James Stevens was born about 1829 in Newington, Surrey; he was son of James Perrin Stevens a farrier and Jane Belcher. In 1841 the family were living in Earls Terrace, St George`s Road, Lambeth. There were two younger sons, William 7 and Thomas 5, also with them is Susan Belcher aged 20 who was Jane`s sister.
In the summer of 1852 James married Elizabeth Jones, his bride was from Hawarden. James opened a bakery shop in Wrexham and in 1858 he is advertising his “London Bread and Biscuit Establishment” They are living at 46 Hope Street, Wrexham in 1861 and have 4 children James D 7, John R6, Thomas 5 and Elizabeth 1. Also, there is Jane Stevens who is helping in the shop, she is James sister and was an experienced confectioner.
By 1871 they have another 2 children,Frederick 6 and Maria 2, the family later moved to 9 Grosvenor Road, the house was called Brightside, but the shop was still on Hope Street, it had now been extended and was 45 and 46.
Thomas was working there and helping run the business and on 20 November 1875 there was an announcement in the Wrexham Advertiser.
PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION.
We understand that at the great Philadelphia international exhibition to be held at Philadelphia next year, Wrexham will be represented by Mr Thomas Stevens, 46, Hope Street, Wrexham, who will exhibit a varied selection of ornamental confectionery.
The following year on 11 March 1876
Amongst the passengers who sailed for Philadelphia on Wednesday last, per S.S. Ohio, we notice the name of Mr Thomas Stevens, son of Mr Stevens, Hope Street who is an exhibitor of ornamental confectionery at the forthcoming grand centennial exhibition to be held in that city.
Elizabeth Stevens died aged 64, she was buried on 17 March 1891 with her daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” who had died in1888.
Not long after Elizabeth’s death James took a trip to Scotland, but it didn`t go well as a report in the Wrexham Advertiser dated 23 May 1891 tells of an incident. (Edited)
The hymn which refers to those in peril on the sea will have a special interest for Mr James Stevens, of Brightside, from this time forth. Mr Stevens had decided to take a sea trip to Scotland, and secured a passage in the steamer Cambria of the Carron Line, which plies between London and Grangemouth. At two o’clock on the morning of Thursday weekthe vessel was some twenty miles off Yarmouth. All the travellers were sleeping in peace when a fearful crash was heard, and the Cambria shivered from stem to stern. It was found that the steamer Killingworth from Hartlepool for London,laden with coal, had come into collision with the Cambria with serious results.Mr Stevens and the other passengers were taken off in boats to a neighbouring lightship. The Cambria was struck near Mr Stevens’ berth and had to be run on a sand bank to prevent sinking.
By this time in 1891 Thomas and his sister Jane were in Cardiff, where he had set up a confectioner’s shop. He married Clara Worton in 1894 and the couple remained down there.
James had retired by 1901 and Frederick was running the business in Hope Street, he had married Amelia Phillips in 1891. James stayed at Brightside and the census shows that he and Elizabeth had 11 children but only 6 were still alive in 1911. He died there on 6 January 1916 aged 85and was buried with Elizabeth and Lizzie.
Frederick continued to run Stevens Café; it became a very popular place in the town with a lovely black and white Mock Tudor frontage. Frederick died aged 74 in 1939. A restaurant had been added and wedding receptions were held there. The staff wore traditional black dresses with white aprons and caps. It is still fondly remembered my many in Wrexham.
The business was later taken over by Sidoli`s,an ice cream company founded by an Italian immigrant, but part of it was still known as Stevens, mysteriously it was illegally demolished overnight on a Saturday in May 1985 and the link with James Stevens was ended.
Researched by Annette Edwards. November 2018.
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery M-03460
Source: Adverts from various sources including Facebook & Wrexham History.