Webpage created: September 18, 2019
Webpage updated: September 18, 2019
The Magnet Restaurant was originally in Whimple Street but moved to Cornwall Street during the reconstruction of Plymouth after the Second World War.
Mr Stafford John Williams was born at Smithaleigh, near Ivybridge, on November 12th 1907. His parents were Mr James Henry Williams, a traction engine driver formerly of Callington, in Cornwall, and Mrs Fanny Ellen Williams. He was the youngest of six boys.
He attended Ermington Primary School until his family moved to Devonport. At the age of 15 he left school to become a van boy with the Plymouth Co-operative Society but later became a driver and engineer for Mr Ernest Stephens, the pork butcher.
In 1944 he used his savings to purchase the Savoy Grill Restaurant in Union Street, Plymouth, and then in 1949 took over a cafe/restaurant in Whimple Street known as The Magnet. In 1953 he was joined in the business by his son, Mr Brian Stafford Williams.
Work started on their new premises in Cornwall Street on Friday August 13th 1954 and it would be different from all the others in the Street: it would have a Georgian-style frontage. Although there were only two floors fronting Cornwall Street there would be four floors at the rear. There was to be a grill on the ground floor and the first floor was to be reserved for lunches and dinners. The new restaurant was expected to be ready for opening in February 1955 and work would then start on demolishing the old premises.
Mr Williams recalled that he always used fresh vegetables and that the parsnip often perplexed youngsters eating in the restaurant for the first time because they were not familiar with it.
The Magnet Restaurant closed its doors on Wednesday January 21st 1981, after members of the Central Devonport Branch of the National Federation of Old Age Pension Association had finished their annual dinner in the function room above the restaurant. Its wood and glass frontage was transformed when the new owners, Messrs United Biscuits turned it into a Wimpy Bar.
Mr Stafford John Williams died on Sunday May 7th 2000 at the Ivydene Nursing Home, Ivybridge, Devon, and the funeral service took place at the Church of Saint Andrew, Plymouth, on Tuesday May 16th 2000. Both he and his son were directors of Plymouth Argyle Football Club and he was also the chairman of the Devon County Football Association.