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Robbery at Clarendon Park Post Office

The Leicester Chronicle Saturday, July 21st 1888, p2

ROBBERY AT A POST OFFICE

Some time during Friday evening the Post Office at Clarendon Park was broken into and a sum approaching £20 taken from the till.  The matter is in the hands of the police.

The Chronicle doesn’t report whether the thief was caught in the weeks after the robbery, but I did find out a few interesting things.  The post office in 1888 was on Queens Road.  It was run by Henry Scorror, “stationer and agent” (Wright’s 1888 Directory of Leicestershire) and his wife Catherine.  Letters and parcels were collected on weekdays at 9.50am, 2.10pm, 3.30pm, 7pm and 8.20pm.  By 1891, as the population of Clarendon Park increased, collections were also made on Sundays.  The address was now 83 Queens Road – where the current post office also stands.  It’s amazing how much longevity of service these Clarendon Park shops and businesses have seen!

In 1891 Henry Scorror lived at 39 Montague Road in 1891 with wife Catherine Burnet née Bethell, his children and servant.  He died in Queens Road on 1st January 1893 aged just 39.

Catherine kept up the post office at 83 Queens Road, with the assistance of daughters Annie Burnet Scorror and Edith Dorothy Bethell Scorror, living in rooms above the shop.  She was still sub-postmistress in 1916, but retired some time before 1925, when daughter Annie was in post (now as Mrs O’Connor).   Catherine died 9th January 1936.

I’ll be visiting Leicestershire Records Office on Thursday to find out how long the Scorror/O’Connor family were in charge of Clarendon Park Post Office.  The British Postal Archive will also be a port of call one of these days.  And I must speak to the lovely chaps who run the post office today to see if they can tell me anything about its history.  As always, half an hour of research brings up many more questions than answers!  regards, Elizabeth.

W T Hind – prescriptions books

I made it to Leicestershire Records Office and had a look at the prescriptions books of W T Hind, chemist and druggist on Queens Road for over 100 years.  I wrote an article about W T Hind here.  The office holds the prescription books from between 1894 (so not long after Mr Hind opened for business in 1888) and 1954.  They are beautiful, card and leather-bound ledgers in a variety of styles.  I looked mostly at the volumes covering 1894-1920.  The handwriting was difficult to decipher and the prescriptions were in note form, using archaic terms for obsolete medicines, so it was quite a task to make sense of them. 

The prescriptions were interesting from two points of view: Firstly, the prescriptions themselves; and secondly the people for whom the prescriptions were intended. These varied from those not important enough to be named – many servants like “The Maid (Rev Forsyth)” who needed an expectorant “when the cough gives trouble.”  She was prescribed Terebene on a piece of sugar.  Also “Baby Baker” (who needed lanolin), “Mrs Rattenbury’s baby” (who turned out to be Grace, daughter of the Wesleyan minister John Ernest Rattenbury, one of the outstanding preachers of his day, then living in North Avenue.  He founded the Belgrave Hall mission and built Clarendon Park Church) and countless others.  Mr Hind seems to have dispensed to quite a clerical crowd as there were lots of Reverend gentlemen amongst his clientele, eg Rev Holmes (could have been the vicar of St Peter’s or the curate of St Nicholas…anyway, he was a bit bunged up and needed oil of eucalyptus in a tumbler of steamy water) and Rev Forsyth (the renowned theologian and first minister of Clarendon Park Congregational Church).

But the prescriptions are fascinating.  W T Hind dispensed the medicine of his day and until well into the 20th century much of it was rough and ready, some of it being quackery and much of it being downright dangerous.  Take Mr T Pochin’s prescription:  Chloroform, strychnine and digitalis three times a day.  It must have been a heart medicine, but it didn’t save the poor chap as he died the same year, aged 58.  Mr Alfred Edwin Dexter – a commercial clerk living at 51 Howard Road – was prescribed magnesium carbonate, magnesium sulphate, chloroform and aqua…I’d love to know what that was for. 

Mr Hind also made up his own “branded” medicines, which all pharmacists offered in the days when medicines were not heavily regulated and when druggists literally made up pills and powders by mixing ingredients.  In 1897 Mr Hind offered “The Sulphonal Powders” (a sleeping medicine) and there were several others mentioned.  I like this:  Hind’s Nursery Hair Lotion.

I couldn’t help buying the label above on ebay last week…Mr W T Hind has really caught my imagination.  I am delighted to report that his great-granddaughter – herself a pharmacist – is willing to let me interview her about The Park pharmacy, and I will be sharing the results as soon as possible.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Serious Gas Explosion at Clarendon Park in 1898

If there’s one enormous difference between newspaper reporting in the 1800s and newspaper reporting today, it’s the lavish attention to detail of the past compared with the present.  To the point that you begin to wonder how people stayed awake whilst reading it – though I am very grateful as a local historian.

Here we have an account of a gas explosion in 1898 on what is now known as Welford Road, but I have seen described in old documents as Wigston Road and Bosworth Road.  Two sisters had recently moved into a brand new house (which sadly I have not been able to identify), and their landlord popped over to tap a barrel of beer for them.  The pantry was too dark for him to see, so he called for a light.  One of the sisters brought him a candle, but there was a gas leak and the pantry exploded, sending the landlord and his tenant flying into the kitchen.  The landlord escaped to raise the alarm, but poor Sarah Hall was unconscious and badly burned.  Meanwhile her sister Annie was in bed upstairs, and the staircase was so badly damaged that it wasn’t safe for anyone to rescue her.  Luckily a man was driving a ladder past the house – this being a busy road – and he carried the woman out.

The doctor was called and he summoned the horse-drawn ambulance (imagine being bumped about in that all the way to the infirmary).  I can find no record of Sarah dying, so I assume she survived.  As to the house – well, not surprisingly Annie and Sarah moved before the 1901 census.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have wanted to stay either.  Now both of the ladies must have been invalids (Annie was already bed bound at the time of the accident).  The landlord, John Hurren, must have been pretty devastated too – not only did he receive head injuries and the loss of his tenants, but his brand new house was badly knocked about and must have needed expensive repair works.

For those interested to read (nearly) the whole report, here it is.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Leicester Chronicle Saturday 19th November 1898, p.3

Serious Gas Explosion at Clarendon Park: Lady Badly Injured

About ten o’clock on Friday morning, a serious explosion of gas, resulting in severe injuries to one person, and lesser injuries to another, occurred at a house in the Wigston-road,  Clarendon Park, the residence of two maiden ladies of middle age, named Miss Sarah Hall and Miss Annie Hall.  At the request of Miss Sarah Hall, the landlord, Mr. John Hurren, Euston Villa, Clarendon Park Road, called at the house for the purpose of tapping a barrel of beer.  He went into the pantry, which is just under the staircase, but finding it in darkness, called to Miss Hall for a light.  She at once lit a candle, and came to the pantry door, but th moment she reached the threshold a terrific explosion occurred, and she was thrown violently backwards into the kitchen, while Mr. Hurren was also knocked down and badly injured about the face and head.  He managed, however, to struggle through the thick smoke and dust caused by falling ceiling and mortar into the back garden.  He had not gone many yards when he met Mr. Wilson, who lives next door, and who, having heard the explosion, was hurrying to see what was the matter.  Mr. Hurren, who was dazed and bewildered by what had occurred, called out “There’s another inside.”   Mr. Hurren immediately made his way into the house, and discovered Miss Sarah Hall lying unconscious on the kitchen floor.  Lifting her up, he managed to carry her outside, and then with assistance, conveyed her to a neighbour’s house.  Dr. Hunter, who lives in Clarendon Park, was immediately sent for, and in the meantime some members of the St. John Ambulance Association at the Wheatsheaf Works, having heard the explosion, and rendered all the aid they possibly could to the injured lady and Mr. Hurren. 

On his arrival, Dr. Hunter, having ascertained the grave nature of Miss Hall’s  injuries, ordered her immediate removal to the Infirmary.  The fire brigade horse ambulance was summoned by telephone from the Wheatsheaf Works, and the unfortunate lady was removed to the Infirmary in a still unconscious state.  She had sustained very severe injuries to the face, neck and chest, and was suffering from violent shock.  After the injuries of Mr. Hurren had been dressed he was able to return home.  Miss Annie Hall is an invalid, and was in bed in the front room upstairs when the explosion occurred, and was naturally very much alarmed and upset.  So great was the force of the explosion that the staircase was twisted round and jammed into the wall in such a manner as to render access to the upstairs rooms by that means too dangerous to be attempted.  Attracted by the noise of the explosion, a little crowd of people quickly gathered in front of the house and fortunately one of their number, a man named William Chalk of 6, Burns-street, happened to be wheeling a ladder on a truck.  The ladder was placed against the house, and Chalk himself climbed into the bedroom, and bore the imprisoned lady through the window in safety to the ground, conveying her afterwards to a neighbour’s house.

Superintendant Howe, in charge of the district, was communicated with, and arriving on the scene with all possible despatch, did everything in his power for the injured people.  There can be little doubt that the explosion was caused by an accumulation of gas within the pantry, but whether the leakage arose from defective fittings or from a burner being left on cannot be definitely stated.  That the accumulation, however, was considerable, was shown by the force of the explosion, and the consequent damage to the interior of the house…..every panel of the door leading to the kitchen was blown out, and the top panel in the front room window smashed….the walls on either side of the pantry were bulged out.  The interior of both kitchens was a scene of desolation.  Everything was smothered by the fallen debris, and the furniture twisted and broken.  The damage was not extensive in the front room, but the cornice was all knocked down, and the furniture displaced.  The house has been built quite recently, and the Misses Hall were the first tenants.

A chemist in Queens Road for 100 years?

Let’s take a look at one of Clarendon Park’s businesses of the past, a dispensing chemist – W T Hind, of 76-78 Queens Road and also of 44 Montague Road.  I bought this label on ebay a year or so ago, and it got me interested in chemists in Clarendon Park.   I started looking into W T Hind and his business, and have uncovered quite a lot of information and sources.   I am planning to post information here as I find it.  If only Leicestershire Record Office wasn’t closed for stocktaking this week I could tell the whole story in one go but hey ho.

 The 1947 Kelly’s Directory of Leicester shows the following entry: “Hind, William Tom, 76 and 78 Queens Road and 44 Montague.  Telephone number 77140.”  The same telephone number is shown on the Inhalation label, which helps us to put a rough date to it.  Being in business for a long time was a good selling point in past times – less so now, I suppose – so Mr Hind helpfully put the date he started the business, 1888, on the label. 

So, looking at the 1891 census we find William Thomas Hind living not above the shop in Queens Road, but with his mother in St Peter’s Road.  He is a Chemist and Druggist aged 24, born in Leicester.  If his business started in 1888, he must have been just 21 at the time.  He seems to have moved house a lot at this time, living all over the city.  By 1901 he had married Lizzie Smith and helped produce three children.  The whole family now lived at 78 Queens Road with their servant.

In Wright’s 1909 Directory of Leicestershire Wm Tom Hind, 78 Queen’s Road, is the only chemist and druggist listed, which might explain why in 1911 the family (now with another daughter) lived at ‘Lindenhurst’ in East Avenue, Clarendon Park, a decidedly swisher address.  The eldest son, Horace William, is a pharmacy student.

This was a very long lived business.  In Kelly’s Directory of Leicester 1957, another chemist is listed, Frederick Leonard Hind (William Thomas’s third son, born in 1900).  There are now two telephone numbers and we are also told that they are dealers in photographic apparatus and materials.  In 1896 William had been granted a license to sell ‘medicated wines’, which is amusing when you consider all the other interesting potentially recreational chemicals a chemist could legally sell in those days.  In fact, there are a lot of W T Hind bottles and labels still kicking around, which give you an idea of how the shop must have looked and smelled.

W T Hind was still in business in 1984 - almost 100 years (Not the W T Hind though I hope – unless his pills were REALLY good!).  Over the next few days I hope to find out exactly when the business ended.

As to the premises – 78 Queens Road is currently home to the Co-Operative Pharmacy, formerly Gordon Davis pharmacy.  It is funny how business premises sometimes retain the same use for a long time.  It may well not have been used for any other purpose since it was first built.

More on W T Hind and its competitor for the oldest pharmacy in Clarendon Park, Spiers, soon.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers W T Hind.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Accident on the Railway at Leicester

Leicester Chronicle Saturday, January 14th 1899, p6

Accident on the Railway at Leicester

 A shunter in the employ of the Midland Railway Company, named William Covill Taber, of Lytton-road, Clarendon Park, met with a serious accident at the Knighton Sidings, early on Wednesday morning.  Taber, who had finished duty a few minutes before, and was just about to go home, missed his footing while alighting from an engine, which passed over his right leg, and badly mutilated it.  He was immediately conveyed to the Midland Station on a special engine, and was taken thence to the Infirmary on a stretcher.  It was found necessary to amputate the injured limb, and the poor fellow is doing as well as can be expected. 

William Covill Taber was 24 when he lost his leg in this horrible accident.  He had been married for less than two years to Florence Sarah Izzard, a woman from London.  He was a country lad from Cambridgeshire, having moved to Leicester presumably to find work.  Becoming disabled in late Victorian England was pretty grim – no state support was available except parish relief, and that usually meant the workhouse.  Perhaps the Midland Railway Company offered compensation and support.  They certainly continue to employ William, as in 1901 he was a railway porter and in 1911 a railway goods checker.  I wonder whether he had a wooden leg?  Regards, Elizabeth.

Mischievous Lads

Leicester Chronicle, Thursday 30th April 1898, p2

Mischievous Lads

Herbert Walker (12), Albert James (10), and Thomas Hamp (13), schoolboys, of Montague-road, were jointly summoned for damaging the roofing, slates, and chimney of a workshop belonging to William Watts Clarkson, at Clarendon Park, doing 10s. damage on the 18th inst.  All boys denied the charge.  A son of the tenant of the property spoke to observing the lads on the roof.  They were pulling slates off, and removing bricks from the chimney.  Witness told them to come down, but they commenced swearing at him.  The agent for Mr. Clarkson said damage was constantly being done to this property by boys, and the present summons was taken out as a deterrent.  The boys said they went on the roof to collect their tipcat.  The Mayor, addressing the parents of the boys, said they regarded the present case as a serious one.  It was within the personal knowledge of the Bench that damage was continually being done in all parts of the borough by lads and young men, who seemed to regard property as open to destruction.  Having regard, however, to the good character borne by the defendants, they would be discharged on the parents paying the damage and the costs of the prosecution.

I wouldn’t call that behaviour mischievous exactly!  What naughty boys.  By 1901, only one of them – Thomas Henry Hamp – was still living at Montague Road (number 89).  Albert Arthur James and his enormous family of mother, father, 5 sisters and 4 brothers had moved to 9 Cecilia Road – a two bedroomed house!  And Herbert Walker was no longer in Clarendon Park.  Maybe it was the shame of having been in court that made the family move away?  Anyway, overcrowding is a recognised cause of delinquency and there was certainly plenty of that in Clarendon Park in the 19th century.  Let us hope that the boys made good in the end.  Certainly Thomas Hamp was in work as a shoe heel fitter in 1901 and a trimmer’s labourer in 1911, so there is every chance.

As to the victim of the crime, in 1901 William Watts Clarkson was – at least by his own description a ‘gentleman’ living at Upper Tichborne Street (Highfields) with wife Harriet.  Having retired by 1891, he was previously a brick manufacturer employing 74 men, so he wasn’t quite-quite, of course.  As to the premises that were mentioned in the newspaper article – well, in 1881 Clarkson appeared in Kelly’s Directory of Leicestershire and Rutland (a sort of Yellow Pages for the time) under Brick Manufacturers.  The entry reads “Clarkson, William Watts & Co. Grey Friars, Leicester.  Works, Knighton Junction.  See advertisement.”  Unfortunately I am using an online version of the directory and it does not contain the advertisements section – gah! But luckily White’s 1877 Directory comes up trumps, and here it is on page 12:

So his works were at Clarendon Park.  Perhaps this was where those mischievous boys were removing bricks and swearing?  Or maybe it was one of the many smaller workshops in the area (many still standing).  Mr Clarkson seems to have owned quite a bit of property, and much of it was attacked by vandals and thieves.  In May 1886 James Duke was sentenced to 6 months hard labour for stealing two water cisterns from empty houses in Knighton, the property of Mr Clarkson.  The idiot had simply cut the cisterns from the wall, leaving the pipes overflowing and considerably damaging the houses in the process.  The cisterns weren’t worth anything much and James Duke had a well paid job as a plumber, so goodness knows what he was thinking.  Astonishingly, on his death in Middlesex in 1914, William Watts Clarkson was worth just £5.  Maybe the cost of having his properties pulled apart by small boys and lunatic plumbers was just too much.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Postcard from Whitwick to Clarendon Park

A postcard of Glasgow

  

 The postcard reads: “Dear Mrs. Stevens, We arrived quite safe at Whitwick & are enjoying ourselves very much.  I have seen Mother & Father and they are quite well, I hope you are.  Give my love to Mr. Stevens & yourself.  It is much quieter here than in Leicester, the air is much fresher.  We have been out every night so far & we are going to church tonight, with best love to you all from Milly.”   The postmark show that it was sent from Whitwick A on August 6th 1906, to Mrs. Stevens, 74 Montague Road, Clarendon Park, Leicester.              

The reverse

First let’s look at the addressee, Mrs Stevens.  John Stevens (born c1842), of Belton in Rutland, married Sarah Ann Jelley (born c1848), born in Burton Overy, in Leicester in 1867, thus elevating her to the exalted position of Mrs Stevens and freeing her from a rather silly name.  They started their married life in Leicester.  In 1871 they lived at 2 Bethel Court, Black Friars with their daughter Sarah Jane, who sadly died at the end of the year aged just two.  She was the only child to be born alive to John and Sarah Ann.  By 1881 they were living at 28 Cosby Street in St Margaret’s.  In 1881 John and Sarah lived alone at 28 Cosby Street in St. Margaret’s, Leicester.  John’s occupation was ‘Grocery’ and Sarah’s as ‘fancy hand’, which is not the disreputable trade it sounds like!     In 1891 John and Sarah Ann had moved to Montague Road – number 26, though as the road had only just been built a couple of years previously and may not have been completed (I need to check), it may have been renumbered later.  Because John and Sarah Ann spent at least 20 years living at the address on our postcard, 74 Montague Road.  In 1901 and 1911 - as with 1891 - they had a boarder, William Henry Thorp, a joiner.  That’s 30 years of playing gooseberry.  John was a domestic coachman, and I would love to know for whom…maybe for one of the grander houses in Clarendon Park or Stoneygate.  Sarah died aged 67 in 1915      

Now, as to “Milly”, the author of the postcard…I have looked into various possibilities.  Could she have been a sister of John or Sarah Ann?  Neither set of their parents seems to have been alive in 1906 so her reference to “Mother and Father” precludes that.  I can’t find any obvious links to either the Jelleys or the Stevens but as always, a simple solution has been staring me in the face, in the form of a Millicent Emily Jelly living at 20 Montague Road in the 1901 census.  There is absolutely no proof, nor any clue to a relationship, but it does seem more than a coincidence.  Millicent and Jell(e)y are two names that few people have attempted to put together (very wisely, I feel.  Though in searching I did find a baptism for Kelly Jelly, which amounts to child abuse in my view), and to be living in the same road is enough to satisfy me, in a strictly non-professional way of course.   

As to Milly’s remarks, whomever she may have been….she was obviously enjoying her holiday in sunny Whitwick (near Coalville) and who can blame her?  Out every night and church on Sunday.  The air must have been noticeably fresher, away from the factories and the smog of coal fires in close terraced houses.     Though why she chose to commemorate with a postcard of Glasgow is anyone’s guess.  If it was Milly Jelley then she would have been 14, just old enough to have started work, possibly as a tailoring machinist as she was in 1911.    She went on to marry Albert Hambly in 1922.        

I have a small collection of postcards to Clarendon Park.  I find them just as interesting as postcards of Clarendon Park.   I hope you agree.  Regards, Elizabeth.