Sunday, 24 April 2016

Investigating the Victorians leads to Messengers

Call me mad, if you will, but I've signed up to another online course, this time discovering more about the Victorians. 10 weeks of at least 10 hours a week study, lots of which will be on the pc, and much with my nose in the course text.

Talking of which, the course text -

Royle, E. (2012). Modern Britain: a social history 1750-2011, Bloomsbury Academic, 3rd ed. - 

is a mere 576 pages long (ok, so this includes extensive notes, a bibliography and an index) and quite awkward to hold. It's saving grace, I suppose, is that Loughborough does actually appear in the index! How exciting, I thought, but I admit to be a little disappointed that the entry referred to a paragraph on Thomas Cook and his Temperance outing from Leicester to Loughborough in 1841! There are brief mentions of Luddites, Scotch Cattle and Rebecca Riots (sorry, the latter two are more relevant to my Welsh background) and several pages devoted to Chartists.

The course itself has started with an introduction to the Victorians, and there has already been mention of the agricultural revolution, including the work of our very own Robert Bakewell. One of the first units of the course focussed on the Great Exhibition of 1851, in the Crystal Palace. This was a fascinating discussion, and the building itself reminded me of some of the large conservatories that used to be built onto large stately homes, only on an absolutely enormous scale. The fact that is was put up in 22 weeks was quite staggering, and to realise it was only a temporary structure, and was dismantled and re-built in a different location was enlightening. 

Anyway, the architect of the Crystal Palace was Joseph Paxton and because I could see similarities with Messengers of Loughborough who initially made conservatories, I did a quick scour of the internet and found a place called Combermere Abbey in Shropshire, which had a Messenger conservatory. In fact, the writer of the article said the following:

"the largest of Messenger’s buildings almost rivalled Paxton’s glasshouse of 1851"

praise indeed, I'd say! 

I'm sure most of you reading will know that Messengers was founded in 1858 by Thomas Goode Messenger who was initially a plumber and glass fitter and had offices on High Street. In 1874 the firm was taken over by Walter Chapman Burder, and in 1884 the company moved to Cumberland Road, presumably to be near the Charnwood Forest Railway, and the coal that was needed for the new foundry.

I've taken a couple of photos today, and if you zoom in on the one of the Messenger building from Hospital Walk, and look carefully at the columns at each side of the door, you might see that they have been etched with initials, EJGB on the left and WCB (Walter Chapman Burder) on the right. Hmm, not sure about the first set, but Walter Chapman Burder's wife was Elizabeth Jane Gifford Burder (nee Nash), so perhaps they are hers?
The entrance to the Cumberland Road Trading Estate

Inside the trading estate

A drain cover with no maker's mark

Burder's foundry building

Chimney and tower on the trading estate

Sliding door on the trading estate

The wall of the Messenger buildings on Hospital Walk

The entrance to Messengers on Hospital Walk

Messenger's entrance with the initials in the brickwork 

New housing estate along the site of the Charnwood Forest Railway

The last remaining building of the Charnwood Forest Railway

The Station Hotel on the junction of Derby Road and Station Street, now a funeral directors


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Leicestershire County Council Green Plaque Scheme

Leicestershire County Council's Green Plaque Scheme

Leicestershire County Council have now been running their green plaque award scheme for a couple of years. This year's nominations have now closed, but I haven't been able to find the shortlist. The award scheme is county-wide; as the largest town outside of the county town, Loughborough has been awarded a number of these plaques, so let's hope there will be some more accolades for the town in this year's.

Here's some of our previous winners:   

Sunloch, the winner of the 1914 Grand National, was nominated last year in the Leicestershire County Council's scheme, by the public, and became one of the proud recipients of a green plaque in March this year. Below, you can see the plaque on the right of the house.
Gainsborough House, former home of Grand National winner, Sunloch
There's a lovely picture of the commemorative event over on the county council's website. Sunloch ended his days at Sketchley Hall near Burbage, at the home of Mr Chas. H. Aldridge. The Burbage Heritage Group have some interesting talks and trips out, and they also have a Facebook page on which they have uploaded some interesting pictures. 

Over on the BBC website, you can see the green plaque that was awarded to Ladybird Books, which was placed in Angel Yard which was where the first Ladybird books were published.

The full list of 2015 winners is on the Leicester Mercury website [warning: this might take a while to load].

Over on the Taylor's Bellfoundry website, you can see a picture of the green plaque the company was awarded in the 2014 award year - scroll down to the bottom of the page for four such pictures.

A full list of the six 2014 winners can be found on the inLoughborough website.

Pop over to the web and do an image search for Leicestershire County Council Green Plaque Scheme to see more pictures and information relating to the unveiling of plaques.  

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Out and about around Loughborough

These last 18 days have been busy, so busy, in fact, that I've had little to no time to do any research into the history of Loughborough.What I have discovered though, is that one doesn't have to travel far from Loughborough itself to find some really interesting things to do.

Saturday 26 March saw us visit the Great Central Railway steam show. We hopped on the train at Loughborough, and went all the way through to Birstall where we got off and had a cup of tea at Greenacres. Then we made the return trip, getting off at Quorn, and then walked the rest of the way home.

Sunday 27 March we took a trip around Staunton Harold reservoir, passing Calke Abbey on the way. That day was very busy, and we passed loads of people out on the walk.

Tuesday 29 March and we trotted off to Leicester. Finally got to see the Richard III visitor centre, the grave in the cathedral, and also the Guildhall.

Wednesday 30 March we went a bit further afield, to Attenborough Nature Reserve, a place I hadn't been to in about 25 years! A great walk and a lovely cup of tea!

Thursday 31 March and we stayed a bit closer to home, and visited the remains of the abbey at Grace Dieu, as well as walking through the woods.

Friday 1 April we took the train to Stamford. Not done that before; previously, we've always been in the car. A great day to go because there was a street market which we'd not been to before. Also visited the little town museum, which was highly informative.

Sunday 3 April I took myself up Beacon Hill. I was a bit surprised to find the lower car park closed, and a new pay on exit machine on the exit at the higher car park. It was a good walk though.

Monday 4 April the offspring and I went to Oakley Grange for a belated birthday cuppa, which was lovely! As well as cattle and calves, there were some lovely little piggies there.

Tuesday 5 April one of the offspring finally took me to Bluebell "Burleigh" Woods, a place I'd heard of, but never been to before. Only a few bluebells out though, so will have to go again in the next week or so.

Wednesday 6 April I went to Castle Donington. Had a quick look at the shops, and then walked to the Priest House, where I had a lovely cup of tea, before walking back again.

Thursday 7 April the youngest and I went to Rushcliffe Country Park, a bit of a blast from the past! Had a great walk around.

Friday 8 April saw us go on a treasure hunt around Findern arranged by Mercia Marina. The walk along the canal was great, and we had a lovely bowl of soup at the marina.

Sunday 10 April we drove to Zouch and walked the length of the canal as far as the Great Central Railway bridge, passing the back of Derby Road Playing Fields, and the Astra Zeneca buildings.

Next week will be a bit quieter!!   

Monday, 4 April 2016


A few weeks ago I was leafing through the local paper (The Loughborough Echo, Wednesday 23 March, 2016, p31) and my attention was caught by a headline in the Looking Back section, From The Archives, 50 years ago ... Beacon Rd brickworks ...

Apparently, the brickworks on Beacon Road, belonging to Tuckers, was scheduled to close after Easter. That would have been around April 1966, which was only a couple of years since Tuckers had been taken over by Butterley Bricks. 

I think my interest in the brick-making firm of Tuckers started when I looked into the development of Middleton Place, and discovered that one member of the brick-making family was living at number 81. I've also seen a number of adverts for Tuckers Bricks in some of my books, including in "Loughborough 1951":

The Gilbert Tuckers

The story of this brick-making family goes back many years. Gilbert Tucker (born Smisby, 1806) was married to a lady called Hannah Orgill, who was born in 1811. In 1841 Gilbert was a publican and maltster, running what was then called the Malt Shovel (which I believe is now called the Tap House and is on the corner of Annwell Lane and Ashby Road, and was previously known as the Annwell Inn, and Mother Hubbard's). Also in 1841 Gilbert and Hannah had at least 3 children: Gilbert (jnr) born Clay Cross, 1838; William, born 1833; Emma, born 1839; and Nathan, born 1841. 

By the time of the 1851 census, Gilbert snr was now a brick maker and, and Gilbert jnr was a brick maker's assistant, and they were living on Far Park Lane, Loughborough. When the next census took place, in 1861, Gilbert snr was living with his wife Hannah and their son Nathan in Brickyard Cottage, in Loughborough Parks (in between the listings for Pocket Gate and Sydney Terrace). Gilbert snr was a brick maker/master employing 2 men and 6 boys, and Nathan was also a brick maker. They were also living with James something-or-other, who seems to have been a partner in the brick making business.

Meanwhile, by 1861, Gilbert jnr had branched out and moved away from his parents, having married Eliza. They, with their 8 month old son, William Trueman, were living on Bedford Street (the next census entry is for Albert Street), and Gilbert was a brick maker/master, and a Primitive Methodist local preacher. 

By 1871, Gilbert and Eliza were living at number 2 Park Street, with 6 of their children (William Trueman, Annie, Lucy Emma, John Edward, Ellen and Arthur. Gilbert was by now a brick maker/master employing 11 men and 6 boys. Father Gilbert, brick maker, and his wife Hannah were at this time living on Park Lane, with their invalid son, Nathan, formerly a brick maker, and Nathan's wife, Eliza.

In 1876, Gilbert snr died, and in 1881 his widow, Hannah can be found living in Park Lane with Kate, aged 7, listed as Hannah's daughter (???). At the same time, Gilbert jnr was living with his wife, Eliza, the same 6 children as in 1871, but were joined by 2 further children, Florence Louisa, and Alfred Gilbert. Gilbert was a master brick maker and farmer, John Edward was an assistant brick maker, and William Trueman was a book keeper. They were all living on Forest Road, at number 12, which I believe is the house on the corner of Park Road and Forest Road, opposite the side of the Trinity Methodist Church.

In 1886 Eliza Tucker died, and in 1887 Gilbert jnr married Annie Jane Evans Boden (daughter of Charles Boden of Walsall), from Chesterfield, and in 1889 their son, Charles Henry Boden Tucker was born. At the time of the 1891 census, Gilbert is living with his new wife Annie, his children from his first marriage - Annie, Ellen, Florence, Kate, and Alfred - and their son Charles. Gilbert is listed as a brick manufacturer, Alfred is a joiner's apprentice and they are still living at number 12 Forest Road.

Hannah Tucker died in 1893. In 1901 son Gilbert, his wife Annie, their son, Charles, and Annie's father Charles, were living at Brick Yard, which I believe is number 1 Granville Street. Gilbert was listed as a brick and terra cotta manufacturer. His father-in-law Charles was a retired Primitive Methodist Minister.

1911 and Gilbert, his wife and their son Charles were living at Burleigh Cottage on William Street, which appears to be next to number 14. Gilbert was listed as a brick and tile manufacturer (employer) and Charles listed as a tile maker (worker). Gilbert died in February 1920 and left the sum of £2,596 5s. 6d. Probate was granted to his widow Annie, and his son Arthur, a brick manufacturer.

Arthur Tucker

Gilbert jnr's son Arthur, born in 1869, was living with his parents on the night of the 1871 and 1881 census, but I can't find a listing for him in 1891. By 1901 he was listed as a brick makers manager, and on the night of the census was at the house of his sister, Annie, and her husband, Wallis Adcock, at 134 Herrick Road. It was in the summer of 1901 that Arthur married Mary Ellen Hand, in Shardlow, and their daughter Ida Mary was born in 1903, and their son Arthur Leslie born in 1907. In 1911 the family were living at 81 Middleton Place, and Arthur was listed as a brick and tile manufacturer. 

At the time of his death, on 29 May 1936, Arthur was living at "Gyseburne" on Ashby Road. Probate was granted to Mary Ellen, his widow, and Arthur Leslie, his son, a brick manufacturer. He left the sum of £44,579 6s. 6d.

William Trueman Tucker

William Trueman Tucker, the eldest son of Gilbert jnr and his wife Eliza, was born in 1861 and was living with his parents and siblings at the time on the 1871 and the 1881 census, and in the latter he was listed as a book keeper. In 1883 he married Martha Philips Jones, the daughter of John Jones, the iron founder of Britannia House, and their son, William Jones was born in 1885. In 1891 William and his wife Martha were living at 12 Charnwood Road (although I'm not sure the house numbering is still the same today - see later census returns) with their children, William Jones, Charles Gilbert, born 1886, and Elsie Mary, born 1890. William Trueman was listed as a brick manufacturer.

by 1901 the family had been joined by another child, Dorothy Martha, born 1893, and were living at "Parkside" on Charnwood Road (which today is a nursery school, and is numbered 25). William Trueman is listed as a brick manufacturer (employer) but there was no occupation listed for the two sons who were now 16 and 14; nor were they listed as scholars.

Still living at "Parkside" in 1911, William Trueman and Martha now lived William Jones and Dorothy Martha, and Violet Ruth who was born in 1902. William Trueman was listed as the Managing Director of a Brick and Tile Works, whilst William Jones was now a brick maker.

William Trueman Tucker died on 17 November 1925. The family were still living at "Parkside" and probate was granted to Martha Phillips, William Jones Tucker, Manager, and Charles Gilbert Tucker, squadron leader, RAF. He left £11,985 19s. 7d.     

Charles Gilbert Tucker

Charles died in an unfortunate flying boat accident in 1931 in Plymouth. The Blackburn Iris No N238 was a British three-engined biplane (unlike the Sunderlands which were British flying boat patrol bombers).  

William Jones Tucker

William married Hannah Marion Stephenson in January 1912, and I believe they went to live in Canada, but returned to England in about 1918. Their son, Robert, was born in Vernon, British Columbia in 1913, but sadly died in 1918 in Loughborough. William died on 7 September 1946. He had been living at "Stapenhill" (number 156) Leicester Road, in Loughborough. Probate was granted to Hannah, his widow, and David William, an architectural student at the time, who was their son and he left £6,054 14s. 6d.. 

David William Tucker 

There may well have been other children, but David William was born in 1925, and after his studies he went on to design golf courses, like Lingdale, Beedles Lake, amongst others. His daughter, Lindsay Jelley (wife of the MD of Jelsons) has been going through the papers he left when he died in 2006, and there is an interesting discussion of this in Golf Course Architecture: the global journal of golf design and development (2014).
Bricks today

The identification and collecting of bricks is a particularly popular hobby today, and there are a number of useful and interesting websites where you can see pictures of the actual bricks that were used.  

Houses on the local Shelthorpe estate, which were built around 1926-1928, were made of bricks and tiles made locally by Tuckers.

When the Nottingham Patent Brick Company couldn't supply enough bricks to finish building St Pancras railway station, Tuckers provided more (along with a number of other brick makers, including Wains of Heather, and the Butterley Brick Company.

I don't know why, but I have a feeling Tuckers bricks were used in the construction of the former central control tower at Heathrow airport. 

Of course, there were many local buildings in Loughborough that used Tuckers bricks, not least the Carillon, which, as well as using mostly these local bricks, used steel made by Herbert Morris's, bells that were cast and hung by Taylors, and the tower being built by Moss the builders.     

If you happened to want to own some Tuckers bricks or roof tiles, they are, apparently, available to buy!

I believe the clay pits that were used by Tuckers have now been reused, one being part of the site occupied by Tesco's Park Road store and William Davis Construction, the other having been filled with water and which has become Charnwood Water, formerly known as Tucker's Pond.

So, I'd better stop now! As ever, this research could go on for so much longer ...