Follow this link for pdf file of High St maps
Construction of Alfred Street, projecting southward parallel to the sea front, was begun at around the same time as the cutting of College St. By the mid 1850’s construction had reached what became Cross St., with Lott’s Commercial Hotel (below, now Berryman’s Estate Agent) being completed in 1853.
By 1879 Alfred St. had been completed as far as South Terrace and South St. Many of the buildings were originally houses but were later changed to shops. The picture at the top of the page shows the view northward from near the Adam St. junction, probably early 20th century.
Above: Looking north from Adam St, 1950’s.
Below: looking north from Cottage Row, 1950’s.
Below: looking north from Abingdon St, 1920’s.
Next a number of adverts and photos of businesses in the street from the first half of the 20th century:
Above, corner of College St & High St, early 20th century
Moving south towards Cross St:
Central Radio Service c. 1960’s before it expanded towards the corner.
Above: now BoS cafe
Above: now Chandni Indian Restaurant
Advert above from Burnham on Golf Handbook, probably 1910’s.
Below, across the road, Ernest Brewer’s at No 63 (this was established later than Emily Brewer’s similar business at No 35 Victoria St)
Moving south to north between Adam St & Cross St:
Came’s Fruiterers now the St Margaret’s Hospice Shop
Above now Bastins (Adverts from Mate’s Guide 1903 & Burnham Guide 1940). Later the business also became an optician’s and radio supplier.
Next to Hutchin’s was Skuse’s stationery and lending library.
(Advert from Burnham on Golf Handbook, probably 1910’s.)
Bevan’s and Tofield’s premises were later absorbed into Brown Brother’s stores and the premises are now occupied by Peacock’s. The van driver in the picture below was Charlie Butt.
Sequence of photos below show the development of the premises on the south east corner with Cross St. (Photos courtesy of Bob & June Thomas).
Cross St to Adam St, west side:
Above: now Patty & Frank Restaurant
Above: now Costa Coffee.
Adam St to South St:
Above & below: recently ‘New Look’ Fashions.
(Adverts above from Mate’s Guide 1903 & 1940’s Burnham Guide)
Three pictures of Thomas’s above (all courtesy of Bob & June Thomas), showing the updating of the shop and the hairdressing salon at the rear. Note Central Electric Co next door which was owned by one of the Thomas’s sons.
We do not have any information about the origin of the public clock, perhaps readers can help us (comment below). In the picture below Herbert Dyer is seen with the plaque which was put up to commemorate the restoration of the clock in celebration of the 40th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1992.
Isabella Beavan’s sweet shop occupied part of what became Hurley’s newsagents.
South St to Pier St:
During the latter half of the 19th century the land extending southwards from South Terrace to the railway station and eastwards to Oxford St. was laid out as pleasure gardens, including a maze, but these became smaller over time as Technical St., Jubilee St. and Hudson St. were built on them. Eventually all that was left became a Tea Garden (see below: advert from Burnham Guide of the 140’s).
The Southward extension of Alfred Street. was essentially finished by the completion of Alexandra Villas, between South Terrace and the Station in 1885. The Electric Theatre was built on ground known as ‘Sunnylawns’ on the opposite side in 1912.
Just south of the theatre Pearce’s sweets and tobacco shop (below) took on the first shop premises to open in a short terrace of private houses which later all became shops.
Later during the 1950’s and early 60’s Durrant’s butchers occupied this same spot (No 4). Here they are with prize winning livestock.
On the south west corner the old college building was converted into Thomas’s Temperance Hotel before becoming Russell’s Belmont Hotel and Restaurant.
College St to Regent St:
Back at the north end, it was not until 1895 that the narrow passage cutting past the side of the Mason’s Arms from College St to Regent St was widened to become a proper extension of Alfred St. At the same time ‘The Lifeboat‘ Temperance Hotel was built. (The whole street was renamed to High St. in around 1911)
Hausers Hardware store was one of the well known businesses that opened up in final northern section of the street, with a sign of a large golden key suspended outside. The building remains, as does the name on the entrance tiling. Later Hausers expanded into ‘The Arcade’ opposite, which was built behind The Lifeboat Restaurant in 1906 and went through to Victoria St. See comments section below for information from Des Parsons about the Hauser family history (5/1/2020).
Advertisements from Mate’s Guide 1903
The Blue Bird Tea Rooms occupied the High St portion of what was once Tucker’s Stores on the corner with Regent St (later International).
An article about a Rail excursion to Burnham, in the Western Gazette of 28th August 1931, says:
‘I lunched late at the “Blue Bird.” I mention this fact not because suppose that my gastronomic cravings can in the smallest degree interest the reader, but because he ought to know that the “Blue Bird” exists. It is a delightful cafe, and one is served well. Besides the name is charming and appropriate. If Maeterlinck’s blue bird*can flourish anywhere, surely it can at Burnham.’
(*The magical ‘Blue Bird of Happiness’ from a play by Maurice Maeterlinck)
At some point in the early 20th century the street was renamed High Street (possibly 1911 but accounts vary as it was under consideration for some time).
2019 sees the 100th anniversary of G.W. Hurley, probably the oldest retail business now functioning in Burnham. The original business was opened on the High St. as a bric-a-brac shop in 1919 by Florence Gilbert Wesley Hurley. She was asked if she would sell newspapers and agreed to take it on.
Mr Colin Morris, Mrs Hurley’s grandson, took on the business 53 years ago in the premises over which he was born. He expanded the shop space rearward and took on a broader newspaper distribution area, to include the surrounding countryside. Eventually this was merged with Weston and taken up by W.H. Smith.
Mr Morris explains that this shrinking of the newspaper part of the business was one reason for the expansion into wider retail and the purchase of the larger premises on the eastern side of the street where generations of parents have now bought their children’s toys. Salway’s hardware shop in Regent St. was also acquired and continued to run as a traditional hardware shop until 2018.
Unfortunately old photographs and records of the business were all lost in the fire at Pople’s warehouse, behind the High St, in the 1980’s.
The photo below, probably taken in the early 1960’s, before the acquisition of the new premises (the original book department can be seen through the left hand window), was kindly supplied by Mr Morris.
MARCHENT’S TEA GARDEN
In the mercury and Gazette of 2nd July 1986 Eleanor Marchent (then 82) recollected that her parents expanded her grandfather’s bakery business on the High St into the Tea Garden in Technical St in the early 1900’s. She recalled the business being popular with Sunday school and other outings from the area . “In those days they used to arrive in farm carts or open wagons and the horses, which were all decked out in their finery, were kept in our stables while the children played on the beach….For those parties we did a plain tea for adults at ten pence and children at eightpence. For that they had tea, bread and butter and two cakes but no jam……I remember that early on my brother Hubert used to go round the town with one of those covered hand carts selling cakes at seven for sixpence or four for threepence-halfpenny, and a loaf of bread for fivepence.”
Other related links:
(Information courtesy of Winston and Robert Thomas: ‘The Book of Burnham on Sea’)