Prwetts Stationers and Printers

Since the early years of the 1900s the shop at 22 High Street has been a family business trading as a printers, stationers and newsagents run by the Prewett and Horder families.


By the time of the 1905 Rate Book Albert Prewett had taken over as owner and occupier of 22 High Street.  His descendents are still running the family business which Albert set up from the same building.

Albert Prewett was born in Thornbury on 4th November 1866.  He was the son of Joseph Prewett and Emma Pavey Wood who were living in the little building in the High Street, which is now part of Wildings, but was once a Toll House for the Town’s market.  Joseph was a ‘newsman’.  The 1881 Census shows the family still living there and Joseph was now described as a ‘news vendor’.  The 1876 Rate Book shows Joseph was occupying the house and the Market House.

Albert’s father died on 24th March 1885 and the 1890 Rate Book shows that his mother, Emma, was occupying both The Toll House and the ‘Town Hall’ which we assume to be the Market Hall now another part of Wildings shop.  By the time of the 1891 Census his mother, Emma, was running the newsagents business.  Albert had become a ‘Stationer and News Vendor’ aged 24.

On 16th April 1895 Albert married Elizabeth Mary Coward in Mere.  The 1891 Census shows that Elizabeth Mary Coward was the daughter of John Coward a carpenter and his wife Elizabeth.  They were living in Mere in Wiltshire with four children, including the 17 year old Elizabeth who was a pupil teacher.  Elizabeth was born in Mere.  We know from the book “150 years of St Mary’s School” that Miss Coward joined the staff as an assistant in the Upper School after the summer holidays in 1892.  However the same book says that she left the school at the end of the following February and so we can only assume that her experiences in St Mary’s were not entirely happy ones.

Click on the thumbnails on the right above and left below for a better image of two Prewett adverts.

Prewetts 1909We are fortunate to have a copy of an oral history interview undertaken by Ken Clark on behalf of the Thornbury and District Oral History Society.  The subject of this interview was Madge Horder, one of the children of Albert and Elizabeth Prewett.  She recalled that when her father was eighteen he was working in a saddler’s shop and Elizabeth walked into the shop on his birthday and met Albert.  Madge couldn’t recall the name of the saddler, but we suspect that it was Charles Fry.

According to Madge’s oral history interview, Albert and Elizabeth had ten children, but we can only trace nine and one of these died young: Albert Alexander Wood born on 19th December 1898, Gwenllian Lloyd born on 10th April 1900, Elsie Beryl baptised on 8th October 1902 and who was buried on 6th May 1903, Hilarie Madge born on 14th December 1904, Alan Pavey born on 27th February 1907, Elizabeth Mary born on 27th January 1908, Norman Llewellin born on 1st April 1912, Margaret Christine born 26th December 1913 and Edward Lloyd born on 1st December 1915.

1766 Prewetts shopMadge also said that when her father gave up being a saddler, he started as a printer, initially working with Charles Eddington at the rear of 28 Castle Street.  The 1899 Rate Book and the 1901 Census show Albert and Elizabeth were living at 37 High Street and Madge said he had a little printing machine there.  In the census Albert was a printer, stationer and newsagent aged 32.  Elizabeth was aged 27 from Mere.  They had two children Albert and Gwenllian living with them and Elizabeth’s sister, Kate S. Coward aged 28.

The 1911 Census shows Albert was a printer and stationer aged 45 living with Elizabeth Mary aged 37 who was assisting in the business and born in Mere, Wiltshire.  Also living with them were their children: Albert Alex Wood aged 12, Gwenllian Lloyd aged 10, Hilary Madge aged 6, Alan Pavey aged 4, Elizabeth Mary aged 3 and a servant, Lucy May Driver aged 13 from Berkeley.

Albert was Superintendent at the Hackett Church for 43 years.

Albert undertook several initiatives to make his business a success.  The Museum is fortunate to have a large collection of his postcards based on local scenes.  From an article in the Church Magazine we learnt that ‘Albert Prewett commissioned a series of local views to be sold as picture wallets, and postcards.  His daughter, Mrs Horder recalls him saying to the photographer –‘I’ll leave it to you.  Take one of the High street, one of the Castle, one of the Church…’.  He also produced and published a series of Almanacs and Street Directories of Thornbury.  The Museum would be interested in hearing from anyone with copies of these publications.

Albert retired in 1936.  The business was taken over by his daughter, Madge, and her husband ‘Percy’ Horder and Albert moved to live at 3 Sidenham Road, Cotham in Bristol.  We have written about the Horders below.  The printing side of the business was carried on by Albert’s son, Alex whom we have also written about below

Albert died in Bristol in 1957 aged 91.  The 1958 Electoral Register shows Elizabeth returned to live in 22 High Street.  She died in Thornbury in 1961 aged 87.

Of Albert and Elizabeth Prewett’s children, we have written below about Madge and her husband Percy Horder.  Of Albert and Elizabeth’s other children, we know:

Albert Alexander Wood – born on 19th December 1898.  He started at the National School in 1902, but left in 1904 to go to a private school.  In 1905 he was admitted to the Council Upper School, but in 1906 he left town.  On 6th May 1908 ‘Alex’ was admitted to the Thornbury Grammar School.  He was living with his parents at the time of the 1911 Census.  At the Grammar School he gained Cambridge Local Junior July 1914 Cambridge Senior July 1915 and December 1915 and 3rd class Hons Exemption from Bristol Matric.  He left the Grammar School on 22nd December 1915 to join the Navy.  The lists of Thornbury people sent gifts at Christmas 1917 shows Alex was serving on the HMS Benbow.  He was listed as living in the High Street in the 1921 and 1927 Electoral Registers.

In 1928 Alex married Annie Allen at St Oswald’s Church in Rockhampton.  By the 1931 Electoral Register they were living in Lower Morton.  The 1935 and 1938 registers show that he moved back to the High Street.  We understand he took over the printing side of the business following his father’s retirement.  According to the family website ( ‘Alex was eventually taken up with war work after 1939 and thereafter, this side of the business fell into decline until he died in 1970’.

Gwenllian Lloyd – born on 10th April 1900.  She was admitted to the Council Upper School in 1907 and moved on to the Thornbury Grammar School in May 1908.  She left school in 1914 and the records show her intention was ‘At home’.  She married William Albert Page of Cheltenham in Thornbury in April 1926.

Alan Pavey – born on 27th February 1907.  He started at the Council Infants, but moved to the National School in 1913.  He died on 31st October 1918 aged 11, one of the many people who died in the Town as a result of the influenza epidemic.

Elizabeth May – born on 27th January 1908.  She was admitted to the National School in August 1915 having transferred from the Council Infants School.  She left in 1922 to go to work.

Norman Llewellin – born on 1st April 1912.  He was admitted to the National School in April 1916.  He left in 1918 because he ‘left the district’.  He was joined the Council Upper School in 1919 after transferring from a school at Corringham and moved onto the Thornbury Grammar School in September 1922.  Norman married Hilda L. Hope in Dursley in 1937.

Margaret Christine – born on 26th December 1913.  She was admitted to the Council Infants School in 1918 and appears to have been immediately to the National School where she remained until left in 1927 to go to work.

Edward Lloyd – born on 1st December 1915.  He was admitted to the Council Infants School in 1920 and in 1923 moved to the Council Upper School.  He left school in 1929 when he ‘left the district’.


Hilarie Madge Prewett was born on 14th December 1904.  Her parents were Albert Prewett and his wife, Elizabeth May (nee Coward) (see above).

We are fortunate to have a copy of an oral history interview with ‘Madge’, as she became to be known, undertaken by Ken Clark on behalf of the Thornbury and District Oral History Society.  In this she said that she was born over the shop and she was christened up there because they thought she was going to die as a baby.

‘Madge’ was admitted to the National School in September 1911.  In September 1917 she was transferred to the Thornbury Grammar School.  When she left school in November 1918 she intended to be an apprentice to a stationer.

In 1927 Madge married Henry Percival Horder (better known as Percy) in Thornbury.  ‘Percy’ was born in the Chipping Sodbury area on 8th November 1903 and according to a family tree on the Ancestry website he was the son of Randall and Elizabeth Horder.  Randall was from Yate but the 1901 Census shows he was a carpenter’s labourer in Iron Acton.  Percy was the nephew of Allen Horder, and he moved to Thornbury to work for his uncle in his butchers shop at 26 High Street.   They had one son, Alex David John, born on 1st March 1928.  ‘David’ transferred to the Council School in 1935 from a private school.  He left in 1938 to go to Thornbury Grammar School.

Following their marriage, the Horders moved to Downend where Percy had a butcher’s business.  According to the Electoral Registers, they had returned to Thornbury by 1935 and they were living in the High Street.  When Albert Prewett retired from his business as printer, stationer and newsagent in 1936 Percy and Madge took it over.  The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war lists Albert Alex Wood Prewett, Henry and Madge Horder living in the property.  The register still describes Henry as a master butcher and Albert is a master printer.  Madge is described as housewife.

An advertisement of 1957 in the Thornbury Flower Show programme says the business (now a newsagent and stationers’) was still called “Prewett & Son.”

In 1952 David married Betty Florence Watts in the Bristol area.  The 1954 Electoral Register shows them at 22 High Street, but they had moved to 5 Silver Street which Percy and Madge had bought on 8th December 1958 for £3850.  By 1965 Percy and Madge had retired to live at Fir Close, Park Road.  They later moved to Portishead where Percy died on 18th March 1973.  Madge returned to live at 10 Pullins Green.

David took over the running of the business.  In 1972 he resurrected the print side of the business and replaced the original letterpress printing equipment with offset litho presses.  Betty sadly died in 1987.  The present owner is the founder’s great-grandson, Michael Alan Horder who has continued to modernise and improve the shop and the printing department.  Click here to see Horder’s Thornbury Press website