Tag Archives: fishmonger



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

Date: June 5, 2016

S Maarshall fishmonger poulterer Bedford Road Southborough undated

There have been many interesting little shops in High Brooms, and the fishmonger and poulterer’s shop of Sidney Marshall was certainly interesting indeed. The photo of his shop shown opposite was taken in the 1920’s when his premises were on Bedford Road.

From the late 19th century up to the time of WW II the family name of Marshall was well represented. A sample of the 1901 and 1911 census for example shows thee branches of the Marshall clan in High Brooms engaged in the trade of butchers, fishmongers and poulterers, as well as other occupations.

The first branch was that of George Marchall, a general labourer, born 1849 in Shirburn, Oxfordshire, and his wife Sarah Ann, born 1870 in Pyrton, Osfordshire, who by 1911 had been married 21 years and had eight children. A review of birth records shows that the family came to High Brooms from Pyrton in 1901 and while living in the town had two sons and two daughters between 1903 and 1908. The eldest son Robert Joseph Marshall in 1911 was working as an assistant fishmonger and living with his parents and siblings in a five room residence at 63 Southview Road.

The second branch was that of Evan Marshall, a butcher and poulterer, born 1861 in Farnham, Surrey and his wife Ellen, born 1865 in Tunbridge Wells. At the time of the 1901 census Evan was the proprietor of a butchers shop at 17 Forge Road. At the time of the 1911 census taken at 9 Western Road, High Brooms Evan and his wife were living in premises of five rooms at 9 Western Road where Evan was the proprietor of a butcher and poulterer’s shop and employing others. By 1911 Evan and his wife had been married 29 years and had four children, including a son Douglas George,age 21, born in Rusthall in 1890, who was working for his father as a butcher, and a daughter Nellie, age 19 who was a dressmaker. He also had a son Evan Marshall born 1883 in Tunbridge Wells who by 1911 was working in the area as an ironmongers assistant.Directories of 1918 to 1922 gave Evan senior as a fishmonger at 154 London Road. The 1930 directory gave Evan as a fishmonger at 154 London Road and a fried fish dealer on Western Road. The 1934 Kelly just listed Evan as a fishmonger at 154 London Road. No 1938 listing was found for him in the trade directories.

The central figure in this article. Sidney Marshall, was from the third branch of the Marshall clan. Sidney’s birth was registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1898. Based on the 1911 census, he was one of four children born to Charles and Charlotte Marshall, who had been married in 1895. At the time of the 1901 census, Charles was operating a butchers shop at 124 London Road and was still there at the time of the 1911 census. Charles had been born 1863 at Rowledge,Hampshire and his wife Charlotte 1860 in Southborough,Kent. Their children were (1) Reginald, born 1896 in Southborough (2) Beryl Elsie, born 1897 in Southborough (3) Sidney, born 1898 in Speldhurst (4) Charles, born 1901 in Southborough. Sidney and his two youngest siblings were all attending school in High Brooms at the time of the 1911 census.

Tracing the whereabouts of Sidney after 1911 proved to be a challenge as he does not show up in local directories until 1930. He was not for example found in directories of 1918 or 1922 in Southborough. Because of the year he was born he would have been age 16 when WW 1 began in 1914 and it is speculated with some degree of certainty that he enlisted for service in WW 1, possibly with the Queen’s Own RWK regiment. No military records were found for him, which is not proof he did not serve in the war, for most of the records were destroyed by bombing in London during WW II.  It is known that he was living in Tunbridge Wells after the war for in the 4th qtr of 1928 he married Elsie Agness O’Bryan in Tunbridge Wells.  The photo of his shop on the corner of Bedford Road and Western Road presented at the top of this article is a view of his first shop taken in the 1920’s. It is interesting to note that even at this late date  he had an open front shop and displayed his poultry etc out in the open without the aid of refrigeration. Shown opposite is a modern view of the same building, which at the time this photo was taken the building had converted into residential use.

By 1930 Sidney relocated his business to 100 London Road. He is listed as a fishmonger there in directories of 1930 to 1938 and appears to have retired from business by the time of WW II.

Probate records for Sidney have him of 17 Western Road, Southborough, when he died on December 9,1962 at the Kent & Sussex Hospital. The executor of his 17,896 pound estate was his widow Elsie Agnes Marshall. Sidney was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on December 13,1962.

Sidney’s wife Elsie Agnes Marshall, who had been born October 3,1901 in Tunbridge Wells, died January 1978 in Tunbridge Wells and was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on January 16,1978.


Fresh Fish Daily…. really in Highbrooms?

This is another post before I start to write about the finer details of the local history, looking at what is around us left behind as a legacy by previous occupants of Highbrooms in the late 19th and early 20th century, sorry to disappoint those amongst you who, like me, would absolutely love to see a wet fish shop opened up  again in Highbrooms today.

BLOG UPDATE, MAY 2013 – please scroll down to read further details about the history of this shop from Edward James Gilbert.

Of course these days we have the convenience of the huge supermarkets in and around Tunbridge Wells, despite the poor offerings of fish most have on display, but back in Victorian times they managed to bring in the ‘local’ catch for the people of Highbrooms on a daily basis. I assume that the fish was bought up from the traditional fishing ports on the south Kent coast, such as Hastings, but I am more than happy to be corrected here.

Stewart Road Fishmongers sign as it looks today

Stewart Road Fishmongers ghost sign (clicking on the picture opens a full size image in anew window)

This is the ‘ghost sign’ left behind on number 1 Stewart Road, originally built as a shop, but now a residential property.

The sign reads:

‘Stewart Fish Shop – Fishmonger & Greengrocer – Fresh Fish Daily’

The present owner told me that during renovation and re-wiring work he removed plaster board and skirting upstairs and there is still evidence of the full front shop window that once existed at ground floor level in the brickwork and full-length lintel.

Highbrooms Hotel with Stewart Road and the fishmonger  in foreground

The above postcard gives an indication of how the shop originally looked but the owner would love to have a better photo of the original shop if any exist, can anyone out there help?

Unfortunately this picture cannot be duplicated today as although Weare, owner of the Highbrooms Brick Company, only built south-facing houses with a view looking down the hills for his workers, later generations of planners were not quite so aesthetically inclined and in filled all the gaps with bungalows, and more recently large blocks of modern commuter flats, blocking the views and  completely out of fitting with the existing Victorian housing in this area.

Highbrooms Hotel and corner shop on Stewart Road

If you have something to contribute to this blog, or just want to let me know you are enjoying it feel free to comment below, email me at HighbroomsSociety@gmail.com or send me a message on twitter to: @HighbroomsSoc

Ghost Sign Stewart Road

BLOG ARTICLE UPDATED – MAY 2013 – Edward James Gilbert is a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society and a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells, he has kindly written the following article to expand upon the details above.

The Life and Times of Franklyn Howard Bearsby-High Brooms Fishmonger/Greengrocer

Written by; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: May 1, 2013

My interest in this story began with a “ghost sign” for a fishmonger and greengrocer on a building located on Stewart Road, High Brooms. After a little research I discovered that this was the shop of Franklyn Howard Bearsby whose name is still readable on the sign.

Howard was born July 1883 at Kensington, London, one of two children born to Arthur Howard Bearsby (1851-1885) and Emily Thorpe (1852-1935). He had been baptised at Paddington Holy Trinity September 16, 1883. The death of his father in 1885 changed the course of his life for he is found in the 1891 census living with his widowed grandmother Elizabeth Bearsby, age 60, and his aunts Emma Howard and Jane Howard at #12 Calverley Crescent, Tunbridge Wells where Elizabeth was the lodging house keeper there. Franklyn continued to live at the same place with his grandmother and one of his aunts and is found there in the 1901 census where Franklyn was working as a telephone clerk.

On May 29, 1908 Franklyn married Edith Mabel Barnes at Epsom and then moved to High Brooms where he opened his fishmonger and greengrocers shop. He and his wife Edith and their daughter Constance are found in the 1911 census at #1 Stewart Road, High Brooms. The census records that Franklyn is a fishmonger and that the premises consist of a shop and four rooms.

A 1913 Kelly directory gives Franklyn Howard Bearsby, 1 Stewart Rd, High Brooms, ”Fried Fish Dealer”. The reference to “Fried Fish” is an obvious but humorous error as it was fresh fish not fried fish that he was selling.

Franklyn and his wife would go on to have two more children while living in Southborough, namely Roland Franklyn in 1912 and Joyce F in 1917.

Franklyn enlisted for military service during WW 1 on June24,1916 as a private (#276621) with the 31st Training Reserve Btn at Maidstone(Labour Corps). His military records gave his address as #1 Stewart Rd, High Brooms and his occupation as ‘store clerk’. He was called up for service December 11, 1916 but was discharged for medical reasons as “No longer physically fit for military service”  due to a longstanding condition referred to as “Brights disease” on October 4, 1917. He had also been sent to the hospital at Thatford.  After his military service Franklyn returned to his shop in High Brooms and remained there for some time.

On November 27, 1927 Franklyn died at Allfields Elm Grove Hampton Park, Eastbourne. His brother Bruce Thorpe Bearsby, a postman, was the executor of his estate, valued at about 1,058 pounds.