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1936, Blue Book

21 – 20 Sidney Street

History of 21 Sidney Street


On the 14th March Josiah and William received £300 each from the will of their uncle. Josiah writes in his diary that he was recommended by Mr Basham (William’s employer) that he should start up woollen draper’s business.

On 17th April the two brother’s inspected no.20 Sidney Street, owned by John Swan, auctioneer and cabinet maker who lived next door. It had previously been the offices of the General Advertiser, a newspaper that had ceased publication in 1849. The brother’s agreed a rent of £70 a year. On 1 August William left Mr Basham’s shop and on 20th August Josiah left Mr Lilley’s.

On 10th September Josiah and William set out to buy stock in Huddersfield. On 24th September the new firm of W G and J Chater began business and on 13th of October their elder sister Eliza came over from Saffron Walden to assist as housekeeper.

Eliza cooked our dinner for the first time – boiled ham and apple tarts she brought with her – and in the afternoon she and I went shopping, to grocers, bakers, butchers, ironmongers and one or two other places. She has set us up in crockery.

1851: (21)

William G Chater, 24, woollen draper, b Saffron Walden [had been apprenticed to Simpson and Basham, drapers in Petty Cury]

Josiah Chater, brother, 22, woollen draper, b Saffron Walden

Alfred, brother, 17, assistant, b Saffron Walden [Alfred joined in March 1851]

Eliza A, sister, 25, house keeper, b Saffrom Walden

Harriett Lewis, 14, b Cambridge

29th May Josiah became engaged to Agnes Barrett.


Josiah recalls that two years have elapsed since they set up business and the the two brothers have increased their £300 each to about £500.


Chaters decided to go into the tailoring business. They engage a young man, Osbourn, as cutter, formerly of James Hodson, 65 Bridge Street.

6th July Josiah married Agnes at Holy Trinity. Their honeymoon was spent in Bath, Bristol and Chepstow. Josiah had found them a house in St George’s Terrace, Chesterton Road, but Agnes found it too remote. Josiah and Agnes went to live over the shop in Sidney Street, and William and his new wife, Mary Ann Hutton, whom he married 17th August, went to live in the house in Chesterton Road.


The business expands to include 65 Bridge Street.


Chaters take over shop in Royston


February: Chaters hold a party. Josiah wrote:

About 3 o’clock I began to get the warehouse ready, moved the counter to one end, borrowed Mr Barrett’s piano and placed that. Then we draped the fixtures and walls all round with red padding, and the beams we ornamented with evergreens, covering the counters with green baize and making the od place look quite comfortable. At 8 o’clock we went to it in fine style; danced till 11 o’clcok when we had supper – a roomful, 24 or 25 in all, the most we have had in this house. I got John Thurlborn to give us Those Good Old Days. I hired a wig at Dimmock’s and he dressed up in character and came to the stage in fine style – breeches, glasses etc and sand the song most characteristically, after which we danced again at intervals until one o’clock.


Josiah Chater and his family move to 19 Fitzwilliam Street, left to them on the death of his uncle William Adams’s widow. (see Victorian Cambridge, Enid Porter p.86 thought 1861 census shows the family still living in Sidney Street)

1861: (20)

Josiah Chater, woollen draper employing one man two boys

Agnes, wife, 27, woollen draper and wife, b Cambridge

Elizabeth, 4, b Cambridge

Mary Adam, 2, b Cambridge

Agnes Millicent, 2 mos, b Cambridge

Alfred, brother, 26, clothier, b Essex

James Nickells, 23, woollen draper assistant, b Norfolk

Sarah Ann Petch, 18, servant, b Suffolk

Emma Fletcher, 23, servant, b Cambridge


W G and J Chater move their business to 1A Market Hill.


Cambridge elects French Chef as councillor for Market Ward – Autumn 1878


G P Hawkins’ Dorothy Cafe opened at this location. It expanded into no. 22 in 1919 and then nos. 23 and 24 in 1930




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