A Grocer goes Bankrupt

Here is a tale from 1903 about a Wolverton grocer who quickly became bankrupt after venturing into business.

Fred Styles started his business at 40 Church Street in 1899 with £10 of his own money and £20 borrowed from his mother. He probably believed things were going swimmingly because a year later he opened a branch grocery in New Bradwell, managed by his mother.

It appears that he over-extended himself, because before too long his liabilities exceeded his assets. I 1902 he sold the New Bradwell business to his mother for £83 1s 11d, so that less the £20 he owed her, he was left with £63 1s 11d, which immediately was applied to his debt. Even so, when he appeared at Northampton County Court on July 14th 1903 for a bankruptcy hearing, he was still in hock to the sum of £351 13s 7d. He had sold a pony carriage and both his and his wife’s bicycles without making much difference to the mountain of debt.

Quite how he had managed to amass debts at the rate of about £100 a year was not made clear in the hearing, but he was clearly unable to control his costs. He probably needed to talk to Alan Sugar!