that date included:- Lord Cranworth of Letton Hall; Admiral Sir G.H. Noel who’s furniture was moved from Fincham to China; nine Norfolk parsons, and six members of the local Police Force. Destinations included London, St. Leonards-on-Sea, Derby, Coventry, Eton College, Andover, Southsea, and Bexhill-on-Sea.

Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, King Edward VII gave Osborne House on the Isle of Wight to the nation and it was not occupied again by the Royal Family. In 1902, Trenowath Brothers, who received Warrants of Appointment from the King and Queen, moved much of the furniture from Osborne House to other Royal residences, including Sandringham, Balmoral, Windsor and Buckingham Palace. The extract below is from one of the firm’s promotional brochures c1904.

In addition to their premises at Nos. 73 & 74 High Street, Trenowath Brothers had stabling and storage facilities in King Street, a pantechnicon van depository, with eight large vans, in Gaywood Road, a carpet cleaning works at ‘The Old Foundry’ and second-hand furniture shop in King Street. Walter continued his upholstery and cabinet-making business for several more years and made bespoke items of reproduction furniture. One such item was a chair made for Queen Maude of Norway which was put on display in the King Street shop. One day when Walter was away, the chair was sold to another customer by an assistant who did not know that it had been commissioned by the Queen! The chair was eventually delivered safely to the Queen and a replica made for the other customer.

An advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 5th October 1906 read:-

‘FIREWOOD! FIREWOOD! FIREWOOD! Hard or Soft Wood Chumps, 1/3 per sack, delivered free. – Trenowath Bros., 73 and 74 High Street.’

Another on 7th December the same year read:-

‘SECTIONAL Marquee for hire, Suitable for Balls, Dancing Parties, Banquets, Weddings, Receptions, Shooting Luncheons etc; nicely decorated, erected and furnished complete with boarded floor. Moderate terms. Trenowath Bros., 74 High Street.’

Transport had been an important part of the Trenowath business from the earliest days, when William operated horse-drawn removal vans. This side of the business continued from strength to strength and horses eventually gave way to petrol and diesel-engined vans. Walter retired from the business in 1921 and died on 17th May the following year.

Percy decided to concentrate on the removal side of the business and to expand his tent and marquee hire service. The furniture business at Nos. 73 & 74, High Street was taken over by Mr. Benjamin G. Culey but he soon sold up so that he could dispose of the premises to F. W. Woolworth & Co. Mr. Culey was well-known in Lynn as a property developer and it may be that he bought the business as a speculative investment.

Advertisements by Trenowath & Son in the Lynn Advertiser in 1922 include one for their funeral service and another for charabanc trips to Sandringham Flower Show. The illustration above, right, from the Lynn Advertiser on 31st October 1924, shows a Leyland motor van pulling a pantechnicon trailer. The business had become that of Trenowath & Son and they had moved from High Street by that date. In Kellys Directory for 1933, the entry is ‘Trenowath & Son, Haulage & General Contractors, Furniture Removers, tent contractors & ball furnishers, undertakers etc., King Street’.

Percy Trenowath married Ada Margaret Collins (b. 20th February, 1896) in 1920. They had one daughter, Margaret Annie (b. 23rd July, 1922 – m. Maurice Leslie Norman Benson ).

Norman Benson was born on 5th October, 1919. He joined Trenowath & Son Ltd., and took over the business when Percy died in 1956.

Trenowath & Son Ltd was dissolved in 1980, and Norman Benson died in 2004.

1922 (Benjamin George Culey)

Trenowath & Son moved out of their High Street premises in 1921/2 when they were bought by Benjamin George Culey who opened a furniture shop.

Benjamin Culey was born in 1878/9 in Lynn, the son of David Culey (b. c1846) and Patience Sophia Beckett (b. c1845 in Sporle, Norfolk). David was the landlord of the Ship Inn, Queen Street, Lynn for several years between about 1878 and 1907.

Benjamin Culey’s furniture shop was open for less than a year. On 23rd June, 1922, all of his stock was offered for sale (see advertisement, right), and the premises were quickly vacated, making way for F. W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd. to open a branch in Lynn.

1922 – 2006 (F. W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd.)

Known as the ‘Bazaar Stores’, F. W. Woolworth announced the opening of their King’s Lynn branch in the Lynn Advertiser towards the end of September, 1922:-

‘F. W. WOOLWORTH & Co., Ltd., 3d & 6d DEPARTMENT STORES, Will OPEN their New and Extensive Premises at 73 & 74, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN, FRIDAY, SEPT. 29th, at 2.30pm., For Inspection Only. OPEN for BUSINESS – SATURDAY MORNING, SEPT. 30th, at 9.00am. DEPARTMENTS: Sweets, Jewellery, Ribbon, Handkerchiefs, Drapery, Chocolates, Boot Repairing Goods, Laces, Neckwear, Biscuits, Haberdashery, Veiling, Stationery, Toilet, Fancy Goods, Brushes, Paint, Gas Goods, Cutlery, Hardware, Toys, Glassware, Crockery, Tinware, Enamelware, New Season Bulbs. NOTHING IN THESE STORES OVER 6d.’

Earlier in the year they had applied for permission to alter the premises.

The founder of the company was Frank Winfield Woolworth, born in 1852 in Rodman, New York. His father was a small farmer and the family was poor. He took a job as a clerk in a general store and noticed that a five-cent clearance sale that they held was extremely successful. This gave him the idea for setting up a store to sell goods at that price. His first store, in Utica, New York, opened in 1879, was a failure but he tried again at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and this was a great success, trading under the name ‘Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store’. Frank brought his brother Charles Sumner (Sum) into the business and they recruited several family members to become store managers and investors in the business.

F.W. Woolworth took personal charge of the most important aspects of the business, including the selection and ordering of goods. He bypassed the candy wholesalers and dealt direct with the makers, and he moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1886 to be closer to his other suppliers. He also masterminded the presentation of goods in his stores and chose the distinctive design of the bright red store fronts.

The growth of the Woolworth chain of stores between 1890 and 1910 was extraordinary, and by 1912 they had 631 branches. They merged with five of their biggest competitors, and in 1913 the Woolworth Building in New York, then the tallest skyscraper in the world, was built.

By 1915 Woolworth was spending much of his time in Europe overseeing his expansion there. He died in 1919.

F.W. Woolworth came to England in 1909, when they opened a store in Liverpool. There was an American tradition of having a viewing day for new stores, and on 5th November that year, there was a full orchestra, circus acts and fireworks to launch the Liverpool branch. Woolworth enlisted William Lawrence Stephenson (1880 – 1963) to become a director of F. W. Woolworth Ltd. in Britain. The British HQ was built at 242, Marylebone Road in London in 1955, designed by the architects Richard Seifert & Partners in an art-deco style with sculptures by Bainbridge Copnall MBE (1803 – 1973).

By 1914, there were 40 stores in Great Britain and Ireland, but many of their senior managers lost their lives during WWI, giving lower tier staff the opportunity for promotion.

William Stephenson became managing director after the war and led a major expansion programme. By 1930 there were 400 stores in Britain, and the following year the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange. The 600th store opened in 1934, but expansion ceased during the Second World War and did not pick up again until the 1950s, peaking in the late 1960s at 1,141 branches.

The American parent company sold out in 1982, at which date the number of stores in this country had been reduced to about 1,000.

Large out of town Woolco stores were developed in the 1960s but with limited success and they were sold off in the early 1980s. In 1982 the British company was acquired by Paternoster Stores Ltd. (later Kingfisher plc.). There was a considerable amount of downsizing and selling off during the 1980s, with Woolworths vacating their larger town and city buildings and moving into smaller single storey units. Some larger stores were rebranded as ‘Big W’, but again with only limited success, and the venture was abandoned in 2004, with a few being rebranded as ‘Woolworth Out Of Town Stores.

Over an eleven day period at the end of December 2008 and the start of January 2009, a total of 807 stores were closed across the country. On 19th January 2009, the Woolworths Group announced that it was entering administration, which was confirmed by the High Court on 27th January.

The King’s Lynn branch moved from High Street in March, 2006, opening at 40, Broad Street in the Vancouver Quarter of the town centre. However, the store was not there for long, being in the first tranche of closures on 27th December, 2008.