Tag Archives: History

The Cecilia Road Book Thief

This is a bit of an odd story.  In 1889 a man named William Alfred Haseldine (born in Syston in 1839), a blacksmith, who lived at 7 Cecilia Road – then known as Cecil Road – was sentenced to one month’s hard labour for stealing a book worth 3s 6d from the stall of Messrs Smith and Sons at the Midland Railway Station.  The Chronicle reported that Haseldine was convicted of a felony 17 years previously, which probably explains the harsh sentence.  He was also said to have been in good work since then, but was sometimes “rather strange in his manner,” and he wanted to know if he would be allowed to buy the book after he completed his prison sentence.  That sounds to me like the behaviour of a man who is mentally unwell, but he would not be awarded much sympathy in 1889.  He left his wife, Rosetta De Board Haseldine (is that not the most fantastic name?) and four children in need of support.

Later that year he committed another, more serious crime,  which was dealt with at the Quarter Sessions rather than at the police court – he stole 24 pairs of leather soles, worth £5, from his employer Willliam Wheater, and this time he was sentenced to eight months’ hard labour.  Then in 1891, barely out of prison, he stole again and was up in front of the bench.  He spent another few months at Leicester Gaol.

Things generally deteriorated for William.  In 1901 he was an inmate at Leicester Workhouse, and sometime before 1911 he was admitted as a patient at the Borough Lunatic Asylum at Humberstone, later The Towers Hospital.  On both occasions he was described as a widower, though his wife died in 1922, so perhaps she disowned him.  She too described herself as a widow in 1911 - probably because of  the shame of mental illness.

William died in 1914, probably still an inmate of the mental hospital.  He was 79.  It is sad to think of this physically strong man, a blacksmith, having been brought so low by mental illness.  I wonder whether his mental state caused him to commit the crimes, or whether it was the other way round?

I know William and his family only lived in Clarendon Park for a short time but it is so fascinating to me how every house has many different human stories,  This one is particularly poignant but I would love to know what felony William committed…another trip to the record office!  Regards, Elizabeth.

Home Ownership in 1894 (and other ramblings)

Whilst researching various house histories during November and December, I have been noting interesting facts relating to Clarendon Park where they emerge.  For example, whilst looking at the burial records for St Mary Magdalene, Knighton, I discovered lots of Clarendon Park residents – which is obvious really, but somehow I always imagined most of them spending their eternal rest at Welford Road Cemetery.  Amongst the dearly departed were Neville Thomas Hind, son of the Queens Road chemist William Tom Hind (aged just 21 months, in 1897) and William Tom himself in February 1944.  Also his son Frederick Leonard Hind (aged 77, in January 1978).  But now I am getting sidetracked.

What I really wanted to share with you is that I wasted time did some valuable research using the 1894 Electoral Register.  In 1894 suffrage (or the right to vote) was still not universal, and one of the qualifying factors - apart from needing a Y chromosome – was property ownership.  A separate register was kept of property owners.  I looked at the register for Knighton Ward and made a list of all the Clarendon Park residents who both owned a property and lived in it.  The numbers were tiny in relation to the total number of properties in Clarendon Park.  Most people rented their properties, even those living in the posher houses.  It would be very interesting to know what the proportion of owner-occupiers is today.  Much larger, I suspect.

The total number of owner-occupiers in Clarendon Park in 1894 was 55.  Several of these also owned the house next door, or even a row of houses in the same street.  There were a good many more absentee landlords, like George Colborne who owned a fair bit of Clarendon Park Road, yet lived in Havant in Hampshire.  Perhaps he let the properties through an efficient lettings agent and maintained them well.  Or then again he might not have.

If you live in or own a house in Avenue Road Extension, Cecila Road, Central Avenue,  Clarendon Park Road, Cross Road, Edward Road, Fleetwood Road, Montague Road, Queens Road, Springfield Road, St Leonards Road or West Avenue, and would be interested in finding out whether it was owner-occupied in 1894 (and who the owner was), feel free to contact me.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes

Happy new year 2011!  I am delighted to be back in the blogging saddle after a manic December 2010 full of house history research for clients.  As part of the research process I needed to visit The National Archives in Kew, and whilst there I found the time to look up just one or two little Clarendon Park history things.  One of which was an index of trust deeds, containing five references to planned buildings in Clarendon Park.  In case anyone else fancies looking them up, they are listed at the bottom of this article.

The one that particularly took my fancy was an 1893 conveyance of land adjoining Lorne Road and Clarendon Park Road, “together with the messuages thereupon,” to the Trustees of Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes.   I hadn’t heard of the Aged Pilgrims Homes but a little light googling revealed that it is an undenominational society founded in 1807 by evangelical christians.  There is an Aged Pilgrims Home in Evington, which opened in 1954.  The homes provide sheltered accommodation and home support for elderly christians.  If only I had the time whilst making my last visit, I would have ordered the trust deed.  Bah.  When I get back to the NA in February, I will post here.

So, the 1901 census shows ten Aged Pilgrims Homes from number 115 Clarendon Park Road onwards.  They were lived in by the “inmates of Aged Pilgrims Homes,” and also by one of the people who helped to look after them; a nurse, Ellen Simms.  The inmates were all women except for a gardener, Samuel Mathers, who lived with his wife at number ten.  Their ages ranged from 66 to 88.  Their names were Isabella Coleman, Sarah Ingram, Sarah Woolley (who still lived there in 1911), Sarah Yarrow, Elizabeth Davies, Ellen Holland, Rachel Orton, Mary Pallett and Charlotte Wash.  All but one were widows and most of the women had been born in Leicestershire.  Being an elderly widow in Victorian Leicester was not good in terms of material wealth or status, but living in almshouses like these women suggests that only their faith kept them out of the workhouse.

Not all the elderly people helped by the society lived in almshouses.  Kelly’s 1916 directory for Leicestershire informs us that “Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society (Leicester Branch) – to give pensions of 5, 7 & 10 guineas a year &c. to aged poor persons of every Evangelical denomination.  During 1915 the 25 pensioners in this district received pensions amounting to £191, inclusive of gifts from the Morton Trustees.  President A S Gimson; Hon Sec Wilfred Tyler.  In 1891 ten almshouses were erected in Clarendon Park Road at the cost of J T Morton, a London merchant, as free homes for the pensioners in Leicester & district.”

The 1911 census tells us that each of these “homes” consisted of just one room, perhaps with a fireplace for heating and cooking.  They were occupied by Samuel Cheney Pebody, Sarah Woolley, Emma Ball and her daughter Sarah Ann who did sewing at home for money; Elizabeth Davis, Sarah Dalston, Jane Brice, Louisa Smallbones, Eliza Clarke and Maria Wills.  Again, all were widows or in Samuel’s case, a widower.  Clarendon Park Road having been built up considerably since 1901, the address had changed to 200 Clarendon Park Road.

All this is really interesting and I promise to report back after I have been to the National Archives in February.  But for now, here are the trust deeds I came across in December.  No doubt they will inspire further research!  Happy new year, Elizabeth.

1895 Trustees for the Wesleyan Methodists to build a chapel (PR84 M36 C54/19999)

1894 Trustees for the Baptists to build a hall or chapel to be called “The Clarendon Hall” (PR22 M27 C54/19835)

1893 Trustees of Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes, conveyance of land adjoining Clarendon Park Road and Lorne Road (Pt38 M8 C54/19747)

1895 Peterborough Diocesan Trustees, conveyance of school (Pt81 M39 C54/199996)

1904 Trustees of the Clarendon Park Congregational Church, site for a school and outbuildings (Pt83 No 1048 J18/24)

Chinese crackers on Howard Road

I meant to post this bonfire night-themed newspaper article from 1900 yesterday, but I was in bed with tonsilitis (woe is me, etc), so here it is a day late instead.  Following on from those Mischievous Lads, here is another example of delinquent Clarendon Park youth, from the Leicester Chronicle Saturday, October 13th, 1900 p6.

THE RISING GENERATION

Leonard Stanton (12), schoolboy, St. Leonard’s Road, and Herbert Wales (15), shoehand, Clarendon Park Road, were summoned for letting off Chinese crackers in Howard-road, on September 26th.  They were fined 2s. 6d.

Leonard Stanton lived at 103 St Leonards Road – and I bet he got a fair amount of stick for it!  Funnily enough I know the people who live there now and they are the nicest, least delinquent folk imaginable.  Leonard’s father was already dead in 1900 and his mother had four children to take care of.  Between October 1900 and April 1901, he left school and started work as a grocer’s errand boy.  By 1911 he was a grocers assistant, working for and living with Frank Claxton in Newark, Nottinghamshire.  I hope that by then he had grown out of his firecracker habit!  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anything out about his partner in crime, Herbert Wales.  Let’s hope he didn’t blow himself up!   Regards, Elizabeth.

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.

Clarendon Park 1909 businesses directory

Ok so the title of this article was a bit naughty.  There was no directory of Clarendon Park businesses in 1909 (Nowadays we have The Clarendon Directory, delivered free to our doors).  But there was a selection of directories available for Leicester folk to find their shops, businesses, gentry and postal delivery times, and I thought it would be interesting to list the businesses listed under Clarendon Park addresses.  Actually this is part of a much larger project I am working on, to record all the businesses and in particular the shops of Clarendon Park from its earlier days to the present.  I love the fact that there are and were so many shops here, and there is still a lot of evidence remaining of the shops that have long since been turned into private dwellings.

So here is an edited list of the shops and business of Clarendon Park in the 1909 edition of Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire:

  • Aerated water manufacturers – 2
  • Agents (house, land and estate) – 1
  • Bakers – 4
  • Boot and shoe makers – 11
  • Builders, bricklayers, joiners and contractors – 18
  • Butchers – 7
  • Carters (general) – 3
  • Chemists and druggists – 1
  • Chimney sweepers – 1
  • China, glass and homeware dealers – 1
  • Clock cleaners, makers and repairers – 2
  • Clothes and wardrobe dealers – 1
  • Coal agents,  dealers and merchants - 8
  • Confectioners and pastry cooks – 2
  • Confectioners and sweet dealers – 6
  • Cowkeepers and dairymen – 3
  • Cycle repairers, dealers and makers – 2
  • Drapers and haberdashers – 9
  • Dress makers – 14
  • Fishmongers and poulterers – 4
  • Florists and seed dealers – 1
  • General and hardware dealers – 3
  • Greengrocers and fruiterers – 6
  • Grocers and general provision merchants – 5
  • Hairdressers – 4
  • Horse and trap proprietors – 2
  • Ironmongers – 2
  • Launderers – 5
  • Market gardeners – 3
  • Milk dealers – 3
  • Milliners – 2
  • Newsagents – 1
  • Plumbers, glaziers and fitters – 4
  • Shopkeepers (not otherwise listed) – 21
  • Tailors – 5
  • Wine and spirit merchants – 2

I love the fact that Clarendon Park had not just one, but two aerated water manufacturers (one of which was our friend William Tom Hind).  Also that there were so many butchers, bakers, greengrocers and fishmongers.  All of which still exist in Clarendon Park today, but not in anything like the numbers.  We could blame Sainsbury’s (or Jacksons, as it was until a few years ago), but there has always been a Co-op in Clarendon Park Road and I would guess that people’s changing cooking and eating habits are just as much to blame.  I am just grateful there are still useful shops to be found.  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.