The Dearing family had a well-known boot and shoe shop at 3 The Plain in Thornbury.
Sidney Herbert Dearing came from a small village, Bierton just outside Aylesbury. He was born on 26th March 1893, the son of Thomas Dearing and his wife, Mary Ann (nee Meakes). We haven’t been able to trace the family in the 1901 census.
We understand from the family’s records that Sidney worked in the shoe retail trade in Aylesbury. We assumed that he heard of the opportunity to manage the shoe shop in Thornbury through his wife’s connections to the owner of the shop, James Bevan and his son, Albert Edward Bevan. On 22nd April 1916, Sidney married Florence May Bevan at Wesleyan Methodist Church, Marylebone, London. Florence was born on 15th November 1892, the daughter of Alfred Bevan, a cousin of the James Bevan who has set up the shoe shop on The Plain. Florence’s address at the time was 107 Tring Road, Aylesbury. A newspaper article printed in 1937 says that Sidney became involved with the Thornbury shop in 1914, two years before his marriage to Florence. Presumably the opportunity to manage the shop was as a result of James Bevan’s death in 1914.
Sidney and Florence moved to Thornbury after the wedding and lived for a time in Pullins Green (we believe that it was 5 Pullins Green). Sidney applied for exemption from being called up to the Army in the First World War and obtained ‘conditional exemption’ as long as he joined the Volunteer Corps. We do not know if he was eventually called up to fight in Europe. The exemption application notes that Sydney was manager and retail salesman for Albert Edward Bevan, the boot and shoemaker and repairer.
Sidney and Florence had four children all born in Thornbury: Lionel Sydney born on 29th January 1917, Joan Nancy born on 21st January 1920, Cynthia Lily born in 8th January 1924 and Douglas Bevan Dearing born on 4th October 1925. All four of them went to the Council School and went on to Thornbury Grammar School.
The 1921 electoral register shows the Dearings had moved to 3 The Plain. We understand that in 1925 Sidney took over the ownership of the shop from Albert Edward Bevan. For a few years, the business continued trading under the name of James Bevan, but by 1927 the trade directories listed Sidney as a boot and shoemaker.
The photograph at the top of the page shows a group outside the shop about 1935. Sidney Dearing is the man in the middle. Two of his employees are on the left, Les Carver and Joe Davis, on his right are Arthur Woodward and Herbert Pullen (on the right leaning against the van).
A newspaper article of 1937 explains when Sidney Dearing acquired the business there was a slump in the country and he realised that that he needed to extend the scope of his trade. He obtained a solo motorcycle and set off with a box of goods on the back to tour the neighbouring villages. After a few months the business was increasing and he bought a motorcycle combination and eventually a van which visited every village within a ten mile radius. In response to demand he added outfitting and drapery and this included made-to-measure suits. It is noticeable that the shop sold shoes and never the clothes that were sold in the van. This is by an agreement with the local general outfitters.
In 1936 he was joined by his son Lionel and they opened a Chiropody department under Lionel S Dearing M.N.I.Ch. The photograph above is an extract from the advertisement of 1937 and it shows the chiropody department and the enticing display of goods both in the window and hanging outside.
In May 1939 Sidney Dearing bought a house in Shirehampton Road in Druid Stoke near Bristol. This had a large garden and a tennis court. At first the family travelled to and from the shop in Thornbury. War broke out in September, bringing petrol rationing and air raids. The family returned to live over the shop and let the house to Mrs Talbot (the daughter of Colonel Lyle of Tate and Lyle)
The thumbnail photograph on the right shows a presentation by Sidney to his employee, Joe Davis, for 50 years as a cobbler. The other people in the photograph are Lionel Dearing, Mrs Davis, Marjorie Dearing, Les Carver (who also received a presentation for 30 years service), Bertha Carver and Florence Dearing. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image.
Sidney continued trading on The Plain for many years and was still being listed in the 1956 trade directory. Although he was supposed to have retired at 65, we understand he carried on working for two days a week until he was 80. After the Second World War, Sidney and Florence moved away from The Plain. First, they moved to Quarry Road, Alveston and in 1956, they were living at Deira, 7 David’s Lane, Alveston and they were still there in 1969. Florence died on 14th April 1969. Sidney returned to Aylesbury where he married his childhood sweetheart, Izabel L. K. Johnson later in 1969.
Sidney died in Aylesbury on 14th April 1974. He had been Secretary of the Thornbury Baptist Church for 35 years, a Thornbury Parish Councillor and a Governor of Thornbury Grammar School. When he gave up being Secretary of the Baptist Church, his son, Lionel, took over that role for a further 13 years.
Sidney and Florence had four children, Lionel, Cynthia (known as Sue) Joan and Douglas. They are shown here below.
Lionel Sidney – born in Thornbury on 29th January 1917. He married Marjorie Irene Cottle at St Oswald’s, Bedminster Down on 8th July 1941. They had four children, Malcolm Lionel born in 1945, Roger Stephen born in 1946, Joy Marilyn born in 1951 and Keith born in 1954. Lionel qualified as a chiropodist and initially set up business in 1936 alongside his father’s shoe shop business at 3 The Plain, Thornbury. A programme for the Thornbury Flower Show in 1962 advertises a ‘pedoscope’ to x-ray the shoes and feet to show how well they fit. Dearings was also an agent of Bollom’s the dry cleaners. He later moved to 14 The Plain and then to 4 Castle Street. From 1963 to 1982 Lionel leased one room in 4 Castle Street which was used for consultations and treatment.
In 1940 Lionel was called up. Because he did not meet the standards for eyesight and he had experience as a chiropodist he became a medical orderly serving at Base Ordinance Depot. He did experience the fighting overseas when he went out to Algiers and was on a troop ship in the harbour when it was bombed and four people were killed. He also served in Northern Ireland.
From 1957 to the 1970’s Lionel and Marjorie and their family lived at Fernleigh, 17 Gloucester Road.
Joan Nancy – born on 20th January 1920. On 7th July 1944 she married Ernest Edgar Fisher in Thornbury Baptist Church.
Cynthia Lily (known as Sue) – born on 8th January 1924. During the War she served in the W.R.N.S. Sue married Anthony Fry in Thornbury on 21st November 1944.
Douglas Bevan Dearing – born on 4th October 1925. Douglas married Mavis Wavell Joliffe in the Bristol area in 1949. For many years he ran the Black and White Garage at Rudgeway near the Masons Arms. He then spent a few years working at Dick Shipp’s garage in Gloucester Road, Thornbury and then became a chicken farmer, first at Siblands and then at the Hackett.