Humble beginnings

Laceman William Wink

The extraordinary story of ‘Knight and Lee’ actually begins in 1831. In this year, Mr William Wink began a business as a ‘Laceman’ in Queens Street. Located very close to the Portsea docks, the shop was situated in an ideal place from which to initiate early trade. Little else is known of this period, apart from the fact that Wink died in 1857. His wife subsequently took over the business. By this point, records state that the premises of 112 Queens Street traded as a ‘lace manufacturer, milliner and dressmaker’, an indication of expansion and a distinct degree of prosperity. By 1865, a new Wink was at the helm, Frederick.


Frederick moved the business to a more fashionable and busier shopping street, Palmerston Road, Southsea. He took over two adjoining shops and sold the old premises on Queens Street. Rapid expansion led to the acquisition of two further properties on Palmerston Road. More space allowed an expansion of stock range, to now include sunshades, lace curtains, furs and general drapery.

No photos prevail from before the 1890’s, as all such records were unfortunately destroyed in the 1941 firebombing during the Second World War. If you have any additional information on these early days, please get in touch!

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