Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 27, 2017
Webpage updated: May 19, 2019

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Albert Pengelly was born in at Menheniot, in Cornwall, in 1870, to Mr Edwin Pengelly, a boiler maker, and his wife, Sarah.  After schooling he took an apprenticeship as a print compositor at the Western Daily Mercury newspaper in Plymouth.  While working on the night staff he took his first venture into business and in 1893 opened a tobacconists shop at number 30 Fore Street, Devonport.

Albert Pengelly, brother Ted, Mrs Emma Pengelly, and
Albert Pengelly junior, in the doorway of number 102 Fore Street.
Photo courtesy of Mr Albert 'Joe' Pengelly, Plymouth.

Whether the fact that his younger brother, Richard, was already a tobacconist and newsagent helped him to make that choice is not clear.

Mr Albert Pengelly married Miss Emma Coke at Devonport in 1893.

When the owner of the premises put up his rent Albert refused to accept it and forced him to go to court.  The rights of the landlord were upheld and he was ordered to be evicted.  But Albert vowed to get as much publicity from the event as possible.  He advertised an "Eviction Sale", with notices plastered over the shop windows, and the sight of his furniture laid out on the pavement created a lot of sympathy.  In fact he left the furniture there all day.  What nobody else knew was that he had already secured new premises at number 102 Fore Street.  When he re-opened just a few doors away from his former shop he found that not only did his old customers come with him but many new ones, witnesses to his setback, brought their business to him as well.

As was common amongst tobacconists at the time, he carried out hairdressing at the rear of the shop.

Albert Pengelly's second shop was on the corner of
Fore Street and Saint Aubyn Ope.
From Ordnance Survey sheet CXXIII.7 dated 1914.

Albert Pengelly's shop on the corner of
Fore Street (foreground)and Saint Aubyn Ope (left).
From a postcard.

In 1913 he opened a new shop at number 106 Fore Street, a three-storey building on the corner with Saint Aubyn Ope, next door to Messrs Hiorns and Miller, the printers.  He was intending to move his family into the accommodation above the shop but luckily they were still living at number 102 when, at 3.30am on the morning of Wednesday August 6th 1913, a fire was discovered by a passer-by, who raised the alarm using the fire alarm in Fore Street, and in less than an hour some 2,000 worth of damage was done.  The fire brigade's motor car was so quickly on the scene that they arrived before Mr Pengelly, who lived only a couple of doors away.  Fireman May was at first in charge but was soon joined by Second Officer Dart and then by Chief Officer Burns and Chief Inspector Rundle.  The fire had soon reached the upper levels and the entire stock of pipes, tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and postcards were utterly destroyed.  The water also did a lot of damage but the fire was prevented from spreading to the adjoining  shops, houses, and the Princes Street Congregational Chapel.  The intensity of the heat cracked the eight-foot square plate-glass window but fortunately it did not break.

Also in 1913 Mr Pengelly opened his first shop in Plymouth, at number 58 Bedford Street, adjacent to the Sun Buildings.  It is claimed that he guessed that the amalgamation of Devonport into Plymouth would result in the decline of the Devonport shopping area.  At the time of his death he was operating eight shops.

Mr Albert Pengelly died on Thursday June 20th 1929.  He was only 59 years of age.  The staff of all his shops attended the funeral service at the Weston Mill Cemetery Chapel, where the service was conducted by the Reverend G Harris, vicar of the Anglican Churches of Saint Mark and Saint Clement.  Among those attending the funeral was Mr E Bernardt, a tobacco manufacturer from Vienna, Austria.