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No. 82, High Street

c1822-1827 (William Creak)

William Creak, a linen and woollen draper, placed the following notice in the Norfolk Chronicle on 6th January, 1827:-

‘Wm. CREAK, High Street, Lynn, Begs leave to return his grateful thanks to the Ladies of Lynn, its neighbourhood, and his Friends generally, for the very liberal and extensive support he has received for several years past, and respectfully informs them, that he has declined business in favour of his Brother, ROBERT CREAK, for whom he most respectfully solicits a continuance of that kind patronage and support which he so long experienced. N.B. – All accounts due to the late firm of W. Creak and Son, are requested to be paid to R. Creak.’

The business of William Creak & Son had been formed many years earlier by William Creak snr. (b. c1755 – m. Susanna Causton on 27th April, 1776). He and Susanna had three children who were baptised in the town:-

1) William (b. 1777 – m. Mary Hunter on 28/05/1806 – d. 15/10/1855, aged 78). 2) Robert (b. 1778 – d. 1779). 3) Robert (b. c1785 – m. Miriam – d. 30/12/1842, aged 57).

The business of William Creak & Son appears to have been a partnership between the two Williams, while Robert Creak had his own business (see below). After retiring from business, William jnr. lived in Valingers Road in the town. By 1851 he and Mary had moved to London Road, and he was recorded as a Proprietor of houses.

William Creak jnr. died in 1855, aged 78, and Mary died in 1864, aged about 82.

 1822 – 1841 (Robert Creak)

Robert Creak placed a notice in the Lynn Advertiser below that of his brother’s and it infers that he was in business on his own account elsewhere in town:-

‘ROBERT CREAK, Impressed with sentiments of gratitude for the liberal encouragement he has received since his commencement in business, begs most respectfully to acquaint the Ladies of Lynn and its vicinity, his Friends, and the Public, that he has taken the premises late in the occupation of his Brother, where he has an Extensive and well assorted STOCK of LINEN DRAPERY, HOSIERY, HABERDASHERY, etc., and assures them that every effort on his part shall be made to merit a continuance of their patronage. FUNERALS FURNISHED. Lynn, Jan 5th. 1827.’

Pigot’s directory for 1822/3 included his business, and it was somewhere on High Street, but no number was given. He was listed at No. 82 in 1836 (White) but had retired by 1841 when he was living in London Road.

He died on 30/12/1842, aged 57, and Miriam died in 1865, aged 84.

c1841 – c1868 (Joseph Kerkham)

Joseph Kerkham established one of High Street’s most prominent drapery establishments at No. 82. He took over the premises in about 1841 or 1842 and in the Lynn Advertiser published on 25th October in the latter year, he advertised a sale of bankrupt stock:-

‘BANKRUPT STOCK, Now Selling At J. KERKHAM’s, High Street, Lynn, CONSISTING of a large quantity of FANCY DRESSES of all descriptions, RIBBONS, SCARFS, HANDKERCHIEFS, CLOAKINGS, and ORLEANS CLOTHS, etc., which will be sold at less than half their value. N. B. – J. K. has also just received a large STOCK of GENERAL DRAPERY GOODS, well adapted for the present Season, which he is enabled to offer at such Prices as will ensure a Ready Sale.’

Joseph was born in about 1813 in Sutton, Lincolnshire, and married one of his cousins, Rebecca Kerkham, in 1839. Joseph and Rebecca had at least six children, all but the eldest being born in Lynn:-

1) Joseph, a farmer at Terrington (b. 1840 in Terrington – m. Esther Mercy Silvester in 1863 – d. 1881, aged 40). 2) Francis (b. 1841 – see below). 3) John Thomas, a draper in London (b. 1843 – m. Margaret Anna Flatt in 1866, Kezia Smith in 1879, and Fanny Louisa Beattie in 1900 – d. 1917/8, aged 74 in Kent). 4) Lucy Ann – see No. 74, High Street (b. 1846 – m. Alphonso Kerkham De Guiscard in 1874). 5) Emma (b. 1850/1 – d. 1857, aged about 6). 6) Clara (b. 1855).

The business flourished and Joseph employed several shop assistants and apprentices, and his sons Francis and John both joined him in the business.

In February, 1853, Joseph announced that he was rebuilding the premises at No. 82. To facilitate this he held a sale and cleared out all of his stock.

In September, 1864, Joseph bought all of the stock of Henry Johnson, 36, High Street, who was moving to Spalding.

On 20th January, 1866, Joseph announced in the Lynn Advertiser that he was taking his sons into partnership:-

‘GENERAL DRAPERY ESTABLISHMENT, 81 & 82, High Street. JOSEPH KERKHAM, in tendering his sincere thanks for the liberal support he has received and confidence placed in him during the past 25 years’ management of the above-named Drapery Establishment, avails himself of this opportunity of announcing his intention to take into partnership his sons, Francis and John Thomas Kerkham, who, with himself, will conduct the business in future under the name of JOSEPH KERKHAM & SONS.’

The shop is listed at Nos. 81 and 82 in this advertisement, but the former number is not included in any directory entries.

Kerkham & Sons appears as an entry in Harrod’s directory for 1868. Although it was the plan for Francis and John to be partners in the business, John moved to London where he ran a drapery business in Hammersmith and, latterly, in Chiswick. So it was Francis who continued to run the shop at No. 82, and the name became Kerkham & Son.

Joseph Kerkham was active in several aspects of the town’s life and business. In October, 1869 he became one of the directors of the newly formed King’s Lynn Insurance Society, along with John Thorley who was made chairman. The following year, he was proposed as a Liberal candidate for the Municipal Elections in the Middle Ward, and the Lynn News strongly supported his candidature with these words:-

‘He is a staunch and honest Liberal, and will be prepared to do duty on behalf of the burgesses in opposing the exclusiveness of the body, not only in all their appointments, but also in their plans for selecting in most instances only such tradespeople as show Conservative colours and vote accordingly.’

Joseph Kerkham came top of the poll, in front of John Thorley who had been a representative for the Middle Ward for some years and who was the mayor at that date.

Joseph had moved out of No. 82 by 1871, when he was living at Margaretta House, Clenchwarton. He died in 1878, aged 65, and Rebecca died in 1896, aged 82.

c1868 – c1896 (Kerkham & Son) (Francis Kerkham)

Francis was managing the business by 1868, and he was living on the premises with his family in 1871. He married Mary Pape in 1866, and they had three children:-

1) Leonard Percy, an architect and surveyor (b. 1867/8 – m. Ada Alice Hammond in 1896 – d. 1947/8, aged 80, in Surrey). 2) Arthur Charles (b. 1868/9 – d. 1942, aged 73). 3) Hilda Mary Evelyn (b. 1871 – d. 1953, aged 82).

In 1881, Francis was employing 27 females, 4 men and 3 youths. This compares with Alfred Jermyn at the same date with 15 men, 3 boys and 3 women. He would appear to have been the largest drapery business in the town at that time. Like several other traders in Lynn, Kerkham & Son provided transport for funerals. Their advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 7th January, 1882, mentioned the acquisition of a ‘Washington Funeral Car’. Samuel N. Marshall, of the Globe Hotel had one of these and described its characteristics: ‘The car is so constructed that it can be used either closed up or by the removal of glass sides altered so as to form an ornamental open car.’

1888 – 1890 (Headley Desforges)

March 1888 saw the commencement of some business changes that appear to indicate that Kerkham & Son first disposed of the business but later re-acquired it. On 3rd March, 1888, Messrs. Kerkham & Son held a special clearance sale, announcing that they were disposing of the business. On 31st March, they gave notice that they had disposed of their business to Headley Desforges of Newark-on-Trent. The notice concluded:-

‘HEADLEY DESFORGES (OF NEWARK-ON-TRENT) Will close their establishment for valuation and Re-marking of the entire stock on THURSDAY APRIL 5th.  Full Particulars of the Re-opening will be made Known as Early as Possible by H. DESFORGES, 82, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN.’

In the Stamford Mercury for 13th April, 1888, he placed the following notice:-

‘MILLINERY – Wanted, a young Lady, competent to open and take entire Management of new Millinery and Mantle Showrooms in connection with a large drapery establishment – 82, High Street, Lynn. Headley Desforges, proprietor.’

On the following day, he announced in the Lynn Advertiser that his premises were open for business, and that his new millinery showrooms were to be opened about May 1st. On 2nd June, 1888, he advertised his business as the ‘GENERAL DRAPERY AND MANCHESTER WAREHOUSE’.

Headley Desforges was born in about 1832 in Asserby, near Alford in Lincolnshire, and married Sarah Ann Sharp in 1867. They had five children, all born in Newark:-

1) Headley Sharp, an advertising agent (b. 1868 – m. Adaline Blanche Pearson in 1890 – d. 1917/8, aged 50). 2) Frank, a journalist (b. 1869 – m. Laura Brown in 1904 – d. 1932, aged 63). 3) Tom, a draper’s manager in 1911 (b. 1870 – m. Susan Alicia Salter in 1907 – d. 1957, aged 87, in Somerset). 4) Edith Mary (b. 1872 – d. 1883/4, aged 11). 5) Adeline Eliza (b. 1874 – d. 1891, aged 17.).

It would seem that, within sixteen months, Headley had decided to leave Lynn, allowing Francis Kerkham to buy back the business.

In 1901 Headley Desforges was living in Paddington and working as an agent for a cigar manufacturer. He died in 1903, aged 73. Sarah died in 1923, aged 90.

1890 – (Francis Kerkham) (Kerkham & Son Ltd.)

Francis Kerkham was given the opportunity of buying the business back, and the following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser for 16th August, 1890:-

‘REOPENING Of The OLD ESTABLISHED DRAPERY BUSINESS, 82, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. AUGUST, 1890.

MESSRS. KERKHAM & SON have decided to return to their old home at King’s Lynn, and they propose reviving the business upon new lines in accordance with the popular and growing system of READY MONEY TRADING, avoiding the risks of heavy debts and long credit, at the same time giving the public the benefit of SPECIAL VALUE FOR CASH. Alterations have been made and a NEW SHOW ROOM FOR MILLINERY AND MANTLES, with convenient FITTING ROOMS, are arranged on the GROUND FLOOR. A portion of their stock removed from Wellingborough will be offered at GREATLY REDUCED PRICES, in order to clear out before delivery of NEW GOODS FOR THE AUTUMN SEASON. As Managers of the DRESSMAKING, MILLINERY and MANTLE DEAPARTMENTS, Experienced assistants are retained, who will make periodical visits to London and procure the Latest Novelties. SPECIAL CARE WILL BE GIVEN TO ALL ORDERS FOR WEDDING OUTFITS AND FAMILY MOURNING. Good fit and style guaranteed at Moderate Charges. ALL GOODS MARKED AT LOWEST CASH PRICES. Messrs. K. & Son hope to be favoured with an early visit for inspection, or a trial order, which is respectfully solicited. 82, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN.’

In May, 1893, Francis Kerkham announced in the Lynn Advertiser that the business had been registered as a limited company.

Mary Kerkham died in 1892, aged 43, and Francis Kerkham eventually retired from business in about 1897, moving to live out the rest of his days in Burkitt’s Homes in Queen Street.  He died in February, 1925, aged 83.

1897 – 1925 (King’s Lynn & County Stores Ltd.)

King’s Lynn & County Stores Ltd. was formed in 1897, and offered 2,600 Subscription Shares in a notice in the Lynn Advertiser on January 8th that year:-

‘THE KING’S LYNN AND COUNTY STORES LIMITED. Incorporated under the Companies Acts 1862 to 1890, whereby the liability of Shareholders is strictly limited to the amount of their Shares. CAPITAL – £10,000, in 10,000 Shares of £1 each, of which 2,600 Shares are now offered for Subscription. Payable 5/- on Application and the Balance on Allotment. DIRECTORS: 1) GRAHAM DOW, King’s Lynn (Director of the King’s Lynn Hotel Company Limited.) 2) WILLIAM NICHOLLS, King’s Lynn (Director of the King’s Lynn Hotel Company Limited.) 3) FREDERICK H. PARTRIDGE, King’s Lynn (Director of the King’s Lynn Hotel Company Limited.) 4) JOHN S. SOOBY, King’s Lynn (Director of the King’s Lynn Hotel Company Limited.) 5) FREDERICK VALENTINE, Castle Rising and King’s Lynn (Director of the Ely and St. Ives Railway Company). BANKERS – BARCLAY & Co. Limited, King’s Lynn. SECRETARY & OFFICES – HENRY BRADFIELD, Chapel Street, King’s Lynn.’

The prospectus gave details of the arrangements that had been made to acquire the premises, appoint a manager, recruit staff, and source the goods and the wines and spirits to be sold in the stores, and opened with the following statement:-

‘THIS Company is formed to supply King’s Lynn and the district with High-class Groceries and Provisions, and to carry on the Business of Wine, Spirit, Ale and Stout Merchants, and some of the other Businesses usually carried on or conducted in conjunction with Stores’.

The stores opened for business here on Tuesday, 23rd March, 1897.

Henry Bradfield, the Company Secretary, was a solicitor’s clerk, a Parliamentary Registration Agent (1891) and acted as secretary to several limited companies, including the King’s Lynn Hotel Company Limited, the owners of the Globe Hotel. His parents were Robert and Mary Ann Bradfield. Robert (b. 1819 in Lynn – d. 1897, aged 78) was a baker who was working for George Plowright of Norfolk Street in 1841. For several years he lived in St. James Street before moving to Gaywood. Robert and Mary Ann Bradfield had three children:-

1) Mary Ann (b. c1842). 2) Henry (b. 1846 – m. Cordelia Eliza Clark in 1870 and Amy Sarah Harrison in 1895 – d. 1919, aged 73). 3) Fred, a baker & grocer in 1901 (b. 1853/4 – m. Margaret Wright in 1874 – d. 1913, aged 59).

Henry was married twice. In 1870 he married Cordelia Eliza Clark. They had four children, all born in Gaywood:-

1) Ellen Mary (b. 1871). 2) Harry Clark (b. 1872). 3) Kate Jane (b. 1874 – m. Alfred (Fred) Giles in 1895 – d. 1969, aged 94). 4) Edith Maud Annie (b. 1880).

Following Cordelia’s death in 1891, aged 43, Henry married Amy Sarah Harrison in 1895, and they lived in Gaywood Road in Lynn. Henry died in 1919, aged 73, and Amy died in 1951, aged 81.

The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1925.

1925 – c1973 (Curry’s Ltd)

On 23rd April, 1925, the following report appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘IMPORTANT SALE AT LYNN.

There was a large attendance at the Globe Hotel, Lynn, on Wednesday evening, when some very important local property was offered for sale by Mr. S. W. Miles (Messrs. Miles and Son).  The principal lot was the freehold business premises, 82, High Street, which have been for the past 28 years occupied by the King’s Lynn and County Stores, Ltd., as grocers and provision merchants. It has a ground area of 5,106 square feet and was offered on instructions from Mr. R. C. Larking, the liquidator appointed by the King’s Lynn and County Stores, Ltd. (in voluntary liquidation). The property comprised a three-storey building, forming a shop, warehouse and stock-room. Vacant possession on completion of purchase was offered. Bidding commenced at £2,000, and at £4,050 Mr. Henry Curry became the purchaser. Messrs. Partridge and Co. were the solicitors concerned.’

Later that year, the company applied for permission to undertake alterations to the premises.

Curry’s moved from No. 84, where they had been since about 1912. More details of the company may be found at that address.

One of Currys’ employees in the days before the Second World War was Eric G. Melton, son of Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Melton of Gladstone Road, Lynn. Eric joined the Royal Artillery, serving as a Gunner in Malaya, but died after contracting beri-beri at a prisoner of war camp. He was 23 when he died on 18th December, 1943.

The shop was altered and up-dated in 1963, with the installation of floor to ceiling plate glass display widows.