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Some of you will recognise this building. It is now Clements Arcade but when this picture was taken in 1911 it was the newly opened greengrocers, Palmer & Sons. The shop was owned by Charles Palmer (a former fisherman and my great grandfather) and his wife Mary Ann (Kerry). Charles had given up the fisherman's life to move up from the Old Town to the Broadway which was fast becoming the shopping centre of the town. He also built 5 houses in Rectory Grove.


The first of my Palmers in Leigh was James Palmer who in 1832 married Sarah Cotgrove. James was a bricklayer by trade and a widower. As yet I have been unable to trace where he came from.  The couple had 2 children, James John and Susan, and for a time lived in Milton Hamlet, Prittlewell.


James John later married Elizabeth Johnson and it is their son, Charles, who started the greengrocers.


Charles died in 1924 leaving everything to Mary Ann, but by this time he had fallen out with his sons who had opened up their own shops, one in the Broadway a few doors down (now Edes) and the other in London Road. When Mary Ann died several years later the business was left to her two unmarried daughters who worked there until the 1970s when it was sold and converted to Clements Arcade.


Their oldest son Ben (my grandfather) had married Matilda (Tilly) Bridge in 1911.  In March 1914 they had their only child, Charles (Charlie) my dad. During the Great War Ben served in the Royal Naval Air Service as a leading aircraftsmen on the first aircraft carriers.


Ben served on HMS Engadine and HMS Manxman.


So although my early ancestry of the Palmer surname is elusive, through their connections to many other Leigh families it has been Leigh based for centuries

                 Ben and Tilly                                              Charlie

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