The partnership of Oakley and Watling was formed in the early 1870s. The Oakley family had been long established in Southampton - Alfred Oakley is listed in the 1843 directory with a market garden in Love Lane (now St Mary’s Road) and a stall in the green market in the Audit House on the High Street. Robert Oakley is listed in the 1845 and 1847 directories as seedsman and greengrocer with premises at 122 High Street. By the 1850s Alfred Oakley and Son, market gardeners, are listed at 118 High Street and the family continued at this address until about 1908.
Henry William Watling first appears in street directories in 1871. The census of 1871 lists him at Holy Rood House, Winkle Street as “manager, florist and seedsman”. He remained here until 1905.
The firm, still at 118 High Street, was styled Oakley and Watling from c.1874. The business moved across the road to 56 High Street in 1908 where they remained until 1975 when they were taken over by Southern Ship Stores.
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