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No. 80, High Street

1830 (William Hunter)

William Hunter, the clerk to the markets, was here in 1830 (Pigot).

 1830 (Richard Mason)

Richard Mason, a straw hat maker, was here in 1830 (Pigot).

 c1836 – 1851 (Thomas Valentine Wright)

White’s Directory for 1836 lists Thomas Valentine Wright, a boot and shoe maker at this address.

Born in Walsingham in about 1798, he had become the mayor’s officer by 1846 and the County Court High Bailiff by 1850. Thomas and his wife Elizabeth had one daughter:-

Mary Ann (b. c1834 – m. Solomon Stern(e), a Russian cigar merchant, in 1851 – d. 1900/01, aged 66).

In 1841, it would appear that he was at No. 97, High Street, although no numbers are given in the census. If indeed he was at that address, it could not have been for very long, unless he ran two shops for a while.

In 1842, he placed advertisements in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘Impilia Boots. T. V. WRIGHT Begs respectfully to inform the Inhabitants of Lynn and its Neighbourhood, that he is appointed Sole Agent for the Manufacture of the IMPILIA BOOTS & SHOES, and is the only Agent within 28 miles of this place. BOOTS and SHOES according to this Patent, having a Preparation of Horse Hair mechanically, but imperceptibly, compressed within the inner and outer Soles, REPEL the wet and ABSORB the perspiration; – they are ELASIC and COMFORTABLE; NO COLD NOR DAMP can penetrate the soles; – for TENDER FEET or CORNS they are perfectly LUXURIOUS; the WEARER may tread the roughest pavement without inconvenience; – they DO NOT CREAK; are equally CHEAP, MORE DURABLE, and in appearance precisely similar to other Boots and Shoes.’

Thomas Valentine Wright was listed at this address in White’s directory for 1845, but he had given up the boot and shoe business by 1851, when he was living in Broad Street, and acting as County Court High Bailiff, Inspector of Weights & Measures and clerk to the market. He died in 1859, aged about 61.

1851 – 1875 (Joseph Barnes)

Joseph Barnes, a boot and shoe maker born in Woodbridge, Suffolk in about 1827, took over these premises in about 1851.

He was the son of boot maker John Popham Barnes (b. c1797 in Woodbridge – d. 1865, aged about 68) and his wife Peggy (b. c1896 in Woodbridge – d. 1870, aged 75). They had five children, all born in Woodbridge:-

1) George, a wholesale boot and shoe manufacturer c1861 (b. c1824). 2) Joseph – see below (b. c1827 – m. Mary Ann Dowsing in 1847). 3) Margaret (b. c1829). 4) Sarah (b. c1831). 5) Robert, a boot maker (b. c1833 – m. Elizabeth Ann Widger in 1853/4).

Joseph Barnes was working as a boot closer for his father in Woodbridge in 1841, when aged 14. He married Mary Ann Dowsing (b. c1823 in Orford, Suffolk) in 1847, and they moved to Lynn. They were living at No. 80 in 1851. Joseph and Mary Ann had seven or more children, all but the eldest being born in Lynn:-

1) Joseph George, a commercial traveller (b. 1848 in Woodbridge – m. Esther Ashby Cock in 1876/7 – d. 1884, aged 36). 2) Matilda Stanley (b. 1852 – m. William Samuel Valentine Miles in 1874 – d. 1913, aged 60). 3) William (b. c1856). 4) Thomas – see below (b. 1855 – d. 23/02/1923, aged 67). 5) Mary A. M., a boot and shoe seller c1901 (b. c1856 – d. 1940, aged 85). 6) Clara (b. 1856). 7) Florence (b. 1858/9 – m. Alfred Joseph Browning, an insurance clerk, in 1889/90 – d. 1930, aged 70).

Between about 1851 until October 1854, Joseph rented out rooms to Mr. Rowney, a dental surgeon, who advertised his services in the Lynn Advertiser on a regular basis throughout this period. On 28th October, 1854, he placed the following announcement in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘MR. ROWNEY, Dentist, Removed to 27, Whitefriar Gate, Hull. Mr. R. will visit LYNN monthly, and may be consulted on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 14th and 15th, from 10 till 6, at Mr. BARNES’S, 80, High Street.’ 

Joseph’s business seems to have flourished, and by 1871 he was employing ten assistants. In 1872, he was renting out space for Mr. H. J. Wigmore’s dental surgery on the first and third Tuesday each month.

In 1875, the business was abruptly closed down and the stock was advertised for sale:-


To Shoemakers, Shopkeepers, etc. To be sold by Auction, by Messrs. MILES and SON, on Tuesday, March 23rd, 1875, the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, STOCK-In-TRADE, FIXTURES, etc. Upon the above premises, Comprising 500 to 800 pairs of men’s, women’s and children’s boots and shoes of every description, leggings, slippers, overshoes, calf patent sole leather, uppers, elastic webbing, laces, etc. Sale to commence at 10.30am with the boots and leather, furniture at 2.p.m.’

On 19th June, 1875, the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘RE JOSEPH BARNES, HIGH STREET, LYNN, BOOTMAKER. All Persons having any claims or demand against the Estate of Joseph Barnes, 80, High Street, King’s Lynn, boot and shoemaker, are requested to forward them to Mr. Geo Barnes, 8 & 9 High Street, Whitechapel, London; or to C. Barnes, 80, High Street, King’s Lynn. E. M. Beloe, Solicitor, Lynn. 13th May, 1875.’

(Geo Barnes was Joseph’s elder brother George who had a successful boot and shoe manufacturing business in London). It is not clear what had happened. The two most likely causes for the difficulty are that Joseph had hit some financial trouble or that he was suffering from a debilitating illness that made it impossible for him to continue to run the business. It may have been that he did fall ill and that this led to financial problems.

Whatever the cause of the problems, they were soon resolved and Joseph’s wife Mary Ann stepped up to take on the running of the business. She placed a notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 10th July, 1875, announcing the re-opening of the business (see below).

1875 – c1883 (Mary Ann Barnes)

Mary Ann Barnes ran the business on her own for about eight years, from 1875, and she was listed in the directories for 1877 (Harrod) through to 1883 (White and Kelly). However, the 1881 census records Joseph as head of the household and as a shoemaker employing 6 men, 2 women and 1 boy.

At first, it would seem, Joseph continued to work in the business and in 1881 he was listed as a shoemaker employing six men, two women and one boy. The women were his daughters Clara and Florence (it may be that Clara was the C. Barnes referred to in the notice dated 13th May, 1875, although she would have been about fourteen years old at that time). By 1891, however, Joseph had disappeared from the records. Although Mary Ann was still married, according to the censuses of 1891 and 1901, she was the head of the household and Joseph was not at home. He has not been found in any institution or living elsewhere in the country.

It is not known when Joseph Barnes died.

The notice above appeared in the Lynn Advertiser on 10th July, 1875. In the same issue of the Lynn Advertiser, Mr. Wigmore gave notice that he was resuming his consultations at No. 80.

‘Old-Established FRENCH and ENGLISH BOOT and SHOE WAREHOUSE, 60, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. This Establishment has been RE-OPENED, and is now under the management of M. A. BARNES. A Well Selected Stock of LADIES’S, GENTLEMEN’S, and CHILDREN’S NEW & FANCY FRENCH & ENGLISH BOOTS & SHOES, which can be recommended with the greatest confidence, being of first-class make and quality, not to be surpassed. HUNTING AND SHOOTING BOOTS MADE TO ORDER. Experienced Workmen on the Premises. All Orders Promptly Attended To. May 13th 1875.’

In 1883, when aged over 60, Thomas came back to Lynn to take charge of the business, which then became Barnes & Son.

Mary Ann Barnes died in 1905, aged 83.

c1883 – c1922 (Barnes & Son) (Thomas Barnes)

In Kelly’s Directory for 1892, the business is listed as Barnes & Son, boot & shoe maker. They are listed in 1900 as Barnes & Son (Established 1821), high class boot & shoe makers & warehouse for shooting, riding, fishing boots etc.

Thomas had served his apprenticeship in Bedford and remained there until the call came to assist his mother in the business at Lynn, in 1883. He did not marry, but had several interests in the town. He was a sidesman at St. Margaret’s church for several years, was a member of the St. James’ Conservative Club and captain (later president) of the Bowling Club.

Following his mother’s death in 1905, Thomas ran the business on his own, until his death on 23rd February, 1923, aged 67.

Following his death, the whole of his stock was bought by Catleughs of Lynn who held a sale at No. 80 for a fortnight, from Friday 23rd March, 1923.

1923 – c1954 (William Johnson King)

William Johnson King (b. 1840 in Lynn) was a watchmaker and jeweller and had a shop at No. 54, High Street, from about 1871 until 1917. More details about his family may be found at No. 54.

He then moved to No. 83, High Street before coming to No. 80 in September, 1923. A notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 21st of that month read:-

‘REMOVAL. W. J. KING, Watchmaker & Jeweller, Begs to announce that he has removed his business from No. 83, High Street to 80 High Street, (lately occupied by Messrs. T. Barnes & Sons).

He had been here for barely three months when he died, on 6th January, 1924, aged 83.

The business continued under his name for about 30 years or so. For Christmas 1939 they advertised:-

‘CHRISTMAS GIFTS. W. J. KING, Watchmaker and Jeweller, 80, HIGH STREET., KING’S LYNN. See our Window when selecting your XMAS PRESENTS. A Special Show of Watches, Rings, Paste Necklets, Bracelets, Clips, Cultured Pearl Necklets, and Ear-rings.’

It is not known who ran the business after William King’s death, but it is clear that it remained within the family. His widow Jane died in January, 1930, aged 74. His children pursued other careers and / or moved away from Lynn. However, Ida Agnes King (b. 1884), who worked as a dance teacher in Yeovil c1911, came back to Lynn and had taken charge of the business by 1951. She appears to have retired in 1954. She died in 1966, aged 82.

1954 – c1973 (W. Purdy Ltd.)

Purdy the bakers were the next to open a shop at No. 80. The firm was founded by Walter Purdy in Great Yarmouth, where they had their factory and head office in Ormond Street. By 1937 they had eight shops in Yarmouth, where they were mainly concentrated. They spread further afield, however, and the Lynn branch was their 15th when it opened.

The new shop was designed by Norwich Architect A. D. Cooke, and had a sheet glass front that extended from ceiling to floor, with no traditional shop window. This was quite an innovation for that date.

The manageress appointed to the new shop was Miss Hilda Winifred Setchell (b. 1903 in Lynn – d. 1988 in Bournemouth).