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Stoneleigh, 51 Queens Road: “Domestic Unhappiness, the Result of Drink”

When I am the bus stop on Queens Road (the last stop before Victoria Park), waiting for the number 44, I often look at the houses on either side of the road.  I really like the silly, grandiose house names their builders gave them.  It’s quite fun that for the first 20 or 30 years of their life, those houses were often actually known by their names rather than street number.  One of these is Stoneleigh, number 51 Queens Road.  There is a rather sad story of a family who lived there during the 1890s.

51 Queens Road

51 Queens Road

Fanny Burdett (c1851-1898) was born in Chichester and shortly afterwards moved with her parents to Marylebone, London.  From a young age she worked as a dressmaker.  Whilst in London she met Henry Rogers (1848-1920), a young tailor, and they married in 1878.  They moved to Leicester before 1881, settling in London Road, and by 1891 lived at Evington Street whilst keeping the London Road premises for the tailoring business – military and livery.  They had the usual Victorian brood; seven surviving children; five girls and two boys born between 1879 and 1892.

Some time between 1891 and 1895 Henry, Fanny and the children moved to Stoneleigh, number 51 Queens Road Clarendon Park.  Despite the relative prosperity of the family – they always kept at least one servant, usually two – and the respectable appearance of the house, the Rogers were in crisis.  Fanny was an alcoholic, her behaviour at times “like a maniac” and the children were suffering.  Henry tried to protect them, but Fanny had been addicted to drink for many years and he eventually saw no option but to force her to leave the house and children.

At some point the family became known to the NSPCC, still in its infancy having been established in 1884, and brought a case to the Borough Police Court in January 1896.  An inspector reported that the children had been ill treated, that they were horror-stricken and that there was a danger of the younger children losing their reason.  The only answer was for Fanny to be permanently separated from her children.  A document, which Henry had already prepared, was produced at court for Fanny to sign.  Provision was made for Fanny’s financial support.  The Bench agreed that the prosecution did not need to go ahead.

Fanny returned to London, where she died just two years later, probably from the effects of her alcoholism.  Henry and the seven children (Florence Annie, Gertrude Helen, Harry Burdett, Maud Eveline, Arthur Redfern, Mabel Winifred and Elsie Gwendolyn) remained at Stoneleigh for another few years.  Henry’s business grew.  He opened a shop at 22 Market Street.  Then between 1901 and 1906 the family moved to Bush Close, a house in Springfield Road.  Sadly Arthur died in 1907, aged just 17.

Arthur Redfern Rogers died on 20th November 1907 and was buried three days later at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton

Arthur Redfern Rogers died on 20th November 1907 and was buried three days later at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton

Henry continued his business with the help of his remaining son Harry, before dying in 1920.  He left over £14,000, a good sum of money.

I wondered whether, as the NSPCC inspector had feared, whether Fanny’s children really did lose their reason.  There isn’t much to go on, but of the six surviving children only two married (Harry and Maud).  Gertrude and Maud worked for a time as governesses – meaning that their education probably far exceeded that of their parents.  Florence, the eldest, moved just round the corner to 36 Portland Road, and the remaining unmarried sisters Gertrude, Mabel and Gwendolyn, lived and died (in old age) together at Hove in Sussex.  Harry also stayed in Leicester, after fighting in Egypt during the Great War.  There’s nothing to say that anyone lost their reason, but it’s still a sad story.  Something to ponder at the bus stop.  Elizabeth

Clarendon Park in the 1960s continued….parish life

Following on from my post about Clarendon Park Road in 1960, I dug out another Ebay find – the Parish Magazine of St John the Baptist, Knighton (now Clarendon Park), Septuagesima to Lent 1963.  It’s rather nicely produced, printed in dark blue ink and with a charming enclosure: “Are YOU coming to the St John’s Parish Social?”  The magazine contains a list of clergy, churchwardens, services, Sunday School and group leaders, and a letter from the vicar, the Reverend Canon F D H Harris-Evans, in which he refers to a new oak screen which was then being erected in the church (later removed).  There was also a new notice board being planned, which anyone involved with church affairs will imagine took as long and arduous a path to completion as the screen.

Although the magazine was published in 1963, it could easily have been written at any time in the fifty or so preceding years.  There is an “appeal” for a live-in companion help to two maiden ladies, one of whom was the former headmistress of St John’s Infant School.  The Mothers’ Union, the Church of England Men’s Society and the Youth Fellowship were all active but a truly modern note was struck by the Young Wives with their talk on Avon cosmetics and ‘Health Films’ (the mind boggles).

The names of those mentioned in the magazine are listed below – do feel free to contact me if you would like full details of anyone.

Allt, Andrews, Armstrong, Ashby, Baker, Beaman, Beck, Blaza, Blunt, Bowden, Briers, Chamberlain, Clark, Cole, Coulsell, Cox, Cullen, Culpin, Deighton, Edwards, Farrar, Flemming, Francis, Grooms, Harding, Harris-Evans, Heap, Grain, Hooley, Howe, Ironmonger, Johnson, Lincoln, Marsden, Millard, Orr, Parsons, Perry, Pick, Potter, Ross, Rowlett, Saunders, Shakespeare, Simpson, Smith, Tarratt, Taylor, Tindall, Wadd, Williams, Wood, Wrench, Wright

Advertisements

Adlard & Roffe (Grocers); Aston & Mochrie (Sign writers); Chamberlain (Cycle agents); W M Clark & Son (Decorators); E Colledge & Co (Printers & stationers); John Collins (Fishmonger & poulterer); Cox & Miller (Builders); Florence E Crane (Upholstress); Domestic Electrical Co (Radio & television); Forryans (Outfitters); Doreen Franey (Piano and French teacher); Garner & Son (Ironmongers); H A Hamshaw Ltd (Garage); W T Hind (Chemist); Hygienic Chimney Cleaning Ltd; W H Kempin (Butchers); Kirby & West (Dairy); Knight’s (Suits); J Kyle & Son (Plumbers); Laffords (Watchmakers & jewellers); Leicester Sports Ltd C W Molyneux Ltd (Electrical engineers); Mowbrays (hurch woodwork etc); J O Nicol Ltd (Butchers); Eric E Newton; A Parsons (Coal merchant); James Payne Ltd (Builders);Peter Pan (Knitting wools); Queens Road Garage; N Robinson (Fresh and frozen fruit & vegetables); L Sharp (Plumbers); Simpkin & James Ltd (Grocers); Sketchley (cleaners)

Yet more about the shop at 17 Lytton Road

Today I spent the day at Leicestershire Records Office and spent an hour looking up electoral registers and street directories for 17 Lytton Road, and I think that with Rosemary’s help and Helen’s mother’s help, I have a pretty good idea of who occupied the shop premises right from when it was first built.  Telephone directories have helped a lot too, but blimey reading them online is hard work on the eyes.

It looks like the shop was first occupied in 1907 by one Robert Edwin Stokes, draper (1873-1957), or at least the shop was in his name but in the 1911 census it was his wife Sabrina who took the title of draper whilst Robert was a postman.  Robert, Sabrina and their son Cecil Robert lived in the six rooms with their niece Katie Hawkes who acted as drapers assistant, and their servant   Robert and Selina stayed there until some time during the first World War, when it was taken over by Miss Mary Annie Inman, now also a draper but previously having been a boot hand as were so many in Leicester.  Maybe Robert or Sabrina found war work elsewhere?  Miss Inman (1881 -1968) seems to have lived alone apart from a brief period around 1921, when she had her younger brother (or possibly it was her father of the same name), Frederick Inman living with her.  Miss Inman was at 17 Lytton Road for a long time – until her retirement in 1945, when she handed over the premises to Walter and Ivy Moore.  Ivy ran the shop as a drapers, making and selling children’s smocked dresses, and acted as a receiving office for Wigston Laundry (according to Kelly’s Directory 1947).  They were joined in 1947-8 by Robert Taylor, perhaps a lodger?  By late 1950 Walter and Ivy had gone, to be replaced by Nellie and Roy Tester.  Nellie called herself simply ‘shopkeeper’.  It looks like the Testers were the first to get the telephone installed (number 77734).

After Nellie and Roy Tester left in 1958, a period of unsettlement began at 17 Lytton Road, with many changes of hand in a short time.  From 1959 – 1961 Reginald Pratt ran it as a greengrocers with his wife Mary.  1961 –  1963  Frank George and Mary Lily Noble were greengrocers there (F G Noble, tel 78017).  1963 – 1966 the shop was occupied by Trevor Victor and Evelyn E Batt, grocers, with the same telephone number.  Philip and Kathleen Edwards ran a grocers 1966 – 1972, and then in 1972 – 1975 James John Crisp and his wife Muriel(still with the same phone number 70817) lived there, with Margorie Ruth Wightman and Dora Helena Parnell – possibly students or lodgers?  They stayed on for a further year after Mr and Mrs Crisp had moved on.

Things settled down after that.  Between 1976 and 1989 Urmila and Manubhai Patel were at 17 Lytton Road – possibly the nice Asian people who ran it as a grocers, as remembered by Rosemary?  I haven’t recorded the occupants after that as it feels a bit intrusive.

It is amazing where one presumably temporarily revealed shop sign can lead you.  I don’t quite know how Reg Pratt’s sign survived for 50 years when he was only at 17 Lytton Road for a couple of years and there were so many businesses that followed – but I’m glad it did.  I had another look at the sign this afternoon.  It’s still there, and the builders are working on the building.  The front door was open and I shouted up to them but the music was blaring and they couldn’t hear me.  I wasn’t quite brave enough to go inside without asking, so I took these photos (well maybe I was just a little bit inside but that can’t be illegal, surely?).  I’ll add more if I can persuade the builders that I’m not a mad person or someone from the council, but as one of my dear friends recently pointed out to me, I do have that clipboard look.  Anyway, it’s been fun and thanks for reading – Elizabeth

The rather grand entrance to the back of the shop, ie the living quarters

Remembering the Clarendon Park Fallen: Claude Francis Alexander (1893-1918)

Claude Francis Alexander was born in Leicester in 1893, the eldest son of George Alexander (1870-1949) and Sarah Mutton (1872-1927).  Claude and his siblings Reginald George (1895-1955), Charles (1897-1925) and Marjorie Florence (1910-) lived firstly at one end of Hartopp Road – number 116 – and then at the other.  When Claude and Reginald signed up to join the Territorial Army it was while the family was living at number 9 Hartopp Road.  The family were Baptists.

9 Hartopp Road

Claude joined the Leicestershire Regiment in October 1914, when he was working as a clerk for a shoe manufacturer.  He started as a private but was promoted to lance corporal in 1916, and 5 months later to corporal.  Claude served in France, returning home briefly every year.  In 1917 he suffered a wound to his left knee and spent a couple of months in hospital in Bristol, but returned to France and was killed on 17th July 1918, less than three months before the end of the war.  He is buried at Fouquieres-les-Bethune, Pas de Calais, along with 386 of his compatriots, mainly fellow Territorial forces.  He never married.

Claude’s brother Reginald survived the war.  He joined the Territorial Army in 1913 aged just 17 and just 5 feet and 5 inches tall when he was a clothing dresser in the emply of Messrs Thorneloe Clarkson (in Northampton Street).  Sadly records of Reginald’s full service are lost, but we do know that he married Doris Stuffins in 1928 and lived in Leicester until his death in 1955.

More about the shop on the corner of Howard Road and Lytton Road

After I posted about the newly revealed sign at the corner of Howard Road and Lytton Road (address number 17 Lytton Road), someone put me in touch with a very nice lady called Rosemary who lived for 74 years at number 74 Lytton Road.  I had a chat with Rosemary about the shop and unfortunately she didn’t remember Reg Pratt, but she was able to tell me a few other interesting things about it.

When Rosemary was a child (from the 1930s onwards), the shop was occupied by Miss Inman who was a draper and haberdasher, selling baby wear, hooks and tapes, ladies’ jumpers etc.  This tallies with what I was able to find out by looking at Leicester directories from 1908 and 1916, when the shop was a drapers owned by Mr Robert Stoke and Miss Nellie Lamb respectively, and then in the 1928 Kelly’s Directory Miss Mary A Inman.

After Miss Inman retired, the shop was bought by a lady who ran it as a very nice grocers.  Her husband was a postman and nearing retirement, when something awful was discovered.  He had been taking parcels and registered letters meant for delivery, and hiding them in the shed at the bottom of his garden at number 17 Lytton Road.  None of them were opened, so the man hadn’t been gaining from his crime, but nevertheless it was a serious matter and he had to leave the Post Office and also lost his pension.  It was a great scandal in Clarendon Park and the couple left the area soon after.

Rosemary remembers that an Asian family took over the premises and kept them as a grocers, very well run.  The husband left to become a religious leader in his faith.  It became at some point a computer shop for students, and after this a clothes recycling shop that no one ever seemed to go in.

I am still wondering about Reg Pratt.  The only mentions of him I can find is are 1959, when he first appeared in the Phone Book  (though he may have been there before that, but without a telephone), Kelly’s Directory of 1960 as I mentioned in my previous post, and the Phone Book of 1960.  So perhaps it was a very short-lived business, in which case it’s no wonder Rosemary can’t remember it.  I’m going to look into all of this in more detail at the record office – in the meantime, if you know any more about it do let me know.  Thanks, Simon, for putting me in touch with Rosemary.  Elizabeth

A Sneak Peek At Reg Pratt

I was walking along Howard Road yesterday afternoon on my way back from the record office, and this rather charming sign was uncovered.  The building is yet another being converted from a shop into a house – hopefully with more sensitivity than some I have seen lately.  Does anyone know anything about this business on the corner of Lytton Road and Howard Road?  R Pratt (greengrocer) appears in Kelly’s Directory of 1960 at 17 Lytton Road, telephone number 78017, which seems to be the same premises.  Also on Lytton Road that year were Tandy Brothers Ltd (painting contractors) at number 16, G G Marriott (painter and decorator) at number 31, and Thomas Albert Viles (boot and shoe repairer) at number 63.

Image

I wish there was still a greengrocers there, instead of another horrible rendered house with plastic windows…Image

 

Clarendon Park in 1960 Part 1: Clarendon Park Road

This week’s local history purchase was the 1960 Kelly’s Directory of Leicester, which was published at the tail end of the publishing history of the trade/street directory.  The binding is still the familiar red, gold and black with advertising on every possible surface, and it’s still a weighty tome – but Kelly’s and its rivals faced competition from telephone directories and by 1960 its days were numbered.  It’s still a fascinating read for those of us so inclined, and I have enjoyed making comparisons between Clarendon Park in 1960 and 1912.

Although Queens Road is the obvious choice, for comparing the shops and businesses of the past and present, I find the lesser shopping streets more interesting.  I started with Clarendon Park Road, which several older residents of Clarendon Park Road have told me used to be full of useful little shops.  I took a notebook on a walk down Clarendon Park Road and noted the current shops and businesses.   I added these in italics to the list below of 1960 shops and businesses.  What is interesting is how many broadly similar or even the same businesses there are trading at quite a few of the premises – such as a branch of the Belgrave Laundry Co at number 107, which is now Bliss dry cleaners, or the bicycle dealer John E Chamberlain at 214-6 (now Julies Cycles).  Some businesses have moved to different premises, such as Spiers Pharmacy, which in its earlier incarnation was at the premises now occupied by Hot Ice Printing.

There are also a lot of changes.  There aren’t any greengrocers on Clarendon Park these days, more’s the pity – but we do have a few take aways and a running shop (which I suspect would have been utterly baffling to the Clarendon Park residents of 1960!).  I was surprised at how many shops and businesses there still are on Clarendon Park Road.  I had expected the number to have dropped considerably.  There are some former shops that have been rather insensitively converted to houses, and some attractive shop fronts that have been badly modernised (the former Tango tanning shop at 179 and 181 for example.  Grey double glazing is never a good look, chaps).  But on the whole we are very lucky in still retaining much of the Victorian character of the shops and houses on Clarendon Park Road.  Let’s keep it that way.

* Disclaimer: Many of the shops and businesses on Clarendon Park Road don’t have visible street numbers, so there may be some small errors (please feel free to point them out to me!).

Clarendon Park Road

  • 107 Belgrave Laundry Co Ltd, the (branch office) Bliss – dry cleaning
  • 109 Mitton, Wm – upholsterer Mittons – carpets and mattresses
  • 111 Kirby & West Ltd – dairymen Mittons
  • 111A Dilks, R & Co Ltd – hosiery manufacturers
  • 113 Matthews, N P – auto body repairs  Red Cross mobility shop
  • 113 Leicester Car Valet Services
  • 117 Tony’s Cut Price Stores – grocers Natwest Bank
  • 123 Copping, Jack – newsagent
  • 125 York, Wm – ophthalmic optician
  • 127 Brown, Harold F & Co Ltd – plumbers Habito – lettings agent
  • 129 Clarke’s Shoe Repair Service Empty – was antiques
  • 131 Cave, Ernest Arthur – fruiterer TJs Burgers and Kebabs
  • 131 Tanner, A G – motor engineer Gents & Boys Hairdressers
  • 157 Warren, Frederick William – boot dealer Labels – designer dress agency
  • 161 The Tawa Curry Hut – takeaway
  • 163 Smith, William H (Coal and transport) Ltd – motor coach proprietors First4Lettings
  • 165/7 Popple, S H – clothing manufacturers
  • 179 & 181 Worthington’s Cash Stores – grocers Stetfords lettings
  • 193 Hubbard, Mrs E M – newsagent
  • 195 Leicester Horticultural Engineering Co Ltd – horticultural machinery engineers
  • 199 Leicester Trustee Savings Bank (branch) Power Thompson
  • 201 Rowley, William – grocer Knighton Supermarket
  • 205 Rowley, R – fishmonger Knighton Flowers
  • 217 Spiers,  Arthur H – chemist Hot Ice Printing
  • (Clarendon Park Baptist Chapel) N&S Coaches Ltd – motor coach proprietors
  • 229 Parton, J L – chiropodist
  • 231 S R Parton & Associates – chiropodists and podiatrists
  • 241 Allen, Ernest A – painter & decorator
  • 245 Langran, Ronald J – newsagent Stuff – antiques & curios
  • 247 Roxby’s – drapers Revivals – dress and toy agency
  • 249 Parry, L – wallpaper dealer
  • 251 Jesson, I M – confectioner
  • 257 Green, Mrs M – teacher of music
  • 277 Plinsent, Arthur Ernest – shopkeeper
  • 323 Worsley, W – confectioner
  • 325/7 Spiers Pharmacy

Evens

  • (Parish church of St John the Baptist)
  • 64 Whowell, William & Son Ltd – crepe rubber factors ( Plantation ho)
  • 66 Reggio Garage – motor engineers Reggio Garage
  • (St John the Baptist Junior School)
  • (British Legion – Knighton Branch)
  • (St John’s Church Rooms)
  • 78 Radar Electrical Co – television installations Anita’s cards/Radar
  • 82 Adlard & Roffe – bakers
  • 84 The Loughborough Building Society
  • 98 Peadon S A & Son Ltd – bakers Rebecca’s – cakes
  • 140 Weaver, Edward G – hairdresser Kanta Mantini hairdressers
  • 142 Elson, Mrs H – confectioner The Offie – beer retailer/off license
  • 144 Clarendon Books – secondhand bookshop
  • 146 Armstrong, C P – greengrocer The New Golden Chef – chinese take away
  • 146 Leicester Running Shop
  • 160 Pickering, H – joiner
  • 190 Hobson, Ernest D – boot repairer Ellerington Fine Art Gallery (opens September 2012)
  • 192 Smith, J S (Leicester) Ltd – hardware dealers Lucky 13 Tattoo
  • 196 Ruckley, Gordon W – stationer The Snug – beauty parlour
  • 196 Lorne Road Post Office
  • 198 Clarendon House – chinese take away
  • 200/204 Leicester Co-operative Society Ltd – grocers Co-operative
  • (Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society’s Homes)
  • 208 Roxby’s – drapers Central Studios – photographers
  • 214/216 Chamberlain, John E – cycle agent Julies Cycles
  • 228 Sarson, Joyce E – greengrocer
  • 246 Shrimpton, Miss Frances – dressmaker
  • 280 Ward, J – butcher Charlie’s Pine
  • 296 McCoan, Colin K – physician Clarendon Medical Centre