Chester Road sign


Explore our dynamic panoramas

No 47 Marlborough Road (Bradford House)

No contemporary record of a house number for Bradford House exists but, thanks largely to research by Revd Lesley Crawley, it is now beyond doubt that it is the building, now converted as apartments, numbered 47. The house was originally constructed in 1900, possibly as part of the Coast Development Company project which included the Grand Hotel (whose kitchen garden was directly opposite) and the pier. It was expanded and adapted as a shop in 1910.


1912 approx
Joseph William Button - Credit Draper (K1916).

Note: Joseph, who was born in Hackney in London, is not directly related to the other Buttons in Southwold, although it is believed that his ancestors were Suffolk people. Joseph's father, Ebenezer, had worked for a Bradford wool firm before setting up his own drapery business, Button Brothers, in Luton. When his son Joseph decided to go into business on his own account, it was with the financial backing of his father's firm. Joseph's first shop was an outfitter's in Kessingland, just up the coast from Southwold, which was close to his wife's home town, Lowestoft.

In 1910 Joseph decided to move the business to Southwold. He had now been married to Happy Victoria (nee Jacobs) for 15 years and they had five children. The house they found in Corporation Road (now Marlborough Road) was renamed 'Bradford House' in recognition of Joseph's father's origins and a purpose-built shop was created in the front. Happy Victoria's family were Lowestoft builders and doubtless had a lot tto do with the conversion. While this was taking place, the Button family rented No 3 Station Road as a temporary base.

It is not known exactly when the family moved in and opened for business but it was probably about 1912. The family lived above and behind the double-fronted shop which, in addition to drapery, sold ready-to-wear and bespoke tailoring. To the rear of the premises were stables where the Buttons kept a horse and cart for deliveries. The shop traded here throughout the war although the family moved inland temporarily while the living quarters were occupied by soldiers..


Joseph Button dies in Southwold Cottage Hospital unexpectedly after an appendectomy, on March 20th at the age of 43. He leaves his widow, Happy Victoria, the sum of £2,653 (about £56,000 in today's money). Joseph's death not only represents a considerable trauma for the young family but also necessitates the closing of the business as the directors of Button Bros of Luton decide not to continue financing the Southwold shop under the management of Joseph's son, Reginald.

Joseph's daughter, Mildred, told the story of her early life in Southwold in a collection of diary entries and memoirs which have been edited by her son,Arnold Pacey to whom we are indebted for most of the above history. To read an extract, click here.












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
Our forum facility has been withdrawn by the provider. Sorry for the inconvenience. We are looking for an alternative.

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 47 in the foreground. The exposed gable wall shows evidence of later expansion forwards and upwards - perhaps by the Buttons in 1910. See approximate mortar line highlighted below. Pier View (No 43) is the house on the far left of the top picture.

Part of a 1904 street map showing the stretch of Corporation Road between Hotson Road (N) and Field Stile Road (S). Only two buildings are shown. The one marked with an X is likely to be the one which would become Bradford House. The one to its south is Pier View Restaurant (No 43)

Map reproduced courtesy of Margaret Stacey

Joseph Button as a Local Defence Volunteer in World War One

Detail reproduced from a photo in Barrett Jenkins' Reminiscences of Southwold through Two World Wars' by kind permission of the author's daughter, Ann Thornton.