History of 62 Gwydir Street

See History of Gwydir Street and Buildings in Gwydir Street.

In the 1881, the Census records that 62 and 64 (which is next door) were occupied by
Herbert Johnson WATSON, born around 1844 in Cambridge, a grocer and provision man (employing 3 men);
his wife Louisa Catley (nee WISBEY), born in August 1842 in Cambridge;
and their family
Arthur Wisbey, born around 1870 in Over, Cambs
Sidney Herbert, born October 1874 in Cambridge
Florence Louisa, born April 1879 in Cambridge
Herbert Percy, born in 1881 in Cambridge
They had two servants: 14 year old Eliza PINK, a nurse maid from Longstanton, Cambs, and domestic servant, 15 year old Adelaide Simmons from Teversham, Cambs. Also lodging at the house (grocer's assistants) were 24 year old Edward W TEBBIT born in Burwell, Cambs, Samuel TEBBIT, 20, born in Bourne, Cambs, and 17 year old Charles RAYMENT, born in Madingley, Cambridge.

Herbert WATSON, grocer is also listed here in the 1879 and 1883 Directories.

Charles Brown, hardware stores, lived in 62 Gwydir St in 1904 (see Spaldings directory) and 1913 Spaldings directory.

In the 1911 Census, the house was occupied by
William Edward LEMMON [also LENMAN], born in 1892 in Cambridge, a fish merchant; and his wife Frederica Frances Clarissa (also known as Crissa, Crisse or Chrissa) (nee DUNN), born November 1891 in Cambridge.
They were boarders with MERRISON family (Frank - a butcher - and his wife Gertrude, two sons and a daughter).

C. Brown and Sons (oil and hardware merchants) were next door at number 64 and Robert Brown (also oil and hardware merchant) lived at number 32.

Someone sorting out their loft came across these photos. Click on one for a large version, complete with the writing underneath. One mentions the address 32 Gwydir Street and another 64 Gwydir Street. But while the vans may come from Gwydir Street, the houses are somewhere different.

From an article in the Cambridge Evening News by Mike Petty in 2009, about these photographs.

It was about 1887 that Charles Brown had the idea of supplying groceries and paraffin oil to outlying villages. He believed he could establish a successful business and at the same time provide a service to residents. His son Robert C. Brown joined in, amalgating it with a similar business of his own, and soon many other members of the family were engaged in the paraffin-selling business from their base in Gwydir Street, Cambridge. The early deliveries were made by horse and cart. The family's travelling shops became well-known outside Cambridgeshire and over the Great War spread to 17 counties in Eastern England. Their vans were loaded with saucepans, frying pans, crockery, teapots, soap and brushes and at one time they sold enough matches to stretch from Cambridge to Cairo. But their biggest seller was Somerlite Lamp Oil. To Robert brown, 'Somerlite' was his life blood; he bought oil from various souces of supply, mixed it together and told the public it had no equal. And people seemed to agree: he sold two million gallons a year and was concerned to protect the quality of the product. So when a Fordham retailer started to obtain paraffin from another supplier, he went to court to try and prevent it being sold under the name of 'Somerlite'. It was part of this legal process that the photographs of the vans were produced. They show various horse-drawn vehicles including one used at Fordham from January 1919 to Novemeber 1920 clearly proclaiming 'Somerlite Lamp Oil has no equal' and the name 'Robert Charles brown, Wholesale Oil and Hardware Merchant, Gwydir Street, Cambridge.

Today the name is famous since Corgi toys made a model of a Somerlite delivery tanker which is highly sought after by collectors and widely advertised on the internet.

Aound 1996, 62 Gwydir Street was demolished, and four new houses built, set some way back from the road. They are called Gwydir Mews, and are 62, 62a, 62b and 62c.

From Capturing Cambridge:


1871: Unnumbered
Herbert J Watson, 27, grocer and provisions merchant, b Cambridge
Louisa, 28, b Cambridge
Arthur, 1, b Over
Elizabeth A Giffen, 21, servant, b Meldreth
Walter P Dodson, 15, grocer’s apprentice, b Swavesey

1881: (62 & 64)
Herbert J Watson, head, 37, grocer and provisioner 3 hands, b Cambridge
Louise C, wife, 38, b Cambridge
Arthur W, son, 11, scholar, b Over
Sidney H, son, 6, scholar, b Cambridge
Florence L, 2, b Cambridge
Herbert P, 9 mos, b Cambridge
Edward W Tebbit, lodger, 24, grocer’s assistant, b Burwell
Samuel Tebbit, lodger, 20, grocer’s assistant, b Bourne
Charles Rayment, lodger, 17, grocer’s assistant, b Madingley
Eliza J Pink, 14, nursemaid, b Longstanton
Adelaide Simmons, 15, servant, b Teversham

James R Bennett, head, 31, tailors assistant, b Cambridge
Adelaide, wife, 28, b Cambridge
Arthur C, son, 7, scholar, b Cambridge
Helena L, daughter, 5, scholar, b Cambridge
Frederick Furbank, cousin, 17, tailor’s improver, b Cambridge
1901: (62 & 64)
Charles Brown, 46, hardware merchant, b Surrey
Clara, 40, b Cambridge
Eliza 20, assistant to her father, b Essex
Robert, 18, assistant, b Essex
Crissie, 13, assistant, b Essex
Willie, 6, b Cambridge
William, brother, 30, assistant to Charles Brown, b Cambridge
Maria, mother, 72, b London

Browns of Gwydir Street would visit Cottenham every week.

1904: Charles Brown

CIP 6.8.1909
: Before the Mayor (in the chair). H. M. Taylor, J. Taylor, and J. O. Vinter, Esqs. Sequel to a Collision. Charles Brown, hardware merchant, 62, Gwydir-street was summoned by Mr. K. H. H. Whitehead, solicitor, Cambridge for not having a light attached to his vehicle in Victoria-avenue on July 29th.

Mr. S. J. Miller defended, and pleaded not guilty.

Evidence was given by the plaintiff, who said there was no light on defendant’s vehicle. Witness was riding a motor-cycle, on his right side of the road, and a collision occurred, witness’s left leg being hurt. He afterwards saw defendant get down from his van and light his lamp. P.c. Wright appeared on the scene, and witness complained to him that defendant had had no light at the time of the collision.

Reginald Bowd, of 20, Chesterton-road. deposed to seeing the accident, and said there was no light on the cart. The saw defendant light his lamp.

Defendant said he was driving a pair-horse van towards Cambridge in Victoia-avenue. When he was coming down the incline of the bridge he saw a motor bicycle approaching very fast on the wrong side. Witness put the brake on and pulled his horses up. As the cycle still kept on he shouted out, and the cycle went across his horses struck the off-side animal, and went on to the pavement. Witness thought the cycle was going at 30 miles an hour. He went across to see if could help Mr. Whitehead, who said “Where were you?’ Witness said “Where were you? If it hadn’t been for me hollering out you would have been killed.’’ After a while Mr. Whitehead got up and looked at the horse, which he said he did not think he had hurt very much. He also asked witness if he had a light, and witness replied, “Yes, a good one.’’ The light was burning then. Witness denied lighting any lamp. Mr. Whitehead gave witness a card and said, “Come to my office and I will make it right with you.” Witness went to the office, and saw Mr. Whitehead and his father, whom he told that his horse was lame and that he should expect compensation. Mr. Whitehead asked about the bicycle, and witness said they would have to pay for that. Mr. Whitehead asked if witness had seen the police report, which he said was very much against him (defendant), and that the police were going to prosecute him for not having a light.

P.c. Wright said that on evening he was in the Mammoth Show grounds when he heard a commotion in the Victoria-avenue. He heard a man shout and a sound as though a motor had gone on to the pavement. He looked over the boards and saw defendant’s van, which had a light on, and someone on the pavement.

P.c. Ray, of the County Constabulary, said he saw defendant pass him below the bridge, and there was a light on the van then.

Frederick William Newman, labourer, of Sedgwick-street, deposed to being on the bridge when defendant passed. The lamp was alight then.

The Chairman said the magistrates were unanimously of opinion that it was no use going on with the case, which was thereupon dismissed.

Frank Morrison, 39, butcher, b Worthing
Gertrude, 39,b Hull
Reggie, 18, butcher, b King’s Lynn
Percy, 15, b London
Evelyn, 9, b Swanage
William Lenman, lodger, 19, fish merchant, b Cambridge
Crissee [Clarissa] Lenman, lodger, 19, wife, b Cambridge

Charles Brown

A A Whitehead, fruit merchants

Main index - Buildings and houses in Gwydir Street.