Photo December 2022
A stunning restoration in Tenterden High Street
By Philip Shaw
A new shop has opened in the High Street - Number 38 is now Raffman & Huckster merchandising many interesting gifts in time for Christmas.
The Victorian shop front, one of the oldest in the High Street, was until recently empty and unloved. It has now been transformed! Underneath layers of peeling paint has been revealed a stunning shop fascia – G W Hukins in gold leaf under glass and with gold leaf infill between the glazing bars.
George William Hukins was a watch - maker, jeweller, silversmith and optician. He was also a vendor of horse and cattle medicines. Hukins died in 1941, ending a family dynasty of 120 years at the same premises. He is interred in St Mildred’s burial ground. His will amounted to a mere £1,385.
James Hukins, born in 1800, set up in business as a watch maker at number 38 in or about 1820. In due course He was joined by his son George Hopper Hukins born in 1824. The third generation George William Hukins, born in 1866 was the last to inherit and run the business. His son, George McDiamid Hukins, qualified as an optician and moved to Guernsey and later to New Zealand.
In 1941, after the death of G.W. Hukins the premises were sold to an absentee landlord and the shop let to Kent County Council Free library. The upstairs two floors, which constituted a self - contained flat, were let to a Mrs Evelyn Rose Wright. It is believed that the library then moved to the upstairs of 39, High Street opposite. In 1948, number 38 became vacant again and Mr Ronald Booth and his family moved there. Mrs Booth opened it as an antiques shop for a short period and then as a ladies hairdressers. Chris Booth (then aged 4) remembers going to view the premises in 1948 with his Mother and seeing clock parts stacked in the basement, which had been left behind in 1941.The Booth’s moved to Rolvenden High Street in 1964, where Chris Booth still has an antiques shop and the Morgan motor Car museum.
Number 38 was then taken by Horace Ashdown as a camera shop with David Pugh, who took it over completely in 1967. He re-named the shop David Larkin and stayed there until 2001.
Since then, the only long-term shop tenant has been between 2005 and 2018 as Femme Fatale, a ladies lingerie shop, the upstairs being occupied as offices.
Raffman & Huckster is proud to be the occupier of such an historic building and will retain the G W Hukins fascia and shop front. Peter Knott, the former owner of White’s the Jewellers in the High Street, remembers customers coming into his shop with Hukins’ watches for repair. Are there any still out there?
Report written by Philip Shaw
[for the Tenterden Archive]
The author would like to acknowledge the information provided by Jack Gillett and John Weller during the preparation of this article.