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The Sweet Licence

Percy Young, grocer of Eythorne, had in early 1888 suffered a severe cut of the hand and was initially in a critical condition but by 25th May 1888 he was said to be progressing favourably. It may have been this injury that prompted Percy Young to give up his business (which is assumed to be a grocers and supply store type) and pass it on the Messrs Thorne Brothers sometime before May 1888.
It was reported on the 29th September 1888 that the the Sweet Licence, formerly held by Mr Percy Young of Eythorne, was transferred to Messrs Thorne Bros (W. A Thorne and W. B . Thorne) at Wingham Petty Sessions. The Inland Revenue Act of 1880 required that a retailer of sweets have a licence (costing £1-5s) for excise purposes as the definition of sweets at the time included items such as wines, mead and metheglin (a variety of mead).
Having acquired the business, the Thorne Brothers seemed to have put a lot of thought and energy into developing it.
As well as putting much effort into their shop Christmas displays and having a wide variety of goods, toys and festive foodstuffs available, Thorne Bros seem to have been early users of electricity in their shop. Mains electricity had yet to arrive so its assumed the electricity came from accumulators or a generator of some kind.
In November 1889 it was announced that they had satisfactory carried out new lighting arrangements and that “the light is furnished by two superior hanging lamps of an entirely new kind, each lamp being equivalent to 100 candles”. Thorne Bros Christmas Bazaar of that year thus boasted that it would be illuminated every Friday evening and that it eclipsed any previous show and “was well worth seeing”. It can be imagined how novel and exciting the villagers would have found the display, especially the children.
An advertisement published 1st December 1891 states “ The present appearance of Messrs Thorne Bros establishment indicates an amount of energy and enterprise as well as anticipation of a busy time. Eythorne and its neighbourhood, though far away from the madding crowd, have at the Eythorne Supply Stores all the advantages given to residents in the great metropolis brought to the very door”.
For reasons unknown, the Thorne Bros business ceased in about April 1897 it being taken over by Rigden & Sons. William A Thorne, left Eythorne in October 1898 “leaving many friends behind”
William Rigden (date of birth ca. 1831) started his grocers business in Eythorne in 1890 moving from Whitstable to do so. It is not apparent why he made this move, especially considering he would have been 59 years old when he moved, leaving many friends and family behind. William Rigden retired in 1906 (aged 75) and died in 1907 leaving the business safely in the hands of his son, also William Rigden.
Whilst it is known where Rigden and Sons, grocers, was in later years (adjacent to Copley House, on The Street in Eythorne) it is not known with certainty where Percy Young and Thorne Bros had their premises. It is reasonable to assume that Thorne Bros used the same premises as Percy Young based on the fact that the Sweet Licence was just transferred and not issued to a new premises. I believe the probability is that Percy Young and Thorne Bros were also located at the building that Rigden & Son ultimately occupied. However, this poses the question as to where Rigden was based from 1890 to 1897.
The older OS maps of Eythorne (e.g. 1871-1890) do show the shop adjacent to Copley House but draw the two as one building due to close proximity but this can be resolved based on examination of the current drawn footprint of Copley House. Although named Copley House, the Copley’s were tenants (to 1850) but did not own either the house or the land. In 1840, the land belonged to the heirs of James Lambert who was the son of Mr Lambert, the Park Keeper of the Earl of Guilford.

Vince Croud

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