A tale of two Ironmongers

Bill Curtis

This photograph taken around 1900, shows George Sydney Herbert Bird, Ironmonger & Implement Agent standing proudly outside his shop next to the International Stores, to the left of the Kings Arms. For many years two ironmongery businesses were run from shops either side of the Kings Arms.  Birds premises and the International Stores became ‘Chelsea House Furnishings’ in living memory and both sites are now occupied by Ruach Kitchens.

Edmund Dye lived at The Pheasantry where he ran his Ironmongery and smithing business until the late 1880’s, employing ten men and two boys. One of the ‘boys’ was John Sibley, apprenticed to Dye around 1881. By 1891 Dye had retired and Sibley took over the business at The Pheasantry, advertising '18 spacious showrooms' for furniture, general and domestic ironmongery. The address was Market Place, the title given to The Green up to the 1920s.
John Sibley used the suffix ‘Late E. Dye’ in his advertisements thus retaining customer loyalty through the success of his predecessor. One of 'the men' working for Edmund Dye was one Edward Evenden, who would go on to become a significant wheelwright, coach-building and cycle engineer and ironmonger in the town.
As Sibley had done, Evenden also used 'Late E. Dye' in his advertisements to retain customer loyalty. Both men claimed longevity of their new business ventures through this means. William Genge ran an ironmongery business to the right of the Kings Arms in Market Square. When Genge retired in 1915, Edward Evenden bought the shop to expand his business interests alongside the wheelwright, carriage and cycle works at 'The Forge' at the bottom of Hosey Hill.
This photograph dates from 1919, just before Edward Evenden, then sixty years of age, sold out what had become 'West Kent Motor Works' to a syndicate headed by G. T. Taylor who owned a garage in the High Street opposite the Warde Arms. Evenden had then consolidated his business in the one shop which would be taken over by his daughter by 1923.

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