The Grocer Who Fell Off The Wagon

15 & 17 Edward Road - a single property for over 100 years

Poor William Jennings.  In 1884 he lived in Edward Road and must have been one of the first residents.  He seems to have continually been applying for beer selling licenses – there was something of a scramble for off-licenses in Clarendon Park in the mid to late 1880s as it was being built, and with all that working class housing being hastily built, it could mean very lucrative trade.  William was finally granted his license in October 1886.  The Wright’s Directory of 1888 described him as a beer retailer, cowkeeper and shopkeeper at 15 and 17 Edward Road.  All looked well for prosperity.

But in October 1890 he received a nasty bump to the head when he fell out of a cart (see newspaper article below) or fell off the wagon – you have my husband to thank for that pun by the way.  Beer retailer, wagon, falling off – geddit?   That wasn’t the only thing going wrong for William at the time – he was seriously in debt and bankruptcy proceedings were brought against him in early February 1891.  By then he was living in lodgings on Clarendon Park Road, and certainly by April the premises were occupied by John Thomas Booton (33), grocer and range fitter, and his family.  John had already run a grocers and beer retailers of his own on the corner of Lorne Road/Clarendon Park Road (in fact he had applied for a beer license the very same day that William Jennings fell out of the cart and hurt his head).

On 25th February William was found to be £925 in debt, with assets of £750, leaving a surplus of £175.  He had sold the freehold on 15 and 17 Edward Road to his stepson on 29th January 1891, transferring the beer license to him shortly afterwards.  However, as the property was mortgaged the Official Receiver insisted the premises be sold at auction by Warner, Sheppard and Wade on 20th October 1891.  The premises are well described in the auction advertisement: “The House contains front shop, covering the whole frontage, several store-rooms, sitting room, kitchen and six bedrooms.  There is also a paved yard, with outbuildings and passage entrance….in addition to the Grocery Business it has an extensive out-door beer trade.”  The sale raised £760.

John Thomas Booton didn’t hang on to 15 and 17 Edward Road, at least as the occupant, because by 1899 the beer retailer (no pretence of groceries selling now) was Hannah Barrows.  It looks like the property hasn’t altered an enormous amount since then – although it is no longer a shop as Edward Road is a pretty quiet back street with no passing trade – and is still double fronted.  These days it is known as 17 Edward Road and number 15 just doesn’t exist.

The cause of William Jennings’ misery, in his own words, was that he had lost two cows in two years and had made many bad debts.  There must be a new year’s resolution in there somewhere.  Note to self:  No bad debts in 2012 (and don’t lose any cows).  Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading, Elizabeth.

Leicester Chronicle, Saturday October 4th 1890, p6.

ACCIDENT – On Friday evening Mr. Jennings, aged 60, a grocer, living in Edward-road, Clarendon Park, was admitted to the Infirmary, suffering from injuries to his head, sustained by falling out of a cart.  He lies in a somewhat precarious position.

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One response to “The Grocer Who Fell Off The Wagon

  1. History brought lovingly to life. I look forward to each of your stories. Thank you.

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