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No 64 Victoria Street

This address which lies down an alley at the eastern end of Victoria Street, was the long-term home of many members of the May family. The legendary lifeboatman Sam May (1860-1923) may have lived here briefly as a child but it was principally the home of his youngest brother, Robert John May, his family and descendants. For more about Sam, see No 6 and No 8 Park Lane.

With thanks to Robert John's grandson, (Richard Stephen's son) Keith May for much of the factual detail for this page.



Robert John May , Bathing Machine owner. Robert John has taken over the business from his older brother Sam May of No 8 Park Lane. The business continues to trade as 'Sam May's'.

Robert has married Maria Brabben. Their sons are Robert John Brabben May, Samuel Charles Brabben May, Edward May and Richard Stephen May. All the sons are involved in their father's business but Robert John Brabben later becomes a deep-sea fisherman which takes him away from home for long periods.

To read the memories of one holiday maker who spent his childhood summers in Southwold in the 1920s, click here.


Robert John May Bathing Machine owners (K 1933, 1937). As demand for bathing machines declines, the Mays diversify into beach hut and deckchair hire.

Robert John May dies suddenly on Christmas morning 1936. Like many Southwold families, the Mays take their turkeys to be roasted in the huge oven of one of the town's bakers. The Mays take theirs to Ernest Newson at No 3 South Green. This year, Robert goes to collect it and, walking back along Trinity Street, meets a friend and they stop for a 'mardle' (chat). Suddenly, Robert says "Hold this bird a minute; I don't feel so good." . Immediately after his friend takes it, Robert falls down dead. (Source: Keith May, Robert's grandson)

Samuel Charles Brabben May (Son of Robert John) and William Herrington now run the business in partnership. Deckchair hire is the principal line now, bathing machines having fallen out of fashion. William Herrington and his family have run a bathing machine, boat hire and apartment rental business from South Beach and South Cliff for many decades and their forebears have been fishermen and lifeboatmen in Southwold for centuries.


Samuel Charles Brabben May retires from the business during the 1950s and, although he continues to own No 64, it is believed that he moves into No 64a.

Samuel Charles Brabben May


Samuel Charles Brabben May dies in 1975 and the house is sold.





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.

Richard Stephen May and his Brother Edward in c 1920

Edward Laurence (left) and his brother Richard Stephen on Edward's Douglas (?) motorcycle in about 1920. The photo was taken outside their home at 64 Victoria Street.
Photo kindly supplied by Richard's son, Keith May .

Click the picture to enlarge.