Tag Archives: Local 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.

Drunken father neglects children

When I started writing this I had just seen a single newspaper article, dated 1900, about a father who went on drunken benders and neglected his children.  But when I looked into the case in more detail, I found that he was a Thoroughly Bad Man and wanted to tell his story for the sake of his poor suffering wife and children.

Edward Outram Thrall was born in Mansfield in 1863.  His father died soon after, and he was brought up by his widowed mother Martha, a mill hand.  They boarded in the home of William Marshall, a mason, which perhaps is how Edward was became a stone mason.  Between 1881 and 1885 he moved to Leicester where he married Eliza Smith Harris.  Their first daughter, Beatrice Alice, was born the following year (1886).  Then followed Benjamin Smith Thrall (1888), Harry George (1890-1892) Kathleen (1893) Arthur Edward (1896-1897) and Evelyn (1898).

In 1893 the Leicester Chronicle reported Edward for the first time.  “Edward Thrall stone mason, Lincoln-street, was charged with using obscene language, and being drunk in Green Lane-road,North Evington, on Saturday night.  He denied the offence, but two policemen gave evidence on which he was fined 10s.”  This was pretty minor stuff for him.  In October 1896 he deserted his wife and children since , forcing them to enter the workhouse to survive.  At the time he left his son Harry was very ill and unlikely to live (Harry died in April 1897), yet he went on a drunken wanderlust.  The Chronicle dated 27th March reported that “Prisoner asked for another chance, but the magistrates sent him to prison for six weeks.”  Asking for yet another chance was Edward Thrall’s constant refrain.

In September 1897, on the run from the Leicester police, Edward Thrall was charged with obtaining money by means of a fraudulent begging letter, which he was taking round the shops and inns of Loughborough.  He claimed to be collecting for a man named West, who had broken his leg and had a wife and family depending on him – how ironic that Thrall himself had a wife and children going hungry in Leicester.  Of course he pleaded guilty, having been caught in the act by a policeman, and said he was very sorry for what he had done.  He went to gaol for 28 days hard labour.

The moment he returned from prison in April 1897, he had subjected his wife to almost daily beatings.  On one occasion in October he ” banged her about, dragged her upstairs and assaulted her again there.”  Brave Eliza reported him to the police, but when Thrall received the summons to court he “thrashed her again and then, picking up a chair, said he would ‘Broughton her.’”  I haven’t been able to find a definition for this – though his intention is pretty clear.  Does anyone have any information?  Do let me know.  Anyway, predictably Thrall tried to  under play the assault and said it was not as serious as Eliza had made out, and that he had been so drunk he didn’t know what he was doing.  However, the magistrates characterised him as a very unworthy man, and sent him to prison for two months.

Unfortunately, fair divorce laws and the welfare state being many decades in the future, Eliza was forced to accept Thrall back as her husband and so-called provider.  Sometime between 1898 and 1900 the family moved to 1 Fleetwood Road, Clarendon Park.  Edward Thrall was no better.  In September 1900 the NSPCC, who had been supervising the family due to previous concerns, prosecuted him for neglect of the children.  Eliza testified against him, saying that  he was addicted to drink, and got worse and worse.   He was drunk frequently.  Her mother and other people had helped her, and she had done a little work herself.   Mrs Leicester, a Bible Woman, said she had assisted the family with food and clothing.  The NSPCC inspector said that it was a chronic case, and there did not appear to be any hope.  Sergeant Perkins, the arresting officer, had known Thrall for the last three years, and he had no been sober for many days together.  Thrall was again very sorry and asked for another chance – but was sent to prison for six months.

If there is a happy ending to this story, it is that by 1911 Edward and Eliza were living apart (Edward in a cheap boarding house with 94 other men in Lee Street, and Eliza with the children at Justice Street, of all places).   She was supporting them by making up hosiery, and the older children were also factory workers.  She did not live with Edward again, and he later that year aged just 47.  Sadly Eliza just a few years later, in 1918.  What a hard life she led.  I know that the family only lived in Clarendon Park for a few years, but their story is far from unique in its history I am sure, and I am equally sure that there will be families living with similar problems here today.  Please help if you can.  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)

St John the Baptist War Remembrance Plaques

The remembrance plaques are sitauted near the altar at St John the Baptist church.  They list the 58 men in the parish who lost their lives during World War I and the 14 in World War II.  To the Glory of GOD and in memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives in the War 1914-19

Claude ALEXANDER, Horace J ALEXANDER, Harry ASPDEN, J Thomas BAKER, Charles BARSBY, W Henry BEAMAN, Percy C BECK, Harold S BELLAMY, J Harry BIRD, Edmund G BLAND, Frank BROWN, Tom CHAMBERS, Reginald E CHAMBERS, William G CHAMBERS, David A BALDWIN, Harold CHAPMAN, Joseph CLARKE, Sydney CLARKE, Thomas A CLARKE, H Harry COLE, Arthur EAGLE, Arthur O ELLSON, Frederick FREARSON, J Oliver GAMBLE, H William HIND*, Henry D KNIGHT, Walter E LADKIN, Herbert LAWRENCE, Ernest LEWIS, George V H LINES, Frderick J LUCK, Walter MYATT, Walter H NEALE, Horace V POSTLETHWAITE, Clement A RILETT, A Andrew ROSS, G Walter ROSS, Frank RUSH, Guy E F RUSSELL, Everard R SHAKESPEAR, B Noel SHARP, George M SHERWIN, Robert SIMONS, George SIMPKIN, Samuel SMALLEY, Harold C SMITH, George B STAPLEFORD, Alfred E SWANN, Frank N TARR, Frederick W TAYLOR, William J TILBURY, Walter J TUFFLEY, Alfred WARBURTON, George WESLEY, Arthur WHATLEY, Harry E WILLSON, Albert G YORKE, Frederick W ZANKER

* Horace William, son of William Tom Hind

This tablet was placed here by the congregation of this church to commemorate with affection and gratitude those of this parish who gave their lives in the war of 1939-1945

Gordon BODYCOTE, Cyril Denys BOOTHRIGHT, John Ambrose BUTCHER, Dennis CRAMP, Frank CUER, Anthony Kyle DAWSON, Arthur Kenneth HALL, Frederick Walter KNOTT, Clifford Herbert LILBURN, Gordon MARSH, William Arthur NEWTON, Peter SALMON, Charles Peter Keith SMITH, Kenneth Frank WHITE

These men gave their lives for us and I, for one, am grateful.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The war memorials in their setting, next to the high altar

Remembering the Clarendon Park fallen

Lest We Forget

Private Harry Allen, 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment (1897-1916)

Harry Allen was born in 1897 in Leicester, the son of Charles Samuel Allen and Kate nee Thacker.  His mother died in 1904, when Harry was just 7, and his father remarried a much younger woman, Edith Lount.  They continued to live at 237 Avenue Road Extension until sometime between 1911 and 1914, when the family moved to 86 Lorne Road.  He had three brothers, John Rose, Walter Edmund and Samuel Purver, and two sisters, Gertrude Emma and Beatrice Violet.  Of these only his sisters survived to see the end of World War I.

In 1911, aged 14, Harry worked as a wool washer in the hosiery trade.  Aged 18, fully grown at 5 ft 4 and 3/4, Harry weighed just 8 stones and 1lb.  He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. 

At the beginning of the war he lived 86 Lorne Road with the rest of his family.  His brother Samuel had died earlier that year aged 19.  He enlisted early on, on 8th September 1914, joining the Leicestershire Regiment.  His battalion, the 9th (service), was formed in Leicester in 1914.  Harry was sent with the rest of his comrades, first to Bourley Camp, Aldershot and then to Pernham Down on Salisbury Plain for final training.  In 1915 he embarked for France, landing on 29th July.  He served on the Western Front, where 517 men from his battalion died. 

Harry was wounded on 8th October 1916 - a “severe” shrapnel wound in his back (right scapula), chest and arm.  He was admitted to the field hospital, then transferred to a hospital in Rouen, then on 4th November to the The King George Hospital, in Stamford Street, Waterloo, an emergency facility created in what is now part of King’s College London.  Between 1915 and 1919 over 70,000 soldiers were treated there.  Harry was operated on and found to be in a very serious state internally.  He died on 7th November 1916, of shock and loss of blood. He is buried at Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester, where there is a memorial plaque. 

Harry’s medals, the Star, Victory and British, were sent to his father Charles.  None of Harry’s personal effects survived to send with them.

I will be posting details of the remembrance plaque at St John the Baptist Church on Remembrance Sunday.  Regards, Elizabeth.

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.

St John the Baptist Church

Central section of St John's

St John the Baptist Church, on Clarendon Park Road, is the parish church of Clarendon Park.  It is an Anglican Church (Church of England).  There is far too much to say about its history in just one post, but I would like to share with you a few pictures and facts about its earliest days.

St John’s was built in 1884-1885 by architects Goddard and Paget of Leicester, funded largely by a gift of £6,000 from Miss Sarah Barlow (more about her some other time).  It was built as a chapel of ease in the parish of St Mary Magdalene, Knighton, and only became parish church in its own right in 1917.  The parish minute books show how pleased the then vicar and churchwardens were, as it considerably simplified the financial running of the churches.

Joseph Goddard also built Leicester’s clock tower, in 1868.  Here is an excellent site about the Goddard empire.  St John’s was designed in the Victorian gothic style.  I think it is fair to say that it is considerably more imposing on the inside than the outside.  The level of detail is astonishing and the overall impression is of grandeur and awe.  Here is one of Goddard’s original designs for the railings that used to top the front boundary wall (which you can see in the photo above have been removed…probably as part of the war effort).  Luckily the attractive gate still stands.  Leicestershire Records Office holds all the original designs, and they are beautiful in themselves.

As for the interior, here is a postcard showing the interior as it was before the addition of a new reredos in memory of Guy Edward Frank Russell, who died in World War I.  The screen is still in place – this was taken down within living memory of the current congregation. 

St John’s is open 9 – 3pm most days except weekends (services on Sunday are at 8.30am, 9.30am and 11am) and it is well worth a visit even if you are not a practising Christian.  There is a lot more to say about St John’s but some other time!  In the meantime, check the Index page of this site for several more articles about St John’s.  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.

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.