The History of 24 Bath Street & 1-3 Market Place, Frome, Somerset

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GHOST SIGNS AT 1 MARKET PLACE

During the summer of 2021, Gorgon Stone Conservation was employed to perform what they thought to be a simple paint stripping job on a Georgian building in the centre of Frome town, only to discover three different layers of old signage underneath. The company carefully removed the paint to reveal a wonderful glimpse of some of the former lives of this unusual curved property, situated at 1 Market Place (formerly known as 25 Bath Street up until its renovation).

The oldest lettering uncovered is on the left side of the building in red and reads “Hot Cold Water Fitters“. This traces back to Jackson & Sons ironmongers and stationers who occupied 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place from 1895 to 1917. Over the top of the red lettering in dark blue is the company name “York’s Motor Works” which was there until 1960. The front of the building states “Garage” and “Repairs“, with “AA“, “RAC” and “MU” dotted around the central bricked-up window (also part of York’s signage). The most recent signage, painted over the top of York’s and in a much simpler style, reads “Yeovil Tractors Ltd“, which was there until 1967. The names “Ransomes” and “Fordson” on either side were also part of Yeovil Tractors signage.


From the outside, 1 Market Place and 24 Bath Street on the left (a Grade II late Georgian town house) appear to be two large, unrelated three storey buildings, but that is not quite the case. The original dark blue doorway at no.24 leads to two flats above (24a and 24b), one which takes up the first and second floors above no.24, and the other which takes up the front half of the first floor over the retail space at 1 Market Place. The back half of the first floor is part of the business space on the ground floor at no.24. The second floor above 1 Market Place is long term unused and awaiting renovation (25c Bath Street), which was accessible only via stairs from the former 25 Market Place’s ground floor before its renovation in 2001. It’s quite the jumble! The whole building is currently owned by estate agents “Rogers & Co Letting Ltd”, who bought the freehold in 2013, and also work out of no.24.

I was intrigued to know what more I could find out about the businesses who had worked from 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place, and how the buildings had become so entangled inside. I ended up uncovering over 200 years of history, adding 2-3 Market Place into my research as various businesses expanded in the Victorian era.


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A BRIEF HISTORY OF BATH STREET

BATH STREET (named after the Marquis of Bath who owned the land) was created in 1811 when some much needed road improvements were undertaken. Many of the houses between Back Lane (now Eagle Lane) and Palmer Street were demolished and replaced as the street was widened, as well as corner properties on upper Market Place. This included 1 Market Place, which cunningly curved the front of its building into the new road to prevent loosing the whole side.

The map below (published 1886) shows the original layout of the area in red before reconstruction.


The original tithing boundary of Frome Town and West Woodlands ran between what is now 23 and 24 Bath Street, and was also the dividing line for a plot land owned by the SMITH family which ran up to the corner of Stony Street and along to about no.5. The much more substantial plot of land to the south was owned by Lord Bath.

In 1724, the smaller plot of land was leased by Robert SMITH to William BAILY, with son James BAILY (apothecary) and wife Susannah (nee WHITECHURCH) taking it over in 1732. It was next leased in 1753 to Lewis COCKEY (brazier), then in 1775 the last of the SMITH family died (John SMITH) and the land was purchased by the Earl of Cork. Lewis COCKEY’s lease still stood, and was taken over in 1778 by his widow Betty COCKEY (nee BISHOP). It changed hands once again to Betty’s son Christopher COCKEY in 1786 with a plot 45 feet wide, which is roughly the width of 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place combined.

After the new Bath Road had been constructed in 1811, the land in between 1 Market Place and 23 Bath Street was sold to Christopher’s son Edward COCKEY who built 24 Bath Street there c.1815.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Newspaper articles throughout reproduced with the permission of the British Newspaper Archive and The British Library Board.


OWNERS & OCCUPANTS

Use the links below to skip down the page.

1 MARKET PLACE & 24 BATH STREET

2 MARKET PLACE

3 MARKET PLACE


1 MARKET PLACE & 24 BATH STREET

THE COCKEY FAMILY (1753-1866)

Lewis COCKEY (1) and family moved to Frome from Warminster, Wiltshire in the early 1680’s, where they had worked as clockmakers for some time. Lewis (1655-1703) established himself as a bell maker, and his son, Lewis COCKEY (2) (1683-1775), worked as a brazier and plumber.

Lewis COCKEY (2) married local Frome girl Betty BISHOP on 4th Jul 1731 and started a large family of at least ten children (losing one as a baby). Along with the lease for land where 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place now stand, Lewis also had a life lease for 15 Bath Street (which at the time was part of Rook Lane) and owned/leased several other properties around Frome. When he died in 1775 at age 91, Lewis bequeathed his properties and leaseholds to his widow Betty and two of their sons, Lewis (3) and Christopher who were both braziers and plumbers. Lewis (3) died unmarried in 1786 age 49 and left much of his estate to his brother Christopher.

Christopher COCKEY (1747-1792) married Mary BROMWICH (c.1757-1803) on 18th Aug 1778 in Walcot, Bath (where she was from) when they were age about 30 and 20. During 1786, Christopher was named as executor to the estate of his father’s late 1st cousin Edward COCKEY. Edward had been a winemaker nearby in Warminster and died just a few weeks after Christopher’s brother. Christopher was noted as living in the Market Place within an advert requesting any debtors of Edward’s to pay up and inherited all of his premises in Warminster.

Christopher and Mary had seven children together, but Christopher sadly died on 28th Apr 1792 just before the birth of their last child when he was aged 45. His death notice described his as “a man much esteemed and lamented“.

  1. Edward Cockey (1781-1860) – married Elizabeth Hagley (1808), iron founder
  2. Henry Cockey (1783-1809) – died at age 26, unmarried
  3. Susanna Cockey (1785-1860) – unmarried
  4. Ann Cockey (1787-1817) – married Richard Willoughby (1810), grocer, died at age 30
  5. Mary Ann Cockey (1788-1856) – married at age 48 to widower Charles Battell (1836), farmer
  6. Betty Cockey (1790-1827) – married widowed brother-in-law Richard Willoughby (1818), died at age 37
  7. Maria Cockey (1792-1868) – unmarried

Christopher left all the freehold and leasehold estates inherited from his father and brother to his eldest son Edward COCKEY (1781-1860), who was just ten at the time. One of these properties was 15 Bath Street, which he had inherited from his father, as had his grandfather before him. The other was the lease to the land where 24 Bath Street would be built and 1 Market Place.

Edward followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps as a brazier, although he can’t have learnt his trade from either of them. The family are mentioned a couple of times in newspaper ads in 1802 for “Mrs COCKEY” of “Upper Market Place”, and two in 1803 for “Mr COCKEY, Upper Market Place”.

Edward’s mother Mary died 10th Apr 1803 (age 46) when he was age 22, and his younger brother Henry age 20. They were well provided for, which was fortunate for their five younger sisters now they had all become orphaned (aged 11 to 18).

Edward COCKEY married Elizabeth HAGLEY on 4th Feb 1808 when they were aged 27 and 21. Elizabeth was the daughter of William HAGLEY (surgeon of Frome) and Elizabeth BAILY. The Cockey’s, Hagley’s and Baily’s had leased land and properties around this area of Frome for many years.

Thus began what was to be a rather large family of Edward’s own, losing only one child out of thirteen in infancy. Elizabeth was almost continually pregnant, giving birth every one to two years from the age of 21 to 38. None of their five daughters married and only three of their seven surviving sons married. Four of their sons followed their father’s footsteps into the iron industry, and two became partners in the firm of Edward COCKEY and Sons (Henry and Francis).

  1. Edward Cockey (1809-1880) – Vicar of Hockley in Essex, curate of Clifton in Bristol and Rector of Fryerning in Essex (married Jane Hay Cray in 1846)
  2. Elizabeth Cockey (1810-1837) – died age 27, unmarried
  3. Henry Cockey (1811-1891) – partner in Frome Iron Works, manufacturer & gas engineer (unmarried)
  4. Susan Cockey (1812-1832) – died age 19, unmarried
  5. William Cockey (1814-1877) – iron merchant (married Agnes Thomson in 1844)
  6. Francis Christopher Cockey (1815-1888) – partner in Frome Iron Works (unmarried)
  7. Edmund Percival Cockey (1817-1907) – general medical practitioner (married Mary Anne Taylor Davies in 1858)
  8. Maria Cockey (1818-1915) – died unmarried
  9. Anne Cockey (1820-1878) – died unmarried
  10. George Cockey (1821-1895) – iron foundry assistant and gas fitter engineer (married Jane Barrell in 1858)
  11. Richard Cockey (1823-1823) – died age 7 weeks
  12. Mary Anne Cockey (1824-1902) died unmarried
  13. Frederick Cockey (1826-1863) – occupation and marital status unknown

Bath Street began construction in 1811, and Edward bought the land where number 24 stands and built the property around 1815 which became their home.

Edward began his Iron Foundry around 1816, shortly after the work on Bath Street had finished, and built on land belonging to his father-in-law William HAGLEY. William also owned 10 Bath Street, one of the older properties which were originally on Rook Lane before the Bath Street expansion took over as the new road (William also owned 16-17 Bath Street). Frome Parish Rates for 1827 record Edward as the proprietor of several properties which he leased (Catherine Hill, Cork Street, Bath Street and Palmer Street), owner and occupier of a further two (Market Place and Cork Street), and occupier of two more on Bath Street owned by Joseph BAILEY and his father-in-law William HAGLEY.

The following illustration is from the 1820s, with 1-2 Market Place on the far right. No.24 Bath Street has the bay window from the public house at no.23 next door attached to its front, and 1 Market Place is much more rounded than it should be. Even so, the buildings are still recognisable.


When his father-in-law died in 1839, his will stated that Edward had recently occupied part of 16-17 Bath Street as a warehouse (the main house was at the time being occupied by the Board of Guardians of the Poor of Frome Union). William added two codicils; firstly that daughter Elizabeth’s legacy was not to be paid to her “until son-in-law Edward COCKEY has repaid a considerable sum borrowed on my real estate“, and secondly that the “remainder of my term in a piece of land held under the previously mentioned BATH lease [Marquess of Bath] which Edward COCKEY has occupied for some time, part of it a portion of his foundry yard, the rest part of the foundry or warehouse recently erected, the remainder of the latter being his property.”

As the Iron Foundry grew, it expanded to take over most of the space behind 10-15 Bath Street and over to Palmer Street. The foundry produced a large number of iron and brass cast items ranging from agricultural to street furniture, expanding into gas street lighting, then diversifying to the gas industry with the founding of Frome Gas Company in c.1832 (which was taken over by Bath Gas, Coke & Light Co between 1934-37).

The 1840 Tithe records for Frome show Edward occupied quite a bit of land owned by Thomas BUNN, the champion of the 1811 Bath Street construction, and also owned three plots of his own (Market Place, Behind the Hill and Catherine Hill). In the 1841 census, Edward and family were recorded living on “part of Bath Street“, next door to William Curtis BRAND, the Chemist and Druggist of 2 Market Place.

By 1851 Henry and Frances were employing 76 men and boys. At this time, Edward along with four of his unmarried adult children was recorded living at “West Side of Market”, and remaining next door was William Curtis BRAND.

Edward died 14th Jan 1860 at age 78 and was one of the oldest inhabitants of Frome at that time. Brothers Henry and Francis, now 49 and 45, were again recorded at Bath Street in the 1861 census. Listed just above were two uninhabited properties on “Market Place West” (William Curtis BRAND had now retired and moved).

Henry and Francis were both described as “Engineers & Iron Founders, employing 125 men, 41 boys, firm of E. COCKEY & Sons“. Also living with them was two of their three spinster sisters (Maria and Mary Ann) plus two general servants. Around 1866 the siblings moved west a few streets to “South Hill” 23 Christchurch Street West, which had a path between the house and the foundry.

In early 1866 the COCKEY brothers sold their Market Place/Bath Street premises to William Hine MAY and commenced selling off their stock and reduced prices. William was a draper, and had been running his business next door at “London House” (2-3 Market Place) from at least 1861.


The Cockey brothers “disposed” of their Ironmongers business to Henry Payne COOMBS with their last day of trade being 9th Jun 1866. Henry then moved his own Ironmongers business from just around the corner on Stony Street into his new premises.

Between 1853-1878, Henry and Frances had given notice at the Office of the Commissioners of Patents for improvements in many different items, including the manufacture or production of cheese, clod crushers and land rollers, driving chaff and root cutters and other agricultural machines, apparatus employed in the manufacture of gas, steam boilers, apparatus for scurfing retorts, gas stoves, furnace doors and wooden grids for gas purifier. Adverts referred to their business as an “Agricultural Implement and Grate Warehouse”, sometimes addressed as Market Place, and sometimes as Bath Street.


In 1871 Henry and Francis were employing 210 men in the foundry, and the brothers had been joined at home by another of their spinster sisters (Anne, who died in 1878), plus a house maid and cook. During 1880 Francis had a severe fall after slipping on ice, breaking the tendon in his knee cap from which he never fully recovered. In 1881 Henry, Francis, Maria and Mary Ann were still living together at “South Hill” with one domestic servant.

As the business continued to expand, a new Iron Works was built on land to the other side of Christchurch Street West and another just east of the town centre by the railway in Garston. In 1886 they became a limited company promoted by Henry and Francis’ increasing ages of 75 and 70. They sold their whole business as a going concern to newly formed “Edward COCKEY & Sons Limited“, including machinery, stock-in-trade, patents, freehold land and buildings at Garston, Frome, for a sum of £7660 (well over £1m), accepting £3k of the purchase money as 300 shares in the company. Henry continued to work as the company managing director, alongside other directors.

Notice of the formation of the limited company and the availability of shares included some information about the business as it was at the time:

“This company is formed for the purpose of acquiring the old and well established business of Messers. Edward Cockey & Sons, Gas Engineers and Ironfounders, as carried on during the past fifty years at The Iron Works, Frome-Selwood, Somerset.

“The works are very extensive and admirably situated for the development of a large business: the castings production are of the very best possible description, and these facts, together with the reputation enjoyed by the firm for the first-class work, have enabled them to complete successfully for the contracts at a great distance from Frome. At the present time the works are fully employed of contracts now in hand will extend over a considerable period.”

Frances died two years later aged 72 on 29th Feb 1888 at his residence of South Hill in Frome. His death notice stated he had been a trustee of the Frome Charities and one of the directors of the Market Company. He had also been a staunch supporter of the Conservative party. Frances’s funeral was well attended by family and over 70 employees. He was obviously a much respected man, and many of the shops and private residences closed blinds along the route the mourners took, the coffin being drawn on a bier by employees to the tolling of the bells of St John’s, Christ Church and Trinity Church.

Henry resigned as manager for the Frome Gas Works in Feb 1891 due to “age and infirmity“, and died at age 79 on 17th Jun 1891 just after the census was taken, living with sisters Maria and Mary Anne plus a cook and parlour maid. Henry’s funeral was also a large affair for the town, with representatives from many different companies attending.

After the brothers died, the company moved their foundry to their east side plot in 1893 so it could be greater expanded, and the buildings on Palmer Street became the Victoria Baths and Electric Works shortly after.

The two remaining sisters moved next door into “Stoke House”, 24 Christchurch Street West. Mary Anne died in 1902 aged 78, and Maria in 1915 aged 96. She was the last surviving Cockey sibling and Frome’s oldest resident at the time.


COOMBS & SONS (1866-1895)

Henry Coombs & Sons took over the lease of 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place in 1866. Henry moved his Ironmongers business from just around the corner on Stony Street.

Henry Payne COOMBS was born 8th Sep 1826 in Badcox, Frome. He was the first of three children born to Henry COOMBS, a grocer, and Sarah PAYNE. Henry’s mother died in 1833 leaving three young children, and his father remarried shortly afterwards in 1835 to Prudence PARSONS and had three more children (one dying in infancy).

Henry originally began work as an optician rather than following in his father’s trade as a grocer (as one of his brothers did), but his partnership with Thomas Davis KING of Bristol, an optical and mathematical instrument maker, was dissolved in Feb 1853. Thomas’s wife Anna was the sister of Martha Allan REED, who Henry married in 1853, and had seven children with (all born in Frome).

  1. Maria Payne Coombs (1854-1879) – died age 24, unmarried
  2. Alfred Ernest Joshua Coombs (1856-1926) – married Sarah Hunter (1880), ironmonger and commercial clerk
  3. Arthur Henry Coombs – married Mary Sophia Whitaker (1891), schoolmaster and Baptist minister
  4. Edith Read Coombs (1859-1886) – died age 26, unmarried
  5. John Reed Coombs (1862-1946) – married Ada Lee (1894), commercial clerk and sales manager (Cycle & Motorcar Accessories)
  6. George Muller Coombs (1864-1864) – died age 0
  7. Theodora Reed Coombs (1866-1889) – married Samuel Pearce Carey (1888, Baptist minister), died 12 days after giving birth age 22

By 1861 Henry was working as a cutler and ironmonger. He was also an agent for The Life Association of Scotland, and in 1864 became registrar of marriages for the Frome district, in place of his father who had just died, and to whom he had been deputy. Later that same year Henry and Martha tragically lost their newborn 6th child.

Over the years, Henry’s house alternated in the electoral records between Stony Street (1856-1860, 1864), where he ran his business and Vicarage Street (1861, 1867) which are a little way from each other. In 1866, Edward COCKEY & Sons “disposed” of their Ironmongers business to Henry and their premises to William Hine MAY (draper of “London House” at 3 Market Place). The COCKEY family moved from 24 Bath Street and the COOMBS family moved in, taking over their old shop premises next door.


The illustration below is called “Bath St. Froome with the west approach to the Church” by Samuel CUZNER (hairdresser and art furniture manufacturer of Market Place and Bath Street) and was published in “History of Froome and its Neighbourhood” in 1865, the year before Henry moved his shop there. No. 2 Market Place is just captured on the far right, and the shop front at 1 Market Place has “May” as its name. William Hine MAY ran his drapery business from 3 Market Place at this time, so perhaps the artist thought a drapers shop more genteel than an ironmongers?


The COOMBS family were recorded living at “Market Place” in 1871, where Henry employed three shopmen and one boy. Around 1875, the COOMBS family moved to 12 Keyford Street (retaining the Ironmongers shop), and Robert Joseph BUCK (draper) and family moved in, having previously lived just over the road at 1 Cork Street. The Buck family first moved to Frome around 1869 from Weymouth, Dorset, where Robert took over the drapers business of J BARNARD at Waterloo House (the shop at 1 Cork Street). Robert and his wife Martha Ann nee WATERS had two young children when they moved (they had lost their firstborn aged 1 in 1866). Their fourth and final child was born in Frome in mid-1870, but this child also died at age 2 in 1873 (at Market Place).

Henry’s eldest daughter Maria sadly died in 1879 aged 24 (unmarried), and the following year the BUCK family moved out of 24 Bath Street and the OAKLEY family moved in. Edwin Henry OAKLEY (an Accountant), wife Ann Eliza (nee STURMEY) and three of their seven children were living at 24 Bath Street in 1881, having also moved from Weymouth to Frome in 1869 just like the BUCK family, although I’m not aware of any connection. In 1871 the family were visiting relatives in Dorset so don’t know their exact address in Frome before 24 Bath Street. Between 1869-1875 the family’s residence was recorded simply as “Market Place” on their children’s baptisms, and adverts for Edwin’s auctioneer business of “Hornsey & Oakley” found between 1880-1881 were also for Market Place.

The 1881 census records the COOMBS family living at 12 Keyford Street with one general domestic servant, and Henry employed one porter and two apprentices at his ironmongers shop. Eldest son Alfred had just got married and was living nearby at 2 Redland Street, working as an ironmonger with his father.

In 1886 Henry’s daughter Edith died aged 26 (unmarried), followed shortly after by youngest daughter Theodora in 1889 age 22 and just 12 days after giving birth to her first child (and not quite a year since marrying). The OAKLEY family had moved from Frome to Yeovil, Somerset by this time and when the 1891 census was taken Henry and his wife were living with their son Alfred and his family back at 24 Bath Street. Shortly after the census was taken Henry’s wife Martha died aged 68. Not to let the grass grow, Henry remarried the following year to Lucinda Sophia PARSONS, who was 23 years his junior and also the niece of his own father’s second wife!

On 1st May 1894, the partnership of Coombs & Son was dissolved. Henry was coming up to 68 years old by this time and handed his side of the business over to his son Alfred. However, he didn’t run it for much longer as the business was taken over the Jackson & Sons in late 1895. Alfred moved to Handsworth, Staffordshire, and by 1901 was working as a commercial clerk. Two years before this, 3 Market Place had been sold by Charles James SAGE to Capital and Counties Bank who demolished and rebuilt it as we see today, and shortly afterwards Jackson & Sons took over 2 Market Place to expand their business.

Henry and new wife Lucinda were living at 5 Culverhill in 1901, where he died on 4th Aug 1908 aged 81. Lucinda died 5th Nov 1924 in Kent aged 75. Son Alfred died on 14th Oct 1926 age 70 at his brother John’s house in Erdington, Warwickshire, and five days later son Arthur died suddenly in Huntingdon age 69. The last of Henry’s children (John) died in 1946 age 83.

The photograph below is the oldest I have found showing upper Market Place, with the original 3 Market Place on the corner before it was rebuilt in 1898. The earliest this photo could have been taken was 1885 (when Prosser moved in). It is, therefore, possible it was taken whilst Henry Coombs was still there, but could also have been from very early on in Jackson & Sons time.



JACKSON & SONS (1895-1917)

Jackson & Sons took over the ironmongers shop and house at 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place late 1895, and 2 Market Place from 1899. The signage in red uncovered on the curved section of 1 Market Place dates from this time.

John JACKSON was born towards the end of 1847 in Witney, Oxfordshire, and the last of six children born to parents John JACKSON and Eliza BARTLETT. John’s father ran a blacksmiths in Witney’s Market Place and his mother Eliza was a nurse.

John’s elder brother followed in their father’s footsteps as a blacksmith, whilst John began work as an ironmonger’s assistant. He married Emma TALBOYS on 28th Sep 1872 in Witney where they had seven children.

  1. Arthur John Jackson (1873-1931) – married Louisa Eleanor Eaton (1898), ironmonger & shopkeeper “Jackson & Sons”
  2. Albert William Jackson (1875-1966 Canada) – married Mabel Giddings (1903), ironmonger & shopkeeper “Jackson & Sons”
  3. Ernest Hiorns Jackson (1876-1944) – married Louis Winifred Sheaf (1903), a grocer
  4. Ellen Emma Jackson (1878-?) – not found after 1911
  5. Millicent Mary Jackson (1882-1909) – died aged 27, unmarried
  6. Edith Annie Jackson (1883-?) – not found after 1911
  7. Mabel Janet Jackson (1886-?) – not found after 1911

The family were still living at Market Square in Witney, Oxfordshire in 1891, where John was working as an ironmonger and iron founder, then in late 1895 they moved to Frome to take over the ironmongers business at 24 Bath Street (all except son Ernest who remained in Oxfordshire). In 1899, John bought the book and stationery business of Charles James SAGE and moved it into their new additional premises at 2 Market Place. Up until 1898 Charles had run a multitude of businesses from 2-3 Market Place. He was a chemist, dentist, stationer, bookseller, insurance agent and printer via the Albion Printing Works at the rear of the shop. Charles moved his Chemist shop over the road to 25 Market Place in 1898, and the printers to King Street. The books, stationary and newsagents section was moved temporarily into the George Hotel before being sold to John the following year.


In 1901 John bought the business of W. J. COOPER to add to his grown empire, keeping Mr Cooper on as their electrician, gas fitter, hot and cold water fitter and general smith. They also began to supply and fit electrical bells and telephones.

Eldest son Arthur had married in 1897, moving from Frome to Trowbridge in 1904 where he opened an Ironmongers shop of his own called simply “Jacksons”. Second son Albert married the year before this and continued to work in the family business in Frome, which changed names from “Jackson & Son” to “Jackson & Sons”.

In 1905, John was charged with obstructing the footpath outside his shop with various items as was reported in a local newspaper. He had a good case to have the charge overturned with “70 or 80 years usage” (1825-1835), although I suspect 80 to 90 years may be more accurate. John himself had placed goods in the same place for some “nine and a half years“, as had his predecessor “Mr Coombs” with similar items “for 10 or 20 years” (he was actually there for 29 years) and before that “Messers COCKEY and Sons” “from time immemorial“, but John decided to admit to obstruction and the case was dismissed on payment of costs.


John and Emma’s daughter Millicent (aka Peggy) sadly died in 1909 aged 27 (unmarried) and by 1911 John, Emma and their three remaining adult daughters had moved to Osborne House at 3 Waterloo in Frome. Son Albert was now the head of 24 Bath Street, with his wife, daughter and one servant. John’s occupation was listed as “ironmonger shopkeeper” (employer) and Albert’s as “ironmonger shopkeeper” (employer, at home). Two of John’s daughters also worked for the business at this time, Ellen managing the stationers with Mabel assisting.

This photograph was taken early 1910’s. Note the decorative street lamp by Edward Cockey & Sons.


Jackson & Sons had become shipping agents for the Royal line by early 1912 advertising tickets to Canada, and where son Albert and family emigrated very soon after as between May-Aug of 1912, 24 Bath Street was advertised to be let. The very first ad described it as “11 rooms and offices“. After this, it was always stated to be “9 Rooms; Bath; usual Offices (as Offices or Dwellings)“. The ironmongers business itself was still trading from 1-2 Market Place.

War broke out in 1914, and in March 1916 John (now age 69) became seriously ill requiring an operation in London. The business requested a temporary exemption for their employee S. BROOM “to give them an opportunity of disposing of the business“. Towards the end of Nov 1916, 24 Bath Street was taken over as army headquarters when troops were billeted to the town (for the second time).

Jackson & Son’s stock-in-trade was sold by auction on 27th Feb 1917, and the advert gave a full account of all items to be sold.


The last mention of John living in Frome is Jun 1917 taking direct orders for various goods sold in his son Arthur’s ironmongers shop in Trowbridge. John and Emma then moved from Frome to the coast of Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset where John died 14th Apr 1935 age 87 and Emma the following year 19th Jan 1936 age 86.


YORK MOTOR WORKS (1919-1960)

York‘s Motor Works took over 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place after WWI ended, turning it into a motor garage. The property next door at 2 Market Place was sold as a separate business in or just after 1920. The signage from this business is the most prominent of the lettering revealed on the building.


Edwin YORK was born 19th March 1886 in Elmore Gloucestershire to Edwin YORK (Snr), a gardener, and Mary Susan LAMBERT. The family moved to Bath not long after Edwin was born.

Edwin married Elsie GARDENER in mid-1908 in the Merthyr Tydfil district of Glamorganshire, Wales and son Royce Edwin YORK was born the following year on 24th Mar 1909 (baptised in Aberaman, Glamorganshire 16th Apr). By 1911 the family were living back in Somerset at 62 Wells Road, Bath where Edwin was working as a motor mechanic.

The family had moved to Frome by the time war broke out and Edwin was mentioned in a newspaper article in 1916 and 1917, and again briefly in May 1918 with regards to military exemption. He was working for Hobbs Motor Company Ltd. at this time, which was on Christchurch Street, Frome (the same road the COCKEY brothers had lived on). Edwin was their sole manager, foreman and only mechanic in 1916. He was pretty indispensable to the business, which had already lost ten of its employees to the military. Conditional exemption was granted each time.

Edwin was still working for Hobbs Motor Company at the time JACKSON & Son retired their business in 1917, and the first mention of York’s Motor Works at Bath Street/Market Place is an ad from 1919. He owned rather than leased the premises, as confirmed by much later newspaper articles, but whether he bought it from John Jackson is unknown.

Royce married May Louisa BUTTON on 24th Feb 1927, and by 1939 the couple was living on the other side of River Frome on Rodden Road, working as a motor engineer and housewife (no children). Edwin and Elsie were still living at 24 Bath Street and running the motor business.

Royce had married May Louisa BUTTON on 24th Feb 1927, and during WWII worked as a special constable, evacuating blitz victims in Bath and Bristol. He held the position for twelve years and was awarded the Special Constabulary Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Between 1939-1942 Royce worked for 27 Command Workshops REME in Warminster as a vehicle examiner, before going back to the family business in Frome. They had one child together born after the war ended in 1945.

Edwin died on 18th Oct 1953 aged 67 and left the premises to his widow Elsie, which Royce ran until 1959. When Elsie died the following year on 5th Feb 1960 age 75 Royce decided to give up the business and sell the premises for redevelopment. However, this took longer than expected due to conditions imposed by Frome Urban District Council, which was acting on behalf of the Somerset County Council. They required “the erection of three lock-up shops with office and storage accommodation on the first and second floors“. The estate of Royce’s late mother lodged an appeal against this in 1962 after several interested parties in the premises pulled out due to the requirements for development. But this was not all. There was also talk of “taking a slice off the front of the premises and the adjoining premise” in order to streamline the street for traffic. Essentially, the proposition would mean 1-3 Market Place losing about 8-10 feet off the fronts of all the buildings. This was not well received by traders, but the appeal was actually dismissed so as to leave the council open to widening the bottom of Bath Street in the future. Thankfully this never happened and the buildings remained untouched, and shortly after leased to Yeovil Tractors for a term of seven years.

Royce retired from REME in 1974 and was presented with a £10 cheque from the REME Association and a £3.20 cheque from his friends by commanding officer Col. Tony Marson.  He died 22nd Dec 1977 in Frome aged 68 only three years after retiring, and his wife May died towards the end of 1998 at age 92.


YEOVIL TRACTORS LTC (1963-1967)

On 1st Sep 1963, Royce Edwin YORK leased the premises at 24 Bath Street (which also included 1 Market Place) to Leonard VIVIAN of Yeovil Tractors Ltd. for a term of seven years (up to 1969). Yeovil Tractors Ltd” along with “Fordson” and “Ransomes” are three of the words once again visible on the front of 1 Market Place.

The garage and workshops, with accommodation above, were let to Yeovil Tractors Ltd. for £400 per year on 1st Sep 1963, with Leonard VIVIAN as assignee. However, things did not run smoothly for Leonard, nor the company as a whole. Yeovil Tractors started trading c.1935 in (you guessed it) Yeovil, with a second branch opening in Frome in 1963, but by 1965 the company had gone into voluntary liquidation. The staff at the Yeovil site were all given notice, but it is unclear what this meant for the Frome branch as they were still trading in 1967 (all be it not very well).

“You have forfeited lease – Judge”

During Nov 1967, Royce applied for possession of his business due to Leonard not paying the complete agreed yearly rent, owing £50 to Sep 1966 and £100 to Sep 1967. Leonard was told to pay £50 rent arrears and £10 costs within 28 days or lose his business, knowing the owner would like to have vacant possession in order to sell.

Leonard did not complete his seven-year lease, and the premises were sold off by Royce Edwin YORK shortly after. I have discovered no more about the life of Leonard Vivian.



1969 ONWARDS

24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place went under extensive changes in 1969, with the ground floor of the latter becoming 25 Bath Street and the address of 1 Market Place ceasing to exist until 2021.

Alfred Pearson & Son estate agents took over 24 Bath Street in Aug 1969 after Yeovil Tractors had departed, and has been home to estate agents ever since. Later businesses include Prudential Estate Agents, Abbey National Estate Agents, Cornerstone Estate Agents and Rogers & Co Letting.

VANITY FAIR CLEANERS LTD. reconstructed and re-orientated the ground floor of former 1 Market Place, opening for business in Jun 1970 as 25 Bath Street.


25 Bath Street remained a dry cleaners for a number of years, with Bollom Dry Cleaners plus shoe repairs working there by 1980 (previously at 3 Stoney Street around the corner), followed by Johnson Cleaners and Frome Shoe Repairs. There was then a change of use to financial with a string of betting shops including Ladbrooks Coral, CreedBet and BetFed. The ground floor then saw another change of use alongside some refurbishment and the renaming of 25 Bath Street back to 1 Market Place with Not Just Pets in 2021.



2 MARKET PLACE

The earliest mention of business at 2 Market Place is in 1832 but would have been people living and working from there for many decades before this.

 

WILLIAM CURTIS BRAND (bef.1832-1855)

The first confirmed occupant of 2 Market Place I have found is chemist and druggist William Curtis BRAND who worked there from at least 1832.

William Curtis BRAND was born c.1793 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and by 1821 had moved to Frome where he set up as a chemist and druggist. William married Elizabeth Ann PAYNE on 10th May 1823 in Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset and had at least four children born in Frome from 1832, but most likely had more children before this.

  1. William Isaac Fussell Brand (b.1832)
  2. Henry George Brand (b.1835)
  3. Laura Elizabeth Brand (b.1842)
  4. Katherine Mary Ann Brand (b.1845)

Electoral records for 1832 place William’s residence as “Market Place” with a freehold property on Palmer Street. The family were recorded living next door to the COCKEY family in 1841 at “part of Bath Street”, which would be 2 Market Place as the COCKEY’s were at 1 Market Place and 24 Bath Street. William was now age 47, and along with his own family was his unmarried sister Mary.

On 26th Mar 1851, William’s wife Elizabeth died aged 52, and four days later the census was taken. The just widowed William at still at the same property on the “west side of Market Place” and also in the household was 19-year-old son William, 5-year-old daughter Katherine, his sister Mary, a sister-in-law, a visitor, a nephew and one servant. The COCKEY family were also still next door.

On 1st Aug 1855 the freehold messuage and premises of 2 Market Place were put up for sale by auction, William having recently retired and moved to Keyford Street just out of town. The advert stated the adjoining property was also up for sale, which was presumably number 3 Market Place on the corner. There were several properties being auctioned, all by instruction of undisclosed trustees. The trustees mentioned were possibly acting on behalf of the estate of John FUSSELL, a local hardware manufacturer of some great wealth, who died in 1853. I haven’t discovered who bought the properties.

No.’s 2-3 Market Place were marked “uninhabited” in the 1861 census, either because no one lived above the shops or because the residents were away elsewhere. William died in St Alban’s, Hertfordshire early Sep 1869 aged 76.


JOHN TULK ALLEN (1857-1869)

The next likely resident of 2 Market Place was a chemist, druggist and bookseller called John Tulk ALLEN from at least 1857.

John Tulk ALLEN was born c.1815 in Milton Abbas, Dorset. He first married Sarah SILBY on 2nd May 1840 in Poole, Dorset and had one daughter together (Ellen b.1841) before Sarah died in 1843 aged 26. John then remarried to Fanny GREEN in 1846 (also in Poole), and they moved to 4 Bath Street, Frome. They were at Bath Street until 1856, then the electoral records show John living at Market Place with a house and shop there in 1857.

John, Fanny and Ellen were visiting in Poole when the 1861 census was taken, which would explain why 2 Market Place was marked as uninhabited if that was their home as well as business. Electoral records place John on Market Place until 1866, the same year the COCKEY brothers sold their premises at 1 Market Place.

By 1867 John and family were living at Catherine Street with a house, garden and lawn and just prior to this he had gone into partnership with a young chemist called Charles James SAGE of 8 Bath Street. John and Charles’s partnership dissolved in 1869, with Charles taking over the business at 2 Market Place so John could retire but he sadly died not long after this on 26th Oct 1871 age 56. His wife Fanny continued to live in Frome until she died on 26th Nov 1906 age 90.


CHARLES JAMES SAGE (1869-1898)

Charles James SAGE, the partner of John Tulk ALLEN, took over the chemist business at 2 Market Place in 1869.

Charles James SAGE was born Dec 1840 in Frome, the last of five children to parents John SAGE and Caroline PAYNE.

The family moved from Palmer Street around the corner to 8 Bath Street between 1841-1851 where Charles’s father worked as a tailor. By 1861 Charles was already working as a chemist and druggist, going into partnership with neighbour John Tulk ALLEN c.1866 and then taking over the business in 1869.

Charles married Bertha ARNOLD on 4th Feb 1869 and by 1871 were living at 2 Market Place with two young children and two more to follow.

  1. Selina Elizabeth Sage (1869-1915) – married Henry James Wheeler (1896), a seed merchant and nurseryman
  2. Charles Edward Sage (1870-1955) – analyst and consulting chemist, married Arabella Ann Brooks (1900)
  3. Bertha Sage (1873-1957) – assistant bacteriologist, unmarried
  4. Arnold Sage (1875-1898) – stationer, printer and bookseller, unmarried

Along with being a chemist and druggist, Charles was also a practising dentist, stationer, bookseller and insurance agent. He even ran a printing company called Albion Printing Works from the rear of the shops, taking over 3 Market Place for his expanding empire (after 1889). By 1881 the family were living at Westbourne Villa, West End not too far away and then back at 2 Market Place in 1891.

In Aug 1895 Charles applied for a licence to sell wine from his shop, to be consumed off-premises. The advert stated he rented his business properties from James Watson PRATTEN of Amoy Villa, College Fields, Reading, and the electoral register for 1894 shows he owned the freehold house of 2 Market Place, and that Charles was resident. James was born in 1820 in Frome and was a marine engineer, living in Frome, London and Southampton. He moved to Beckington in Somerset after retiring in 1881 then finally to Reading in 1891 where James died on 1st Oct 1895.

In late 1897 Charles “disposed” of his premises at 3 Market Place to the Capital and Counties Bank for the purpose of re-building the following year, and he also moved out of 2 Market Place. Charles temporarily ran the book, stationery and newsagent departments of his business from the stockroom of George Hotel over the road, to be conducted by his son Arnold who was currently working for booksellers Simkin & Marshall in London, but he sadly died in mid-1898 age 23. The chemist and mineral water departments moved to 25 Market Place, and the printing works moved to 13 King Street. The book business was bought by JACKSON & Son in 1899 who took over 2 Market Place next door to their Ironmongers shop at 24 Bath Street/1 Market Place. The property must have stood empty for a few months after Charles left and the Jacksons moved in.

Charles died 12th Feb 1908 at 9 Bath Street, Frome age 67, followed by his widow Bertha in 1912 age 76.


JACKSON & SONS (1899-1917)

Jackson & Sons took over the ironmongers shop and house at 24 Bath Street and 1 Market Place in late 1895, and 2 Market Place in 1899 (as detailed previously).

 


1920 ONWARDS

After Jackson & Son retired from business in 1917, the next mention of the property is its failed sale in Nov 1920, withdrawn at £1175. Presumably, it had a successful sale after this as 2 Market Place became home to several drapers.

The first drapers to take over were “The Blouse Box” in 1922, which moved from just around the corner at 3 Cheap Street. They sold blouses, jumpers, evening frocks, coat frocks and costumes, amongst other things.

The business was shortly after purchased by “Sydney George” in 1926, with various departments including corsets, underclothing, hosiery, umbrellas, furs, mackintoshes, costumes, gowns and dress skirts. The business used mottos such as “where economical prices abound”, in their adverts, and had similar phrases painted on the shop front.

A. Gilchrist” took over briefly from 1932-1933, selling ladies’ underwear, corsets, frocks and jumpers, using the motto “the house for better quality.”


No. 2 Market Place changed hands yet again in 1934 when Montague Burton‘s famous chain of menswear moved in. Their grand opening was on Friday 19th October 1934 and they took out a large full-page advert in the local paper, which even included a small section on the history of the building.


“For a history of the site, one has to picture the old Market Place, with its cobbled surface and iron pillars, and the old-world fronts of its shops and hotels. Burton’s shop was for many years a part of a large ironmongery business, the proprietors of which were successively Messrs. Coombs and Son and Mesers. Jackson and Son. It embraced not only this shop but also the premises occupied by York’s Garage. After it ceased to be an ironmonger’s store, it was for several years used as a drapery establishment. Messrs. Burton’s new shop can claim to be on the most commanding site in the Market Place. It not only surveys all the surrounding property – but has an uninterrupted view to North Parade, which is practically the entrance to the town from the main Bath Road.”

These ads were all specifically designed for their shop at 2 Market Place:


Ladies hairdresser Jack CULLEN opened for business on the first floor above Burton’s on 13th May 1936, which he ran until 1970. The salon was then taken over by “Juliet Ann”.

Several other businesses came and went on the second floor, and Burton’s was gone by the 1960s (although the company still owned the property, and their top signage remained in place for over two decades). The ground floor shop was subsequently divided into two units, the left side of which has been a café ever since.



3 MARKET PLACE

Information prior to 1855 for 3 Market Place has proved difficult to find online, although was clearly in use for many decades prior to this date. The current Grade II listed property was built in 1898.

 

Mr PARSONS (1855)

The first possible occupier of 3 Market Place I have found within online records was a Mr PARSONS in 1855.

On 1st Aug 1855, the freehold messuage and premises of 2 Market Place were put up for sale by auction. The advert stated the adjoining property was also up for sale, and in the occupation of Mr PARSONS, a draper. This would logically seem to be number 3 Market Place on the corner. There was also a drapers situated on the opposite side of the road on the corner of Stony Street and Cork Street run by James GILLMORE  in 1851/1861 but no mention of a Mr Parsons living in Frome in either census.

A likely match is Charles PARSONS, linen draper of Frome who became bankrupt in Aug 1855 just after the property was sold. Perhaps he didn’t trade for very long and missed both censuses?


WILLIAM HINE MAY (1861-1870)

The next known occupier of 3 Market Place was William Hine MAY from May 1861, a woollen and linen draper of Frome.

William Hine MAY was born 1821 in Beaminster, Dorset, the son of William MAY, a schoolmaster. He married Emily GOODING on 15th Sep 1844 at Bath Abbey, Somerset and the couple set up home in Frome, where they had seven children between 1846-1862.

  1. Fanny May (b.1846)
  2. Emily Jane May (b.1848)
  3. Alfred William May (b.1849)
  4. Henry Ernest May (b.1851)
  5. Charles Edward Gooding May (b.1854)
  6. Isabella Mary May (b.1857)
  7. Herbert Hine May (b.1862)

The 1851 census shows William and family living on Market Place, listed close to the George Hotel. He was in partnership with fellow draper John SINKINS up until 1854 when their partnership was dissolved.

William opened new showrooms at “London House” (no.3) in 1861 for bonnets, mantels, shawls etc., and was also an agent for Christy’s London hats. He purchased 1 Market Place in 1866 when the COCKEY brothers sold their ironmongers business and moved out (I’m unsure if he also purchased 24 Bath Street).

Adverts for William’s business at London House continued up until 1869, and in Mar 1870 William retired and sold his business to William TONKIN, a draper and undertaker previously of Melksham.

William and Emily retired to Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, and Emily died at their home of Atlantic Villas on 20th Jun 1886 aged 69. William was living at 3 Birnbeck Terrace, Kewstoke Road, Western-Super-Mare with his daughter Isabella and her husband Henry WARD when the 1891 census was taken, along with a domestic cook and housemaid. William died the following year on 8th Jul 1892 aged 71.

The illustration below was drawn during the time William carried on his business at 3 Market Place during the 1860s.



WILLIAM TONKIN (1870-1889)

William TONKIN bought the drapery business of William Hines MAY of 3 Market Place in Mar 1870.

William TONKIN was born in mid-1839 in Wedmore, Somerset, and the son of John TONKIN, a draper and grocer, and Sarah WISEMAN. William married Sarah Jane MAGGS on 23rd Jun 1863 in Melksham, Wiltshire and had a total of seven children between 1864-1877. Their first three were born in Melksham, and the rest in Frome, where they moved in 1870.

  1. Sarah Annie Tonkin (b.1864 in Melksham)
  2. Ernest John Tonkin (b. Tonkin (b.1866 in Melksham)
  3. William Bernard Tonkin (b.1869 in Melksham)
  4. Edith Jane Tonkin (b.1873 in Frome)
  5. Mabel Herbert Tonkin (b.1874 in Frome)
  6. Wilford Wiseman Tonkin (b.1876 in Frome)
  7. Charles Herbert Tonkin (b.1877 in Frome)

William bought the drapery business of William Hines MAY in Mar 1870 and moved into a house on Waterloo Place in Frome with his family. He never advertised his business as being at ‘London House’ as his predecessor had, simply ‘Market Place’.

William’s wife Sarah died in 1879 aged 37, leaving him seven children aged between 15 and under 2 to look after. Unsurprisingly, he swiftly remarried to Elizabeth Mary SMITH in the summer of 1881. Elizabeth was about thirteen years younger than William, and age 29 at the time. I don’t believe they had any children together.

William and family moved from Frome to Charlcombe in 1889 and his stock was sold off by William F CARPENTER (of 24 Market Place) from the August. He was age 51 when the 1891 census was taken and newly retired. The family moved again shortly after this to Bath, where William’s second wife Elizabeth died in 1907 aged 55. William and daughter Mabel were living in the same 12-roomed house when the 1911 census was taken, with a cook and a housemaid their only company. He died there the following year on 10th Feb 1912 age 72.


CHARLES JAMES SAGE (1889-1898)

Charles James SAGE expanded his business from next door at no.2 (as detailed previously) and continued trading from both properties up until 1898 when the building was sold to Capital and Counties Bank.

 


A SUCCESSION OF BANKS! (1898 Onwards)

Capital And Counties Bank Ltd. bought 3 Market Place in or before Jan 1898, demolishing the old building and erecting a new, taller property in a completely different style from its older half next door. It has remained a bank ever since it was re-built, with the freehold to both 2 and 3 Market Place currently owned by “Wisprole Investments Ltd“.

Above what used to be the original front door of the bank is engraved “Estd 1834”, which can be traced back to the origins of the Capital And Counties Bank. Capital And Counties originated from the Hampshire and North Wilts Banking Company, which itself began as a merger of the Hampshire Banking Company and the North Wilts Banking Company in 1877, renamed Capital And Counties Bank in 1878. The Hampshire Banking Company was established in Southampton in 1834 and the North Wilts Banking Company in Melksham in 1835 (from the private bank of Moule & Co., founded 1792).

The Capital And Counties Bank was acquired by Lloyds Bank in 1918, at which point the National Provincial Bank (est.1833) moved into the property. The National Provincial Bank merged with Westminster (est.1834) in 1970 to form National Westminster (aka NatWest), which then moved out in 1971 and Frome Selwood Building Society (est. 1880) moved in.

Frome Selwood Building Society was in turn acquired by Stroud & Swindon (est. 1850) in 1990 who continued to trade from 3 Market Place up to their merger with Coventry Building Society (est.1884) in 2010.

  • 1898-1917 – The Capital & Counties Bank
  • 1918-1970 – National Provincial Bank
  • 1971-1990 – Frome Selwood Building Society
  • 1990-2010 – The Stroud & Swindon
  • 2010 onwards – Coventry Building Society

Managers of The Capital & Counties Bank include:

  • 1901 – Herbert Arthur GLIDDON
  • before 1911 to before 1920 – Edgar Thomas Jones BADCOCK (bank manager of 13y when he died in 1920)

Managers of the National Provincial Bank include:

  • 1934 to 1937 – Mr R. C. STREET (bank manager 3y)
  • 1937 to 1947 – Arthur G DABBS (bank manager 10y)
  • 1947 to aft. 1952 – Mr D. HONE
  • 1960 to 1967 – Thomas H. B ADAMS (branch manager 7y)
  • 1967 to 1970 – F. W. J (Harry) HARRIS (branch manager 3y, transferred after the bank merged)


RESOURCES

I use many different resources in my research, working almost entirely online to do so. These are the main site I use:

Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Newspaper articles reproduced with the permission of the British Newspaper Archive and The British Library Board.

More details on Edward Cockey & Sons company can be found here:

Other specific resources for this particular research project include:

If you have any questions regarding my research or would like anything added or amended, please contact me. I’m also available to hire to trace family trees or properties.


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