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No. 78, High Street

No. 78 is one of the narrower frontage shops in the street. Between about 1836 and 1848 it was a butcher’s shop. For the next eighty years it was occupied by a succession of tailors.

 1830 (Thomas Platten)

The auctioneer and appraiser Thomas Platten was listed here by Pigot in 1830.

 c1836 – 1848 (John Smith)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists John Smith, a butcher, at this address. He may have been here earlier than that date.

In 1841, John (b. c1778, in Norfolk) and his wife Ann (b. c1783 in Heacham, Norfolk) were living on the premises with two of their children, Robert (b. c1823) and Maria (b. c1825).

John Smith died in 1848, aged 69, and Ann moved to Kirby Street where she rented out accommodation. She had died by 1861.

Robert Smith followed his father into the butcher’s business and had a shop in Church Street in 1851.

The freehold of the premises were sold at auction at the Duke’s Head on 19th June, 1848.

1848 – c1890 (Robert Fuller)

Robert Fuller established a tailor’s shop at No. 77 in about 1839 but had moved by 1849, and was listed at No. 78 in Slater’s directory for 1850.

Born in Lynn in about 1820, Robert Fuller married Sarah Robertson (b. c1813 in North Runcton) in 1839/40. They were living over the shop at No. 77 in 1841 and moved here with the business in 1848. Robert and Sarah had two children, both born in Lynn:-

1) Elizabeth (b. 1844). 2) Sarah Jane (b. 1848 m. William Henry Gray in 1871).

Robert and Sarah lived at No. 78 for the rest of their lives. Sarah died in 1873, aged 62, and Robert died in 1894, aged 79.

For several years Robert Fuller acted as a collector of water rents but he found that the duties interfered with his business commitments and he resigned the appointment in October, 1866.

c1890 – 1902 (Fuller & Robertson)

Robert Fuller recruited two of his wife’s nephews into the business, William Robertson (b. 1844 in Norwich), and James Chamberlain Robertson (b. 1851/2, in North Runcton).

In 1861, William Robertson was working as an apprentice in the shop. He married Rosanna Farrow (b. c1849 in Lynn) in 1869 and they moved to Liverpool, where he worked as a tailor’s cutter. By 1881 he had become a foreman tailor and the family were living in Halifax.

It is not known when James Robertson started working at No. 78, but it is likely that he was also apprenticed to Robert Fuller by 1871. He married Agnes Thrower (b. c1856 in North Runcton) in 1877/8 and they set up home in Friars Street before moving to Guanock Place, where they were living in 1891.

By 1890, James Robertson had become a partner in the business and the name was changed to Fuller & Robertson, the first directory entry for the new name being in White’s directory for that year.

Robert Fuller was still living at No. 78, but following his death in 1894 James and Agnes moved into the house. They had three daughters, all born in Lynn:-

1) Ethel May (b. 1878/9). 2) Mabel Agnes (b. 1881). 3) Nora Elsie (b. 1884).

1902 – 1911 (James Chamberlain Robertson)

James Chamberlain Robertson changed the name of the business in 1902, placing the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 21st February that year:-

‘J. C. ROBERTSON, By Appointment To His Majesty The King, 78, High Street, Lynn, TAILOR, HABIT & BREECHES MAKER, Takes this opportunity of thanking his Customers and Friends for their past support, and to inform them that the business successfully carried on by him for many years under the title of FULLER & ROBERTSON, Will In Future Be Known As J. C. ROBERTSON only. LADIES’ JACKETS, COATS & SKIRTS, A SPECIALITY.’

His business was listed here in Kelly’s directory for 1912, but he died in the latter half of 1911, aged 59.

1914 – c1932 (John Kirk)

On 23rd October, 1914, John Kirk announced in the Lynn Advertiser that he was moving his shop from No. 67 to No. 78:-

‘JOHN KIRK, Tailor, Lynn, HAS REMOVED FROM 67, HIGH STREET, To 78, HIGH STREET (Late J. C. Robertson’s Shop – Opposite Mr. King, Jeweller).’

John Kirk was born in Lynn in 1877, the son of George Kirk (b. Ireland c1843) and Jane Thorpe (b. Boston 1847) – see Nos. 65 and 72, High Street.

John married Edith Davy in 1910/11. She had been born in Sheffield in 1883, the daughter of Alfred Gratton Davy and Caroline Coates. Alfred was a draper who had worked for a few years in Sheffield and Birkenhead before coming to Lynn and setting up shop in Norfolk Street. The family were living at ‘Edale’, Tennyson Avenue, in 1911. Alfred died in Lynn in 1916, aged 67.

John and Edith Kirk were living at ‘Ingleside’, Gaywood Road, Lynn in 1911. They had one daughter, Eileen, born in Lynn in 1913.

He stayed here until about 1932.

1932 – 1933 (J. Cox & Sons – aka the Vare Brothers) (Amy Georgina Vare)

On 15th July, 1932, bicycle dealers J. Cox & Sons (aka the Vare Brothers) placed an advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘200 BICYCLES Are Definitely In Stock Now At J. COX & SONS (The VARE Brothers) The Oldest-Established (1849) and Largest Bicycle People, 18, 19, 20, Railway Road & 78, High Street, King’s Lynn. EVERY LEADING MAKE STOCKED. S. A. – The best of all. FLEET – The best medium priced. KIRMER ARROW – Famous at £2/18/6. Also Raleigh, Ariel, Hercules, Royal Enfield, and all the others. When you come to us you do not see just one or two makes, but all of them, side by side, and so you can be sure of having what you want. We have the largest stock of bicycle accessories anywhere in this district, and a modern workshop for repairs. Our stock of Cycle Tyres exceeds 3,000, priced from 1/11½ upwards. We have a special stock of Dunlop Clearance Covers and Tubes at low prices unobtainable elsewhere.’

In August of 1932 year they applied for permission to alter the premises. It is not clear how long they stayed here but, at the same time as the cycle shop was here, No. 78 also provided premises for a hair salon, run by Mrs. A. G. Vare (mother of the brothers).

Further details of the Cox family are given at No. 56, High Street.

Caroline Cox (b. c1849) was the daughter of bicycle maker Joseph Cox (b. c1822) and Caroline Bethel (b. c1821). She married David Thomas Vare in 1875, and they had one son, Alfred (b. 1876 in Fulham, London – d. 1925/6, aged 49, in Lynn).

Alfred Vare married Amy Georgina Kirby (b. 1882 in Lynn) in 1904, and they had three sons, all born in Lynn:-

1) Philip Alfred (b. 21/12/1906 – d. 1977, aged 70). 2) Jack Eldon (b. 23/06/1910 – d. 1983, aged 73). 3) Peter Robin (b. 08/03/1914 – d. 1973, aged 59).

It is probable that all three formed the Vare Brothers partnership which opened the cycle shop here.

The only reference so far found to the cycle shop is in the 1932 advertisement. Similarly, the hair salon of Amy Vare only appears in Kelly’s directory for 1933.

It may well be that the businesses were here for only a short time, and that the Vares abandoned the cycle business in favour of selling and maintaining motor cars. The only listings in 1937 (Kelly) are for J. Cox & Sons, Motor Engineers, 18, Railway Road, and Philip A. E. Vare, Motor Car Dealer, 19 & 20, Railway Road.

The Vare family moved to Cambridge. Amy died in 1958/9, Peter in 1973, Philip in 1977, and Jack in 1983.

1933 – 1936 (Salon Moderne)

On 6th January, 1933, a notice in the Lynn Advertiser announced the opening of a ladies’ and gentlemen’s hair salon:-

‘Announcing the Opening of SALON MODERNE. Ladies’ & Gentlemen’s Highest-Class Hairdressing Salon at 78, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. You can now have competent and clever London West-End Hairdressers attend to you at usual local charges. Only the best possible equipment and materials are used, under hygienic conditions. Your comfort while waiting is carefully provided for. Seldom is such an establishment found out of London’s West End. SPECIALITIES ARE – EUGENE PERMANENT WAVING, with the latest machine by an Eugene expert, using genuine Eugene sachets and materials …… 37/6. Ladies’ BEAUTY CULTURE, and Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s CHIROPODY, MANICURE, VIOLET RAY, HIGH FREQUENCY, VIBRO TREATMENTS, by qualified practical operators. In stock are leading Beauty Preparations, Cosmetics, Toiletry, Perfumery, Dainty Novelties, and Boudoir Ornaments. CHARGES ARE MODEST: Ladies’ haircutting …… 1/- Children’s haircutting …… 6d. Gentleman’s haircutting …… 8d. Gentlemen’s shaving …… 4d. Other prices in accordance.’

It is not clear whether this was a new business taking over the one started by Amy Vare and listed in Kelly’s directory for 1933, or whether this was the name that she gave to her salon. Her name does not appear in the advertisements for ‘Salon Moderne’, including an item in the Lynn Advertiser for 31st March, 1933:-

‘SALON MODERNE, 78, High Street, King’s Lynn. ‘Phone 638. The most fashionable West Norfolk Hairdressers have increased their staff of competent operators with the services of two ladies of high ability and experience. Miss V. Sergeant and Miss O. Dean, engaged direct from the West End of London. The excellent services provided by our Miss K. Dorrell, Mr. L. Woods, and Mr. D. Crane, is now well-known to a large clientèle. We practise perfect hygiene by sterilising all our instruments and preserving spotless cleanliness, as is desirable and necessary in a modern salon of the best type. We wish to secure the patronage of County clients – ladies and gentlemen – who may at present be visiting London for their hairdressing. Please telephone 638 and arrange an appointment.’

c1936 (Emmerson & Youngman)

Kelly’s directory for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk for 1937 lists the hairdressers Emmerson & Youngman at both No. 78 and at No. 86, where more information about the business will be found.

1946 – 1950 (Solesta Ltd.)

In the Lynn Advertiser for 30th August, 1946, Solesta, a shop specialising in ladies’ coats, announced that it would soon be opening at No. 78. They stayed here until 1st December, 1950, when they moved to No. 121, High Street.

1951 – 1973 (Dolcis Shoe Co. Ltd.) (Upsons Ltd.)

On 16th February, 1951, Dolcis placed an advertisement in the Lynn News & Advertiser, they illustrated two of their latest styles, under the text:-

‘Move-for-your money styles at 78, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. See the wonderful collection of ladies’ fashion shoes … town and country styles for men … Freetoze for children. DOLCIS The most modern shoe store in the Eastern Counties.’

The business was founded by John Upson, who had a street barrow on Woolwich market in 1863.

John had been born in Saxmundham, Suffolk in 1823. His parents were John and Martha Upson. He was apprenticed to William Gardener, a Suffolk boot maker and was working for him in 1841 at Market Hill, Framlingham.

In 1842/3, John married Hannah Hearn (b. c1820 in Framlingham), and they had nine children:-

1) Clara (b. 1843 in Framlingham). 2) Laura (b. 1845 in Peasonhall, Suffolk). 3) Frederick Willie (b. 1850 in Newington, London – d. 1930, aged 80). 4) Alice Mary Jane (b. 1852 in Bexley, Kent). 5) Alma Albert (b. 1855 in Bexley – d. 1876, aged 21). 6) Arthur John (b. 1856 in Bexley – m. Mary Ann Holloway in 1876). 7) John Franklin Napier (b. 1857 in Bexley). 8) Charles Walter John (b. 1858 in Framlingham – d. 1907, aged 49). 9) Louisa Mariana Minnie (b. 1862/3 in Plumstead, Kent – m. Frederick William Wacher on 21/01/1885 – d. 1913, aged 50).

John Upson’s first shop was in Woolwich and he called it the ‘Great Boot Provider’. In 1851, when he was living in Newington, he gave his occupation as ‘wholesale boot manufacturer’. Ten years later the family was living in Plumstead, Kent, and he gave his occupation as that of a boot maker. The family stayed in Plumstead for over ten years before there appears to have been a break up between John and Hannah. The latter was living apart from her husband in 1881 and 1891.

Hannah Upson died in 18943/5, aged 75.

John had moved to St. Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex by 1901, where he lived at ‘Vale Mascal’, Hollington Park, a large house which he had altered and extended in 1894. He also owned another large house in Hollington Park, ‘West Dene’. He died at ‘Vale Mascal’ on 21st October, 1909, aged 86.

The business that he founded was floated on the stock exchange in 1920 and expanded until it was bought by Sir Charles Clore’s British Shoe Corporation in 1956 (see also Freeman, Hardy & Willis at No. 47, and Benefit at No. 38). In 1967 the headquarters was moved to Leicester. Dolcis remained a strong brand within BSC. In 1988 Dolcis became the pilot within BSC for the introduction of Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) equipment.

In 1998 Dolcis was bought by the Alexon Group and moved to Luton. In 2006, John Kinnaird bought the business and announced ambitious plans to refurbish the stores and update the brand. The number of Dolcis stores by this date had reduced to 65, but there were over 150 Dolcis concessions, many within Bay Trading and Envy stores. In 2007 Dolcis launched online trading. However, the business was losing £6m a year and went into administration in January, 2008. Eventually the footwear retailer Stylo stepped in to take it out of administration, rebranding the shops as Barratts. The Dolcis name was lost from the High Street.

In 2012, the Jacobson Group acquired the brand and Dolcis was relaunched on line for the 2013 spring / summer season.

It is not known when the Dolcis branch at 78, High Street closed.

2007 (First Choice)

The travel agents First Choice were here in 2007.