A Charny establishment ‘under strict sanitary supervision’…

Here’s an advert from the Leicester journal The Wyvern on 18 August 1893 for the Farmers and Cleveland Dairies’ Co Ltd, 34 Belgrave Gate and 130 Charnwood Street, Leicester. It’s an interesting reminder of the days when health and safety regulations were not as strict as they later became and an assurance of good hygiene could actually be a selling point:

Under Strict Sanitary Supervision

Established for the Sale of High-Class Dairy Produce

Pure New Milk delivered at any part of the town

soon after milking.

Fresh churned butter made daily by experienced dairymaids.

New laid eggs fresh from our farms.

Ices fresh daily.


St Saviour’s – one of Charny’s churches…

Many people in the Charnwood Street area worshipped at St Saviour’s church. Like other churches in inner areas of Leicester, its congregation dwindled as houses were demolished and people moved elsewhere, and it was closed in 2005. When it was put up for sale in 2011 several people wrote to the Leicester Mercury with their memories of the church and the school that was attached to it – including pumping the church organ as children! One article on 21 December 2011 also recalled Father John Anderson, who was vicar of St Saviour’s from 1974 to 1982, and said to be ‘a very popular figure in the community’:

St Saviour's Church, Leicester in 1888

(Spencers’ New Guide to Leicester, 1888)

During his time in charge of the church the building was beautifully maintained and services dignified and relatively well-attended… the sight of the church today, derelict and abandoned on its hill… would break his heart.

Others remembered the headmaster and headmistress of the school in the 1950s, ‘Pop’ Allen and his wife: ‘Very strict and disciplined it was, with a slap on the back of the hand with a ruler if caught being naughty. Both Mr Allen and his wife were church dignitaries, so scripture (religious studies) was big on the agenda’ (24 September 2011). Robert Davies, who was married at St Saviour’s in the 1940s, recalled a reunion 30 years later of couples married there:

… as we entered the church ‘Pop’ Allen came up the aisle to meet us. He said ‘Hello Davies, how are you?’. Now he had not seen me for over 37 years. What a memory he had to remember me after all that time. I suppose it was because he used to give me the cane almost every day, because of my bad handwriting. It never improved… (2 July 2011)  

St Saviour’s was opened by the Bishop of Peterborough on 21 June 1877, a few years after the development of the Charnwood Street area began. It was the gift of Rev F.G. Burnaby, who owned the land on which it was built and laid the foundation stone in 1875. The church itself cost £11,500, but the parsonage, schools and an endowment for the future support of all three brought the total to £25,000.

It was designed by the eminent architect George Gilbert Scott in Early English (13th century) style, and – apart from the spire - built entirely of red brick. As one description noted in 1888, it was a large church built for a growing population:

The town has been extending very rapidly in this direction, and although the erection of St Peter’s Church supplied the wants of a proportion of this district, it was seen that in a few years it would be wholly inadequate for the population which would occupy the numerous new streets now being laid out in the healthy open region towards the Humberstone Road…

The nave is 92ft. long and 54 ft. wide, with transepts and aisles on either side… The chancel is 40 ft. long and 54 ft. wide… The height of the spire is 155 feet. In the bell-chamber of the tower there is a magnificent peal of eight bells, cast by Taylor and Son of Loughborough… There is a very handsome brass lectern, in the form of an eagle, which bears the inscription ‘Gloria inExcelsis’. The altar is approached by seven steps of Groby slate.  

St Saviour’s also became an important social centre for the area, with entertainments such as that in July 1886 where:

… a large number of the parishioners and friends in t Saviour’s district partook of an excellent tea in the schoolroom attached to the church. About 300 persons sat down and enjoyed a beautiful repast, after which an adjournment was made to the boys’ schoolroom, where a capital entertainment took place… sufficiently varied to please every taste, while the quality of the music [including songs and a piano duet] was very satisfactory.

The church is Grade II*-listed, which restricts development that would significantly change its character or architectural integrity. In 2013 it looked as if it might be bought and developed as a venue for events – but at the time of writing I am not sure if this is going ahead. Does anyone know what might be happening to it – or maybe you have memories of your own to add?


Elephants in Basil Street…

Arthur Beyless, who lived in Charnwood Street as a child in the 1950s, has sent me these photographs of Basil Street, off Farnham Street, along with some of his memories:

Basil Street, c1968, with the Gimson works at the far end

Basil Street, c1968, with the Gimson works at the far end

‘Off Farnham Street, at 90º angles, were Basil Street and Edward Street. Both these streets were no-thru streets as the engineering works, Gimson’s, backed on to them – in Basil Street with a brick building with a small door into the works in the corner, and Edward Street by large iron faced gates which led to the works, where the pig iron was stored ready for loading onto the railway trucks. Edward Street is where most of us boys learnt to ride a bike.

Basil Street Back of odd numbers c1968-9 (2)

Basil Street: back of odd numbers, c1968

‘Nearly every step of the way down Charnwood Street to Spinney Hill Road there were shops of many descriptions. The saying goes “you could buy anything from a pin to an elephant”, although I do not recall ever seeing an elephant in Charny in the shops for sale. It came quite close once when the circus came to town and some, supposedly, were put up in a garage in Basil Street for bed and breakfast.

‘When I was speaking to Mr Lord of Newby Street in April 2011, he recalled that, when a child in the 1920s, the circus came to town and disembarked at Humberstone Road Station, across from the bottom of Farnham Street. The animals were moved into the street, and the elephants, “trunk to tail”, walked up Farnham Street and were bedded down in Basil Street, where they could not run off’.

Farnham Street with Basil Street leading off on the corner, c1968

Farnham Street with Basil Street leading off on the corner, c1968

Many thanks Arthur – and if you’d like to see more of Arthur’s photos of old Leicester visit his website at http://www.yesterdayimages.co.uk/.

Who was the Charnwood Street artist?…

Several people have mentioned an artist in Charnwood Street, and I’m hoping someone can tell me for sure who this was. Brian Papworth remembers that ‘on the corner of either Flint Street of Shenton Street an artist had his studio in an old shop and you could see his paintings through the window as you passed by’. Ruth Wragg also recalls watching an artist who ‘used to paint all sorts of wonderful pictures… us kids used to watch him to see how long it would be before he would shoo us off’. I’m told that his name was Fred Weston, but I can’t find him in any of the street directories. Can anyone tell me more about him, and what sort of things he painted?

Charny reunited…

I’d like to thank everyone who has left comments on the Charny blog. There have been over seventy so far, and it’s great to see that they have helped to put some people who lived in the area back in touch with each other.

Malcolm Ball (left), Valerie Bowers and Tony Towers around 1942 (Tony Towers)

Malcolm Ball (left), Valerie Bowers and Tony Towers around 1942 (Tony Towers)

They have also added some really interesting information and memories, and provided me with photographs that I would never have found anywhere else. This one is of Tony Towers (on the right) sitting on the front step of his house at 252 Charnwood Street around 1942 with Malcolm Ball, the son of Les Ball who had the cooked meat shop next to Frank Lee’s on the left, and Valerie Bowers. Her family kept the B P Cycle Radio Co. wireless shop at 250 Charnwood Street. Tony was born at 252, next to Paddy’s Swag Shop, in 1935 and lived there until he joined the Royal Air Force in 1953.

Many thanks, Tony – and keep sending the comments…

A Charny street party…

Here’s another great photo sent to me by John Tait who lived close to Charnwood Street in Grove Road. It was taken after a street party around 1946 or 1947 from the flat roof of a street shelter. John remembers that the photographer was late and the food had already been eaten by the time he arrived. That’s the photographer’s car in the background.  street partyJohn is the small boy in the white pullover on the front left. He was about six years of age at the time, and his mother is at the back on the extreme right, holding his brother Victor in her arms.

Does anyone recognise any of the other people in the photo – or can tell us what the occasion was? I thought it might be the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, now the Queen, and Prince Philip, but that was in November 1947 and it doesn’t seem likely as everyone is wearing summer clothes.

Many thanks John. I’ll pass on any responses.

Great bargain sale at Issitt’s of Charnwood Street…

This advert from the Leicester Daily Mercury on 31 January 1920 gives a good idea of what was sold at Issitt’s clothes and drapery shop at 168 Charnwood Street:

issitt's ad 1920

Just in case you’re wondering, a bed tick was a bag used to enclose bedding materials like down or feathers for pillows, or as a cover for a mattress – derived from the strong tightly woven cotton or linen fabric known as ticking. The Boys’ Strong Cloth Knickers were presumably short trousers, and the ‘slops’ seem to have been smocks or overalls. If anyone can confirm that, please leave a comment!