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.