The West Street Butcher (but not that kind of butcher)

The gravestone of Frederick and Agnes Goodger

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I really enjoy taking a small piece of historical evidence and turning it into a story about someone’s life.  Well I’ve been at it again.  I had ten minutes to kill in Knighton churchyard and spent it taking photographs of the gravestones of former Clarendon Park residents.  The one that most took my fancy was that of Frederick Thomas Goodger, who “passed peacefully away” on 18th September 1908 aged 57.  Alongside is Frederick’s wife Agnes Mary Goodger, who outlived him by 24 years and died aged 82, still living at their former address of 33 West Avenue.

How did I know that the Goodgers were Clarendon Park residents?  It doesn’t say so on their grave stone,  but some time ago I made a database of all the Clarendon Park residents who were buried at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton before 1952 (there’s around 850 of them), which comes in handy sometimes.

Frederick was born in Leicester in 1851, the son of a painter.  He married Agnes Mary Price on 10th September 1872 at St Mary de Castro.  Within a short time (from at least 1876)  he had set himself up in business, as a butcher at 52 Shenton Street.  He took a loan of £100 from Sir Thomas White’s charity- which is still helping people start up in business in Leicester - in 1879, gaving him the capital to expand and improve his business, and take on new and better premises at Clarendon Park.  In 1891 he occupied 35 West Avenuen with wife, children and an apprentice.  By 1901 he also occupied 33 West Avenue, which was just as his adult daughters were working as milliners and dressmakers at home and no one likes their frock and hat to smell of raw meat.

35 West Avenue (corner of Cecilia Road)

After Frederick’s death, you might have expected Agnes his wife to live on the small amount left to her (£816) and her daughters’ assistance, but no – she gamely carried on the business with herself in the title role, so if you look at the trades directories of the 1910s you will find her under Butchers.  Misses Beatrice and Mabel never married (they were already old-ish for marriage by the time of the War) and they continued making dresses and millinery, probably scratching out a fairly basic but respectable existence and still occupying 33 and 35 West Avenue.  By the time Agnes died, there was nothing significant money-wise left to leave behind.

That’s another old shop I walk past most days, and I’m glad I decided to follow up the story behind Frederick and Agnes’s gravestone.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The premises are quite extensive, with a yard (where the initial butchering bit took place no doubt)

Ventilation for the cellar

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One response to “The West Street Butcher (but not that kind of butcher)

  1. I believe that 33 and 35 may have stayed joined for decades after the Goodgers passed on: I was raised in West Avenue, born 1970 and we lived there in Clarendon Court until January 1979.

    During that time 35 West Avenue was a small convenience store & off licence, the type where everything was behind the counter and you asked for what you wanted rather than filling a basket, rather like the shop in the TV show Open All Hours.

    I remember a meat-slicing machine for cold meats to the far right as you walked in, and a chest freezer for ice-cream below the window to the left, with an L-shaped counter at the south wall running round to the west, and access to the private rooms down a small hallway that was parallel to Cecilia Road.

    This ran into the adjacent property down Cecilia Road, presumably number 33, and I remember being able to see a living room through the doorway.

    My mum called the shop Woody’s, I believe that Wood was the surname of the male proprietor, and he and his wife had an adopted daughter who I recall at one point bought herself a fantastically flamboyant sports car (Triumph TR7 in bright scarlet) which she kept parked outside on Cecilia Road, and it was the talk of the street for a while! It was quite a big deal in those days for a single young lady to own and drive such a beauty of a car.

    We visited Woody’s almost daily for basics like milk and bread, it was part of the community and the proprietors made sure none of their regulars went without throughout the 3-Day Week and the Winter of Discontent, by moving a lot of stock below the counter to prevent other people panic-buying and hoarding essentials.

    By 2002 when I visited again to see the street I grew up on, the shop was converted into a residential property and looked much as it does now.

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