39 Westminster Bridge Road
The earliest records for the King family, of which I am sure, start in the 1780's with John King and his wife Mary Lewis. The family is originally from Raydon, then Copdock, in Suffolk. Various members became wheelwrights. By the 1850's a grandson of John and Mary, Samuel, had moved to Southwark where he had a coachbuilding business. Samuel married twice. I know nothing of the children from the first marriage. My grandfather, only child of the second marriage, was born at No. 39 Westminster Bridge Road, London, on 28th May 1892. I don't know what happened to Samuel King's business but can make a guess why my Grandad did not follow in the family trade.
The most tangible remaining contact with Samuel is his business and visiting cards. The business card refers to an obelisk, as a landmark for his shop, which must be the Brass Crosby obelisk at St. George's Circus.
It appears the card's printer used spoiled paper from other jobs to print a sample image on, then wrap the plate and cards in for return to his client. One set was wrapped in a sheet from a diary, which is disintegrating but clearly dated 1892. The second set were wrapped in what looks like an invoice for a bakery.
Amongst the surviving documents is an indenture for the lease of 39 Westminster Bridge Road. It is written on two large sheets, tied together with ribbon, sealed with wax. One sheet is essentially a definition of the property and required rent payments. The other primarily about use and maintenance of the premises and reposession in the event of rent non-payment. Legalese is nothing new. These guys had never heard of the campaign for plain English! As I read it, the property (messuage) was previously known as No.4 Asylum Buildings. A diagram is provided in the margin of the contract.
Rent is £36 a year, paid quarterly in 'lawful money of Great Britain'. The tenant also has to pay for fire insurance providing cover of £400, land tax, sewers rate, maindrainage rate, and all other premises taxes. Further the tenant must decorate the exterior every 3 years and the interior every 7 years, in a prescribed manner, plus maintain the structure of the building. Sadly, I can see nothing of these premises today, the site has been redeveloped. There is a summary of the contract written on the back, such that it is visible after the document is folded.
The legacy of Samuel King's coachbuilding business is unknown to me. I do know that his first wife, Isabella, died in 1878. He remarried in 1891 to Elisabeth Anne Cory when Samuel and Elisabeth were aged 64 and 41 respectively. By the time my grandfather, child of this second marriage, was old enough to learn a trade his father, Samuel King, was almost certainly past working. The children from the first marriage presumably had their own claims on the business. I think it likely that technological change was rendering the coachbuilder's craft obsolete too.
In 1901 Elisabeth and Samuel were living in Paddington. In 1909 they were buried in public graves, without headstone, in the Southall Norwood Cemetery. They couldn't have known their son would marry a local girl whose own parents would subsequently be buried in the same cemetery, this time with memorial. I am quietly amused that these children of the British Empire now have a grand view of the Sikh Temple from their final resting place.