Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 14, 2019
Webpage updated: March 09, 2020




Messrs G S Dilleigh and Company Limitedtd was located at 17 Old Town Street and 93 Mutley Plain, as well as three smaller branches, before the Second World War but only at 93/95 Mutley Plain and at the back of the Plymouth Pannier Market thereafter.

Dilleigh's store on Mutley Plain, 1950.

Dilleigh's store on Mutley Plain, Plymouth, 1950.
City of Plymouth Museum & Art Gallery.

George Spriggins Dilley was born at Walkern, Hertfordshire, in 1855, the eldest son of grocer and victualler, Mr Philip Dilley and his wife Mary Ann.

After first assisting his father in his shop he went off to London, where he became an assistant to a tea dealer.  In 1881 he was lodging with solicitor's clerk, Mr C J Childs, at 26 Baker Street, Clerkenwell, Middlesex.

By 1890 he had become the manager at Messrs E Bonser & Son, at 17 Old Town Street, Plymouth, and in 1891 was lodging at the home widow, Mrs Celia Craig, 1 Endsleigh Place, Plymouth.  Between those two dates he changed the spelling of his surname from Dilley to Dilleigh.

On Tuesday July 7th 1891 Mr George Spriggins Dilleigh married Miss Lilian Elizabeth Craig at Charles Church, Plymouth.

In that same year of 1891 he took over ownership of the Bonser's business and within a couple of years he had also taken premises at number 4 Connaught Terrace, Mutley Plain, which he called the Connaught Tea Warehouse.

His business had grown by 1900 to include branch shops at 15 Culme Terrace, 140 Beaumont Road and 21 Edgcumbe Place, Stoke, next to the Mill Bridge Inn, and at the time of the 1901 census he was living at in the parish of Buckland Monachorum.  Quite why he declared himself as being born at Harford, Devon, is a mystery.

George and Lilian had only one son, Mr Leslie George Dilleigh, and on August 22nd 1918 he married Miss Dorothy Caroline Wilson at Yelverton.  The Dilleighs were living at Collismor, Yelverton, at that time.

Mr George Spriggins Dilleigh passed away at home on Thursday November 3rd 1921 at the age of 66 years.  He was interred at Buckland Monachorum Parish Church on Saturday November 5th 1921. 

Messrs F W Woolworth and Company Limited bought out his premises in Old Town Street around 1930 to extend their shop and he also gave up the other branches but extended the Mutley Plain shop to make the double-fronted premises that became so familiar both before and after the Second World War.  There was also a branch at the back of the Plymouth Pannier Market in Radford Place, where in the 1950s broken biscuits could be purchased quite cheaply.

Later in the 1930s other branches were opened in Union Street, King Street, Edgcumbe Street, East Stonehouse, and Marlborough Street, Devonport.

In December 1941 Dilleigh's would have undoubtedly sold Devon Pride Self-raising Flour manufactured by Messrs PT Products Ltd, of The Quay, Kingsbridge.  A 3lbs bag cost 10d.  And a good start on a cold morning  required a bowl of Allinson Oats. 'the finest that Scotland grows', which was available in a 1 lbs packet for 8d.. The packet contained 35 portions at one farthing per serving.  A quarter pound packet of Brooke Bond Dividend Cocoa cost 5d. 

Even as late as the 1950s a salesman would call at a home to take an order.

The business on Mutley Plain was still operating in 1955.

Dilleigh's were advertising Easter Eggs in April 1960: Rowntree's Dairy Box, filled, at two shillings; Nestle's filled eggs at four shillings; and Fuller's Sheerpack milk chocolate filled eggs at a whopping 7s 6d.  Red Salmon was available in cans at three shillings and 4s 6d and KY Pears were 2s 9d a can.  Green Middle Bacon cost 2s 10d per pound while Smoked Middle Bacon was 3s 4d a pound.  Also on offer was Crosbies' Thick-cut and Sweet Nell Jelly Marmalade, only one shilling a pound jar.