James Gigney/Schofield and Martin

In response to Peter Ostrowski – ‘Then and Now’ Photos (around the centre of town).

In 1882 James Gigney began building a home and hardware store at the corner of Station Avenue on the site now occupied by Temme English and the Wickford Café and Restaurant. The store opened in 1883. The items he had for sale are too numerous to mention here, but it would not be too much of an exaggeration if it was said he sold everything. He even had a license to sell gunpowder! Due to ill health, however, Gigney put his various Wickford properties up for sale at a London auction in 1906. The properties included 4 shops: hardware, boots, draperies and groceries. The hardware store was sold to Ernest George Mayes, an ironmonger and agricultural engineer. The store later became Mayes Bros and remained so until the 1960s. The original building has been demolished.

One of the properties, the grocery store, for whatever reason remained in the hands of Gigney, for he again put that store up for sale, this time at an auction held at the Public Hall, Wickford, in 1920. Gigney had already ceased trading there for the property was then occupied by Schofield and Martin. The original business partnership of Schofield and Martin was set-up by Albert Martin and James Alfred Schofield, but was dissolved on 2 December 1891. After the date of dissolution Albert Martin became the sole proprietor. He is probably best known for twice being the mayor of Southend, the seaside town in which his business was based as a grocer and provision merchant. In 1921, and armed with a petition with 178 signatures, he successfully applied for a license to sell beer at his Wickford premises, having previously been licensed to sell wine and spirits, as was Gigney.

The manager of Schofield and Martin was Frederick Charles Debenham who lived above the shop. He was previously employed there by James Gigney, his father in law. Martin was knighted in 1938. Sir Albert Martin died in 1943. In 1944 Schofield and Martin was acquired by the John Lewis Partnership and the Wickford store was refurbished in the late 1950s. There are two photographs on the Waitrosememorystore.org.uk website showing the store before and after conversion. The Schofield and Martin site is now occupied by part of Maplefords. There has been a building here since at least the 1890s.

Gigney built adjoining buildings on the north side in 1904, or thereabouts, (also now partly occupied by Maplefords) and traded from these too. Next door to his grocers was his drapers store and his boot store was probably next door to that. Thus Gigney once owned and occupied the whole site in the Broadway now trading as Maplefords, Pisces and Jade Palace, in addition to the site now occupied by Temme English and Wickford Café and Restaurant.

See on this website:
1 “Views of Wickford Broadway, including during the First World War”. 1st picture. The first building on the left is now the jewellers. The next building (behind the people) shows the Schofield and Martin name. The shop next to that shows J Gigney.
See also:
2 “Wickford A History” by Judith Williams. Picture 63 on page 54 shows the same Schofield and Martin shop as above, but with the Gigney name on the side, above the blurred image of the boy.


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  • Thanks for this, David. This should help out John Wells who was looking for photos of the Gigneys shops.

    By Peter Ostrowski (29/03/2021)

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