From bootmakers to tobacconists - Old Great Yarmouth directory is portal into town’s bygone shopping past
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014
Although most of us weren’t around in 1937 a business directory offering a glance back to the shopping scene in that year is full of familiar names.
In those days people living in Great Yarmouth could pretty much pop out for whatever they wanted with a grocer or corner shop on every street as small, independent, firms flourished.
The goldmine Archant directory lists every business trading in the town and reveals some glinting nuggets about what life was like, and who did what and where.
Early closing, Kelly’s directory tells us, was Thursday.
Most of the those offering services advertised via their address, only about half listing a four-digit phone number and the select few more than one line.
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Thousands of businesses command an entry, many of them one-man-bands, revealing that enterprise and industry were the back bone of local life.
Chiming with its status as a major port there are countless fish curers and marine merchants with pubs and boot makers/repairers ranking among the most prolific.
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Also conspicuous by their number are the tobacconists and confectioners in an age when the health risks associated with taking in a lungful were still a twinkle in a smoker’s eye and no-one knew that sugar was killing us too.
Fishmongers, florists, bakers, boarding houses, butchers, music teachers, and shoe-makers all vied for the local shilling in an era when things were still made and sold in the town - and not a take-away, nail bar, or betting shop in sight.
Well-remembered names including some that are still going are:
Lacons, The Brewery, Church Plain
Marks and Spencer Bazaar, 3,4,5,6,7 King Street and Theatre Plain
Plattens, 3,4,5,6,7,8 and 26 Broad Row
Smiths Potato Crisps, Caister Road
Brundish and Son, 86 and 87 Albion Road
Cox and Son, jewellers, 3 and 4 Northgate Street
Camplings, laundry, Portland Place, Southtown and three other locations
Chamberlin, Talbot and Bracy solicitors, 13 Queen Street
Bowers and Barr, electrical engineers, 24 Regent Street and 9 Bakers Street, Gorleston
Dewhurst butchers, 20 Broad Row
Coopers, ironmongers, 32 and 33 Market Place and Market gates stove show rooms
Palmers, drapers, 37 to 42 Market Place and 21-29 the Arcade, Marine Parade
Brunswick family and commercial hotel (Walter Bliss), King Street
Others whose trades have fallen away in modern times include:
Jn Shepherd, a hatter at 13 Regent Street
Miss Annie Jarvis, day and boarding school for girls at 36 Camperdown
Ellen Lily Jerrard, baby linen warehouse, 61 and 62 Central Arcade
Kendall and sons, umbrella manufacturer, 67 and 68 Central Arcade
Edward Goate, pianoforte tuner, 10 Alderson Road
H Fuller and Son, sailmakers, South Denes Road
Herbert Freeston Ltd, yeastmakers, 4 Howard Street South
Leonard Cushing, tailor, 87b Middle Market Road
Dixon and Eagle, costumiers, 21 and 22 Central Arcade
Ellis Edward, basket maker, 17 Lancaster Road
Dr Scholl’s Foot Comfort Service, foot appliance manufacturers, 115 Regent Road
Hotels and herring businesses are among those to feature numerous times, with hairdressers, solicitors, and tax collectors also appearing in large numbers alongside the odd blacksmith and shrimper.
In the more than 80 years since the directory was published the retail landscape has changed beyond recognition, big names rising and falling into oblivion, and leisure uses beginning to eclipse retail and services.