ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 4

 

THE SHOPS AT 43 VALE ROAD

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: April 12,2019

INTRODUCTION   

The building at 43 Vale Road, located on the SE corner of Vale Road and London Road, opposite the former central post office, dates back to the 1850’s when it appears to have a lodging house.

Mathiesons’ directory of 1867-1868  referred to it as Revesby Place on London Road when it was occupied by Virgil Dickinson who was a house decorator and up to and including the time of the 1911 census its name was given variously as Revesby Place, 1 Revesty Place and 43 Vale Road.

Among the various uses of the building perhaps its most interesting era was in the early 1900’s when it was an antiques shop operating under the name of “H.A. Leather” and later appears to have become a motorcar repair garage.

In this article I present a brief,and somewhat sketchy, history of this building with information about those who occupied it. In recent times this building and others on Vale Road were demolished to make way for a new multi-level healthcare brick building called Jubilee House.

Shown above is a photograph dated 1949 showing a collapsed lorry at the Vale Road intersection. To the right of the lorry is the shop at 43 Vale Road.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION

The building at 43 Vale Road was constructed  in the 1850’s as it is not shown on a map of 1849 but is shown on a map of 1852 on the south east corner of Vale Road and London Road.

The early history of the building is rather sketchy but appears to have begun as a lodging house called variously as Revesby Place or 1 Revesty Place. Mattiesons directory of 1867-1868 lists it as Revesby Place on London Road , occupied at that time by Virgil Dickinson, a house decorator.

The 1881 census, taken at No. 1 “Revesby” Place on London Road gave Frederick C. Smith, age 32, railway booking  clerk living there with his wife Elizabeth, one servant and two lodgers. His wife was given as a lodging house keeper.

A directory of 1899 gave “James Langridge, apartments, 43 Vale Road.

The 1901 census, taken at 1 “Revesty” Place, Vale Road gave the premises occupied by Horace Vernon Clare Germaien Lulham and his family. Horace was an antique dealer and was still there at the time of the 1911 census with an address of 43 Vale Road. By 1913 he left the shop and opened a new shop by 1913 at 53 London Road in Sevenoaks. Further information about Horace and his family and business are featured in the next section of this article.

Photographs presented as postcard views of Vale Road and surrounding area provide a good view of the building at 43 Vale Road. The one shown above dates from the period prior to 1911 as it shows on the left the general post office that opened in November 1896 before a 3rd floor was added in 1911.  Shown below are two more images showing the building. The one on the left dates from after 1911 and shows the 3rd floor addition to the post office, as does the photograph below right dated 1918.

 








In 1909 permission was granted by the Planning Authority for a new porch to be constructed on the shop of H.A. Leather on Vale Road. One can see from all three images that the exterior of the shop had been altered. In 1908, as reported in the Courier of August 14th, a mail van parked at the post office charged into the  shop of H. A Leather when its parking brake failed causing extensive damage to the exterior of the shop (woodwork and two plate glass windows) as well as damaging some of the antiques in the shop. Some minor changes were made to the exterior of the shop as a result of repairing this damage. 

Shown below are four photographs showing the shop that were taken after WW1 on the occasion of Tunbridge Wells receiving a Presentation Tank for its contribution to the war effort.


























Jubilee House , a modern brick 3 sty healthcare office building, was constructed on the former site of 43 Vale Road and its neighbours to the north.

THE H.A. LEATHER ANTIQUE SHOP

Shown opposite is an enlarged view of the shop in which can be seen the shops name on the awning that provided shade to the antiques displayed inside the shop. The curious thing about the name H.A. Leather is that it was not the name of the proprietor of the shop and no trace of anyone by the name of H.A. Leather  or Horace Arthur Leather was found in any records for Tunbridge Wells, or for that matter elsewhere. The name on the shop and referred to in local newspaper reports and directories is therefore quite a mystery, one that the researcher was unable to solve.

Two directory listings for H.A. Leather were found. The first was one for 1903 which gave “ Horace Arthur Leather, 43 Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells, antique dealer”. The second was for 1913 that gave “ Horace Arthur Leather, 53 London Road, Sevenoaks, dealer in antiques”, which indicates that the shop of H.A. Leather closed on Vale Road and relocated to Sevenoaks sometime after the 1911 census and before 1913.

The person who is found at the antiques shop as its proprietor in both the 1901 and 1911 census was actually Horace Vernon Clare Germaine Lulham (1871-1950). It was interesting to note that the first name given in the census records and the directories were both “Horace” and that the father of Horace V.C.G. Lulham was a leather merchant. Could this have been the source of the name “Leather” but what about the source of the letter “A” in H.A. Leather for Horace’s father was also Horace and not Arthur?

Horace Vernon Clare Germaine Lulham was born in the 4th qtr of 1871 at Brighton, Sussex. He was the son of Horace William Henry Lulham, born 1842 , and Elizabeth Lulham,nee Burrell,  born in 1853. Horace was one of at least six children in the family. Horace was baptised at Brighton on November 22,1871.  The birth records of his siblings indicate that the family was living in Brighton up to 1893.

The 1881 census, taken at Clarelands on London Road in Brighton gave Horace Lulham senior as a leather merchant. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth (given as Bessie) and six of his children, including their son Horace who was given as “Clair” and attending school.

The 1891 census, taken at 2 Alfred Road in Brighton, Sussex gave Horace senior as a leather merchant on own account. With him was his wife Elizabeth and six of their children including Horace who was given as “Clare” and working as an auctioneers pupil. Also there were two domestic servants.

In 1893 Horace married Frances Hayler (1868-1942) at Porsea Island, Hampshire and with her had the following children (1) Olive Germaine Lulham (1893-1963) born July 3,1893 at Oswestry, Shropshire (2) George Bertram Germaine Lulham (1894-1962) born at Oswestry May 1,1894 (3) Hazel Germaine Lulham (1895-1986) who was born at Oswestry (4) Gerald Francis Germaine Lulham (1900-1972) who was born May 7,1900 in Tunbridge Wells. The birth of Gerald suggests that the Lulham family moved to Tunbridge Wells sometime after 1895 and before 1901.

Frances Hayler was born February 13,1868 at Chichester, Sussex and was one of three children born to George Hayler (born 1836 in Chichester) and Matilda Hayler (born 1834 in Steyning Sussex). At the time of the 1881 and 1891 census Frances was living with her parents and siblings. At the time of the 1891 census George Hayler was the proprietor of a butchers shop.

The 1901 census, taken at 1 Revesty Place, Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells, gave “Horace V.E.I. Lucham” as a dealer in antiques on own account at home and an employer. With him was his wife Frances and their children Olive, Bertram, Hazel and Gerald. Also there was one boarder.

The directory of 1903 gave “ Horace Arthur Leather, 43 Vale Road, antique dealer”. Why the name of the business , which was displayed on the shop awning as “H.A. Leather Antiques” was not in his name is a mystery.

The Courier of December 26,1902 reported on a show of antiques by various shops including that of “H.A. Leather, Vale Road” for some event under the heading of “Christmas Preparations”.

The Courier of August 14,1908 gave this interesting report. “ Mail Van Accident- A motor mail van belonging to Messrs Thomas Tilling and Co contractors to the post office was standing outside the General Post Office in London Road on Wednesday night midnight, when the brakes released and the van ran back and smashed into the shop window of Mr. H.A. Leather, antique dealer, Vale Road, damaging the woodwork and sun blinds and breaking two plate-glass windows. Several articles in the shop, including a grandfather clock, a Louis XV clock and a Chippendale armchair , were also damaged. A similar accident top Mr Leather’s shop occurred only a few months ago”.

A number of articles appeared in the Courier around this time complaining about this dangerous intersection with a suggestion (in 1914)that a fence be erected in front of the post office around the triangular green which after the war became the site where the WW1 Presentation Tank was displayed until cut up and hauled away for scrap.  These concerns went unheeded and the Courier of April 10,1914 reported on a fatal accident at the intersection of Vale Road and the Post Office.

The Courier of June 4,1909 gave a list of approved work under the heading of “Town Council” and among the list was “ H.A. Leather, new porch 43 Vale Road”.

The 1911 census, taken at 43 Vale Road gave Horace V.C. Lulham as a dealer in antiques and an employer. With him was his son Bertram who was assisting his father in the business and Horaces daughter Hazel who was working as an apprentice to a dressmaker, and his son Gerald who was attending school. Horace’s wife was away visiting friends at the time of this census. The census recorded that the family were living in premises of 8 rooms and that all four of his children were still living.

Sometime after 1911 but before 1913 Horace and his family left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Sevenoaks where the 1913 directory gave the listing “ Horace Arthur Leather, 53 London Road, Sevenoaks, dealer in antiques”

In 1930 Horace and his wife were living in Sussex. A directory of 1939 for 4 Moat Croft Road, Eastbourne, Sussex gave Frances Lulham as born February 23,1868, married, unpaid domestic duties. With her was her daughter Olive given as born July 3,1893.

Frances Lulham died in the 1st qtr of 1942 at Eastbourne, Sussex and her husband Horace died in the 3rd qtr of 1950 in Lewes, Sussex.

 

THE SUMMERS FAMILY AND BUSINESS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: April 10,2019

OVERVIEW 

The wholesale fruit and vegetable dealers of Summers & Sons was founded by Henry William Summers (1855-1914) and joined by his sons Henry William Summers junior and Archibald John Summers.

Shown opposite is a photograph of their shop at 118-120 Camden Road, taken in 1909, on the occasion of the election campaign of Herbert Henry Spender Clay in 1909. Their shop was bordered on the left by the Camden Road Methodist Church and on the right by Mascall’s Court Dairy. Note in this image the large crowd that had gathered in front of Summers shop to see Mr Clay and the campaign sing for him in their window.

Henry William Summers had been born in Finsbury, Kent, and was one of several children born to James Summers (a gardener) and his wife Mary Ann Summers.

Henry lived with his parents and siblings in North Aylesford during his early life and was still there at the time of the 1871 census.

In 1874 Henry married Mary Ann Coles at North Aylesford and with her had six children but one of them died before 1911. All of the children were born in Strood, Kent.

Henry and his family arrived in Tunbridge Wells by 1907 and established their wholesale premises at 12 Newton Road and their retail premises as 118-120 Camden Road. Several advertisments for their business at these addresses were found in the Courier between 1907 and 1912.  The family were residing at 118-120 Camden Road at the time of the 1911 census. Henry and all of the members of his family were listed as ‘fruiterers’ in this census.

In the latter part of May 1914 Henry William Summers passed away and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on June 1st. He was survived by his wife and his children.

Upon Henry’s death his sons continued the business but independently. Henry William Summers junior married Beatrice V. Letham in Tunbridge Wells in 1920 and wither her had two children born in Tunbridge Wells in 1921 and 1923. Henry, given as Harry Summers, in the 1922 directory was the proprietor of a fruiterer and greengrocers shop at 14 Camden Road. Henry was found in a 1939 directory living with his wife and daughter at 17 Lime Hill Road with the occupation of ‘distributer and wholesale managing director potato merchant’.No records for him in Tunbridge Wells after that date were found but he most likely died in Tunbridge Wells in the 1940’s.  Archibald John Summers married Daisy E. Allen in Tunbridge Wells in 1916 and with her had two children. He served with the Royal Navy during WW1 between 1916 and 1919 and after the war returned to Tunbridge Wells . He was found in a 1922 directory as a fruiterer at 44 Victoria Road, Tunbridge Wells and in a directory of 1930 as a fruiterer at 34 Camden Road. Archibald was of Monson House, 3 Monson Road when his body was found in the Thames River February 7,1933. He had last been seen alive the day before and an inquest attributed his death to suicide due to financial worries. His body was returned to his family and he was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on February 13,1933.

In this article I present information about the Summers family and their business careers with a concentration on their time in Tunbridge Wells.

THE SUMMERS FAMILY- THE EARLY YEARS

The birth of Henry William Summers was registered in the 4th qtr of 1855 at North Aylesford with census and other records giving his place of birth as Finsbury, Kent.

Henry was one of several children born to James Summers who was born 1827 in Finsbury and Mary Ann Summers who was born 1829 at Horsall, Essex. Birth records for Henry’s siblings show that the family was still residing in Finsbury up to at least 1867.

The 1871 census, taken at Finsbury Cottage on the High Street in North Aylesford gave James Summers as a gardener. With him was his wife Mary and six of their children, including Henry who was working as a labourer. Also there was one nephew and one boarder.

In the 4th qtr of 1874 Henry married Mary Ann Coles at North Aylesford, Kent and with her went on to have the following children (1) Henry William, born May 11,1884 at Strood Kent (2) Lily Maud, born 1887 at Strood Kent (3) Archibald born 1889 at Strood Kent (4) Daisy E. born 1890 at Strood Kent (5) Agnes Maud born 1893 at Northfleet, Kent (6) Emma Jane born 1895 at Bermondsey, London.

The 1881 census, taken at Strood, Kent gave Henry as a greengrocer and fruiterer. Living with him was his wife; one shopman greengrocer and one domestic servant.

The 1891 census, taken at 6 Albion road at Gravesend, Kent gave Henry as a greengrocer. With him was his wife Mary and his children Henry, Lily,Arhibald and Daisy.

As noted from the birth information for his two youngest children, the family were living in Northfleet, Kent in the early 1890’s and by 1895 at Bermondsey, London where they were still living at the time of the 1901 census.

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS YEARS

Sometime before 1907 Henry and his wife and some of his children moved to Tunbridge Wells where Henry founded the firm of Summers & Sons. Several advertisments in the Courier between June 1907 and May 1912 record Summers & Sons with wholesale premises at 12 Newton Road and retail premises at 18-20 Camden Road. Their advertisments announce the availability of seed delivered to all parts of Tunbridge Wells; Kent grown peas arriving daily; strawberries and cherries fresh daily. The Courier of March 20,908 gave “ Summers & Sons wholesale and retail fruit and potato salesmen Te. No. 198 at 118-120 Camden Road (retail) and wholesale store at 12 Newton Road”.

The 1911 census, taken at 118-120 Camden Road gave Henry William Summers as a fruiterer on own account at home. With him of the same occupation was his wife Mary and his children Henry, Archibald, Agnes and Emma. The census recorded that the family were living in premises of 6 rooms and that of their six children five were still living.

Henry William Summers died at 118-120 Camden Road in May 1914 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on June 1,1914. He was survived by his wife and all but one of his children who continued to live in Tunbridge Wells for several years.

ARCHIBALD JOHN SUMMERS

Archibald was born in Strood, Kent May 11, 1889 and was one of the sons of Summers & Sons, his brother Henry being the second one.

Archibald was living with his parents and siblings at 118-120 Camden Road at the time of the 1911 census and working with his father in the family business.

Archibald served with the Royal Navy during WW1. Naval records show that his first service was dated October 17,1916 on the Pembroke II and his last service was dated August 15,1919 on the Pembroke I. After the war he returned to business life in Tunbridge Wells.

In 1916 he married Daisy E. Allen who was born in 1893 and they took up residence in Tunbridge Wells after the war. With her had had the following children (1) Joan K. born 1923 in Strood, Kent (2) Pauline L. (1924-2014) who’s birth was registered in Tonbridge.

A 1922 directory gave the listing “ Archibald John Summers, fruiterer, 44 Victoria Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

A directory of 1930 gave “ Archibald R. Summers, fruiterer, 34 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

Probate records gave Archibald John Summers of 13 Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells who was last seen alive February 6,1933 and his dead body found February 7,1933 in the River Thames at Windsor. The executor of his 6,133 pound estate was Daisy Evelyn Summers, widow.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 10,1933 gave “ Letters to Relatives- Financial worries were mentioned at the inquest at Windsor last Thursday evening for Archibald John Summers,age 433, a fruit and potato salesman of Monson House, Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells who disappeared from the town (Tunbridge Wells) on Monday…”

The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 17,1933 contained a notice by his executors that any claims or demands against his estate were to be forwarded for consideration to 44 Victoria Road, Tunbridge Wells.

It was concluded that Archibald had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames river, due to financial worries. His body was returned to his wife and he was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on February 13,1933.

HENRY WILLIAM SUMMERS (JUNIOR)

Henry was the eldest son in the family and one of the sons in Summers & Sons. He was born May 11,1884 at Strood, Kent and at the time of the 1911 census he was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at 118-120 Camden Road.

In 1920 his marriage to Beatrice V. Letham was registered at Tonbridge. He and his wife had the following children (1) Henry William Summers (1921-1974) who was born August 30,1921 in Tunbridge Wells and died in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1975 (2) Betty Summers (1922-1968) who was born in Tunbridge Wells October 20,1922 and died in Tunbridge Wells.  His wife Beatrice was born December 11,1887.

A directory of 1922 gave “ Harry Summers, fruiterer and greengrocer, 14 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells”. He was still in this line of work in the 1930’s.

A directory of 1939 gave Henry William Summers at 17 Lime Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells with the occupation of distributer and wholesale managing director potato merchant”. With him was his wife Beatice’ his daughter Betty and one clerk fruiterer. Betty later became Mrs Sawyer.

What became of Henry after 1939 was not established but he most likely died in Tunbridge Wells in the 1940’s .

FREDERICK DEAKIN THE PHOTOGRAPHER

 
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: May 6,2019

PREAMBLE

On August 15,2018 I wrote an article entitled ‘The Kentish Portrait Company’ who had one of their studios in Tunbridge Wells at 31 High Street. That article was previously posted to my website. In that article the manager of the studio was given in a local newspaper article as “F. Drakin” when in fact it should have read “F. Deakin” who was Frederick Deakin, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1856.

Due to the newspapers error in naming the studio manager no information about “F. Drakin” was found at the time of writing the original article.  Since then it has been established from the back of a CDV taken at the Kentish Portrait Company studio that the manager was Frederick Deakin. In this article I present information about him and his family and examples of his photographs taken firstly in Tunbridge Wells and later in his career in Dover, Kent.

THE DEAKIN FAMILY

The birth of Frederick Deakin was registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1856. Frederick was one of eleven children born to Henry and Sarah Deakin. Henry was born 1827 in Stafford, Staffordshire and his wife Sarah was born there in 1829. Throughout most of his career Henry was a tailor.

The 1861 census taken at 2 Waterloo Cottage in the Grosvenor Road area in the parish of St John, gave Henry Deakin as a tailor. With him was his wife Sarah and six of their children including Frederick who was in school. From a review of the birth records of Frederick’s siblings it was noted that he had two siblings born in Staffordshire namely Emily in 1847 and Tom Stringer Deakin in 1852. In 1854 Sarah Ann Deakin was born in Tunbridge Wells and after Sarah the rest of the children were all born in Tunbridge Wells, the last being Arthur in 1872.  From this one can conclude that the Deakin family moved from Staffordshire to Tunbridge Wells after 1852 and before 1854.

The 1871 census, taken at 1 Edghill Cottage in the Kirkdale Road area of Tunbridge Wells gave Henry Deakin as a tailor. With him was his wife Sarah and six Deakin Children including Frederick who was working as a photographer.

The 1881 census, taken at 24 Stone Street in Tunbridge Wells gave Henry Deakin as a journeyman tailor. With him was his wife Sarah and six of their children. Henry’s son Frederick was working as a photographer; his son William (born in Tunbridge Wells in 1859) was working as a photographers assistant ( most likely for his older brother Frederick). Henry’s son Edward,age 17, was working as a railway clerk with the SER and the rest of the children were attending school.

It  was reported in my article about the Kentish Portrait Company that they were in operation at 32 High Street, Tunbridge Wells from 1879 to 1882 and it was there that Frederick and his brother William worked at the time of the 1881 census, with Frederick as the manager of the studio and his brother William as his assistant.

Examples of photographs by the Kentish Portrait Company studio at 32 High Street are scarce and for that reason only a few example of them have been found, which images  in the form of CDV.s (both front and back) are presented in this article.




The studio of the Kentish Portrait Company was found referred to in various issues of the Kent & Sussex Courier. The earliest one found was dated July 2,1879 in which an advertisement appeared stating “ Portraits marvellously cheap and good taken daily. CDV’s 1st copy 1s; 6 copies …….The Kentish Portrait Company, 32 High Street”. The same advertisement appeared in the Courier on July 11 and 30 and again on August 6,1879.








T
he Courier throughout the period of September 3,1880 to October 20,1880 ran the advertisement “ Portraits taken by the Kentish Portrait Company, 32 High Street, Tunbridge Wells. The new rapid process used. Open daily from 9a.m. Manager F. Dakin”.  Similar advertisments to this appeared in the Courier throughout November 1880 and on a regular basis throughout 1881.  (Note the error in the spelling of the managers surname)

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 4,1882 announced that “Photographers Elliott & Co of 32 High Street Tunbridge Wells beg to announce that they have taken to these premises lately occupied by the Kentish Portrait Company. The studio has been entirely refitted with new apparatus. All photographs finished with care and prompt dispatch”.

In 1883  Frederick Deakin left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Dover, Kent where he took over the photographic studio of Frederick Artis of Dover at 121 Snargate Street. Thomas Wilkinson had established at studio at that address in 1862 and stayed until 1867 when it became the studio of W.M. Nevell who remained there until 1870. Frederick Artis was running that studio between 1881 and 1883, which studio went by the name of the Snargate Street Studio. Frederick Deakin left this studio in 1909 and it was taken over by another photographer. Shown below are the front and backs of two CDV’s by Frederick Deakin at this studio. Today 121 Snargate Street is the premises of Bill’s Bait and Tackle (image opposite).

The 1891 census, taken at 121 Snargate Street in Dover gave Frederick Deakin as single and living alone with the occupation of photographer.

In the 4th qtr of 1894 Frederick married Elizabeth Fanny Danson at Dover. Elizabeth was born April 8,1876 in Dover, Kent. She was one of three children born to William Danson (born 1852) and Fanny Harriet Danson, nee Potter (1852-1909). Elizabeth was baptised July 2,1876 at Dover. At the time of the 1881 census she was living in Dover with her parents and siblings. The 1891 census taken on Tower Street in Dover gave her living with her parents and siblngs. Her father at that time was working as a stonemason and her mother as a dressmaker. Her 13 year old brother William was working as a shop boy.

Frederick and his wife Elizabeth went on to have the following children, who were all born in Dover. (1) Frederick Henry Arthur Deakin who was born in the 4th qtr of 1895. He was baptised December 15,1895 at St Mary  the Virgin Church in Dover. Frederick enlisted for service with the Royal Engineers in WW1 on December 11,1915 at Stratford with the rank of Sapper (No. 149018) and qualified as a line telegraphist. At the time of enlistment he was employed by the post office. His next of kin was given as his father Frederick Deakin of 4 Norman Street and his address was given as 19 Salisbrough. On November 2,1919 he married Josephine Gabriel (maiden name unknown) at St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town South Africa. Payments to his wife show that she was living in South Africa. Frederick was discharged from service on September 19,1919 and he appears to have lived out the rest of his life in South Africa.  (2) Gladys Elizabeth F. Deakin (born 1898) (3) Alice Dorothy Deakin (born 1907) (4) Phyllis Marion Deakin (1909-1973).

The 1901 census, taken at 121 Snargate Street in Dover gave Frederick as a photographer on own account at home. With him was his wife Elizabeth and their children Frederick Henry Arthur Deakin and Gladys E.F. Deakinb. Also there was one visitor.

The 1911 census, taken at 21 Tower Hamlets Road, Dover gave Frederick as a photographer on own account at home. With him was his wife Elizabeth and his children Frederick, Alice and Phyllis. Also there were two boarders. The census recorded that they were living in premises of 6 rooms; that they had been married 16 years and all four of their children were still living.

Frederick Deakin died in Dover Kent in the 3rd qtr of 1923. No probate record was found for him and no death record was found for his wife but she no doubt also died in Dover.

 

CHARLES SIMPSON THE GENTS OUTFITTER

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: May 4,2019

THE SIMPSON FAMILY AND BUSINESS 

Charles Simpson had a gents clothiers shop at 64 High Street. His shop was found at that location in the directories of 1913 to 1930 but he was also found there in the 1911 census as born 1880 in Guildford, Surrey. He was single at that time and the only person living with him was a widow who was his housekeeper.

Charles had been baptised May 30,1880 at Guildford Holy Trinity Church and given as the son of John Simpson (a linen draper) and Emily Simpson, nee Hall. Charles was living with his parents and siblings in Guildford at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census.

The 1901 census, taken at a large drapers and outfitters shop in Folkestone, Charles was working as an outfitters assistant.

By the end of 1909 Charles had moved to Tunbridge Wells and established his outfitters shop at 64 High Street. The earliest advertisement found for his business was from the Courier of December 31,1909 which read “ Annual Winter Sale-Charles Simpson 64 High Street. A special inducement by low prices are given in all departments”.

The Courier of January 7,1910 gave “ Annual Winter Sale-Charles Simpson High Street Tunbridge Wells. Special offer to clear entirely regardless of cost. Winter waist coats…..”. The Courer of January 24,1910 included a Simson advertisement for the sale of school outfits.

On October 25,1911 at St Marylebone Charles married Frances Elizabeth Mary Molyer Lander (age 32) who was given as the daughter of George Lander the licensed victualler of the White Lion Pub, where Frances was living.

Charles enlisted for service in WW1 with the Royal Army Guard (No. 157168). He was a private at the time of attestation on December 11,1915 and served as a gunner until demobilization in 1919. His address at the time of enlistment was 64 High Street Tunbridge Wells and his occupation was given as “ proprietor of a clothing and outfitters shop”.

On April 10,1916 Charles and Frances had a daughter Betty Emily Marianne Simpson who was born in Tunbridge Wells.

The Courier of August 6,1920 included a Simpson advertisement for the sale of mens and boys clothing.

The last advertisement found for the business was the following one from the Courier of April 11,1930 “ Charles Simpson, 64 High Street. Ready to wear and bespoke tailor sports outfitter and hosier. Shirts, collars, pyjamas,ties etc. Underwear by Morley and Worsey. Zambrene and other raincoats. Battershy, Christy and Towbend hats. All goods guaranteed”.

Sometime after 1930 and before 1934 Charles and his wife left Tunbridge Wells. Subsequent proprietors of his shop kept the “C Simpson” mosaic at the entrance to the shop and today is in very good condition.

Shown above are some postcard views of the High Street in Tunbridge Wells in which can be seen the former premises of C. Simpson at No. 64, which was located on the west side of the High Street on the SW corner of High Street and Castle Street. Today this shop is the premises of a babies and children’s clothing shop. In the images above the shop can be seen on the right hand side about half way down the street where at that location can be seen the entrance to Castle Street.

THE SHOP ENTRANCE 

Threshold mosaics were common in shops at the main entrance and could be found either at the exterior or interior of the shop doorway. Their use was common during Victorian times and during the early 20th century. These shops often had a doorway recessed in a small lobby, and the mosaic on the floor was a way of reinforcing the owner’s identity-another kind of advertising, if you like, to add to the name on the shopfront and the display in the window. Charles Simpson was one of the local shop proprietors who had a lovely mosaic tile entrance to his shop as can be seen by the image opposite.

 

 

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