Street View: 23 and 7
Address: corner 57 Piccadilly / 46 Old Bond Street
As mentioned in the post on baker William Henry Simpson, the shop at 391 Strand was first in the possession of David Simpson, probably a relation, but the latter removed his bakery to 57 Piccadilly (or 46 Bond Street as it was often referred to, being on the corner of the two streets) somewhere in the 1820s or early 1830s. David was born in about 1786 and married Agnes Johnston in 1811. They had two children, Isabella Maria (born in 1813) and David junior (born in 1815) who was to follow his father in the bakery profession. At the time of the 1841 census, David senior and junior were assisted by at least nine other male bakers and three female (shop) assistants. Isabella is also still living at home, but Agnes is no longer mentioned. David senior dies in late 1842 or early 1843; probate is granted 23 January 1843.(1)
David junior continues the bakery, but a few years later, in April 1847 disaster strikes. On a Sunday morning at about eight o’clock, fire broke out in the “extensive range of premises belonging to Mr. Simpson, bread and biscuit maker”. The fire was discovered by a passer-by, but the flames had by then already taken hold of most of the lower floor. The occupants were alerted and made their way out of the building with difficulty; two of the journeymen escaped with nothing more than their night clothes. The newspaper report(2) mentions that the “fire-plugs” yielded enough water for the fire-engines to throw on the flames, or, as the newspaper phrased it: “copious streams of the antagonistic element were scattered over the flames”. Unfortunately, the firemen could not prevent the fire reaching the roof from which it spread to the neighbouring property at 58 Piccadilly, the shop of Alabaster, bonnet maker.
The fire was extinguished by about ten o’clock when the full damage could be ascertained. Simpson’s bakery was severely damaged, and his personal furniture had for a large part gone up in flames. Alabaster’s shop also suffered greatly by fire and water. The property around the corner in Bond Street, belonging to Messrs Judd and Son, boot and shoemakers, was damaged by water, but they were insured, unlike Simpson who was not. Another report said that although he was not personally insured, the building itself was.(3) Simpson rebuilt the bakery, but a little over a year later he died(4) and the business was taken over by George Frederick and Edward Jobbins. Their partnership only lasted until 25 March 1850 when it was dissolved by mutual consent.(5)
George Frederick stayed at the Piccadilly / Bond Street premises and Edward moved out. The 1851 census shows George Frederick at the address, together with his wife Jane, sons Henry and George, his widowed mother (or mother-in-law; it is not clear as she uses a different last name) and a house servant, two shop girls and eight male bakers. In 1852, he deems it necessary to put in an advert stating that the bread made at his establishment “is warranted to be quite free from adulteration” and made with the flour provided by Mr. Dives of Battersea “whose flour was pronounced by the Analytical Commission to be quite pure”.(6) Had someone been making accusations? And while Jobbins is guaranteeing the flour he uses, he also takes the opportunity to tell his customers that his dry biscuits are warranted to remain in good condition for twelve months if kept in the boxes provided and free from damp and “boxes allowed for when returned”.
The next census return for G.F. Jobbins (1861) is fairly unreadable, but he can no longer be found at Piccadilly, but at Montpellier Vale, Blackheath, Lewisham. He is still a baker, his sons and daughter and several other bakers are listed for the business, but why Blackheath? The lease for 21 (was 1) Montpellier Vale had been in the possession of John Dalton, a grocer, since 1851, but after a few years, he advertised the shop for sale with the lease as “recently erected […] spacious lofty corner shop and fine spring water”.(7) Spring water was no doubt of great use to a baker and this asset may have determined Jobbins to move to Blackheath. From the 1850s, the suburbs of London grew rapidly and Blackheath was no exception. The additional number of customers ensured that Jobbins’ business prospered despite the competition of other bakers in the area. In 1880, George Frederick handed the bakery over to his son Stephen, whom we see in the 1881 census as a 28-year old “baker & confectioner employing 11 men & 1 boy”. George Frederick, a widower, can be found at Milsey Lodge in Islington, living with his daughter Jane and her husband George Drysdale, a Presbyterian minister from Scotland. George Frederick died in 1895 in Bournemouth. A family tree of the Jobbinses can be found here (Ancestry members only).(9)
Stephen did not stick to baking bread and biscuits. He also acted as an agent for domestic staff and started up a catering business, not just supplying the food for functions, but also the cutlery and crockery needed and the entertainment itself, from conjurors to dance orchestras.(8) In 1900, Stephen signed over the lease of Montpellier Vale to a hosier and just concentrated on his other premises at 7 and 9 Blackheath Village (then 6-7 Brunswick Place). But within a very short time, he had expanded that shop once again to include a “Luncheon and Oriental Tea Room”. Eventually he had five branches in Lewisham, Lee, Eltham and Mottingham and – as these things go – was eventually taken over by even bigger companies.
(1) PROB 11/1974/118.
(2) Northern Star, 10 April 1847.
(3) The Observer, 11 April 1847.
(4) He was buried 20 June 1848 at Hillingdon, just 33 years old.
(5) London Gazette, 29 March 1850.
(6) The Spectator, 21 February 1852. Jobbins refers to Food and the Adulterations; Comprising the Reports of the Analytical Sanitary Commission of “The Lancet” for the Years 1851 to 1854 inclusive (1855) who pronounce that Dives’ flour “does not contain alum”.
(7) N. Rhind, Blackheath Village and Environs, 1790-1970, vol. 1 (1976), p. 60-61.
(8) idem, p. 38.
(9) Family tree owned by chrisj60 and published at Ancestry.co.uk. Many thanks to Christina for allowing me to use the photo of the bakery.
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