Category Archives: Old newspaper articles

Tragedy at Trentham, 47 Queens Road

Trentham

Trentham aka 47 Queens Road

Almost every house I look into has some kind of tragic story and number 47 Queens Road is no exception. The house was built in 1889 and was bestowed with the name ‘Trentham.’ In June 1889 Trentham was available for rent at £38 per year. It was taken by 30 year old Thomas Pearse Trethewey (1858-1894) and his wife of a month or so, Alice nee Evans (c1863-1930). Thomas was the recently appointed minister of Clarendon Park Congregational Church on the corner of London Road and Springfield Road. He and Alice had moved from Sheffield to take up the appointment in April, leaving behind Abbeydale Church where he had been much loved.

Thomas was well liked by his Leicester flock too. The deacon described him as

Clarendon Park Congregational Church

Clarendon Park Congregational Church

popular and able. But he had a tendency to disappear for periods, being low in spirits and sometimes troubled with delusions of being in insurmountable debt. One Tuesday evening in November 1894 Thomas left his wife at home without a word and walked to Blaby railway station, carrying no luggage. After a couple of days he was traced to the Liverpool area and was thought to have sailed for America. On Sunday morning the deacon announced to Thomas’s congregation that he was missing. His body was found on Monday, drowned in Lake Windemere. Thomas left letters in his pockets that described how he purposefully travelled there, to the place he had enjoyed visiting with his wife and mother and law, to drown himself in the dark and cold. He was worried about a debt of £270. He hoped Alice would forgive him. He was 32.

Poor Thomas, and poor Alice. In December she was forced to sell their belongings, the contents of Trenthham, which were described in an auction catalogue: “Superior  modern furniture and appointment…including a nearly new dining room suite of six chairs, two easy chairs and couch, covered in morocco leather…a number of etchings, photographs and sketches…full-size brass rail bedstead…stained glass hall lanthorn…hip bath…lawn mowing machine, etc.”  Alice left Leicester, moved back to Sheffield to live with her parents and died, still a widow, in 1930.

After the Tretheways departed, the Bray family moved in. They were Harry (1859-1931), solicitor with his own practice Bray and Price, his wife Lizzie Jessie nee Turner (1863-1946) and children Cecil Francis (1885-1964), Harry Gerard (1887-1964), Amy Ethel (1889-1973), Winifred Jane (1891-1969), Marian, (1894-1960), Bessie M (c1896-) and two servants. I assume Harry was one of the early founders of Bray and Bray, whose headquarters are near the city centre today. The Brays advertised for a servant in June 1897: “General Servant (Good) wanted. No washing. – Address B, ‘Trentham,’ Queens Road Leicester.”

By 1899 the Brays had moved to Narborough Road and widow Adela Martha Wykes nee Bramley (1856-1908) lived at Trentham. Adela lived with her adult children William Bramley (1881-1932), Lillie Marian (1881-1972), Gerald Davis (1883-1962), Alfred Douglas (1885-), Adela Ellen (1888-1975), her sister in law Fanny Davis Wykes (1860-1928) and a servant. The Wykes were partners at printing company Johnson, Wykes and Paine.

Printer image

Printed by Johnson, Wykes & Paine

After Adela died in 1908 her children William, Lillie and Adela lived on at 47 Queens Road until 1912 when William got married.

In 1912 Dr Louis Edward Staynes (1869-1945), physician and surgeon, took the house at an annual rent of £32 a year (£6 less than the Tretheways paid in 1889). Louis was a wealthy GP whose single brothers and sisters lived at Avenue House, Avenue Road. Louis himself lived at Avenue House until 1912 and returned to live there after the First World War, when Trentham was sold in January 1919.

Next came the Hirsts. Arthur Hirst (c1870-) was a grocer. He, his wife Henrietta nee Wheatley (1870-1956) and their children Edith Winifred (1899-), Enid Gertrude (1900-1974), Arthur Vernon (1901-), Hettie Gladys (1903-2000), Lilian (1907-) formerly lived in a much smaller shop and house at 64 Montague Road. They had moved away by 1939 and unfortunately that is as much as I can trace of 47 Queens Road until the records office is open again.

From Clarendon Park Adult School to a Remarkable Quaker Family

Did you know that Clarendon Park once contained an Adult School? I didn’t even know such a thing existed but a chance mention in a newspaper got me searching. The Adult Schools movement began in the second half of the nineteenth century, when members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) established Sunday morning schools across the country to instruct in reading, writing and Bible study. The movement provided non-denominational, but religiously-based education for the working classes and as such Clarendon Park was the ideal location for an Adult School. By 1889 there were ten schools in Leicester with over 500 members. A wooden hut in Avenue Road Extension – Clarendon Park Mission Room, erected c1881 – was the venue for adult teaching of both sexes (but never together) from about 1883-4. One of the founding teachers was Miss Hannah Margaret Stafford (1852-1905) of Elmsleigh Hall, Stoneygate, who taught for over 20 years until just before her death in 1905.

The standard of teaching and discussion was high. In March 1897 the Mens’ Morning Class discussed the oppression of Cretan Christians by Turkey and urged the British government not to support the Turkish cause. There was a whist league in competition with other adult schools (Clarendon Park lost to the Paradise Mission in 1908) and a cricket team. There was also a thriving football team for many years – Clarendon Park Adult School FC.  Sadly at least two team members were killed during the First World War – Private Arthur Bree of 252 Avenue Road Extension  (killed in action 16th August 1917 aged 21) and Private Frank Owen Tighe of 10 Westbury Road  (killed in action on 17th July 1916 aged 22).

It was the social changes that took place after war that began the decline of the Adult Schools movement. In Leicestershire membership of mens’ groups fell by 38% between 1921 and 1937 and after the second world war this only worsened, partly due to competing leisure activities but also because there was more adult education provision on offer. Clarendon Park Adult School had closed by 1970 and the premises were used by Knighton Park Table Tennis Club. The wooden hut was demolished in 1979 and replaced with a brick building.

As always with these articles I start with one small thing and end up finding out hugely fascinating stories.  So I’d like to tell you now about a man who was involved in leading Clarendon Park Adult School and who as a consequence took Adult Schools to other parts of the country and even to New Zealand.  Edwin Gilbert was born in Oadby High Street in 1859 and baptised at Oadby Parish Church on 9th Sep 1860. His parents were Martha Bromley (c1834-1906) and Edward Gilbert (c1834-1914), who was a Baptist minister connected with the chapel in Charles Street. Edwin had two sisters including Elizabeth, who later ran a shop at 192 Clarendon Park Road.  Edwin married Lilla Ireland (1857-1938) in 1880. The couple initially lived with Lilla’s father at Crescent Street. Edwin worked as a commercial traveller. They had three children: Elsie Lilla (1881-1973), Harry Edwin (1887-1977) and Leslie Howard (1892-1987).

In July 1895 Edwin became involved in the Adult Schools movement and with Clarendon Park Adult School in particular. I don’t know whether this was because he had already joined the Society of Friends, or whether his work in this area led him to become a Quaker, but the two were strongly linked whichever order they happened in. He received an invitation from “a humble old man,” a member of the school.  Soon after the Gilberts moved to Salisbury. They returned to live in Leicester in around 1897, settling first at 111 Clarendon Park Road and then by 1903 at 198 Clarendon Park Road. Between 1901 and 1904 Edwin worked as a registration agent for the Liberal Party and from 1902 he took a salaried role in the Leicestershire Adult Schools Union and was later described as being the “leading mover in its extension work…He combined enthusiasm, a wonderful power of attracting men and organising ability.”

Meanwhile daughter Elsie trained and worked as a nurse, firstly at Gilroes Hospital for Infectious Diseases and then in Birmingham, before marrying Quaker doctor Joseph Tyler Fox. On leaving Leicester the Gilberts moved to Bournville where they lived during the War. This was not surprising as Edwin was by now an associate of the Cadbury family who were involved in Quaker philanthropic work. By 1911 Edwin was the national organising secretary for the Adult Schools movement and in 1913 he visited New Zealand, establishing Adult Schools there.

Edwin’s obituary in The Times later stated “In the years just before the War, he arranged interchange visits of British Adult School members and German workmen in the interests of international understanding.  Although the effect of these seemed lost during the War, it was found afterwards that the memories of them often facilitated the relief work of the Society of Friends in Germany.” At the beginning of the war Edwin worked with other Quakers to provide relief – including education – for ‘enemy aliens’ interred in camps. He joined the actively anti-war Birmingham city branch of the
Independent Labour Party in 1916. Later Edwin was asked to take charge of a prison for conscientious objectors at Warwick and afterwards at Wakefield Prison. He resigned following a  revision of the regulations brought additional unnecessary hardship on the objectors. Son Leslie volunteered with the Red Cross in France as an orderly in the Friends’ (Quakers) Ambulance Division, an extremely dangerous job but avoiding fighting. Meanwhile daughter Elsie joined her husband on a visit to Russia in 1916 with Dr Tyler Fox acting as chief medical officer to the Friends’ War Relief Expedition.

Immediately after the War Edwin joined a party of Quakers in visiting Germany  to investigate conditions in children’s homes and hospital. Gilbert shared their experiences in a newspaper article to raise awareness and raise relief funds, quoting Frederick Merttens: “The little babies were a heart breaking sight…and we turned away too overcome for words.” In 1919 Edwin helped to found a community centre in Plymouth called Swathmore Hall. He was appointed President of the National Adult School Union in 1922.

Edwin and Lilla lived in Thurmaston during the 1920s, moving to Bournemouth in 1930 where they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Edwin died on 2nd December 1933 a few days after undergoing an operation at the Royal Victoria Hospital. After Edwin’s death Lilla moved to York. She died in 1938.

Burglary at Ivydene, Springfield Road (1914)

Ivydene

“Ivydene”

John Rawson married (1844-1918) Elizabeth Ann Compton (1854-1919) in 1878. They had eight children: Kate Elizabeth (1879-), Benjamin (1880-1963), Margaret Edith (1882-1967), Gertrude Mary (1884-), Helen Mabel (1886-1959),  John Compton (1889-1940), George Frederick (1890-) Charles Herbert (1893-1953). John was a boot manufacturer whose business grew in size and success during the 1890s, enabling the family to move from Seymour Street to number 8 Springfield Road, known as “Ivydene” (not to be confused with the Ivydene in Clarendon Park Road).

During the late 1880s the business was based at 13 Wellington Street, moving to the Peveril Works in Deacon Street during the 1890s.  In September 1907 there were “exciting scenes” according to the Leicester Daily Post when the top two floors – which contained the most modern machinery – were completely burnt out in a massive fire. Luckily no one was hurt and the business was already in the process of moving premises to Evington Valley Road, where it continued until at least the 1950s. The business was finally wound up in 1998, by which time the registered office was 21 Watling Street.

Screenshot (40)In 1911 Ivydene – which was sandwiched between “Fernshaw” and “Blair Athol” – possessed 14 rooms. Various servants lived in to enable the comfortable running of the household. In 1914 the Rawsons were the victims of a crime. Burglars broke into Ivydene whilst the family and servants were out (given that it was Sunday evening, possibly at church) and stole £130 worth of jewellery and £20 in cash. In today’s money that’s £14,000 worth of jewellery and £2,000 in cash. Ouch.

The First World War was a boom time for Leicester’s boot manufacturers. To give a flavour of what working life was like during this time, have a look at this photo in the Imperial War Museum archive of a woman operating a slugging machine at Rawson and Sons Ltd. It became much more difficult to find young women willing to work as domestic servants whilst wages were high and labour in shortage, so the Rawsons may well have found it more of a challenge to maintain their large house. The Rawson family would have experienced the same worries as every other household containing young men. Charles Herbert served in France as 2nd lieutenant in the 6th Middlesex Regiment, from 1916 to 1919.

Rawson grave

The Rawson Family Grave, Welford Road Cemetery

John died at home in April 1918 before his son returned from France, leaving an estate of £40,000.  Elizabeth died eighteen months later. They were buried in style at Welford Road Cemetery. The contents of Ivydene were sold by auction on 7th June 1920, comprising mostly of what sounds mostly like of a lot of enormous, heavy Victorian furniture but also some valuable oil paintings by artists including Thomas Sidney Cooper.  There was also a Whitfield’s safe – presumably purchased after the burglary.  The house was also sold.

After John’s death the business was continued by his sons Benjamin, John Compton and George Herbert.  All the sons lived in Stoneygate, not far from their former home. John Rawson left £50 per year to the Baptist Missionary Society in his will and may have been somewhat shocked if he had known that after his death daughter Margaret Edith would enter St Catherine’s Convent, Glenfield Road where she died in 1963. Margaret had worked for the Society before John’s death.  Sadly John Compton Rawson committed suicide in 1940 having suffered from depression.

Ivydene was purchased in 1920 by hosiery manufacturer Charles Smith (c1869-1939), his wife Ruth Caroline nee Barker (1870-1946)  and their children Charles Raymond (1897-1971), Arthur Barker Smith (1901-1962) and Ruth Margaret (1905-). The Smiths lived at number 8 until the late 1930s when they moved to Westernhay Road. Charles was the owner of Charles Smith & Bros, Rutland Street, which specialised in ladies’ underwear. The Smith family were congregationalists and attended Clarendon Park Congregational Church, less than 50 yards from their home in Springfield Road. Charles left the church a legacy of £200. Charles Smith and Bros (underwear) Ltd closed in 1970.

After the Smith family left Ivydene, the Thompstone family then moved 11 doors along the road from number 40 Springfield Road where they had been living for over 20 years, to number 8. John Richard Thompstone (1865-1942) was a corn and flour miller in partnership with his brothers, operated in Cheshire and in Leicester, styled F R Thompstone & Sons Ltd.  The factory was at St Margaret’s. John lived at Ivydene with his wife Gertrude nee Moss (1886-1971) and their children Bernard (1909-1985), John (1911-1999) and Walter Brindley (1912-1963). Gertrude must have been particularly anxious about the military service of her son John, who served as a Bombadier in the 115th Field Artillery during the Second World War, having lost her brother Captain Charles Moss in 1917. Whilst living at 40 Springfield Road Gertrude commissioned a stained glass window in his memory, made by Edward Burne Jones and installed at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield.

After John Richard died in 1942, Gertrude, Walter Brindley and Bernard stayed living at 8 Springfield Road. Walter died in 1963, Gertrude in 1971 and Bernard in 1985. Bernard was the last private individual to own and live at number 8 Springfield Road. After his death plans were made to convert the large property to a residential home for older people, which began in 1986. Several planning applications were refused but eventually a new detached house was built in the large garden, fronting Avenue Road, the rear of the property was extended and fire escapes added.  Today Ivydene is Leaholme Residential Home.

 

 

105 Queens Road Until 1973: Chinese Laundry, Groceries and Seeds

Queens Road

Count eleven windows to the right from the post office and you will find number 105 Queens Road as it looked at the turn of the 20th century.  These days it is the premises of Belvoir! estate and lettings agency.  This end of Queens Road was purely residential until around 1908, in fact in 1906 when number 105 was up for sale by auction it was described as “a dwelling house with palisade fence and small garden in front, tiled entrance hall, dining room with bay window to the front, drawing room with French casement, three bedrooms, two cellars, slated cycle house, w.c. and garden.” William Montague Smith (1864-1933), water rates collector, and his wife Mary Ann Asher (1859- Kibworth) lived there c1897- 1908.  Here is the history of 105 Queens Road as a shop.

1908-1909

John Henry Clover Askew

John Henry Clover Askew

For just one year number 105 Queens Road was lived in by Fanny Hurry (1861-1948) and her husband John Henry Clover Askew (1859-1945), who married in 1879 and had twelve children.  By 1908 only five children survived and three lived with them.  These were May (1884-), Gertrude (c1888-) and Edith (1897-1989).  Fanny and John had previously lived in Cheshire and in Nottingham but settled in Aylestone by 1891.  They were shopkeepers but didn’t seem to particularly mind what kind of shop they kept – firewood, confectionery, groceries.  In 1903 they kept a fishmongers at 113 Clarendon Park Road.  Fanny started the first shop at 105 Queens Road, a fruiterers, but soon moved away to Blaby where she and John lived out the rest of their lives.

1909-1912

William Edward Hack (1873-1953) was born in Asfordby and was apprenticed to a grocer. He married Mary Ann Angrave (1871-1930) in Nottingham in 1895 when she was pregnant with their daughter Hilda May (1895-1952) who was born in Doncaster. By the time Ida Phyllis (1899-1974) came along in 1899 the family lived at number 50 Farnham Road, Leicester and William worked as a grocer’s assistant. They moved to 132 Charnwood Street in about 1903 and in November 1909 to 105 Queens Road to start a grocer’s shop with £20 capital borrowed from a friend. At first things seemed to go well and so in 1910 William opened two branch shops, one in Cavendish Road and the other in Wigston.  Between September and December 1910 Mary advertised in the Western Daily Press for a baby to adopt.  There’s no evidence that William and Mary did adopt a baby but they did take in two boarders in 1911, possibly in an attempt to bring in more money to save their ailing businesses – the two branch shops closed in 1911.  By 1912 William was in debt to the tune of £362 and on the 21st August he ran off to escape his creditors, deserting his wife and children.  Wheeler, Son and Killpack, wholesale grocer’s of Belgrave Gate, initiated a bankruptcy order against William which was granted on 17th September.  Mary was allowed to keep the household effects as she bought them with money that belonged to her before she married.  The family moved out of 105 Queens Road in 1913.  At some point William and Mary were reunited and moved to Middlesborough where William found work as a nursery gardener.

1913-1915

Between 1913 and 1914 105 Queens Road was lived in by Charles Thompson, who almost certainly kept a shop of some kind but unfortunately there is no evidence to say what kind, or who Charles was.  We do know that pork butcher John C Fisher lived there 1914 – 1915.

1916-1938

Between as early as 1916 and 1938 105 Queens Road was a laundry.  In 1916 the laundry was operated by Cyril Wong.  It has proven impossible to find out anything about Cyril.  By 1919 the business was operated by Chow Fun, sometimes known as “Joe Lee” (1892-1966).  Chow was born in China and emigrated to Liverpool in 1916, where he was soon prosecuted for failing to register.  Shortly after he moved to Leicester.  He married Edith Annie Atkins (1899-1982) in 1920 and they had a son, Stanley (1922-1999). Shortly before his marriage, in July 1919 Chow was summoned for failing to furnish particulars of every ‘alien’ living at 105 Queens Road. These were Kow Wong and Wong Chin, friends from China who he said were visiting overnight. Chow was fined 40s (and his friends 40s and £3 respectively).  In 1925 the horribly racist Coventry Herald reported that “a sallow-visaged oriental” – Chow – was charged with speeding at 35 mph and skidding 26 feet before coming to a halt. The car was made in 1914 and Chow’s friend and witness stated that it was incapable of managing the speed, but the judge fined him 40 shillings anyway. By 1939 Chow and Annie lived in cramped accommodation at 45 Melton Street along with various members of Annie’s family and several boarders.  He still worked as a laundry master and Annie as a hosiery hand.  He died in 1966.  A former resident of Clarendon Park recalled Chow working at 105 Queens Road in her memoirs, which are recorded on the excellent Clarendon Spark blog. Edna said “He kept the starch in his mouth and spat on the collars as he ironed them.”

1939-1963

In 1939 Edward Plunkett (1890-1948) and his wife Ida Phyllis Stephenson (1900-1980) – known as “Ted and Pippa” – lived at 105 Queens Road with their son Bryan Edward (1921-2007).  They ran a corn and seed merchants. Edward and Ida installed a telephone line (number 77186) by 1939.  When Edward died in 1947 Ida and Bryan continued to run the business and live above the shop.  Bryan moved out in 1949 and Ida moved in with her new husband Sydney J Kemp whom she married in 1950.  The living accommodation remained empty until Ida’s retirement in 1964, apart from 1952-1955 when it was occupied by one Florence Hughes.

1964-1973

In 1964 John Douglas Barnes (1911-1974) took over the premises, keeping the shop as a corn merchant. John was born in Fulham and lived in and around London until at least the late 1950s so it’s not clear why he moved to Leicester.  He had previously worked as a grinder.  By 1964 John was a widow, his wife Bessie A Martin (1914-1958) having died in 1958. John was the last person to keep a shop at 105 Queens Road and live above the premises. After he moved to Hertfordshire in 1970 the living accommodation remained empty until well into the 1990s.  John ceased trading in 1973.  He died in 1974.

 

 

Crime Solved: Arson in St Leonards Road

93 St Leoards

93 St Leonard’s Road

At about 5 o’clock on the afternoon of Friday 10th March 1899 some children playing in St Leonard’s Road noticed smoke pouring from the windows of number 93, the home of Robert Hunt (1847-1915), his wife Sarah Hannah Smart (1851-1927) and five of their children.  Robert and Sarah were at work whilst the younger children – Nellie (11) , Ethel (10) and Henry (9) – had finished school and were playing outside. Florence (20) and Lilian (18) were also out of the house and the three oldest girls were already married and lived elsewhere.

One of the children who saw smoke was May Mary Perkins (1888-1956) younger daughter of Sergeant Joseph Perkins (1857-1912) , who lived nearby at 73 Clarendon Park Road.  May ran home to tell her father. Sergeant Perkins ran to the Clarendon Park Police and Fire Station at 139 Queens Road to fetch Fireman Gibson and Superintendant Joseph John Howe (1851-1914) and the “curricle” ladder.

The Curricle

The Patent Curricle Fire Escape Ladder

They entered by the front upstairs window but the fire was found to be downstairs in the front sitting room. It looked as though the fire had been started deliberately – the couch and chairs were heaped together and covered in newspaper, and three petroleum lamps, without their globes, had been placed on the floor near to the couch.  Fortunately there was more smoke than fire and it was quickly extinguished.

Known to be a man of eccentric habits, glove hand Robert Hunt was arrested when he came home at 10pm but as he denied all knowledge of the fire and as his wife would not testify against him, the case against Hunt was dismissed.  But I suspect that if the police had had access to Robert’s previous history of fire starting they would have pursued the case further and brought a charge.

Thanks to the British Library’s searchable historical newspapers collection, I was able to discover that Robert Hunt was charged in 1876 with starting a fire in a haystack in Shepshed. He was seen by a farm labourer to be loitering next to the haystack, which was then set alight. He denied starting the fire but could not explain a used match found in his pocket and two stones against which matches had been struck. He gave the name William Brown to the police and said he was from Scotland, later admitting his real name and that he was from Leicester. Robert was found guilty despite a good character having been provided by his employer of seven years, James Brown, a hosiery manufacturer. He was sentenced to 5 years penal servitude. However, Robert’s friends and called upon the Sheriff of Leicester, who took up the case and petitioned the Home Secretary, describing Robert as “an honest, steady and industrious working man, against whom no charge has ever been made prior to the alleged crime of fire raising.” Robert received a full and free pardon.

I have no evidence that Robert was charged with any other fire-starting offences. He lived an apparently blameless but “eccentric” life.  He married Sarah Hannah in May 1868 at St George’s, two years after the death of his first wife Elizabeth Clark (c1843-1866). They had fourteen children, nine of which survived early infancy.  These were Mary Ann (1871), Ruth Baxter (1874), Beatrice Alice (1876), Florence Maria (1879), Lilian Baxter (1881), Nellie Eveline (1887), Ethel May (1888), Henry Robert Archibald (1889) and John William Charles (1893).  They lived in a number of properties including Liverpool Street, Church Street, Dover Square, Duke Street and 56 Montague Road before moving to 93 St Leonard’s Road in 1898.  Astonishingly after Robert set fire to that property the family were not given immediate notice by their landlord but presumably cleared the fire and smoke damage and stayed on living there until some time between 1906 and 1911, when they moved to 43 Ullswater Street. Hannah remained at Ullswater Street after Robert died in 1915 and until her own death in 1927.

56 Montague

56 Montague Road, Clarendon Park – home to the Hunt family c1883-1898

 

 

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

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.

Five sons in the service: A good way to make three quid

From the Leicester Chronicle Friday, December 29th , 1900 p2

Five Sons in the Service:  Queen’s Gift to a Leicester Man

Mr. Edmund G. Hanham, 19, Edward-road, Clarendon Park, who has five sons in the Service, has received the following letter from Sir Fleetwood Edwards, Keeper of the Privy Purse:-

Privy Purse Office, Buckingham Palace, S.W., 18th December 1900

 Lieut.-Colonel Sir Fleetwood Edwards is commanded to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Edward G. Hanham’s letter of the 5th ulto., and, in reply, to say that the Queen is very much gratified to learn that Mr. Hanham has five sons at present in the Service, and Sir Fleetwood Edwards is further commanded to forward to Mr. Hanham the enclosed Post Office Order for three pounds from the Queen as a mark of her Majesty’s appreciation of this interesting fact, with the hope that it may be of some temporary assistance.

Clever Mr Hanham, spending ha’penny on a stamp to write to the Queen, and getting a postal order for three quid in return!  Edmund George Hanham (c1849 -1925) married Mary Ann Dawkes (1850 – 1934) in 1874 and together they had at least ten children.  Edmund was a sergeant in the Staffordshire militia, so it makes sense that so many of his children chose a military life.  On his retirement, the family moved to Edward Road in Clarendon Park, where Edmund set up as a boot and shoe maker.

Mary and Edmund’s children were: Edmund George Lawrence (1875-1901), Violette Polly (1876-), Frances May (1878-1878), Hedley Thomas (1878-1962), Archibald Harry (1881), Albert Victor (1883) Thomas (1884-1884), Charles Gordon (1885), Albert Edwin (1887), Christie (1887-1946)

I haven’t been able to find out about the military service of all Edmund’s sons, but here is what I did find:

Edmund George junior was a Sergeant Doctor in the South Staffordshire Regiment.  He died in January 1901 at Winburg, during the second Boer War of 1899-1902 and just a few days after the article in the Chronicle.  How awful for his father, to be recognised by the Queen one month and then the next, to lose one of his sons.

Hedley Thomas joined the 5th Duke of Wellington Regiment and later the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  He was demobilised and became a warehouseman in Huddersfield.  In 1914 he again enlisted, rejoining the Duke of Wellingtons.  He returned to Huddersfield and died in 1962.

Christie joined the 5th Dragoon Guards in 1902.  he was wounded in South Africa in 1903 and again in 1904.  In 1905 he requested permission to emigrate to Canada – can’t say I blame him – but was refused.  He spent a few years in the Reserves before re-enlisting, then staying in the service until 1915.  His record states that he had a tattoo of a flower and two dots on his right forearm!  He never did make it to Canada: He died in Leicester in 1946.

The Hanhams didn’t stay in Clarendon Park for very long and were living elsewhere in Leicester by 1911.  I don’t suppose they made much of an impact on the area but the letter from Her Majesty must have stirred a lot of interest at the time.  Small stories, but interesting nevertheless.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Christmas at Clarendon Park Churches 1889

From the Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday 28th December 1889

St John’s, Clarendon Park

This church has been very artistically, if not profusely, decorated, and a considerable quantity of colour introduced amongst the green has relieved the sombre effect which inevitably accompanies a decoration of evergreens only. On the communion table are some fine bunches of white lilies, Christmas roses and Eucharist lilies, and on each side are a number of hot-house plants. Along the front choir-rail a pleasing effect is produced with evergreens, heathers, tulips, hyacinths, and other white flowers. On the front of the pulpit is a cross formed of green, with white everlasting daisies, and the reading lectern is decked with grasses and holly. The front is ornamented with some handsome grasses, holly and berries, and bunches of evergreens are placed in the window niches.

Clarendon Park Congregational Church

The decorations in this church though not very extensive, are carried out with taste and judgement. The pulpit is trimmed with variegated holly and evergreens, as is also the communion table, on which stands hothouse plants. Along the front of the choir is a string of ivy creepers, and the gas brackets, window ledges, and pillars, are decked with evergreens.

Merry Christmas everyone – Elizabeth.

Furiously driving three horses and an omnibus on the London Road

A theme is developing as I look at old newspapers to find criminal and delinquent Clarendon Park dwellers.  That theme is Avenue Road Extension.  Now I realise that it’s a long road…but the former inhabitants take up more than their fair share of column inches.

Take this case of a speeding driver on the London Road in 1893.  Benjamin Garner, aged 45, who lived at 67 Avenue Road Extension, was summoned for ” furiously driving three horses and an omnibus on the London-road”  on the 31st of January.  Benjamin was a bus proprietor.  He had a wife (Fanny) and children Walter, Benjamin, Annie, Harry and shortly afterwards Ernest  to support.  Perhaps that was why he was speeding; to get as much work as possible.

Benjamin had started off as a plasterer, but sometime between 1881 and 1887 he started a shop at Edward Road (off Montague Road).  He also kept a wagonette.  By 1891 he and his family had moved to Avenue Road Extension and Benjamin concentrated solely on his omnibus and wagonette driving business.  As they got older children Walter and Benjamin worked for their father as bus conductors.  Walter went on to start a hardware shop in Twycross Street, later joined by his brother Harry.

Benjamin retired late in the 1910s, not before having branched out to give riding lessons.  I wonder if any of his pupils knew that he had been up in court for reckless driving?  As for the punishment, he was ordered to pay costs.  Furiously driving up the London Road these days would more likely land you with points on your driving license, if indeed it was possible to drive faster than 9mph due to traffic.  Regards, Elizabeth.