Asa Beckwith's Dairy at 21 The High Street
Later became Mr Smith’s Sweet Shop and now a private residence
High Street Research Team
In 1918 Asa Beckwith was 73 years old and had occupied these premises in Wivenhoe’s High Street since 1881, possibly even earlier. In 1917 he was listed in the Kelly’s directory as a Dairyman with his 2 adult sons as his assistants.
By the 1930s, the shop had become Mr Smith’s sweetshop.
Asa came from Halstead, the son of a farmer with a sizeable farm employing 5 men. Asa’s father died in 1867. In 1871, Asa had his own farm employing 3 men. He married in 1873 to Julia Emma Lewsey and possibly soon afterwards moved to Wivenhoe.
In 1881 the census shows him as occupying the shop in Wivenhoe High Street; his occupation is shown as a pork butcher.
Right next to the shop is Blyth Lane with its slaughter house at the back.
In 1901, Asa’s occupation is shown as pork butcher/milk seller and in 1911 he is shown on the census as a Dairyman. His sons Arthur and Thomas are working with him as assistant dairymen.
By 1903 two of Asa’s sons, Cyril and Reginald, were working for Ernest Cracknell as bakers. But Cyril went on into the same trade as his father opening a small dairy and shop in Belle Vue Road and delivering the milk on a hand cart.
Milk from a local farm was brought to the dairy in a churn and bottled. It could then be sold in the shop.
When WW1 started, Asa’s youngest son Thomas enlisted in the 8th Battalion Essex Regiment, later joined 1st Battalion Essex Regiment, and was posted to France. Thomas was wounded at Flanders and on 28th Dec 1916 he died from his wounds, aged 23. He was buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen.
Two of Asa’s other sons served during the War and fortunately both survived.
Asa died in 1919 aged 74.
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