Lewis Levy, the eldest of the three brothers was originally in partnership with his brother Abraham, pawnbroker, clothier and jeweller in Bridge Street West next door to the Excelsior Hotel until they dissolved, when he opened up a pawnshop in Cargo Fleet Road and subsequently purchased the business of the late Jacob Smith in North Ormesby.
He was a steady hard working business man who got along very well. Before he launched out in shopkeeping he was a packman. He travelled in the country trading with the workers, selling goods on the weekly payment systems and his connection in Warrenby near Redcar he never abandoned, visiting that place regularly every Wednesday afternoon until his end.
He had about six children. His only daughter Hetty married Lionel Levy the bookmaker and pawnbroker of Barker Road. Councillor Sol Levy was a son.
Lewis Levy had common sense and wisdom. He was plain and simple in his habits, regular in his routine, free from any nonsense or humbug, straight to the point, fearless and outspoken.
These three brothers came from a good stock, being descended from the Margolas, a line of philosophers and intellectuals of note. Incidentally, their sister was the late Mr.L.Lazarus's wife who came here later. Her name was Leah. Originally Lewis and his family lived above the shop in Bridge Street, but subsequently went into private residence in Borough Rd in the terrace opposite Kemsley House.
His wife survived him many years and after his death moved into Thornfield Road, where she lived with her son Ike until she was taken away. Though Lewis and his wife were ideally mated, their lives were blighted by the early death of their eldest son Moss in adolescence and that of the youngest Joss, who was killed in action whilst fighting in Palestine during the First Great War (1914-1918).
Abraham Levy (1857-1920)
Abraham was the most popular of the three brothers. This was not surprising for he was all one could wish a man to be. Full of pleasantries, and ready wit. Kindly, friendly and charitable. Conscientious and upright. Fair, honest and above all reliable.
In business he was exacting and strenuous. This shop in Bridge Street West was a flourishing one, especially in its heyday. The North Side being the principal part of the town and the shopping center, the street was an important artery and thousands swarmed through it from the Cannon Street area and west of the town to reach the Market Place on Saturdays and there was always plenty of traffic throughout the week. Today with the town's development the North Side is left a derelict patch and Bridge Street West is desolate and deserted.
The original shop was small but subsequent extensions gave it a big frontage and a commodious interior, which made it one of the large establishments on the North Side. Though engaged in pawnbroking and jewellry his principal trade was Men's Ready Made clothing. He was one of the biggest retail clothiers in the town, noted for moleskin and corduroy trousers and working apparel in which he specialised.
He was spotlessly clean, well groomed and dressed with care. In the shop he was as a rule jacketless, with his starched cuffs turned up for freedom and ease. Shopkeepers were not so conventional then as now, especially where personal service was given. The contact between customer and proprietor was on more intimate and friendly terms.
His carriage was erect, and he walked with a quick, firm springy tread. Apropos of this, every Sunday he undertook a long walk of 25 to 30 miles into the country to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery, a pleasure he would not forego. He was a great pedestrian! Often walking to Whitby, Sunderland, Barnard Castle, Richmond and such places, returning by bus or train or vice-versa. Then home to a warm bath and to bed. In the morning a cold water bath and off to business, and that was his regular week-end routine, warm or cold wet or fine. For one pent up in business for long hours, six days of the week, this was a salutary change and tonic for him, but of course it needed strength and stamina!
He had clear cut features, chiselled to almost Grecian. A transparent skin, fair complexion, a pointed beard which like his hair was ginger. In physique he was slightly above middle height, well built, firm and muscular.
He married Jennie the second eldest daughter of the late Louis Smith, and she was a beautiful girl. She had the Romany look, dark with raven-black hair, deep pools of orbs. It was with her he fell deeply and slavishly in 1ove, and small wonder! In a villa in the "Woodlands" (Borough Rd) they lived and reared a family of about seven. The late Sol Levy's wife Cissy is a daughter.
It was one morning he went to business as usual, hale and hearty, when he suddenly collapsed and died in harness on the shop floor. So passed away an illustrious Old Standard of the Middlesbrough Congregation.
A very fine man. One that we can look back on and remember with pride and pleasure.
Jacob Levy (1861-1911)
This brother had a turn for humour, a quip and a jest. He was sociable, merry and good company. Through outside contact he sold a lot of jewellery, a commodity in great demand in those days. There were no motor cars and that sort of thing to disburse money on, so it was dissipated in adornment.
If I am not mistaken, his original shop was in South Street where he established himself as a sailor's outfitter and clothier and although he dealt principally in apparel he stocked jewellery. The shop was small, but in the course of time he removed to Sussex St near the cathedral, but the premises exist no longer and were demolished on account of its falling to ruins and a vacant patch of ground, but remains at this date to indicate its position. He was not a pawnbroker. When he first married he lived above the shop, but in later years resided privately moving into Oxford Rd Linthorpe.
It was here he was stricken with a stroke and after lingering on for a few years died. Perhaps he will be recalled by the few in the mention of his late wife Betsy (nee Lazarus) who carried on the business for many years after his death and finally moved into 'Mazel' House, a villa in The Crescent. Unfortunately not a very appropriate name, for in later years she became a chronic invalid crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, so there was little 'mazel' for her in that abode. There were no children.