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No. 90, High Street

The premises included a shop and house, together with a large yard, stable and warehouses at the back, and had the benefit of a cart entrance from Purfleet Street.

 c1822 – c1846 (John Neal)

John Neal, a boot and shoe maker, occupied these premises from at least 1822 (Pigot) until about 1846. He was born in Norfolk in about 1781. He and his wife Susan (b. c1771 in Norfolk), were living in a yard off High Street, probably to the side of No. 90. In White’s directory for 1836, he is also listed as a dealer in china, glass and earthenware.

He died in 1850, aged about 69.

c1846 – 1876 (James Rix)

James Rix, a hosier and haberdasher, was first listed here in Kelly’s Nine Counties directory for 1846. Ten years earlier he had been at No. 96, High Street (White).

Born in Hunstanton in about 1787, James and his wife Sarah (b. c1799 in Shouldham, Norfolk) were living at No. 96 in 1841. They had seven children, all born in Lynn:-

1) James Brown, a general merchant – see Nos. 71 & 72 – (b. c1829 – m. Eliza Gooderson in 1858 – d. 1894, aged 65). 2) Sarah Ann (b. c1831 – m. Benjamin Bird in 1856). 3) Elizabeth Bridges (b. c1833 – m. Thomas Harrison Curson, a ship’s captain, on 25th June, 1863 – d. 1891, aged 58). 4) Hannah Brown – see No. 119 – (b. c1835 – m. Josiah Goodwins, a baker, in 1867 – d. 1891, aged 57). 5) Mary Maria (b. c1837 – m. Edward Curson Bridges, a ship owner, in 1858 – d. 1923, aged 85). 6) Anna (b. 1841 – died in infancy). 7) Isaac Brown (b. 1842 – see below).

James was joined in the business by some of his children. James Brown worked with his father for a time, before setting up as a general merchant, selling glass, china, earthenware and oil lamps (see Nos. 71 & 72). Elizabeth and Hannah were both working in the shop in 1861. Isaac joined his father and had become manager of the business by 1871.

James Rix died on 18th December, 1876, aged 89, and Sarah died in 1879, aged 80.

1876 – 1889 (Isaac Brown Rix) (Eliza Rix)

Following his father’s death in 1876, Isaac succeeded to the business. He married Elizabeth / Eliza Olney in 1868, and they were living in Valingers Road in 1871. They had one daughter, Florence Ethel, born in Lynn in 1869. The family moved to No. 90, and stayed here until 1889.

Isaac died in 1884, aged 42, and Elizabeth ran the business for five more years before selling to Edward Taylor ‘from Whiteley’s of London’.

Elizabeth left Lynn to run a lodging house in Hunstanton, and was living at Clifton House in the seaside town in 1891. Florence was staying with her then, but in 1904/5 she married George Cooper, an estate agent and went to live in Cardiff. Florence died in 1943, aged 74.

1889 (Edward Taylor)

Edward Taylor, a draper, purchased the business from Eliza Rix and placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 23rd March, 1889:-

‘90, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. Important Notice. EDWARD TAYLOR, From Whiteley’s, London, Having bought the business of Mrs. Rix, will REOPEN after Alterations are completed, ON SATURDAY, MARCH 23rd, With an Entirely New Stock of FANCY DRAPERY & MILLINERY, Consisting of all the LATEST NOVELTIES and PRODUCTIONS for the coming season. In calling your attention to the above, he feels confident, after his London experience, he will be able to offer you goods at prices worth your special notice. N.B. SPECIAL – BONNETS & HATS bought with materials, trimmed free of charge. All goods marked in Plain Figures, for CASH ONLY.’

Edward Taylor does not appear in any of the directories and it is not known how long he stayed here.

1890 – 1892 (George William Johnson)

In White’s Directory for 1890, George Johnson, an ‘oil and colorman’, was listed here and was recorded at this address in the 1891 census. This was his last year at this address because he had recently bought the premises at 6, Norfolk Street, and he moved there. His first Lynn shop had been near where Marks & Spencer is now.

George had been born in Great Yarmouth in 1855 and with him here at No. 90 was his wife Elizabeth, born in about 1855 in East Ruston, and their five children.

George Johnson’s father was William Appleton Johnson, a carter (b. c1816 in Great Yarmouth – d. 02/02/1896, aged 80). William and his wife Mary Ann Butler (b. c1828 in Great Yarmouth), had ten children:-

1) Mary Ethel (b. 1850 – m. John Leach in 1868/9 – d. 10/04/1936, aged 86). 2) William Appleton, a carter (b. 1851 – m. Eleanor George in 1872 – d. 1911, aged 60). 3) George William – see below (b. 1855 – m. Elizabeth Goodwin Nockels in 1875/6 – d. 20/10/1939, aged 84). 4) Eliza (b. 1857/8 – m. Benjamin Hemp in 1881 – d. 1892, aged 37). 5) Charlotte (b. 1859/60 – m. Richard Leach in 1885 – d. 1942, aged 82). 6) Sophia Elizabeth (b. 1862). 7) James Appleton (b. 1864 – d. 1873, aged 49). 8) Esther / Ettie (b. c1866). 9) Walter Ernest, a cab proprietor (b. 1867/8 – m. Harriet Emily Saunders in 1891 – d. 1937, aged 69). 10) Edith Clara (b. 1869).

From the age of about 14, George was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, John Leach, an oil and colour man in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth. In 1875/6 he married Elizabeth Goodwin Nockels (b. c1856 in East Ruston), and they moved to Norwich, where he worked as the manager of Leach & Sons’ St. Stephen Street oil and colour shop. It was not until 1887 that George and Elizabeth came to Lynn. They had six children, the first two born in Yarmouth, the next three in Norwich and the youngest in Lynn:-

1) William (b. 1875 in Yarmouth). 2. Kate (b. c1877 in Yarmouth). 3. Walter (b. c1879 in Norwich). 4. Sidney Bertie – known as Bertie – (b. 1880 in Norwich – m. Grace Julian Barraud in 1906 – d. 1851, aged 70 in Derbyshire). 5. Percy (b. 1882 in Lynn – m. Alice Cooper in 1907/8). 6. Reginald (b. 1888 in Lynn – m. Lily Austen in 1909 – d. 1962/3, aged 72).

William and Percy helped their father in the business for a few years before going their separate ways.

George Johnson was listed here at No. 90 in Kelly’s directory for 1892, but he had moved to No. 6, Norfolk Street by the beginning of July of that year. He stayed there for thirty years, until he retired in 1932. The business was taken over by his youngest son, Reginald, but was still listed under his name in Kelly’s directory for 1937.

George Johnson died in October, 1939, aged 84. Elizabeth died in 1945, aged 89.

 1892 – 1910 (Pamment & Smith)

On 16th July, 1892, the following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘TO LET, House and Shop, 90, High street, with large yard, stable and warehouses at Back; cart access from Purfleet street. Suitable for any business – Apply, Mr. W. J. King, 54, High street, Lynn.’

The premises were taken by Pamment & Smith, musical instrument dealers, who gave No. 90 the name of ‘Handel House’. The following advertisement appeared in the Lynn Advertiser on 31st December, 1892:-

‘HANDEL HOUSE, 90, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. PAMMENT AND SMITH Beg to draw attention to their Large and Varied Stock of MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, Especially to their HIGH-CLASS IRON-FRAMED PIANOS by leading English and Foreign Makers. Their

Instruments being recently purchased contain the LATEST improvements. PIANOFORTES TUNED AND REPAIRED. Old Instruments Thoroughly Renovated. Lessons given on the Organ and Piano. Also in Harmony and Counterpoint. Candidates prepared for Local Examinations.’

On 28th October the following year, they advertised accordions for sale:-

‘ACCORDIONS, ACCORDIONS, ACCORDIONS. HAVING received large consignments of Musical Instruments DIRECT FROM ENGLISH and FOREIGN MANUFACTURERS, we are able to offer them at prices which cannot be beaten. Every instrument guaranteed. For many of this season’s novelties we have been APPOINTED SOLE AGENTS for Lynn and district. The largest variety of Musical Instruments in West Norfolk. Note the Address – PAMMENT & SMITH, HANDEL HOUSE, KING’S LYNN.’

Pamment & Smith was a partnership between Robert William Pamment (1864 – 1935), variously listed as a teacher of music, organist and music seller, and Thomas Henry Meadows Smith (1858 – 1940), who was listed as a professor of music in Kelly’s Directory for 1892. Thomas Smith was blind but had pursued a successful career for many years as a piano teacher and tuner whilst living with his family at No. 50, High Street, where more details of the family may be found. He married Robert’s sister Charlotte Pamment in 1896 and they were living here at No. 90 in 1901.

On Monday 12th March 1906 there was another High Street fire. On this occasion, fortunately, the Lynn Fire Brigade was able to get the flames under control and prevent it from spreading too far. The outbreak started in the living quarters at ‘Handel House’. Thomas was about to go to bed at about 11.30pm when he heard a crackling sound and alerted his wife Charlotte, who discovered that the house was on fire. They made their escape and met Alfred Speed, from No. 89, outside, who had smelt the fire. The Fire Brigade arrived within about 12 minutes but could not stop the fire from completely destroying Pamment & Smith’s shop. The stock of gramophone and phonograph records and piano varnish was highly inflammable and created clouds of toxic smoke that made fire fighting difficult. The heat was intense and soon the shops opposite (Ladymans at Nos. 39-41 and Scott & Son’s music shop at No. 42) were threatened, so the firemen doused these shop fronts to prevent them from igniting. Nevertheless, Scott & Son’s window was cracked by the heat and their display of gramophone records melted.

The shop was rebuilt but set back in accordance with the council’s policy for widening the street whenever the opportunity arose.

The partnership was dissolved in about 1910, when Robert and his wife Alice emigrated to Canada. Thomas moved the business to No. 9, High Street in January, 1911, where further details will be found.

 Robert William Pamment

Robert William Pamment, born in 1864 in Lynn, was the grandson of Robert Pamment I, a stone mason (b. c1806 in Norfolk), and his wife Charlotte, a glover (b. c1804 in Snettisham).

Robert Pamment I and Charlotte had eight children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Mary Ann (b. c1826). 2) William, clerk to St. Nicholas Chapel and a shoemaker in 1881 (b. c1831 – m. Ann Davy in 1857 – d. 1890/1, aged 58). 3) Hannah (b. c1834). 4) Phebe (b. c1837 – m. Edwin Russell Stanley, a ship’s engineer in 1859 – d. 1925 in Kent, aged 88). 6) Robert II (b. c1839 – m. Hepzibah Sheldrick in 1858/9 – d. 06/09/1935 in Canada). 6) Charlotte (b. 1840). 7) Elizabeth (b. 1843). 8) Thomas (b. 1845/6 – d. 1858, aged 12).

Robert Pamment II was born in Lynn, and worked as a machinist, mechanical model worker, steam engine fitter’s labourer and a bell chimer. He may well have been employed by Frederick Savage, who made steam engines and fairground rides.  Robert married Hepzibah Sheldrick (b. c1837 in Lynn) in 1858/9, and they had two children, both born in Lynn:-

1) Charlotte (b. 1860 – m. Thomas Henry Meadows Smith in 1896 – d. 1922, aged 62). 2) Robert William Pamment (b. 1864 – m. Alice Amelia Goss in 1888 – d. 06/09/1935 in Canada, aged 70).

Hepzibah died in 1893, aged 55, and Robert Pamment II married Adelaide Hunt Thacker in 1896. Robert II died in 1907, aged 66, and Adelaide died in 1932/3, aged 75.

Robert William Pamment spent his early years living at his parents’ home, first in Tower Place (1871) and later in Albert Street (1881). By this latter year he had taken a job as a railway goods clerk but may already have shown a talent for music. Staying with the Pamments in 1881 was Walter Owen Jones (c1844 – 1913/14), who was a church organist and a music teacher. Walter was one of the sons of Robert Jones, founder of the men’s tailoring business of Jones & Dunn (see No. 65, High Street). Robert William Pamment’s sister Charlotte later worked as housekeeper to Walter Jones (1891).

In 1888, Robert William married Alice Amelia Goss, and in 1891 he was working as an organist at St. John’s Church and as a music teacher, although still employed as a railway clerk. At about this date he quit the employment of the railway company to concentrate on the music business. In 1901 he was recorded as working as a music seller, and this was in partnership with Thomas Smith. In 1910 he emigrated with Alice to Canada, where he died, on 6th September, 1935, in Alberta.

Thomas Henry Meadows Smith

Thomas Smith was born in 1858 and baptised at St. Nicholas Chapel in Lynn on 27th January, 1861. His parents were Charles Meadows Smith, a confectioner at No. 50, High Street, and his wife, Uri Winlove. More details of their family may be found at No. 50.

Thomas suffered a childhood accident with a spinning top which hit his eyes. Although one eye was less severely damaged than the other, surgical techniques were not sufficiently advanced at that date to save his sight, and he was left totally blind. He was educated at the Birmingham Institution for the Blind at Edgbaston where he learnt music and Braille. He was there in 1871, aged eleven, when he was learning basket making. He was back home at No. 50 in 1881 and in 1891 he was lodging at No. 51, High Street, with his sister, Mrs Ellen Bradfield, and was listed as a piano tuner and a teacher of music. His first entry in the directories, as a professor of music, was in 1892 (Kelly). His partnership with Robert Pamment started at that time and they opened their first shop here at No. 90 towards the end of that year. After Robert left to emigrate to Canada in 1910 Thomas moved the business to No. 9, High Street.

Thomas married Robert’s sister, Charlotte Pamment, in 1896. He and Charlotte did not have any children.

Charlotte was born on 10th December, 1859, and died on 18th June, 1922, aged 62. Thomas died in 1940, aged 75.

1911 – 1972 (Fleming, Reid & Co. Ltd., Scotch Wool Shop / Scotch Wool & Hosiery Stores)

Fleming, Reid & Co. Ltd. opened a Scotch Wool Shop branch here in February, 1911.

The company were worsted and woollen spinners, hosiery manufacturers and retailers, owning and operating a factory at Greenock in Scotland. By the 1950s, they owned or held on lease some 350 shops, widely spread throughout Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, under the name of the ‘Scotch Wool Shop’. They sold hand-knitting wools and knitwear.

The worsted spinning business of Neill, Fleming & Reid was founded in 1840 by partners Robert Neill, John Fleming (b. c1806 in Mearns, Renfrewshire, Scotland) and James Reid (b. c1810, in Belfast, Ireland). On 3rd January, 1849, this partnership was dissolved, and the business continued in the same premises under the name of Fleming, Reid & Co.

John continued in the business until at least 1871 but had retired by 1881. His younger brother, Alexander Fleming (b. 1826 in Cathcart, Renfrewshire – d. 1905) joined the firm and became managing director and partner. James Reid’s son, James jnr. (b. 1839 in Ireland – d. 1908) also became a partner but was less involved in the business following his election to Parliament as MP for Greenock in 1900, although he retained the position of deputy chairman.

Iin October 1880, a disastrous fire destroyed the whole of the main factory, causing £60,000 of damage. The mills had to be relocated to England for three years while new ones were being built in Greenock. The company recovered from this set-back, and by 1895 it had grown to over 70 branches and the Greenock mills employed about 900 people.

In 1899, the firm became a limited liability company, as ‘Fleming, Reid & Co. Ltd.’, with Alexander as managing director. By 1924, there were over 300 branches, many trading under the name of the ‘Scotch Wool & Hosiery Stores’.

In 1960, Patons & Baldwins Ltd., in association with J & P Coats Ltd., who already had an interest in the company, acquired the rest of the business, and in 1967 the name was changed to ‘Coats Patons (Retail) Ltd.’

The Scotch Wool shops were disposed of in 1972, and the Lynn branch may have closed a year or two earlier earlier.

 c1970/1 – 2012 (Stead & Simpson)

A branch of the national shoe chain of Stead & Simpson was listed here in Yates directory for 1970/1.

Stead & Simpson was founded in 1834 in Leeds by Edmund Stead (1804-1881), Morris Simpson (1809-1888), and his younger brother Edward Simpson (1818-1904). The company began as curriers and leather dealers, with a leather warehouse at 132, Kirkgate, and a factory at Horse & Trumpet yard, both in central Leeds.

Initially, their products were sold wholesale to shopkeepers and leather merchants.

In 1844 Morris Simpson left the partnership. He had married Ann Wigfield in 1841. He continued to work as a currier and shoe manufacturer in Leeds. By 1881 he had moved to Ilkley, where he died on 1st February, 1888, aged 78.

The business expanded with the opening of a second factory in Daventry (c1844) and a curriers’ branch in Leicester (1853).

The branches in Leeds and Leicester flourished and, as the business grew, the partners brought in their nephews, Harry Simpson Gee, to look after the branches, and Richard Fawcett as a company salesman and traveller. For many years the full title of the firm was that of ‘Stead, Simpson & Nephews’. Harry Simpson Gee was responsible for moving the headquarters to Leicester. During the American Civil War, Stead & Simpson supplied boots to the Confederate army.

In 1863 the company employed 120 women at Leicester. Within thirteen years, that number had increased by tenfold, and an article in the Leicester Chronicle for 1st January, 1876, gave a detailed description of the works, with this account of the Leeds’ workforce:-

‘Altogether, there are employed in connection with the three Leeds establishments of Messrs. Stead, Simpson and Nephews over 500 hands, including in-door and out-door hands. Seventy-six of these workpeople are engaged in the currying and tanning departments alone. The shoe hands make about 5,600 pairs of women’s, children’s and men’s boots per week.’

The reporter travelled to Leicester and gave a detailed account of the manufacturing processes:-

‘The establishment we are going to visit is situated in Belgrave-gate, one of the principal streets in Leicester, and its externals are in neat and business-like order. First we go down into the large store-room, where all the sole leather is kept. Sole leather is of three classes – English, American, and Australian. The respective kinds can be told in a moment, from the difference of the tan. The English is tanned with oak bark etc., and is a light brown; the Australian is tanned with mimosa and is pinky in appearance; and the American is tanned with hemlock, and is of a dark red colour. A large proportion of the dressed leather comes from the Leeds works, but most of the finest dressed leathers are imported from France and Germany. From the store-room we advance further into the interior and reach the large room where the cutting-out processes are performed. A large number of men are at work at the various machines and benches. The first machine that comes under my notice is a rolling apparatus for pressing soles. This machine does the work that used to be done by the cobbler with his hammer and lapstone. A large slab of leather is introduced between the rollers, and straightway the material is pressed and jammed into the requisite condition of hardness. An instant suffices for the operation. Next we come to the machine that cuts the leather into manageable strips, and then we see the pieces put into another cutting machine, with knives shaped exactly like the sole required, and these stamp the soles out in a complete form, and at an extremely rapid rate. Then there are the heel-cutting machines, where the heel is stamped into finished form in a twinkling; and there are the pricking machines which make the holes for the rivets at a marvellous speed; and there are machines employed entirely in impressing upon the soles the trade mark of the firm. A considerable commotion is made by the simultaneous working of these ponderous and various machines, but the men seem to have them exceedingly well under control, and have not half so hard to work as the old hand shoemaker had to do. We now proceed to the clicking department, where a very different scene is presented to us. Clickers are the men who cut the “uppers” out, and nearly all their work is done by hand. There are some eighty or ninety persons employed in this large room, and as they are mostly engaged cutting out with knives, their attitudes seem at first sight a little sanguinary. On leaving the clicking department we proceed to the large new factory, four storeys in height, which has recently been erected at the rear of the Belgrave-gate premises. In the top room of this factory there are over 200 sewing machines at work stitching tops, 40 of the machines being engaged in doing nothing but ornamental work. These numerous machines make a famous rattle but the girls plod on good-humouredly, getting through the stitches at a great speed. We next come to the room where all the uppers, soles, and pieces are duly classified and sent forward to be riveted or sewn. When the boots have to be stitched, the soles are submitted to a channelling machine, which cuts out a groove for the sewer to work in. The majority of the goods, however, are riveted, and it is one of the wonders of the establishment to see these riveters at work. I have not space to do more than mention the other machines that are in operation here. Amongst them are heeling machines, which tack the heels on at one stroke; paring machines, guided by the knee, for trimming the edges of the soles; pricking machines; and sewing machines of a most ingenious description, by which the soles can be stitched to the tops at such a rate that one man can get through 300 pairs of boots in a day. Then there are the blocking machines, a wire-quilting machine, and I know not how many other kinds of shoe-making apparatus. Having seen all these things, I pay a visit to the “last” shop, where the lasts are made; to the finishing benches, where the final artistic touches are put upon the boots; and to the stock room, where the goods are made ready for sending away. Cases are being packed with shoes for South Africa, Australia, the West Indies, Brazil, Peru, Portugal, and, indeed, to all parts of the world, whilst hampers are being filled for the home trade. Altogether, Messrs. Stead, Simpson, and Nephews employ at Leicester, 1,216 hands, indoor and outdoor; at Oakham, 80; at Daventry, 500; at Northampton, 100; and at Leeds , 506; making a total of 2,402 workpeople in all employed by this firm. These hands are capable of turning out from 25,000 to 30,000 pairs of boots per week. Taking all their establishments together, they constitute probably the largest shoe-making concern in the world.’

It was during the 1870s that the company opened its first retail shops in Carlisle, Whitehaven, South Shields and Sunderland. Retail quickly became an important part of the business and by 1889 there were 100 outlets.

Edmund Stead died on 24th September, 1881, at his home, Manston Hall, Leeds. Edmund had shared his home (first Temple View House and later Manston Hall) with his nephew Richard Fawcett and with Edward Simpson. His son, Edmund Walker Stead (b. c1826 in Leeds – d. 1891, aged 67), worked as a currier in Liverpool for several years.

In July, 1884 Stead, Simpson & Nephews celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the firm. They then employed, it was reported, over 3,000 people and made at least 30,000 boots per week. The firm became a limited company in 1889. In 1892, the original tanning and currying business in Leeds ceased, although manufacturing continued. In the early 1900s the company won further big contracts for the British Army and the Admiralty.

Edward Simpson died in 1904. He had married Margaret Willes Blackett in 1875, and they had two daughters and two sons. The family lived in Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

Expansion stopped in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, when 470 employees went on active service. After the war, there was further expansion with the opening of more shops, of which there were 250 by 1934. The Second World War saw 1,000 staff being called up. Production for the home market was severely limited by the introduction of clothes coupons and control over the use of leather. Eleven Stead & Simpson shops were destroyed by bombs. The Daventry factory, however, was working full-out to supply millions of army boots.

In 1973, the Daventry and Leicester factories were closed and the company concentrated solely on the retail side of the business.

In 1981 the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and became ‘Stead & Simpson plc’. The Stead and Simpson families retained control until 1989. Following a series of ownership changes, the business was bought by Bank of Scotland Corporate in 2005, but went into administration in 2008 and was acquired by the Shoe Zone Group. The Eastern Daily Press reported in October, 2012 that the Stead & Simpson stores in Dereham and King’s Lynn were to close, and in December that year, Shoe Zone announced that, following a review of the business, they would be closing more than a third of its 230 stores.

2012 – (Shoe Zone)

The shop here was not affected by the closure plan of 2012 and became a branch of Shoe Zone.