Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Naming of Orlando Road

I walked home via Orlando Road today, which in my opinion is one of the nicest corners of Clarendon Park.  So of course I got to wondering how it came by its name (you do that too, of course).

Well it transpires that Orlando Road began life as Holland Road, and was renamed along with a number of others throughout Leicester, as part of a rationalisation project to remove duplication.  In 1894 there were 40 streets with the same name; in seven cases there were three streets with the same name; four cases of four streets with the same name and one of the same name repeated five times throughout the city.  Which must have made the postman’s job something of a nightmare.

So in April 1894 the council made changes, including adding the qualification of north or south to some existing names.  An early suggestion was to change Holland Road to Dutch Road – a bit unimaginative, Councillors Smith and Booth – but in the end they settled on Orlando Road.  Our Lorne Road was allowed to remain, whilst the Lorne Road in Aylestone was changed to Lorrimer Road.

And why Orlando?  In 1890 the artist G F Watts had presented his painting ‘Orlando Pursuing the Fata Morgana’ to the Corporation, to help with the establishment of the permanent art gallery.  You can still find it at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, though perhaps not on display as that kind of art isn’t fashionable just now.  Personally I love a bit of narrative art and if it includes over blown close-ups of wobbly flesh, so much the better.  Anyway, I suspect that the painting is the reason for the name, though I’d be interested to hear another theory.  So the next time you are in Orlando Road (which probably isn’t that often unless you live there, or like me are forced by small boys to take an alleged ‘short cut’ through the alley from Cecilia Road), you can think of G F Watts and feel much better for it.  Regards, Elizabeth

More Clarendon Park Fallen

Last year I published the details of the war memorials at St John the Baptist church.  Because of the way that parish boundaries are and were set, not all of the Clarendon Park fallen are remembered at St John’s.  I would like to remember three brothers who died during the Great War, Harold and Arthur Bree, and their older brother Ernest Harry, who survived.

You might remember their mother, Eliza Bree, from an article I posted right at the beginning of this blogging lark – here.  Mrs Bree lived in Avenue Road Extension and in 1898 got into a bit of bother with her drunken boarder.  Eliza and her husband Harry had a large-ish family – Emma b1878, Ernest Harry b1887, Sydney John (1890-1), Harold b1892, Arthur Edward b1896, Oliver b1898, Doris May (b1904), Ivy Helen (b1907), as well as several others who died in infancy.

At the outbreak of the war, Ernest Harry, a railway goods porter, joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a private (nos 2046, 200223), fought in France and lived to tell the tale.  He died in Coalville in 1965.

Harold Bree enjoyed – if that is the right word – a varied career in the Army Service Corps and the Royal Engineers.  At the time of his death on 2nd May 1918 he was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (Railway Traffic Establishment), perhaps due to skills picked up from his railway porter father and brother (Harold himself was a butcher before the war).  He died in England and was buried at Welford Rd Cemetery in consecrated ground, alongside fellow casualties Private Vivian Harry Ringrose and Private William George Grewcock.

Grave of Sapper Harold Bree, at Welfrod Road cemetery

Arthur Edward Bree, also a railway porter, joined up as a Private in the 4th bttn  Worcs Regiment and died on 16th Aug 1917, during the 3rd battle of Ypres.  His body was never found and he is remembered at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium to the missing in Belgian Flanders.

Younger brother Oliver died six days later, as a Private in the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), having transferred from the Leicestershire Regiment.  He was just 19.   He is buried in Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery, Western Flanders.

Sadly none of the service records for the Bree brothers survive, being amongst those water damaged and lost during the second world war, which is such a pity as it seems that almost all we know of these young men is that they lived and died.  And what of Harry and Eliza Bree?  How awful for them to have lost three of their four surviving sons to the slaughter.

Thank you to David Roberts for telling me about the Bree brothers some months ago, and to the volunteers at Welford Road Cemetery visitors centre, who were so helpful in showing me where Harold Bree is buried.  It was good to visit his grave and see the poppy placed there by the volunteers.  Elizabeth