Most people can remember 87 High Street on Triangle Market as a butcher’s shop, most recently Triangle Butchery, and prior to that Pye’s. The North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) has been working with historian, Ivan Bunn, to uncover the past life of this prominent shop. The research all began with this photo from Ivan’s collection, which was captioned ‘The Jolly Maltsters, 87 High Street’ and has been restored by Charlotte Barker.
The picture is titled the Jolly Maltsters and is taken in front of what we believe to be 87 and 88 High Street, to the right is what would therefore be Maltsters Score, formally Maltsters Alley, formally Garden Score, formally Coxes Alley! – we’ll come onto that later. Initially we thought that, given the title of the image, that 87 and 88 was at one point the Jolly Maltsters Pub. However, research has shown that this was located next door at 89 High Street. The name W. Staff can be seen in the windows, however there is no mention of ‘Staff’ in the census living at 87 or 88 High Street. This presented a mystery and like a dog with a bone, Ivan was off on a mission to try and solve it. Who are those people in the picture? Why are they called the Jolly Maltsters? Are they Maltsters? Who is ‘Rouse’ mentioned in the ‘Vote Rouse’ poster just visible in Maltsters Score? Were the two buildings once connected?
Below is an edited version of Ivan’s research, focusing mainly on 87 and 88 High Street, the full version, covering 85-89 High Street will soon be available to read.
But first an update, since first sharing this blog, the power of social media has solved the puzzle of who The Jolly Maltsters are. Despite the image having a caption of Lowestoft, the image is in fact of The Key and Castle, 105 Oak Street, Norwich. Thank you to Richard Godfrey for getting in touch and letting us know, Richard also checked the 1891 census which shows a William Staff as the Publican of this pub. Mystery solved, plus we have a detailed history of the buildings to boot!
The manor court book notes that in circa 1725 there was what is described as “a decayed malthouse” at the rear of No. 88 immediately to the north of present day Maltsters Score. Records show that as far back as 1615 a “brewhouse” is mentioned here. These early Latin records note that there was once a score on the southern boundary of this property. Possibly the score was diverted around the malthouse which might account for the present day kink in the score. Another early Latin record mentions that No. 89 once owned a quarter of an acre of land and that there was a right of way down the cliff from this property.
The first mention of the Jolly Maltsters public house in Lowestoft is in 1830 in Pigot’s Commercial Directory for Norfolk & Suffolk but no address is given, so we can’t be certain where it’s referring to.
The 1841 CENSUS lists George Cox living with his wife and family at 89 High Street. His occupation is given as a Publican. Immediately to the north is an opening called “Cox’s Alley” (which we believe to be present day Maltsters Score) this leads into a yard containing two cottages. 88 High Street consists of 2 cottages immediately to the north of Cox’s Alley and is owned by Hannah Jones. These are occupied by Susan Lovell and Sarah Rose.
87 High Street consists of a House and garden owned by Mary Neeve. It is occupied by a 35 years old “Fish Merchant” Robert Tripp and his young family.
An advertisement in the Norfolk Chronicle in from January 1842 lists a number of pubs in Lowestoft being advertised to be sold by Auction. Among them is the Jolly Maltsters. The pubs were probably purchased by Thomas Woods, a Lowestoft Maltster.
The 1851 CENSUS names 89 High Street as the “Jolly Maltsters” and is occupied by Jane Marjoram who is described as an “innkeeper’s wife” (according to a comment in the Lowestoft Journal 3 April 1886, her husband was the Master of a steam tug). We now know that 87 and 88 were not the Jolly Maltsters as initially thought, so what were they?
Immediately to the north is an “alley” leading into “Jolly Maltsters Yard” containing four cottages. 88 is not listed but it is probably included among the 4 cottages in adjoining Maltsters Yard.
By 1851, 87 High Street is occupied by the owner Mary Neeve, age 78; her occupation is listed as “Annuitant”. Mary Neeve dies in September 1852 and is buried at Lowestoft on 18th February.
On 2 NOVEMBER 1856 the “Jolly Maltsters” is again mentioned in the local press as is “Maltsters Alley”. Presumably the pub was still located at 89 High Street.
By the 1861 CENSUS there is no mention of Maltsters Alley or Yard. However, ten houses have been erected in the gardens to the east lower down in Maltsters Score (By 1861 two short terraces of houses had been erected in the large gardens to the north of the lower part of Maltsters Score (formerly known as “Garden Score”). Four were called Nos. 1 – 4 “Pratt’s Place”. The terrace of six further down the score were numbered 1 – 6 Maltsters Score.) 88 High Street is occupied by a house painter named Henry Seppings and 87 High Street is empty. Judging by a note in the census return this is because it is about to be sold.
SEPTEMBER 1867: The “Jolly Maltsters” owned by Morse and Woods of Lowestoft has closed and the license transferred to the “Stone Cottage” public house, but by the 1871 Census, 89 High Street has ceased to be a pub and is now occupied by a baker, a 35 years old widow named Margaret Smith. Maltsters Score is mentioned by name for the first time and it contained two cottages at the rear of 88 High Street. 88 High Street is in the occupation of a “saddler” named Harry Lawes where he lives with his wife and two children. 87 High Street is occupied and owned by 53 years old John Doughton Livock and his family. His occupation is given as a “porter merchant”.
In the 1881 CENSUS Maltsters Score is mentioned by name. It contains one cottage at the rear of 88 High Street, the single occupant being a “char woman” named Mary Ann Brown. The two terraces further down the score are listed separately. 88 High Street is now occupied by a “grocer” named Henry Pike with his wife and three children. 87 High Street is listed as a “public house”. The “publican” is John D. Livock aged 63. In the house with him is his wife and four children.
LICENSING RECORDS show that John Doughton Livock is licensee and owner of the “Exhibition Stores” a beerhouse at 87 High Street. The Lowestoft Journal (17 April 1886) writes “Mr. Livock’s ‘Exhibition Stores’ as they are termed, aptly represents what are frequently found within them, excellent oil and other paintings, of which the proprietor himself is more or less the artist”.
1891 CENSUS: Two cottages are listed in Maltsters Score each containing 4 rooms. The two terraces further down the score are listed separately. 88 High Street is occupied by a Hardware Dealer named Daniel Christian aged 34 together with his wife and three children. 87 High Street is occupied by John D. Livock, now aged 72, a “Beerhouse Keeper” together with his wife and three adult children. In November that year the licence of the “Exhibition Stores” is transferred from John D. Livock to George French.
7 MAY 1891: To be sold by auction at the Suffolk Hotel, Lowestoft – LOT 1: No. 88 High Street, a red brick and tiled shop and house known as “The Indian Tea Stores” in the occupation of Mr. Daniel Christian, tea and fancy goods dealer, at the yearly rent of £32 – Copyhold of the Manor of Lowestoft. LOT 2: Two brick, stone and tiled cottages, with a frontage to Maltsters Score of 43’ in the occupation of Samuel Aldred and Annie Cox, at weekly rents amounting to £14. 6s. yearly. Copyhold the Manor of Lowestoft
NOVEMBER 1896: The licence of the “Exhibition Stores” is transferred from George French to one Thomas Smith.
7 AUGUST 1900: John Doughton Livock died aged 81 and his Will was proved at Ipswich on 3rd September following. He is described as a “retired beerhouse keeper” and his estate was valued at £692. 17s. 7d. (approx £54,000 by today’s reckoning). Livock cut his own throat in the front room of 6 Old Market Street, Lowestoft on 22nd July and died two weeks later in Lowestoft Hospital as a result. At the Coroner’s Inquest the Jury returned the verdict “That the deceased committed suicide whilst temporarily insane”
In OCTOBER 1900 the licence of the “Exhibition Stores” was transferred to Thomas W. Davey and then again to Elizabeth Sanders.
1901 CENSUS: 88 High Street is occupied by a married woman Mary E. Clarke aged 18, no occupation given. In the house with her is her 4 years old nephew and a boarder named Elizabeth A. Locke. 87 High Street is occupied by 47 year old widow Elizabeth Sanders, described as a “Beerhouse Keeper”. (Elizabeth was born in Jamaica). In the house with her are her 16 years old son Alfred, a 4 months old grandson named Marcus, a visitor and one “Domestic Servant”. 2 cottages are listed at the top of Maltsters Score.
FEBRUARY 1903: During a Licensing Session at the Police Court it is mentioned that the “Exhibition Stores” is owned by Lowestoft brewers Messrs Youngman and Preston who owned the Eagle Brewery in nearby Rant Score.
On the 11th of March 1906 a licencing session renews Elizabeth Sanders licence – she told the court the annual consumption in the pub was 97 barrels of beer, 377 dozens of mineral waters, bottled beers, and small wine trade. On average the house earned 14s (70p) per day.
By the 1911 CENSUS 87 High Street had changed ownership and is occupied by Albert E. Davis, aged 37, occupation “Licensed Victualler”, his wife Alice, a son and two daughters, a brother-inlaw, and a “servant”. The house contained 5 rooms. Albert Davis was the brother-in-law of Thomas Kilwick Claxton. On 26th June that year Albert E. Davis transferred the license of the Exhibition Stores to his brother-in-law, Thomas Kilwick Claxton.
MAY 1912: Alice Maud Claxton, Thomas Claxton’s wife, gives birth to a second son and the address is given as 87 High Street, father’s occupation “Publican”.
The last mention of the “Exhibition Stores” in the Lowestoft Journal is in OCTOBER 1913 when a customer was arrested there!
29th AUGUST 1914: Thomas Kilwick Claxton enlisted in the army at Lowestoft, aged 31. He joined 2nd Bn., Suffolk Regiment on 5th November. Occupation on enlistment “Licensed Victualler” at 87 High Street, Lowestoft. In April 1916 he transferred to the 250th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers. On 22nd September 1917, Thomas is mortally wounded by a gunshot wound to his back and a compound fracture of his left femur. He died at the No. 7 Canadian Field Hospital, Etaples, France on October 4th 1917, leaving wife Alice. Alice remarries Edwin Maiden, a coal minor and relocates to Walsall.
1921 CENSUS: 87 High Street is occupied by 26 years old Joseph James Allerton, a “Fish Buyer”, his wife, their un-named new-born son, and Mrs. Jessie Hall a “Monthly Nurse”.
Interestingly the story starts and ends with fish! Fish Merchant Robert Tripp in 1841 and Fish Buyer Joseph Allerton in 1921. And then it became the infamous Exhibition Stores, founded by John Livock around the late 1860s; the last landlord was listed as Thomas Kilwick Claxton and the Exhibition Stores closed somewhere between 1913 and 1921.
Whilst our starting point of the image turned out to be a red herring, what we’ve learned is about the rich tapestry of people who have brought life to this unassuming building over 180 years, and we hope can continue to bring life in the future.
87 High Street was purchased by East Suffolk Council in 2020, and whilst a future regeneration scheme is being explored, new hoardings have been installed depicting artwork by Suffolk artist Allan Drummond. The idea of displaying an artist’s impression of a delicatessen plays homage to the building’s past as home to fish merchants, artists and more recently a butchery, and imagines a future use for the property.
The installation was carried out by a Lowestoft based company and is being carefully affixed to retain and protect the current shopfront behind it.
The installation is part of A Walk of Art (a series of art installations coming forward across the town) and is funded by the Lowestoft Heritage Action Zones as a temporary intervention.