Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 17, 2019
Webpage updated: September 17, 2019




The Plymouth business house of Messrs F J Coles and Company Limited, tea merchants, were located at 3a Russell Street before the Second World War and at 23 Market Avenue thereafter.

Frederick James Coles was born in Plymouth in 1860, the son of Mr William Henry Coles, stone mason joiner, and his wife, Mary, both of Crediton, Devon.  Sometime circa 1845 the family had moved from Crediton to Plymouth, where Frederick James Coles was born in 1860.

At the time of the 1881 census, Mary was a widow and a grocer at number 16 John Street, Plymouth.  Frederick was still living at home and was a tea warehouseman.

Although it is claimed that the business was started in 1880, Mr Coles was still listed as a commercial traveller in 1885, living at 4 Endsleigh Cottages.  This was after his marriage to Miss Theodosia Turner, the daughter of Mr John Turner, butcher, at Charles Church on June 1st 1884.

It was not until 1889 that Messrs F J Coles and Company, wholesale tea dealers, was first listed, with premises at 78 Treville Street.

Sometime between 1890, when it was still listed at 78 Treville Street, and 1893, the business was moved to 99 Old Town Street.

Mr and Mrs Coles had four children: Frederick John Gladstone Coles; Florence Theodosia Coles; Edith Daisy Coles; and Stanley Charles Coles.

Miss Florence Theodosia Coles was the first to get married, to Mr Edward Vittery Woolley, at Saint Matthias Church, Plymouth, on September 18th 1912.  She was followed by her brother Mr Frederick John Gladstone Coles, who married Miss Jenny Dunston Richards also at Saint Matthias Church, on October 5th 1914.  Their first child, Richard Frederick Coles, was born on August 30th 1915.  Finally, Mr Stanley Charles Coles married Miss Winifred I Martin at Kingsbridge in 1915.

Stanley was in the Merchant Navy and when the Great War came to an end he left and joined the family business.

During the Second World War the family moved from 6 The Terrace, on the Hoe, to Marsh House, at Laira.  It was there, on Friday May 28th 1943, that Mr Frederick James Coles died.  He was 83 years of age.  Following a service at Saint Catharine's Church, Plymouth, he was cremated at Efford Crematorium on Tuesday June 1st 1943.  His youngest son, Mr Stanley Charles Coles, took over.

Eggbuckland Parish Church was the venue for the marriage of Mr Richard Frederick Coles and Miss Joan Wreyford on October 19th 1949.

Mr Stanley Charles Coles died on July 23rd 1952 at the age of 62.  After a service at Saint Catharine's Church, he was buried at the Drake Memorial Park, Plymstock.  His widow, Mrs Winifred I Coles, took over.

The business was then moved to 23 Market Avenue, which at that time was outside the old Pannier Market at the top of New George Street.  When new properties became available in Cornwall Street they moved in to number 111.  At some point her nephew, Mr Richard Frederick Coles, joined the business and he took over management when Mrs Winifred I Coles died on April 16th 1965.  She had lived at Whitchurch, Tavistock, Devon, but was buried with her husband at the Drake Memorial Park, Plymstock.

In January 1985 Mr Richard Frederick Coles sold the business to Messrs Importers Limited.  Unfortunately, or perhaps cunningly, the day after he retired he broke a leg and was unable to start the redecorating that his wife, Joan, had planned for him.  Mr Richard Frederick Coles passed away in February 1989.