Charny in the early years…

The first section of Charnwood Street was built in the 1870s and ran from Farnham Street to Spinney Hill Road. Like the streets running from it down to Humberstone Road, including Shenton Street, Preston Street and Farnham Street itself, it started out as a residential area and the shops for which it became so well known did not appear in any numbers until the 1880s. The earliest building plans in the Leicestershire Record Office date from May 1873, and while some were for workshops and stables, the majority were for houses – 35 of them between October 1876 and January 1878. Only two shopkeepers are listed in Barker & Co’s Directory in 1875 – Richard Potter and J. Chambers – and three in White’s Leicester Street Directory of 1877. These were Mrs Kate Cartwright, a confectioner; Edward Bentley, a tobacconist; and a greengrocer, William Parish. A hay and straw dealer, Edward Orton, also had premises at the Spinney Hill Road end of Charnwood Street.

At the same end were the Spinney Hill Works, the head office of the Breedon and Cloud Hill Lime Works owned by Fielding Moore, a lime burner, brick manufacturer and coal merchant who lived at Breedon on the Hill. He had other premises in Leicester at Upper Regent Street, off London Road, and 18 Humberstone Road, but according to an advertisement in 1881, the Spinney Hill Works produced ‘Horticultural and Architectural TERRA COTTA OF EVERY DESCRIPTION… Illustrated Catalogues on application, price 6d. each’.  In 1877 Charnwood Street was also the home of the elastic web manufacturer William Ward of the firm of S. Jackson & Co of Wharf Street. Several other buildings were described as apartments or lodgings, convenient for the Midland railway station on London Road or the centre of Leicester, and there was also a day school run by Mrs Caroline Jenkyns near to Farnham Street.

None of the buildings in Charnwood Street were numbered at that time, but numbers do appear in Kelly’s Directory in 1881 and in the Census of the same year, running from 1 – 163 on the south side of the street and from 2 – 122 on the north. By then the street had been extended westwards from Farnham Street to Melbourne Street/Upper Kent Street, but this section never developed into the same kind of shopping area. A grocer and a coffee house appear there in Kelly’s Directory in 1881, but much of the north side was taken up by the Charnwood Street Board Schools, opened in 1877. On the south side were the premises of William Dunmore, a pork pie manufacturer, and the brewery of Bates, Son and Bishell, also dating from around 1877 and taken over in 1890 by the Leicester Brewing and Malting Company. The premises of Gimson and Coltman, hosiery machinery manufacturers, were on the corner of Charnwood Street and Vulcan Street (later Vulcan Road). From around 1908 this whole section of Charnwood Street from 1 – 49 on the south side and from 2 as far as the Board Schools on the opposite side was officially renamed as Upper Charnwood Street.


10 thoughts on “Charny in the early years…

  1. Mrs C Kilby (was Mrs Armstrong as i married David Armstrong in 1962. He n his parents are now deceased. on said:

    Just been reading about Charnwood Street and there is no mention of the undertakers. In the 1958 I was going out with David Armstrong the son of Stanley and Evelyn Armstrong. Stanley was an undertaker at the time and I remember David taking me home on the first occasion when his parents were out and he showed me the room of rest at the back of the property. It was very morbid and frightened me to death. I didn’t go in there again. They lived in one room downstairs and the front of the shop had headstones in the window. I cannot tell you the number of the property.

  2. I used to go with my friend on a Saturday morning to visit her aunt and uncle on Charnwood Street they had a small shop which sold a variety of things including china pottery and jewellery cannot remember the number but they were Stanley and Phyllis Cooley.

  3. My ancestors left Leicester for Canada in 1903 and my grandmother never spoke of her childhood there. However, I know from their birth certificates that my grandmother and her sister were born at 179 Charnwood Street in August 1892 and September 1894 respectively. The family moved frequently, however–they were living on Hart Road in 1891 and Forest Road (Humberstone Road) in May of 1897. I have a fairly complete picture of the facts of my ancestors’ lives but virtually no anecdotal information about the conditions and environment in which they lived. I will watch this site closely! Thank you!
    Ralph Manning (Ottawa, Canada)

    • Hi Ralph. I remember Charnwood Street (or Charny as it was called) from the late 1950s. I was courting a boy named David Armstrong at the time, who I married in 1962. His parents owned a Memorial Stone shop and his father was an undertaker. They then went on to run a pub in Grantham. The parents died about 10 years ago and David died 4 years ago aged 69. I don’t remember the number of the property, but it could have been 173.

  4. Hello from Pickering, Ontario, Canada! My Great Grandfather William Ernest Durance was 7 years old when (1881 Census) he and the family lived at 32 Upper Charnwood! This is a WONDERFUL site, thank you 🙂

  5. I went to green Lane infants in 1966/67 (aged 7) and used to play with friends around Charnwood Street. Had a fantastic time around that area as I also lived on Green Lane Road. I have a class picture from 1967 also, it would be great to hear from others from that year.

  6. This site brought back many memories for me. We used to visit my grandparents Bert & Lily Waring at 47 Frank Street off Charnwood Street every Saturday morning and they always had our Saturday ‘tanners’ lined up on the mantlepiece whereupon my brother and I would rush round to Paddy Swags shop to spend them on a ‘made in Hong Kong’ cheap toy but we thought they were wonderful! I well remember Ivy Slack serving in Parnells bakery slipping us a fresh cream doughnut under the counter as we weren’t all that well off and boy were they good! Mr Parnell was always in the back bakery and I can see him now with his face and hands covered with flour – such a lovely man and he made my wedding cake too!

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