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No 13 High Street

John J Trueman - Cabinet maker (K1896). The Truemans are a Blythburgh family. According to Census data, John is born there in 1857. The family move to Birmingham and, by 1881, John is working in the city as a 'jobbing carpenter'. But, by 1891, he is back in Southwold, lodging in Arlington Villas, Stradbroke Road and billing himself as a 'cabinet maker'. He marries Florence in 1895. It is not clear whether 13 High Street becomes his home or just his workshop. Either way, he does not stay there long for, by the 1901 Census he has his own house at No 78 Stradbroke Road sharing it with his wife and mother-in-law.There seem to be no children. He is still there in 1911, by now employing two men. (C1881, 91, 1901, 11)

William Button - Twine Spinner and Rope Maker (C1901)

To read about the Button family and the rope and twine industry in Southwold, click here

William Button - Twine Spinner . William is now described as a Widower and is living alone.

William Button - Rope and Twine maker.



William Button - Rope and Twine maker, dies aged 90 when he is described as "England's last hand rope maker". Gaumont Films made a documentary about him in their 'Gaumont Mirror' series. (SMHS)

Note: Although Kelly's Directory of 1912 confirms William Button at 13 High Street there is some ambiguity about his address. An obituary at the time of his death in 1935 states that he had lived in the same house for 75 years which would mean that he would need to have taken up residence here in 1860. This is difficult to reconcile with the fact that John Trueman lived at No 13 until 1901 and the 1881 Census places William instead at No 3 Station Road with his wife Susannah and 4-year old son, Thomas. A probable reason for the anomaly is that between the opening of the railway in 1879 and the early 1900s, the part of the High Street between the Station and Victoria Street was named 'Station Road' . By 1904 Station Road had been shortened to exclude the stretch between Victoria Street and Field Stile Road, which became part of the HighStreet again. It is conceivable that No 13 High Street and No 3 Station Road refer to the same property.

Private residence


Private residence

Private residence


Private residence

Private residence

Private residence


Private residence


Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
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BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.

No 13 is the cottage with the purple door.

This is probably a photograph of William Button's brother, George at his 'walk''. Note the hank of hemp fibre wrapped around his waist which he pays out, walking backwards as his boy turns the wheel to twist the twine.

For more information about the Button brothers, click here

William Button with his invention, an ingenious wind-assisted machine to 'automate' the twine spinning process, making the boy redundant.
Reproduced from 'Curios and Local Characters of Southwold' by Barrett Jenkins, courtesy of his daughter, Ann Thornton.