Richard Hicks and Sons, Grocers of Newbold

This information was collected by Jayne Smith (formerly McHugh), during her “One Place Study” of Newbold. It was previously part of her North West Derbyshire website.

Richard Hicks and Sons, Grocers of Newbold

An account submitted by E. Lockwood in 2003.

As you leave Chesterfield on the train you may notice a small cash and carry owned by R. Hicks and Sons. The building that you see is not the original building - I am told that the original warehouse was pulled down to make way for the by-pass.

It was and still is a traditional family business, run I presume by the grandchildren now as R Hicks and Sons. Richard Hicks, my great grandfather died in 1947. I say I presume because it is the descendents from Richard's first marriage that took over the business, my connection is through his second marriage and I am afraid that the two sides don't really communicate.

When I first started my family history my great aunt, Richard's daughter, Blanche told me that her father used to say he started work in the pits when he was 12 but left when he was 21 and started his own business as a retail and wholesale grocer. Well I'm glad I decided to check the facts, obviously the stories Richard told were slightly economical with the truth.

Richard Hicks was born in 1863 in Dudley the son of Thomas and Sarah Harthill. Thomas was a limestone miner and I presume he moved to Chesterfield when the mines started to grow. From the census records it would seem that although he married in Sheepbridge the family moved to Dudley just before the birth of Richard though the 3 other children where born in St John's, Newbold.

From what I have found Richard did indeed work in the pits probably local to Newbold and married his first wife Dora Bradley in circa 1889 and settled at 27 Occupation road, Newbold. The 1891 census confirms that at the age of 28 he was still working in the pits.

Unusually his brother in law Alfred Bradley, a 12 year old scholar was also living with the family. It would seem that in a rare benevolent act he and his wife ‘rescued’ Alfred from the workhouse where her father had left them on the death of his wife. I haven't been able to find out much about the father William Bradley or the workhouse.

Back to the Hicks - searching through the trade directories the first mention of the Hicks business is in Kelly's, 1922, where he is listed as a grocer a 52 Duke Street Whittington Moor. I think this is a little late to start up a business and I suspect that earlier he worked for a relative. There is a John Arthur Bradley listed as a greengrocer at 391 Chatsworth Road. Or more likely, on the death of his wife Dora circa 1905 he married a widow Harriet Ellen Green, nee Hunt circa 1909. My mother's father actually told me a little about Richard, though his story telling is well known!! He said that Richard worked in the Sheepbridge Works - doing what I don't know - and started his business making pork pies as everyone had pigs in those days. He may have gone into business with his brother in law Alfred, though Agnes his wife, never forgave Richard for working him too hard as he died in his mid 40's. Alfred's sons did not join the business and instead formed a haulage firm Bradley Bros. in Brimmington.

Harriet's first husband was Fred Green and was in some way connected with the local pottery firm, Greens. They had 4 children that all died in measles epidemic . Shortly afterwards Fred died so Harriet probably left Whitwell and stayed with her sister Esther Ball at the Forge Inn in Whittington, where she was born. I suppose rightly or wrongly that Harriet was left all her husband's money and Richard on their marriage used this to start up his business.

From the stories I have been told Richard was careful and judging from his will a successful business man. All the family including his brothers and sisters worked in the various shops and the warehouse that he had in various parts of Chesterfield and he paid them low wages. Strict dress codes were in force and very few holidays were granted. One story I'm told is true is that Richard did not approve of his daughter Blanche's chosen career, nursing - she ended up working in the shop - nor her intended husband. On the day of the wedding he expected her to be at work and it was her uncle that told her to go home saying he would talk to Richard. After a brief honeymoon Richard increased the rent to the newly weds house as there would now be extra wear and tear to the fittings!!

Apparently he was the first man to have a car in the area and before the second war he flew to Sweden on business, a rare trip in those days. On his death he left a total of 29 houses/shops including the family home, Ingle Crest on St Johns Road Newbold, to members of his families and his estate was valued at £25000 in 1947 - quite a wealthy man. The shops and warehouse were left to his sons from his first marriage and my mother, a granddaughter was left a house in Gloucester road and 200 shares!

My mother remembers him as a strict old man, with sandy hair and almost deaf. He doted on my mother when she stayed with them during Martha's (her mother) illness. He was devastated when Martha and Harriet died in quick succession in 1945. I don't think he really recovered as he died just two years afterwards in 1947. As I said earlier there is a rift between the two families and this is born out by the fact that Martha and Harriet are buried together, and Richard is buried with his first wife Dora!

I have pictures of Richard with his workforce and pictures of Ingle Crest but I don't have any pictures of the warehouse in Duke street. If anyone has any information or pictures I would be interested to hear from them.

Submitted by E. Lockwood. Reproduced by courtesy of Jayne McHugh.

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