Smith’s Bakers
Arthur Herbert Smith, Central Model Bakery, 39 High St, Southend. High Class Bread Baker, Cook & Confectioner. Boasting to be the largest and best equipped machine bakery in the hands of a private firm in the county. Our bread represents a table commodity of the highest dietetic and skill in manufacture. An ideal bread for children, highly nutritious, easily digested. Families waited on daily. Refreshments available in our large tea room accommodation for 150 persons. Warwick Conway writes: It seems that the High Street has been re-numbered in this area since the photo was taken and prior to 1950. Waterstones is now no 49 and Superdrug 41 High Street. The 1950 map shows no 39 as being a shop next to the corner that would now be part of Superdrug. However, it is evident from the photo that the bakery was at 39 High Street and was a corner property. A 1903 photograph (in Essex Records) shows the junction of Clarence Street and High Street with (amongst other properties) A. H. Smith's bakery and the Borough Auction Rooms, Southend. The view in the 2nd photo only makes sense if the Bakers is on the north corner of Clarence St and with York Road seen in the background. In fact, the 1897 map shows a very narrow property on the other corner of Clarence that could not be the bakery. So the bakery must have been on the corner where Waterstones is today, as suggested above. James the Bakers did indeed occupy the same (Waterstones) site as the bakers in the photo, but this would be later. The photo shows A. H. Smith as being established in 1830. At that time and until at least the 1870s, the High Street site in the photo was occupied by a very different building that housed the British School. Clarence Street was built in the 1880s. This means that the bakery must have been established elsewhere (possibly the old town on the seafront) and moved here in the late 19th century. The earliest reference to A. H. Smith that I could in Essex Records is a plan for alterations to the shop front at 39 High Street dated 1896-97. There are plans for alterations to the shop in 1900 and for a new shop front in 1901. The shop was obviously modified and improved in the 1900 period. This could have followed Smith's move to these premises. Smith seems to have done well and built a house at 31 Victoria Avenue (1900) plus another house with shop elsewhere on the High Street (1901). There are plans for alterations to Smith's workshop and stables in York Place (west end of York Road) in 1903 and plans for a machine bakery with 6 shops, stables, offices etc. in Clarence Street dated 1904. There are further alterations to the shop in the photo dated 1905 and a plan for 3 shops and offices over 41 and 43 High Street dated 1910. In 1908, Arthur Herbert Smith of 39 High Street, Southend, baker and confectioner, purchased a plot of land on Kings Road (Leigh) next to the 'new' Congregational Church for £450. The plot was land between the Congregational Church and St Michaels (entrance). The terrace of houses seen today (including Leigh Road surgery) was built on the land by 1922. Later, Mount Avenue was built across the land and the St Michaels Church building which was formerly where the entrance is, was rebuilt further eastwards, behind the terrace of houses. This shows that like other successful retailers of the period, Arthur Smith was investing in land and property development. The last reference to A. H. Smith that I found was for alterations to the house on Victoria Avenue dated 1914. This obviously coincides with the outbreak of the first war when there were many changes in business ownership for a variety of reasons. A further reference to A. H. Smith in the form of his death notice in the London Gazette 1917. The executors of the will include Ellen Smith of 31 Victoria Avenue, presumably his widow and William Laws Smith of Fulham who is presumably another family member. I note that the late Arthur is described as a J.P. and also that one of his addresses was 49 High Street. This tells us that the High Street had been renumbered by 1917 and confirms the Waterstones site as the location of the shop in the photo.
A . H. Smith Bakers, High Street, Southend
A. H. Smith Bakers, High Street, Southend with York Road in the background
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