Michael Parrish: Wightman & Parrish, Lewes ironmongers
Andrew Buxton: Cash carriers in Lewes shops
John Kay: Wycherleys Estate Agency
In November three short talks will focus on different aspects of the business life of Lewes.
The first speaker will be Michael Parrish, whose grandfather joined the Lewes ironmongers business of George John Wightman in 1915, after which it became Wightman and Parrish, which many older residents will remember. Ironmongers were a key feature of every market town, serving the surrounding rural area as well as the town itself. The Wightman and Parrish retail shop had a central position near the War Memorial but its warehouses and workshops spread across the town, incorporating at one time the former Morris foundry in the Cliffe, later spun off as the agricultural merchants Culverwells. China also became an important aspect of the business.
The business flourished with the secret of success being to keep up with the times, and to diversify. Michael Parrish explains, “The company started as a country ironmongers supplying blacksmiths and wheelwrights throughout Sussex. With the arrival of motor cars, the second generation of the family started selling building materials. Later on, it developed the retail side of the business with hardware, china & glass. The third generation began selling industrial cleaning products and then the current generation has introduced healthcare equipment.” The business expanded into other towns, and although the Lewes shop closed some thirty years ago, the business still continues today from its base in Hailsham. It has recently celebrated its centenary, in the hands of the fourth generation of the Parrish family.
The second talk will be from Andrew Buxton. Older members will remember the cash carrying systems that used to whiz around some older stores, carrying money payments to a central location, and then returning with change. Andrew will tell us about the various Lewes shops that used to use such systems.
John Kay will complete the programme with a short talk about the long history of Wycherleys, the estate agency that was originated by Alfred Wycherley well over a century ago.
Old Wightman & Parrish storefront in Lewes. Image Courtesy of Wightman & Parrish
All are welcome from 7.00pm for free refreshments and updates on the Group’s activities. The talk will begin promptly at 7:30pm and will finish by 9.00pm.
There is an entry fee for these meetings, payable at the door, of £1 for members, and £3 for non-members.
Venue: The King’s Church building on Brooks Road, Lewes, BN7 2BY. (Between Tesco car park and Homebase)
See the Meetings page for a list of forthcoming monthly talks organised by the Lewes History Group.