Sunday, 22 February 2015

WW1 memorial and the Church of All Saints with Holy Trinity

Earlier this week I popped along to the Church of All Saints with Holy Trinity, often referred to as the Parish Church, to see what had been happening with the moving of the war memorial, for which a local group successfully obtained an Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and to listen to the conservators' story.

It was a pretty miserable evening, raining and a bit chilly, but the atmosphere inside the church was warm and inviting, and by the time I got there people had already been helping themselves to tea, coffee, biscuits or wine, and were busy chatting amongst themselves, with the organisers and with the conservators.

The company chosen to undertake the work were Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, a brilliant team involved in the conservation of historic buildings, monuments and sculptures. Although based in Wells, Somerset, the conservators travel the length and breadth of the country, breathing new life into neglected, damaged and sad structures.

Introductions over, Lisa, from SSHC, told us about how the memorial was being moved, how it was being cleaned, how it was being supported and so on. She stressed the delicateness of the Chellaston alabaster figures, the thinness of the Swithland slate (at 15mm, very thin) and how she and her colleagues waited for the memorials to speak to them, before doing any of these things. She talked of the cramps that held the memorial together, she talked about previous restorations and moves (which luckily hadn't used iron pieces, but had used some hard-to-remove materials to ensure the memorial never moved again), she talked of using white spirit to clean the delicate alabaster, and regaled us with tales of James, one of her colleagues, making the wall fit the memorial by chiselling away at it, whilst dressed head-to-toe in protective clothing.

When the talk was over we were eager to chat again with the conservators, spend time looking at the memorial and sculptures with more awe, and taking a few snaps. I was very surprised to learn that although the work had only started on the Monday evening, they were expecting to be finished by the end of Friday! If you want to keep up-to-date with their work, SSHC are on facebook.

The organisers have taken photographs throughout the process, and below are mine from the event. As a trial, in order to help the page load more quickly, I've tried to compress them a bit, but this does affect the quality.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Pub quiz!

A pub quiz with a difference!!

I haven't had much time to research this week, and when I went out today to take some pictures, the Heavens opened, so I've not got many pictures for you, so I  thought I'd try something different for this wet Sunday evening!

Can you guess which pubs are represented in the images below?

Click each picture for a bit more info about the pub!
Picture 1

Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5
Picture 6

The Cross Keys

The Cross Keys - also known as the Cross Keys Inn and the Phantom.

The name Cross Keys is one of those pub signs with religious connotations, as it represents the keys held by St Peter.

The Phantom is situated on the corner of Leicester Road and Pinfold Gate. The first building housing this drinking establishment in Loughborough, was certainly around in about 1770, but was demolished in the early 1800s and moved a bit, I think, as the road it was on became the main Leicester Road (before this, carriages from Leicester would have come down Packe Horse Lane which was then the main road).

In 1994 the pub was taken over by the chain which owned the Firkin tradename - at this time that would have been Allied Domecq. In 1999 the chain was sold to Punch Taverns, who then sold many of the pubs to Bass, who in turn were taken over by Mitchells and Butler. The Phantom, as it is now known, is part of the Scream brand, and is currently being refurbished!

Click the picture to return to the pub quiz!
The Phantom, formerly the Cross Keys
Refurbishment notice

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Grudgings the Needle-makers

The needle-makers of Loughborough

A couple of weeks ago you may remember I posted a couple of articles on needle-making and promised you a blog post on one specific Loughborough company of needle-makers, but before I introduce you to that family, here's a quick update on other needle-making firms that appeared in the 1872 Loughborough street directory:

  • Thomas Armstrong in Pinfold Gate and at 11 Leicester Road
  • J T & C Grudgings at 7 Woodgate and on Packe Horse Lane
  • W Hammond Bearded Needles & Sons, one factory on Havelock Street (factory demolished in the 1960s was on the site of the current Goods Yard Close) and another on Bridge Street, on the corner of Limehurst Avenue opposite the former Fire Station (now ATS Euromaster) and Bridge Street, probably demolished in the 1980s, though left derelict for sometime
  • William Hubbard in Union Street (now the tiniest little cul-de-sac off Ashby Road, opposite the Old English Gentleman pub)
  • There is also another potential needle-making factory, as yet unidentified (by me, at least) along the jetty leading from Duke Street to Meadow Lane, which in 1925 could be W & W Hubbard  
There are, of course, other trades related to the hosiery industry and needle-making but let's get back to the Grudgings!

The Grudgings family had at least three needle-making factories in Loughborough:
  • on Woodgate/Packe Horse Lane (opened in 1850-1 and certainly around in 1872) 
  • School Street (J T & C Grudgings - being Josiah, Thomas and Charles Cross) 
  • and Albert Street (Daniel & Bros.).

Grudgings, now GTG Engineering, Albert Street

If you've read my previous posts you'll know that the Albert Street factory is still standing and is used by GTG Engineering, a company which was established as long ago as 1959, and provides "precision engineering, mechanical testing and metallurgical specimens and equipment to the aerospace and allied industries."

Grudgings, now The Needleworks, on School Street
The other two factories have disappeared, one on Woodgate - with an entrance also on Packe Horse Lane - at number 7 Woodgate, next door to the Marquis Of Granby pub, which was on the opposite corner of Packe Horse Lane from the Old Packe Horse Inn (now the Organ Grinder) - and the other being partially demolished and re-built as flats (28 School Street).

The Grudgings family who owned and worked in needle-making factories in Loughborough originated from Ratby, where Daniel Grudgings (let's call him senior) was in the needle-making trade (as was his father, also Daniel). His son, also Daniel (let's call him junior), moved to Desford and took needle-making there, and some of his sons brought the work to Loughborough, and created the Grudgings needle-making factories mentioned above. Years later, one of Daniel junior's grandsons took needle-making to Kegworth.

Between 1871 and 1881, members of the Grudgings family, either needle-masters, or needle-makers, were living in various dwellings in Loughborough, including numbers 1 & 2 Albert Street, number 4 Albert Place, number 8 Bedford Street (which appears to be on the end of the terraced houses, exactly where Browns Lane now cuts through), 2 Southfield Road, and 58 Woodgate (approximately where the Print House is). In later years, members of the family can be found living on Paget Street, Herrick Road (numbers 116 & 118), Beacon Road (numbers 14 and 20), 40 Moor Lane, 32a Cobden Street, 2 Corporation Road (no longer standing), 234 Forest Road (no longer standing), and more recently Charnwood Road.

Charnwood Road
116 & 118 Herrick Road

These days we probably struggle to conceive of the number of needles that would actually need to be made in order to support the hosiery industry: Needle-making was a skill and in high demand, as Loughborough and the surrounding area were major areas of hosiery production. Now, I'm no expert on the hosiery industry of the past, so I'm not sure whether they would have been producing latch needles or bearded needles, although, given that another firm, Hammonds, were publicised as bearded needle-makers I'm erring on the side of the bearded variety.

I do have it on good authority that if you were an engineer maintaining one of these hosiery making machines, you would be sure to wear a suitable boiler suit as, clambering under the machines you would come out covered in needles! And, if you worked on the milling machine, you needed to be careful not to get the beards caught in your fingers: They hurt and were very hard to get out!

In later years, the Grudgings family branched out from needle-making, so in the late-nineteenth century, early-twentieth century, we find school teachers (one at Cobden Street), in 1901 a trainee teacher was boarding on Uppingham Road, Leicester, also shoemakers, iron workers and I'm sure many of us will remember Grudgings tobacconist and confectioners who last traded on Swan Street.

Regarding the fortunes that were made in the Grudgings' needle-making enterprises, Daniel senior died in 1870 leaving under £100. Daniel junior died in 1876 and left effects under £450. Charles Cross Grudgings who died in 1918 left £5658 5s. 6d..

In 1871 there seems to have been some kind of industrial dispute, which may or may not have included the Grudgings needle-makers. on Tuesday October 17th, 1871, the Birmingham Daily Post reported:

"Strikes in the hosiery trade. The strike amongst the hosiery needle-makers of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire still continues, with no prospect of a settlement at present. The master needle-makers will not acceded to the demands of the journeymen, which must cause great inconvenience to the hosiery manufacturers generally, if a speedy settlement does not take place. The men still remain firm in their demand, and it is stated do not intend to resume work until their demand is complied with."

I would like to end this post by mentioning that at least three members of the family were involved in WW1. Henry Archer Grudgings, son of Daniel (himself grandson of Daniel senior), born in 1892 died in battle on 13th May 1915, aged 23. William, also a great-grandson of Daniel senior, an elementary school teacher, joined the war in 1916, and survived. His story is currently being told on Twitter. Henry Ernest, also a great-grandson of Daniel senior via a different line, was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery and also survived the First World War.

I would like to thank a number of people for their help with my research including (but any factual inaccuracies, spelling and grammar mistakes are all down to me rushing as usual):

Stephen, Tony, Ray, Steve, Rob, Roy, Ernie, Margaret, Karen and the lovely folk at the Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Walking China and Loughborough: Burton Street, Beeches Road and Baxtergate

Previous Post

Changes around town

Huge apologies if you were expecting to land here and find an incredibly interesting post about a needle-making family in Loughborough. This week has been really busy for me so I haven't had enough time to bring my research together into a readable blogpost, and I would like to do the topic justice, so please accept today's offering.

The Charnwood Roots Project has had quite a big call on my time this week, with a training session and some research. Two children came home from uni to celebrate a birthday, and I went to a lovely concert that the youngest was playing in. All this means that time to bring the needle-makers post together was in short supply. However, I did manage to sneak out for a pre-Sunday dinner walk, partly because at work, we're measuring our steps and aiming to walk the equivalent of the Great Wall of China, so I need to do lots of walking to contribute my share, but also, it was a chance to see what's going on in our lovely town at the moment. And there certainly is a lot!

I started my walk on Burton Street: Ok, so the Grammar School buildings never change, but they are so photogenic, aren't they:

Grammar School buildings

From here I walked the path leading from Burton Street to Shelthorpe where I walked under the arch showing the award won by the estate when it was built in the 1930s:

At the bottom of Shelthorpe Road I turned and walked up Leicester Road, and crossed into Beeches Road. Up on the bridge I had a great view of the GCR railway track and the signals:

Bridge number 334!

The signals
Several interesting specimens in hiding around here too:

Of course, just beyond the bridge is the former Ladybird place, now a wallpaper factory, Anstey Wallpaper Company, making wallpapers for the likes of Sanderson etc..
Ladybird House
Walking along Windmill Road I then turned into Great Central Road and noticed the allotments next to the GCR, but the station itself was a little more appealing for a blogger with camera:
The restored canopy

The post box, installed in the reign of George V (1910-1936)

Looking through the canopy

Walking down Great Central Road, and across New King Street took me into Moira Street, then left into Trinity Street, left into Rutland Street, left into Moor Lane, right into Cobden Street and then left into School Street. Here I looked down what's left of Pinfold Jetty into Coronation Way (I think that's what it's called):
Pinfold Jetty
At the end of School Street I found myself looking across Coronation Way into the site of the old hospital:
School Street showing the pile driver
Looking back down Pinfold Gate, I could see the new flats on the site where the Cherry Tree pub used to be:
Cherry Tree flats
Back on Coronation Way, I took a better look at the development on the hospital site:
Better view of the pile driver!

Numbers 55 & 53 Baxtergate in the background
Noting an interesting signpost on the corner, showing that we have a "Heritage Quarter":
Mention of our Heritage Quarter!
I then noticed that the tiles inside what used to be Cottons (I think) had been removed from the wall (see my blogpost on ghost signs in Loughborough for what this are used to look like less than a year ago):
The area formerly covered in white tiles
These Love Loughborough signs have popped up all over town:
Love Loughborough signs
Then, into Baxtergate to see what progress was being made on the proposed development on the old hospital site:
Nos. 53 & 55 under scaffolding

Not sure what's happening to no. 51

Close-up of no. 53

No. 55 from the side
The hoardings in front of the site have changed recently, and promise us eateries galore and a cinema:
Artist's impression of what the development is going to look like
This was the end of my journey: Had it been open, I would have stopped in here for a delicious pot of tea:
Delice Café
Here my journey ended. About 7000 steps: But how far to China?