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Grays, Essex

Arthur Edgar, the elder son of Henry Marshall Joyes and his first wife Alice Bird, was born in 1876, when his parents were shopkeepers in Storrington. After attending grammar school he became an assistant at a drapery shop in Dorking, Surrey. Several years later, in Essex, he married a young woman about his own age, Mary Ann Gosling, also working in the drapery trade. She had been born in Lewes, but it must have been when her family moved north that she and Arthur met. They married in 1900 the same year that he first acquired a business at 4 & 6 New Road, Grays, Essex. By 1901 Mary's older sister, Jane Ada, a dressmaker, was living with them above the shop, as well as a girl who helped with domestic and shop duties. The business flourished and it was not long before the premises extended to take in number 2 New Road, formerly a chemist shop. Within a few years the department store became widely known for excellent service and for the quality of the goods sold there. Eventually the business extended right along to number 20 New Road. Stock ranged from fabrics and furnishings to fancy-goods and apparel of all kinds. When Arthur retired, the business was carried on by his son Ronald Joyes. In the shop's 75th year of operation, as trading in that part of town declined, it became necessary, in 1975, to reduce stock and premises and then finally to close down altogether. An extensive article headlined 'Joyful - the Joyes Saga' , written by Barry Barnes, appeared in the Thurrock Gazette.


Mrs Peggy Joyes, born in 1922 remembered Arthur Joyes when her mother took her to be outfitted with school clothes. In later years she too became a regular customer. Carole Botwright says that she was often taken to the shop as a small girl. She was fascinated by the money containers carried as if by magic on high wires. 'The lady would write out a bill and attach it and the money in a bag to some contraption on the ceiling and pull a handle and off it would go to the cash office- a scary place quite high up and with a frosted glass window. It would tinkle as it went as if passing over different sections of rail. Then it would come back, with the receipt and change.'


It's Sale Day at AE Joyes, Grays Thurrock c1910

Joyes Department Store, New Road Grays c1970

Pauline Lloyd,one of Ronald Joyes' three children recalled that as a child, she was allowed to play with the cash rail system when the shop was quiet. She says 'The loft area was another play area for us. Up a very narrow staircase were several tiny rooms where girls worked their treadle sewing machines making alterations to clothes bought downstairs. The loft was also used for storage of all sorts of things and was like Aladdin's cave to me'.

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