Withers' business/religious-meeting premises in Carr Street at the turn
of the 19th/20th century
HAROLD HULCUPP WITHERS
In 1891, at the age of 17, Harold was living with
his stepfather William Rapley and mother Decima in Surbiton Cottage,
Fisherton Anger, Salisbury, with employment as a “Grocer’s Assistant”,
and at the time of Decima’s death in 1893 he was a Railway Clerk. He
moved to Ipswich in 1896 to work in his sister Lydia’s dairy at 32
Orford Street. In that same year he became proprietor of the East
Anglian Cycle Works at 60 Carr Street. Harold had been a Wesleyan
Methodist and secretary to the Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society, but
formally converted to the Christadelphian faith on 1st February 1896,
at the age of 23, shortly before his relocation from Salisbury to
Ipswich. He was the sole Christadelphian in Ipswich (of a population of
60,000) until two others (Mr & Mrs E A Parsons) moved there from
Salisbury several months later, they having also converted from
Methodism. In 1896, Harold and the Parsons took up residence above a
shop at 60 Carr Street, Ipswich, and the Christadelphian meetings were
held there. It was recorded in the Christadelphian magazine in 1897
that 60 Carr St was no longer being lived in but was still in use for
meetings, and it continued to be used for that purpose for several
years after. Some history of the property follows:
60 Carr Street, a brick building with tiled roof, had been auctioned in
1858 from the estate of a Mr Tovell. The auctioneers described the
property as a “commodious family house” with
a “spacious pleasure garden”. No part of the property was in use as a
shop at that time, the ground floor
comprising living quarters including “handsome entrance hall and
vestibule” and six rooms. The first floor had “five
airy sleeping rooms, with spacious landing, and water closet”. On the
second floor was a “servants’ sleeping room”.
The garden was walled in, with an entrance from Union Street forming a
public right of way. By 1865, at
least part of the ground floor had been converted into a greengrocer’s
shop in the name of Samuel Hedges.
The census of 1881 recorded the head of household at No. 60 as
Frederick Barker, occupation Accountant, and an 1881 rate book records
the owner of the “House and Garden” as S. P.
Closson, with Frederick Barker as the occupant. A directory for that
same year recorded the shop as vacant.
In 1882 the property came into the ownership of William Joseph Webster.
[Above: the 1905 postcard shows a much narrower Carr Street than
we are used to today. At the right behind the young people is the
Lyceum Theatre: opened in 1891, it later became a cinema, then closed
down and reopened as a department store. Remarkably the theatre
remained in use as a department store until the late 1980s when it was
finally demolished and the Carr Street shopping precinct was built on
the site. This misbegotten venture also saw the demolition of the
rather fine East Anglian Daily Times
building with its
recognisable turret and spirelet at the corner of Little Colman Street
in 1966; the newpaper publishers had been in the building at 13 Carr
Street since 21 June, 1887. The Cross Keys Hotel on the left of the
street closed in 1938. Don't forget: 'East
Anglian Daily Times: master key to publicity in eastern
counties'. See our Symonds for Kodaks page
for more about this area.]
By 1885, the property had divided into two, Nos. 60 and 60a, with the
former occupied by Baker & Co, London Supply Company, and the
latter by pork butcher, poulterer and dairyman George Norton. In 1890
they were occupied by Baker & Raynham (as Tea Dealers, Grocers and
Provision Merchants) and George Norton respectively; and in 1894 by a
dairy in the name of George Baldwin and still by George Norton. [We
might surmise that dairy owner Lydia had some influence upon Harold’s
move into No. 60 if, as seems likely, the commercial part was still
being used for dairy purposes upon his move thereinto in 1896.] In
1898, whilst still at 60A Carr Street, Harold became a member of the
Suffolk Fat Cattle Club (‘fat cattle’ being a class of beef cattle
judged ready for slaughter to provide prime cuts of beef), thus it is
possible that he had a connection with the meat business in addition to
his cycle business.
By 1910, 60 & 60a Carr Street had become a warehouse for domestic
machinery and a general and fancy draper, the latter in the name of Mr.
A. E. Reynold. The owner of the properties was William John Barker
Webster, he having inherited them from William Joseph Webster who had
died in the March of that year.
Both properties were sold in June 1910 to the Ipswich Industrial
Co-operative Society Limited for £1270. At the time of the sale, the
ground floor comprised two double-fronted shops with a showroom, a
dining room, a kitchen and a “passage with China pantry”. On the first
floor were the five bedrooms, approached by a double staircase and
landing. At the rear was an enclosed paved area with several
outbuildings including water closet and “fowlhouse”, and the walled
garden. In 1914 the properties were demolished for rebuilding as the
Co-op’s central grocery department. The Co-op building still stands but
is vacant (February 2013). From 1903, Harold was reporting to the
Christadelphian from 11 Great Colman Street, thus indicating this as
their new meeting place. Harold and his wife may have lived in this
fairly substantial property, which still stands and was recently
converted into four leasehold flats (as at February 2013).
In 1912, Harold wrote from 110 Alan Road (a still-extant end-of-terrace
house built in 1876) to declare that he was retiring as the Ipswich
ecclesia’s reporter to the Christadelphian, however he commenced
reporting from Haverhill upon his move to that town in 1917 and he
continued until his death in 1958. In 1954 he was reporting from
Hampshire House (34 High Street, Haverhill, which he’d recently bought
together with No. 32A) having moved there from No. 32 and wherein he
set a room aside for Christadelphian meetings.
Harold married his first wife (Agatha) Grace Garrood, also a
Christadelphian at the time of their marriage, on 23rd November 1899,
the marriage certificate recording that he was a 26 year old Cycle
Manufacturer and that she was a 27 year old Dressmaker though she was
in fact aged 30 (note: the 1901 census shows Harold as 27 and Grace as
28. It also shows Harold as a “Cycle maker and agent” of Ipswich, St.
Margaret.). His address is given on the marriage certificate as 32
Orford Street, Ipswich (this was his sister’s dairy; she lived in a
wooden bungalow in Spring Road, Ipswich, where now stands a housing
estate built in the 1960s). Grace’s address was given as 4 Star Lane,
Foundation Street, Ipswich. Both fathers were deceased at the time of
Grace’s father Joseph Wallis Garrood (b. 28.6.1842 Burnham; d. 7.2.1894
Bow) was a Master Mariner, i.e. a Sea Captain, and her mother Fanny
(nee Taylor; b. 24.4.1841 Ipswich; d. 11.9.1927 Ipswich) was the
daughter of a Butcher who owned his own shop in Quay Street, Ipswich.
Their children were Alice (b. c1864; m. William Mills – b. c 1862
Ipswich), Ada (b. c1867; m. Henry Sutton – b. c1866), Mary (b. c1868;
m. George Mee – b. c1861 Bramford), Agatha [Grace] ( b. 1869, d. 1913
Ipswich; m. Harold H. Withers), Adela (b. c1871; m. Maurice Hayward –
b. c1874), Harriett (b. between 1873 & 1883 Ipswich) and Joseph (b.
between 1873 & 1893 Ipswich).
Grace’s grandfather John Joseph Garrood (b. 14.12.1812 Burnham; d.
3.11.1872 Bow) was a Baker, firstly in Burnham, then in Ipswich and
eventually in Bow, East London. He married Ann Wallis (b. 1815 Mundon,
Essex; d. 4.2.1853) on 3.11.1835 Burnham.
Grace’s great-grandfather John Garrood ( b. c1783 Brundish, Suffolk)
was a Blacksmith by trade but ventured into the coal trade and, along
with his son John Joseph, owned two colliers that plied between
Burnham-on-Crouch and Sunderland. He also had a couple of coal yards,
one in Burnham and another in Kelvedon, where he sold coal brought from
the north of England. He also owned many shops and houses in Burnham.
John married Betsy Jerrold (b. c1816 Blyburgh; d. 18.9.1864 Burnham,
Essex) 21.11.1805 Blyburgh.
The 1911 census shows Harold and Grace living at 5 Redan Street,
Ipswich, with children Grace Doris (10), Vera Joyce (9), Harold Roy
(5), Ivan Joseph (4), Eileen (2) and Keith (4 months). They also had a
servant Ellen Stone (14). Grace died on 29th March 1913, aged 41, in
the East Suffolk Hospital in Ipswich of Operation Exhaustion, with
Intestinal Stasis. Harold was present at the death. Their address at
the time was 5 Alpe Street, Ipswich, which was just around the corner
from Lydia’s dairy, and Grace’s occupation had been Dairyman’s
Assistant. Keith died aged 3 on November 13th in the same year as his
Following the death of Grace, in 1916 Harold married Lily Violet Driver
and started a totally new life with her. Lily had also worked at
Lydia’s dairy in Ipswich so it is probable that they first met there.
It is believed that she became his housekeeper prior to their marriage.
They were in Colchester, Essex, for a short time before moving to 7
Hamlet Road, Haverhill, Suffolk in 1917. Harold and Lily operated a
shop at their Hamlet Road address, their newspaper advertisement in
1922 extolling the Centaur bicycle as being “Famous since 1876” and
“The world’s lightest and best”.
The children of Harold’s first marriage went with them to Haverhill but
then moved to Croydon where Roy and Ivan started their own cycle
business. In Haverhill, Harold’s activities included driving an
ambulance and a mailvan and he later bought and ran his own mailvan,
the first Ford ‘Model T’ in the town, operating between Colchester and
Haverhill via Kelvedon. He also ran a bus service to places including
Chelmsford in around 1929. His bus interests were sold to a Mr C. A.
Harrison of Steeple Bumpstead in 1932, later going to Mr G. F. Burgoin
and run as "Grey Pullman"and being sold again to Premier Travel in 1949.
As well as being a cycle agent, Harold also manufactured cycles himself
under the brand name “Redwing”. I recall my ‘Nanna’ (Lily) telling me
how the first bicycle sale was made from their Hamlet Road shop when
she was on her own:
“A man well under the influence of drink came
into the shop. He could hardly stand up. He said: “I want a new bike!”.
I was very frightened but I stood my ground. “Let’s see the colour of
your money first” I said. I took the money and he took the bike and he
rode it away faster than I’ve seen anyone ride, before or since”.
Harold was listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1925-1926 as “Cycle Agent, 7
Hamlet Road, Haverhill”. He and Lily also sold records and other
popular items of the day from the Hamlet Road shop. He then moved to 32
High Street, Haverhill, and commenced the repair and sale of
motorcycles (ref: Kelly’s Directory for 1929: “Motor Cycle Agent and
Dealer, 32 High Street”) and followed this with a car repair, retail
and rental business at the same premises.
No. 32 had previously been a Cycle and Motorcycle Works in the name of
A. Mason, a newspaper advertisement of 1922 stating that Mr Mason also
dealt in Scientific Instrument Making and Repairs, Gas and Electric
Fittings and Electric Bell Work, and that he kept Raleigh Bicycles In
The following advertisement appeared in the Haverhill Echo of 28th May
A.1. Motor Trips
Apply for particulars of Bus Services at Withers Garage, Haverhill.
Saloon Cars and Bus available for Private Hire.
Main District Agents for Raleigh Cycles, Cash or Easy Terms.
Also Renting Cycles from 2/- per week.
Cycle Covers from 2/11, Inner Tubes from 1/3.
All Repairs executed on our premises at High Street, Haverhill.
Withers for Safety and
Losses in his motor bus business
led Harold to face bankruptcy proceedings in 1932, with liabilities of
£625 and assets calculated to provide £192.16s (per Bury Free Press of
8th October 1932). The case was adjourned, and it appears that he
was subsequently rescued by his sister Lydia. The title deeds
held in the Suffolk Records Office (Bury St Edmunds branch) show No. 32
as "tenement and shop with workshop and other buildings, purchased by
Lydia Mary Withers of Ipswich, spinster, from an Official Receiver in
Bankruptcy (for Harold Hulcupp Withers), 24 May 1933".
Until Harold and Lily moved into No. 34, the house had been gas lit and
the defunct gas fittings were left on the walls after electrical
fittings were introduced. The house and garage business at No. 32 was
taken over by their son Terry who, as foreman of Haverhill Ford Agent
‘Cleales Garage’, had the experience to operate a motor trade business.
The garage telephone number was Haverhill 15 (pronounced “one-five”).
Nos. 32, 32A and 34, and the adjacent properties, were made subject of
a Compulsory Purchase Order in the early 1960s and knocked down as part
of the London Overspill project. Terry used the CPO compensation to
build a new Vauxhall dealership in Duddery Hill.
Harold was quite short at just under 5 feet and was a rather fast
driver. One of his cars was a big American Chrysler in which he
overshot a road junction and ran into the side of an Austin 7. The
Austin rolled over but landed on its wheels and was still drivable
whereas the Chrysler was a write-off. On another occasion, Harold was
said by Lily to have used the stock of his beloved brandy for fuel when
he needed to make an important journey during the Second World War and
had used up his petrol coupons. His last car was a Rover 10 to the
pedals of which were fitted wooden blocks so that he could reach them,
with several cushions placed upon the seat so that he could see over
the steering wheel.
Harold’s obituary was published in the Bury Free Press on 2 May 1958.
By David Withers
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