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
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.
I wish there was still a greengrocers there, instead of another horrible rendered house with plastic windows…
This week’s local history purchase was the 1960 Kelly’s Directory of Leicester, which was published at the tail end of the publishing history of the trade/street directory. The binding is still the familiar red, gold and black with advertising on every possible surface, and it’s still a weighty tome – but Kelly’s and its rivals faced competition from telephone directories and by 1960 its days were numbered. It’s still a fascinating read for those of us so inclined, and I have enjoyed making comparisons between Clarendon Park in 1960 and 1912.
Although Queens Road is the obvious choice, for comparing the shops and businesses of the past and present, I find the lesser shopping streets more interesting. I started with Clarendon Park Road, which several older residents of Clarendon Park Road have told me used to be full of useful little shops. I took a notebook on a walk down Clarendon Park Road and noted the current shops and businesses. I added these in italics to the list below of 1960 shops and businesses. What is interesting is how many broadly similar or even the same businesses there are trading at quite a few of the premises – such as a branch of the Belgrave Laundry Co at number 107, which is now Bliss dry cleaners, or the bicycle dealer John E Chamberlain at 214-6 (now Julies Cycles). Some businesses have moved to different premises, such as Spiers Pharmacy, which in its earlier incarnation was at the premises now occupied by Hot Ice Printing.
There are also a lot of changes. There aren’t any greengrocers on Clarendon Park these days, more’s the pity – but we do have a few take aways and a running shop (which I suspect would have been utterly baffling to the Clarendon Park residents of 1960!). I was surprised at how many shops and businesses there still are on Clarendon Park Road. I had expected the number to have dropped considerably. There are some former shops that have been rather insensitively converted to houses, and some attractive shop fronts that have been badly modernised (the former Tango tanning shop at 179 and 181 for example. Grey double glazing is never a good look, chaps). But on the whole we are very lucky in still retaining much of the Victorian character of the shops and houses on Clarendon Park Road. Let’s keep it that way.
* Disclaimer: Many of the shops and businesses on Clarendon Park Road don’t have visible street numbers, so there may be some small errors (please feel free to point them out to me!).
Clarendon Park Road
- 107 Belgrave Laundry Co Ltd, the (branch office) Bliss – dry cleaning
- 109 Mitton, Wm – upholsterer Mittons – carpets and mattresses
- 111 Kirby & West Ltd – dairymen Mittons
- 111A Dilks, R & Co Ltd – hosiery manufacturers
- 113 Matthews, N P – auto body repairs Red Cross mobility shop
- 113 Leicester Car Valet Services
- 117 Tony’s Cut Price Stores – grocers Natwest Bank
- 123 Copping, Jack – newsagent
- 125 York, Wm – ophthalmic optician
- 127 Brown, Harold F & Co Ltd – plumbers Habito – lettings agent
- 129 Clarke’s Shoe Repair Service Empty – was antiques
- 131 Cave, Ernest Arthur – fruiterer TJs Burgers and Kebabs
- 131 Tanner, A G – motor engineer Gents & Boys Hairdressers
- 157 Warren, Frederick William – boot dealer Labels – designer dress agency
- 161 The Tawa Curry Hut – takeaway
- 163 Smith, William H (Coal and transport) Ltd – motor coach proprietors First4Lettings
- 165/7 Popple, S H – clothing manufacturers
- 179 & 181 Worthington’s Cash Stores – grocers Stetfords lettings
- 193 Hubbard, Mrs E M – newsagent
- 195 Leicester Horticultural Engineering Co Ltd – horticultural machinery engineers
- 199 Leicester Trustee Savings Bank (branch) Power Thompson
- 201 Rowley, William – grocer Knighton Supermarket
- 205 Rowley, R – fishmonger Knighton Flowers
- 217 Spiers, Arthur H – chemist Hot Ice Printing
- (Clarendon Park Baptist Chapel) N&S Coaches Ltd – motor coach proprietors
- 229 Parton, J L – chiropodist
- 231 S R Parton & Associates – chiropodists and podiatrists
- 241 Allen, Ernest A – painter & decorator
- 245 Langran, Ronald J – newsagent Stuff – antiques & curios
- 247 Roxby’s – drapers Revivals – dress and toy agency
- 249 Parry, L – wallpaper dealer
- 251 Jesson, I M – confectioner
- 257 Green, Mrs M – teacher of music
- 277 Plinsent, Arthur Ernest – shopkeeper
- 323 Worsley, W – confectioner
- 325/7 Spiers Pharmacy
- (Parish church of St John the Baptist)
- 64 Whowell, William & Son Ltd – crepe rubber factors ( Plantation ho)
- 66 Reggio Garage – motor engineers Reggio Garage
- (St John the Baptist Junior School)
- (British Legion – Knighton Branch)
- (St John’s Church Rooms)
- 78 Radar Electrical Co – television installations Anita’s cards/Radar
- 82 Adlard & Roffe – bakers
- 84 The Loughborough Building Society
- 98 Peadon S A & Son Ltd – bakers Rebecca’s – cakes
- 140 Weaver, Edward G – hairdresser Kanta Mantini hairdressers
- 142 Elson, Mrs H – confectioner The Offie – beer retailer/off license
- 144 Clarendon Books – secondhand bookshop
- 146 Armstrong, C P – greengrocer The New Golden Chef – chinese take away
- 146 Leicester Running Shop
- 160 Pickering, H – joiner
- 190 Hobson, Ernest D – boot repairer Ellerington Fine Art Gallery (opens September 2012)
- 192 Smith, J S (Leicester) Ltd – hardware dealers Lucky 13 Tattoo
- 196 Ruckley, Gordon W – stationer The Snug – beauty parlour
- 196 Lorne Road Post Office
- 198 Clarendon House – chinese take away
- 200/204 Leicester Co-operative Society Ltd – grocers Co-operative
- (Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society’s Homes)
- 208 Roxby’s – drapers Central Studios – photographers
- 214/216 Chamberlain, John E – cycle agent Julies Cycles
- 228 Sarson, Joyce E – greengrocer
- 246 Shrimpton, Miss Frances – dressmaker
- 280 Ward, J – butcher Charlie’s Pine
- 296 McCoan, Colin K – physician Clarendon Medical Centre
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.
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
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.
Posted in Old postcards and photos
Tagged Clarendon Park, Edwardians, Family history, Genealogy, History, House history, Knighton, Leicester, Local history, Photographs, Victorians
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.