Category Archives: Uncategorized

May 1886: Sale of Land in Clarendon Park

I was just having a quick look at the Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, in the hope of finding out something interesting that happened in Clarendon Park ‘on this day in history.’  I came across a little of snippet of information about how Clarendon Park was built – not like today’s estates, where one developer purchases a piece of land and erects a planned number of houses, all of which are virtually identical and ready to move into within a short space of time.  No, back in the 19th century areas like Clarendon Park were usually developed by a number of builders, and streets would be developed here and there, often with long gaps between the building of houses at one end and another, and sometimes in between if a builder purchased land but did not have enough money to start work.

On 18th May 1886 a sale was held at the Bull’s Head Hotel, Market Place, of land in Clarendon Park Road, facing Oxford Road, Cross Road and St Leonards Road, in parcels varying from 300 to 1000 square yards and at a cost of between 10 shillings and 10 shillings 4 pence per square yard.  Also 510 yards at the corner of Montague Road and Oxford Road.  There was a large attendance at the sale.

When I walk home later I will have a look at those extremely useful date plaques above so many of the houses in Montague and Oxford Roads, to see whether there was an immediate rush to build houses there, or whether things took time to develop…don’t be surprised if I post again later with some slightly watery photographs to show you.  Regards, Elizabeth.

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.

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

The Naming of Orlando Road

I walked home via Orlando Road today, which in my opinion is one of the nicest corners of Clarendon Park.  So of course I got to wondering how it came by its name (you do that too, of course).

Well it transpires that Orlando Road began life as Holland Road, and was renamed along with a number of others throughout Leicester, as part of a rationalisation project to remove duplication.  In 1894 there were 40 streets with the same name; in seven cases there were three streets with the same name; four cases of four streets with the same name and one of the same name repeated five times throughout the city.  Which must have made the postman’s job something of a nightmare.

So in April 1894 the council made changes, including adding the qualification of north or south to some existing names.  An early suggestion was to change Holland Road to Dutch Road – a bit unimaginative, Councillors Smith and Booth – but in the end they settled on Orlando Road.  Our Lorne Road was allowed to remain, whilst the Lorne Road in Aylestone was changed to Lorrimer Road.

And why Orlando?  In 1890 the artist G F Watts had presented his painting ‘Orlando Pursuing the Fata Morgana’ to the Corporation, to help with the establishment of the permanent art gallery.  You can still find it at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, though perhaps not on display as that kind of art isn’t fashionable just now.  Personally I love a bit of narrative art and if it includes over blown close-ups of wobbly flesh, so much the better.  Anyway, I suspect that the painting is the reason for the name, though I’d be interested to hear another theory.  So the next time you are in Orlando Road (which probably isn’t that often unless you live there, or like me are forced by small boys to take an alleged ‘short cut’ through the alley from Cecilia Road), you can think of G F Watts and feel much better for it.  Regards, Elizabeth

More Clarendon Park Fallen

Last year I published the details of the war memorials at St John the Baptist church.  Because of the way that parish boundaries are and were set, not all of the Clarendon Park fallen are remembered at St John’s.  I would like to remember three brothers who died during the Great War, Harold and Arthur Bree, and their older brother Ernest Harry, who survived.

You might remember their mother, Eliza Bree, from an article I posted right at the beginning of this blogging lark – here.  Mrs Bree lived in Avenue Road Extension and in 1898 got into a bit of bother with her drunken boarder.  Eliza and her husband Harry had a large-ish family – Emma b1878, Ernest Harry b1887, Sydney John (1890-1), Harold b1892, Arthur Edward b1896, Oliver b1898, Doris May (b1904), Ivy Helen (b1907), as well as several others who died in infancy.

At the outbreak of the war, Ernest Harry, a railway goods porter, joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a private (nos 2046, 200223), fought in France and lived to tell the tale.  He died in Coalville in 1965.

Harold Bree enjoyed – if that is the right word – a varied career in the Army Service Corps and the Royal Engineers.  At the time of his death on 2nd May 1918 he was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (Railway Traffic Establishment), perhaps due to skills picked up from his railway porter father and brother (Harold himself was a butcher before the war).  He died in England and was buried at Welford Rd Cemetery in consecrated ground, alongside fellow casualties Private Vivian Harry Ringrose and Private William George Grewcock.

Grave of Sapper Harold Bree, at Welfrod Road cemetery

Arthur Edward Bree, also a railway porter, joined up as a Private in the 4th bttn  Worcs Regiment and died on 16th Aug 1917, during the 3rd battle of Ypres.  His body was never found and he is remembered at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium to the missing in Belgian Flanders.

Younger brother Oliver died six days later, as a Private in the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), having transferred from the Leicestershire Regiment.  He was just 19.   He is buried in Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery, Western Flanders.

Sadly none of the service records for the Bree brothers survive, being amongst those water damaged and lost during the second world war, which is such a pity as it seems that almost all we know of these young men is that they lived and died.  And what of Harry and Eliza Bree?  How awful for them to have lost three of their four surviving sons to the slaughter.

Thank you to David Roberts for telling me about the Bree brothers some months ago, and to the volunteers at Welford Road Cemetery visitors centre, who were so helpful in showing me where Harold Bree is buried.  It was good to visit his grave and see the poppy placed there by the volunteers.  Elizabeth

Drunk or Ill? You decide.

I have such an interesting article about Clarendon Park Congregational Church Football Club to post, but the wonderful postcard of the team in 1910 can’t be scanned because I am having yet more computer problems, so in the meantime let’s have another drunkard story, this time from 1893:

DRUNK OR ILL?  William Sharman (50), 11, Seymour Road, Clarendon Park, was charged with being drunk while in charge of a horse and dray in High-street on Wednesday.  – Mr J. T. Hincks defended. – P.C.’s Sharman and Underwood stated that they found prisoner asleep at his dray in High-street about one o’clock on Wednesday.  He was very drunk, and smelt strongly of drink.  Mr Dixon, charge office clerk, stated that when brought to the police station Sharman reeled about, and was very drunk.  Mr Hincks said that the man had been employed by a railway company for 30 years, and had nothing against him.  He contended his client was ill and not drunk and when he (Mr Hincks) saw him he could hardly stand for pain.  Evidence was called showing that the accused was very ill on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning was so ill that his friends advised him not to go to work.  One witness stated that at a quarter to twelve prisoner was quite sober, and two draymen, who were present when he was arrested, gave similar evidence.  The magistrates dismissed the case.

William Sharman, who was from Rutland, and his second wife Sophia, moved to 11 Seymour Road with their two children sometime around 1887, probably when the house was brand new.  In 1891 William was a drayman, meaning that he drove a low, flat-bed wagon with no sides, generally used for transporting goods.  He worked for the Great Western Railway until his death in 1905.

So was he drunk or was he ill?  Well, whatever the ‘illness’ it certainly wasn’t serious enough to kill him as he lived and worked another 12 years.  And there aren’t many illnesses that cause the sufferer to smell strongly of alcohol, so my money is on a conspiracy.  The man couldn’t stand for the pain, eh?  I’m putting him down for another Clarendon Park person drunk in charge of a horse.  Sorry William.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Experienced waiter of Avenue Rd Extension

The Times 25th July 1891, p16

“WAITER, Coffee, Sitting Room, or otherwise.  Thoroughly experienced.  English.  Age 23. – E.L. 241 Avenue-road Extension, Clarendon Park, Leicester.”

This advertisement is so interesting to me.  It typifies us so many things about Victorian Clarendon Park life.

Number 241 Avenue Road Extension was a shop.  In 1891 it was occupied by John and Elizabeth Clayton (and her mother), who also kept boarders.  Census night was 5th April 1891 and E.L., whoever he was, had presumably found a job and moved out.  He was almost certainly a boarder rather than a family member (Elizabeth’s maiden name was Rawlins).  There was a surprising amount of mobility in and out of Clarendon Park, and also within it – a bit like the student population today I suppose.  Boarders were particularly likely to move frequently, in search of better landlords or a more convenient location.

As to  E.L. – well, I have found in 1891 a waiter by the name of Emanuel Leiter, aged 23, in an hotel run by Emily Cunningham at 51 New Bond Street, Mayfair.  He was born in Switzerland, so he may not be the same person.  Then again, he may be – people weren’t always entirely honest about their age and minor details like their nationality in these adverts.  They knew that employers were prejudiced against foreigners and those they felt too old or too young for the job (especially domestic service).  E.L. may not even have been his real initials:  People sometimes changed their names to more ‘suitable’ ones for their profession, again especially in domestic service.  It has to be said that Emanuel isn’t a very Victorian Clarendon Park name – I was expecting something more prosaic like Edward or perhaps Ernest.

I tried to take a photo of 141 Avenue Road Extension but once again I CAN’T FIND IT.  Is the extension some kind of Bermuda Triangle?  If anyone feels like looking for it, or even showing me how the numbering system works on that godforsaken road, I would be only too grateful.  In the meantime, regards Elizabeth.