History of Wem Pre-railway Wem in 1870 Wem in the mid 1890s Early C20th photos
Pre-WWII Wem's Ancient Markets Aston Street High Street Buildings through the ages
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The commercial families of Wem

Like many small towns, Wem was dominated by a few commercial families who owned a large number of shops throughout the town. Most have now disappeared. However, surprisingly, they have been replaced by other individual shop-owners and not by supermarkets and national chains. The nearest to a regional chain that appeared was the clothiers, Bradleys of Chester, who went out of business in 1969. Martins the Newsagent left in 1996 after about a 10 year presence.

The best known of the commercial families were the Kynastons of which there were three families- apparently unrelated. John Kynaston was a farmer and brewer. His son Henry married twice - the second time to his dead wife's sister- and produced 12 children of whom 10 lived into their 80's.He set up the brewery and maltings in Wem and this was taken over after his death in 1921 by his son, Charles Henry
Another part of the family,originally led by the other Henry Kynaston were ironmongers and grocers. On his death, his descendants split the business, with Thomas running the ironmongery from 43 High Street and Henry taking over the bakery at Number 27.In addition, there was the family of bakers, whose shop doorstep can still be seen opposite the Town hall

The Horse and Jockey

Longevity of landlords has long been noted in the pub trade, and Wem is no exception. In 1850, Thomas Davies was the landlord of the Horse and Jockey, having taken over from Robert Davies who was there in 1830. By 1859 the landlord was Charles Brown and the pub was (briefly) renamed 'The Pack Horse' By 1870 it was run by William Brown (aged 46) and his wife Mary (aged 41) and their 7 children. By the time of the 1881 census,William was dead and his widow was running the pub. She was still there in 1917! Sadly, their efforts have been wasted as the pub closed in about 1995.

The White Lion

The old coaching inn at the east end of the High Street (now separated from the rest by the car park entrance) was the home of the Sands family for more than half a century. In 1930, Thomas Sands was listed as the innkeeper. In 1842, he had been succeeded by Richard Sands. In 1859, Pigots Survey shows the landlady as the widowed Ann Sands, who also hosted the Inland Revenue office. By 1970, Ann was 71 and was assisted by her daughters Emma (36) and Jane (34). By 1990, Emma was the landlady. Sadly, the century was not seen out as Jane died in Spring, 1982 aged 59. Thus, by the 1901 census, James Frew from Irvine in Aberdeenshire was the landlord and a long family tradition had been broken.