Tag Archives: History

Temperance in Clarendon Park

The Leicester Chronicle Saturday, 19th August 1893, p11

Local and District News: Leicester Temperance Society

A week’s temperance mission, under the auspices of this society, was inaugurated on Saturday evening by Mr. Jonathan Smith, of the British Temperance League….On Sunday afternoon Mr. Smith addressed a meeting of men in the Christ Church schoolroom….On Monday night Mr. H. Bedford took the air at the open air meeting at Queen’s Road, Clarendon Park, Mr. Smith again being the speaker, and the Carter family singing selections.

Temperance was an important movement in Victorian Britain.  Upper and middle class folk were keen to keep the lower classes respectable and working hard, and drink was seen as an evil.  They did have a point (though the upper classes certainly enjoyed a drink or two themselves of course) – beer houses, pubs and gin palaces abounded and drunken brawls were a feature of every town and village. 

There were many different Temperance societies.  The British Temperance Society was a northern, teetotal and Christian group.  It still exists under the banner of the British National Temperance League, but I can’t quite envisage an open air meeting on the Queen’s road being a success in 2010.  A condition of the sale of land to the Clarendon Park Company was that no pubs, etc should be erected, but it didn’t seem to stop the good people of Clarendon Park lifting their elbows.  There were several beer shops and off licenses in the 19th century and the last tram to Clarendon Park back from the city centre was notoriously drunken!  And as soon as the caveat was lifted on drinking establishments, bars began to spring up on the Queens Road.

As an interesting aside, I wonder how many Clarendon Park residents are not allowed to open a beer shop in their home?  My house has a deed of covenant which states that I am not allowed to, and nor am I permitted to burn bricks in my back garden.  Which is why I have had to turn my hand to historical research, I guess.  How else is a gal to make a living?  Regards, Elizabeth.

A Wild Cow’s Pranks

Leicester Mercury Saturday, 18th Jan 1890, p6

A Wild Cow’s Pranks

Between nine and ten o’clock on Wednesday morning a cow in the Cattle Market became wild, and broke loose, upsetting several people who endeavoured to stop it. Despite the efforts of its drivers, the beast, which seemed fairly maddened, made its way to Stoneygate, rushing at everyone who came in sight. Near the Clarendon Park Congregational Church it made for an old man, but fortunately he succeeded in escaping. It then went for the roadman, but he was behind a gate when it arrived. Rushing up Springfield Road, it turned its attention to some bricklayers working at a new house, and they promptly fled. It was finally driven into a field, where it quieted down somewhat, and later in the morning some more beasts were fetched, and it was returned to the market. So far as can be at present ascertained, no actual casualties occurred, though several persons had very narrow escapes.

Mad cows charging through Clarendon Park does not seem to have been a rare occurrence – there were three reported in The Mercury in the previous year!  But this article is particularly interesting because it shows how Clarendon Park was still semi-rural and under construction.  A mad cow these days would drop with exhaustion before finding a field off the London Road.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Clarendon Park Road

Let’s dive straight into the heart of Clarendon Park, both today and in the past, and look at this wonderful postcard of Clarendon Park.  Unfortunately the post mark is almost unreadable so I can’t say exactly when it was posted, but the stamp on the back is a 1/2 penny George V green, meaning that it must have been posted between 1912 and 1918, when the cost of postage doubled (plus ca change!).   It was posted from Leicester from ‘Nellie’ to Mrs P Warner of 24 St Paul Road, Coventry.

 So whereabouts on Clarendon Park Road was this taken?  Well, the slightly taller building on the left hand side, just beyond the first block of bay fronted houses, is Knighton Library.  In 1912 the library opened in the evenings only, perhaps reflecting the times when Clarendon Park’s largely working class population were free to visit (working hours generally being longer and often including Saturdays).  The church in the far background is Christchurch, currently a Methodist/Baptist church.  The photographer stood at the corner of St Leonards Road and Clarendon Park Road, facing towards the Queens Road crossroads.

The most striking feature of the photograph is the emptiness of the street, however we mustn’t be tempted to think that the road was usually this quiet in the 1910s.  Far from it – the decorative poles to the centre right are holding up tram wires, and this was a busy thoroughfare of electric trams, horse-drawn traffic (one or two horses and carts are visible here) and even motor vehicles.  In 1912 Clarendon Park already had a motor engineer works, The Burgess Motor and Engineering Company in Oxford Road, and two motor garages – Sydney Bower of 111a Clarendon Park Road and the Portland Motor Garage and Engineering Co of Portland Street.  William Maurice Jackson ran a cab service and livery stable at 1 West Avenue, and bicycles featured strongly in Clarendon Park too – a cycle maker at 60 Montague Road and repairs at the Burgess Motor and Engineering Company.  Add the pedestrians shopping at Queens Road and the scores of small shops on Clarendon Park Road itself and it seems much more likely that the photographer had to get up pretty early to catch Clarendon Park Road at this quiet time!

It is worth mentioning how tidy Clarendon Park Road looked with its paving in good repair and no so-called home improvements spoiling the look of the terraced houses, which all have tidy front gardens with their original walls and decorative ironwork (to be lost in the war efforts, no doubt).  Although when this photograph was taken the houses, and Clarendon Park itself, were  just thirty years old.

It would be interesting to take a photograph of the same view today and compare the two…..but not with my photography skills!  Regards, Elizabeth.