Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 13, 2019
Webpage updated: September 13, 2019




The Plymouth business house of Messrs B G Sweet and Sons Limited, tailors, was situated firstly at 56 Union Street and later 53/54/55 Union Street, Plymouth.

The premises of Messrs W Sweet, tailoring establishment, at 56 Union Street, Plymouth.

The premises of Messrs W Sweet, tailoring establishment,
at 56 Union Street, Plymouth.

William Sweet was born at Saint Neot, Cornwall, in 1842 to Mr John Sweet, an agricultural labourer, and Mrs Elizabeth Sweet.  He already had three sisters and three more girls followed him.  By the 1851 census the family were living at Lampen Mine, Saint Neot.

To have been a scholar clearly benefitted him because he became a tailor and at the time of the 1861 census he was boarding in Barn Street, Liskeard, with William and Sarah Morcom.

In 1864 Mr William Sweet married Miss Salome Ann Webber at Plymouth.

At the time of the 1871 census, he was living at number 19 Frankfort Street, Plymouth, where he was a tailor.  He already had two sons, Albert W Sweet and Frederick J Sweet, and the family had a 15-years-old servant girl by the name of Miss Kate Cosh.  Albert W Sweet died in 1874 at the age of 8 years.

In 1878 he was listed as a tailor's cutter living at 6 Union Street, East Stonehouse, and two of his children, Miss Lilly Ann Sweet and Master Thomas Albert Sweet, were born at East Stonehouse.

Sometime between then and the 1881 census the family moved to number 56 Union Street, Plymouth, where William was now a tailor and outfitter.

According to the 1891 census, the three eldest boys were doing well for themselves.  Mr Frederick John Sweet, 21, was a tailor in his own right; Mr Willie James Sweet, 18, was an accountant; while Mr Bertie George Sweet, 16, was an outfitter's apprentice.

It was said in 1894 that: 'The premises consist of a fine double-fronted shop, with cutting room and workshop attached.  They afford accommodation for every branch of Mr Sweet's operations, and the stock kept on hand is of a useful and valuable character, being composed throughout of such goods as are certain to meet with the approval of those who understand the art of dressing well.'  His stock included Scottish and Irish Tweeds as well as Cricketing and Boating Flannels and he was well known as a maker of Naval uniforms.

Mr William Sweet died in Plymouth on September 27th 1904 at the age of 62.  The business was then taken over by his son, Mr Bertie George Sweet, and became Messrs B G Sweet and Sons Limited.  h.

Bertie had been born in 1876 and had been awarded his "Tailors Systematic Cutting Class" Diploma by Mr William Pedlar, a Practical Systematist, of Herbert Street, Plymouth, on February 7th 1896.  Bertie had married Miss Minnie Benoy Kemp on June 4th 1900 at the Anglican Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Plymouth.  They had three sons: Reginald Kemp Sweet;  Herbert George Sweet; and Frank Kemp Sweet.

Mr Bertie George Sweet died on June 8th 1935 in a Devonport nursing home after undergoing an operation.  He was 59 years of age.  He was an active Freemason.  The funeral service took place on Tuesday June 11th 1935 at King Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Plymouth, and was conducted by the Reverend W J Beckett.  The body was interred at Efford Cemetery.  His home address was given as number 55 Union Street.  He was survived by his widow, Mrs Minnie Benoy Sweet, who became the managing director, and their three sons.

The business specialized in two areas: off the peg and clothes for the 'big man'.  They stocked all sizes up to 60 inch chest and waist.  An advert from May 1959 gives a sample of what they stocked: suits up to 56 inch chest from 10 to 18 guineas; sports jackets up to 60 inch chest from 4 to 9 guineas; shirts up to size 20 collar, from 1 5s 6d; biscuit or grey summer jackets up to 48 inch chest from 3 5s; and trousers up to 80 inch waist from 1 19s 6d for grey flannel or blended worsted and 3 9s 6d for terylene ones.

Mrs Minnie Benoy Sweet was buried at Efford Cemetery on May 18th 1956.  Presumably control of the firm then passed to the eldest son, Mr Reginald Kemp Sweet, who died on Monday February 6th 1984.

Messrs B G Sweet and Sons Limited ceased trading on Friday July 31st 1987 with the loss of four jobs.  It was said to be Plymouth's oldest family business.  62-years-old Mr George Taylor was the manager at that time.

Mr Frank Kemp Sweet died on Sunday August 16th 1987 and was cremated at Efford Crematorium on August 20th 1987.  Mr Herbert George Sweet, 86, passed away on Thursday November 8th 1990 and was buried at Efford Cemetery on November 13th 1990.