Tag Archives: Leicester

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

 

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.

More about 51 Montague Road

Whilst I was researching Leonard Norman and his photography/picture framing business at 28-30 Montague Road in the 1890s and possibly later at 51 Montague Road, I came across another small story about a former occupant of number 51.  It comes again from the Leicester Chronicle, this time the 5th May 1894 (so as Leonard was just settling in to 28 Montague Road).

Harriet Wills was fined ten shillings for being drunk and disorderly in Montague Road the previous Saturday night.  And she a married woman in her fifties too!  That can’t have been much fun to live down with the neighbours, most of whom were no doubt very respectable.  Clarendon Park did have a reputation as a drunken place.  There is a fantastic cartoon displayed at the Abbey Pumping Station museum called ‘Last Tram Back to Clarendon Park’ or something very similar, depicting a tram overflowing with drunken, dazed or fighting people.  I wonder if the last 44a has the same reputation today?  Regards, Elizabeth.

51 Montague Road

Leonard Norman, a Clarendon Park Photographer

Sometimes I come across something on Ebay that really excites me.  Just a couple of weeks ago I spent the best part of thirty quid on a collection of 66 cartes de visite and cabinet cards barely held together by a falling apart album of very questionable taste – just to get hold of a single image that definitely isn’t worth £30.  But I didn’t care, firstly because the collection belonged to a Leicester family whose tree I have been growing from the tiny acorn of a single named and dated photograph, and secondly because the cabinet card I wanted is perfect.  Here is all about it.

The photographer is L. Norman of Clarendon Studio, Montague Road, Clarendon Park.  The card stock (dark green), the gold bevelled edge, the studio name in gold all point to a picture taken during the early 1890s.  The image is of a little girl in an outfit that almost certainly isn’t hers, and it’s not a very good image either – too much light in the top right hand corner and the little girl’s black- stockinged legs disappear in the gloom behind her.  However that really awful vase and feather are beautifully clear.

A trip to Leicestershire Records Office told me quite a bit about Leonard.  Leonard was born in Knighton village in 1870 and after school began work, as so many did, as a shoe clicker.  He moved to 28 Montague Road in 1893 (shortly after his marriage to Elizabeth Carter) and 30 Montague Road – the most likely premises for “Clarendon Studio” in 1897.  I suspect he occupied both 28 and 30 Montague Road between 1893 and 1907, when he moved to 51 Montague Road.  None of the street directories of the period described Leonard Norman as a photographer, in fact his first entry is in Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire in 1906, at 30 Montague Road, as a “picture framer.”  

30 Montague Road. It is still fairly apparent that this was once a shop premises

The 1901 census described him as “shopkeeper and picture framer.”  Picture framing and photography often went together at this time, for obvious reasons.  Leonard’s last directory entry was in 1912, but by this time he had already returned to his previous work as a shoe clicker so either the entry was out of date or Leonard was only working as a framer in his spare time.  I wonder how seriously Leonard took the photography side of his business, and how successful it was.  Clearly not all that successful – I feel quite sorry for him.

51 Montague Road

I am fairly confident that I will be able to find out the name of the little girl in the picture, as long as she was related to the Hughes family of Thornton Lane, Leicester, whence my album originated - and I think she must have been.  So you can see why I was so excited to get hold of that tatty album.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The Probable Poisoning of George Scott Grainger

I recently read a sad article from the Leicester Chronicle which demonstrates how life has changed over the past 100 years .  George Scott Grainger aged 51 was admitted, unconscious, to the Leicester Royal Infirmary around 6.15pm on Monday 30 September 1890.  He later having never regained consciousness.   George, who was a gardener working at Victoria Park and then living at 17 Oxford Road, Clarendon Park,  had obtained some Corporation Diarrhoea Mixture from the Town Hall (people provided their own bottles) earlier that day.  However the mixture contained in the bottle George was holding when his wife found him contained tincture of opium, not Victorian Immodium.

17 Oxford Road (Oxford Road sits between Howard Road and Montague Road)

At the inquest Jane Grainger, said that on the morning of his death she left before George to go to work and he was not then complaining of diarrhoea.  At 2.30pm she was in Victoria Park and could not see her husband so she asked his colleague James Norwell where he was.  Norwell told her he had obtained medicine, so she “knew he must be very ill as he strongly disliked medicine.”  Jane went to look for George and found him lying in a field on Evington Lane, with the bottle in his hand.  He complained of diarrhoea.  He said he had consumed the entire contents of the bottle and felt quite well, and wanted to stay where he was as he was comfortable, but was moved in Dr Greasley’s carriage to the Highfields Hotel and afterwards to the LRI where he died.

A couple of things struck me about Jane’s story.  Firstly, it was very odd indeed that George’s own bottle should have contained opium, as the Town Hall folk must have dispensed quite a lot of diarrhoea mixture and it would soon have been obvious if their stock had replaced or contaminated with tincture of opium.  So perhaps George found that diarrhoea mixture was not efficacious and bought his own cure - opium – instead (opium was used in some diarrhoea preparations).  Secondly, when Jane found that her husband was not at work as expected, she naturally went to look for him.  But in a field in Evington Lane?  Perhaps all is not exactly as Jane described.  Perhaps she was used to finding him lying intoxicated in a field and knew where to look for him. It’s a good job the powers that be started to tighten the regulation of opium, making it harder for people to accidentally poison themselves, even if it sounds like George had quite a peaceful ending.

Jane had moved from 17 Oxford Rd by the time of the census in April 1891.  So many people seemed to have passed in and out of Clarendon Park without leaving much trace.  Poor George - in both senses - was buried in a common grave without a headstone at Welford Road cemetery and his wife never joined him.