Tag Archives: House history

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.

 

 

Stoneleigh, 51 Queens Road: “Domestic Unhappiness, the Result of Drink”

When I am the bus stop on Queens Road (the last stop before Victoria Park), waiting for the number 44, I often look at the houses on either side of the road.  I really like the silly, grandiose house names their builders gave them.  It’s quite fun that for the first 20 or 30 years of their life, those houses were often actually known by their names rather than street number.  One of these is Stoneleigh, number 51 Queens Road.  There is a rather sad story of a family who lived there during the 1890s.

51 Queens Road

51 Queens Road

Fanny Burdett (c1851-1898) was born in Chichester and shortly afterwards moved with her parents to Marylebone, London.  From a young age she worked as a dressmaker.  Whilst in London she met Henry Rogers (1848-1920), a young tailor, and they married in 1878.  They moved to Leicester before 1881, settling in London Road, and by 1891 lived at Evington Street whilst keeping the London Road premises for the tailoring business – military and livery.  They had the usual Victorian brood; seven surviving children; five girls and two boys born between 1879 and 1892.

Some time between 1891 and 1895 Henry, Fanny and the children moved to Stoneleigh, number 51 Queens Road Clarendon Park.  Despite the relative prosperity of the family – they always kept at least one servant, usually two – and the respectable appearance of the house, the Rogers were in crisis.  Fanny was an alcoholic, her behaviour at times “like a maniac” and the children were suffering.  Henry tried to protect them, but Fanny had been addicted to drink for many years and he eventually saw no option but to force her to leave the house and children.

At some point the family became known to the NSPCC, still in its infancy having been established in 1884, and brought a case to the Borough Police Court in January 1896.  An inspector reported that the children had been ill treated, that they were horror-stricken and that there was a danger of the younger children losing their reason.  The only answer was for Fanny to be permanently separated from her children.  A document, which Henry had already prepared, was produced at court for Fanny to sign.  Provision was made for Fanny’s financial support.  The Bench agreed that the prosecution did not need to go ahead.

Fanny returned to London, where she died just two years later, probably from the effects of her alcoholism.  Henry and the seven children (Florence Annie, Gertrude Helen, Harry Burdett, Maud Eveline, Arthur Redfern, Mabel Winifred and Elsie Gwendolyn) remained at Stoneleigh for another few years.  Henry’s business grew.  He opened a shop at 22 Market Street.  Then between 1901 and 1906 the family moved to Bush Close, a house in Springfield Road.  Sadly Arthur died in 1907, aged just 17.

Arthur Redfern Rogers died on 20th November 1907 and was buried three days later at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton

Arthur Redfern Rogers died on 20th November 1907 and was buried three days later at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton

Henry continued his business with the help of his remaining son Harry, before dying in 1920.  He left over £14,000, a good sum of money.

I wondered whether, as the NSPCC inspector had feared, whether Fanny’s children really did lose their reason.  There isn’t much to go on, but of the six surviving children only two married (Harry and Maud).  Gertrude and Maud worked for a time as governesses – meaning that their education probably far exceeded that of their parents.  Florence, the eldest, moved just round the corner to 36 Portland Road, and the remaining unmarried sisters Gertrude, Mabel and Gwendolyn, lived and died (in old age) together at Hove in Sussex.  Harry also stayed in Leicester, after fighting in Egypt during the Great War.  There’s nothing to say that anyone lost their reason, but it’s still a sad story.  Something to ponder at the bus stop.  Elizabeth

Remembering the Clarendon Park Fallen: Claude Francis Alexander (1893-1918)

Claude Francis Alexander was born in Leicester in 1893, the eldest son of George Alexander (1870-1949) and Sarah Mutton (1872-1927).  Claude and his siblings Reginald George (1895-1955), Charles (1897-1925) and Marjorie Florence (1910-) lived firstly at one end of Hartopp Road – number 116 – and then at the other.  When Claude and Reginald signed up to join the Territorial Army it was while the family was living at number 9 Hartopp Road.  The family were Baptists.

9 Hartopp Road

Claude joined the Leicestershire Regiment in October 1914, when he was working as a clerk for a shoe manufacturer.  He started as a private but was promoted to lance corporal in 1916, and 5 months later to corporal.  Claude served in France, returning home briefly every year.  In 1917 he suffered a wound to his left knee and spent a couple of months in hospital in Bristol, but returned to France and was killed on 17th July 1918, less than three months before the end of the war.  He is buried at Fouquieres-les-Bethune, Pas de Calais, along with 386 of his compatriots, mainly fellow Territorial forces.  He never married.

Claude’s brother Reginald survived the war.  He joined the Territorial Army in 1913 aged just 17 and just 5 feet and 5 inches tall when he was a clothing dresser in the emply of Messrs Thorneloe Clarkson (in Northampton Street).  Sadly records of Reginald’s full service are lost, but we do know that he married Doris Stuffins in 1928 and lived in Leicester until his death in 1955.

More about the shop on the corner of Howard Road and Lytton Road

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

A Sneak Peek At Reg Pratt

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.

Image

I wish there was still a greengrocers there, instead of another horrible rendered house with plastic windows…Image

 

Clarendon Park in 1960 Part 1: Clarendon Park Road

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

Evens

  • (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