More memories of Newby Street – houses and the chapel…

Here are some more of Mr Rowland Lord’s memories of Newby Street before the Second World War, including the house where he lived. There was one toilet between four houses, at the side of a chicken house: quite a ‘nerve-trying experience’, as he recalls, for an eight or nine year old in the dark in the winter. Newspaper squares hanging on string and a candle under a plant pot in the corner on the floor, ‘to help keep the frost at bay’, may bring back memories for some other people…

He also took part in activities at Newby Street Nonconformist Church, a Congregationalist church with its entrance on Humberstone Road and church rooms with a stage and balcony on Newby Street itself. These included drill competitions in the hall with the 9th Leicester Boys’ Brigade, and the anniversary days with 50 or 60 children singing on the stage, wearing new Sunday clothes for the occasion.

One woman who lived on Uppingham Road also remembered the Sunday School anniversaries at Newby Street as:

a very big feature which always took place in the Chapel in May. We always had new dresses and hats. I well remember one outfit I had for the occasion. It was a lilac dress, and I had a leghorn straw hat trimmed with sprays of lilac… After morning service, where we had sung… the rain pelted down… On arrival home, what a sad spectacle I looked! My lovely lilac silk dress was soaked, and the lilac flowers had weighted down the brim of the leghorn hat, which was now ruined with dye. My poor mother was aghast…*

She also recalled bazaars in December that lasted for three days and drew people from ‘near and far’ – with sideshows, and refreshments provided by the ladies of the church, after an official opening by ‘a notable Leicester person, with a view of donating a big cheque’.

The church started life nearby in a ‘small and inconvenient room’ in 1872, but soon outgrew this. In 1876 it became necessary to find ‘a permanent and more commodious home’, and after strenuous efforts by the Building Fund, the Memorial Stones of a new ‘substantial edifice’, capable of seating 750 people, were laid in July 1887 (Leicester Mercury, 26 October 2005).

The roof was damaged and became unsafe during the bombing of Frank Street in 1940, and it was later demolished and replaced by a new church at the bottom of Mere Road.

Thank you again to Mr Lord for sharing his memories.

*Jessie Carr, An Old Lady Remembers (Anderson Publications, 1986), p29



Memories of Newby Street…

Newby Street ran from Humberstone Road to Charnwood Street. Here’s a list of occupants from a 1928 street directory, along with some of Mr Rowland Lord’s memories of the street from around the same time.

Harding and Son, carters (1) – Mr and Mrs Harding were seen as quite ‘posh’ by local standards. They had a carrier business and also owned properties elsewhere. Their son was the ‘rent man’ for these.

James William Hill, tailor  (3) – had a workshop at the back of the house and employed several people on hand-made suits.

Richard Drewery, coal dealer (13) – Mr Lord remembers stables at the back of numbers 13 – 17, where the ‘horse muck’ was collected for manure. The stables were later taken over by Ernest Gilbert for his sign-writing business. The Gilberts are also remembered a ‘good workers’ for the Nonconformist church, on the corner of Humberstone Road. This housed an ARP post in the Sunday School during the Second World War.

William Goodman, shoe repairer (19) – Bill and Ivy Warwick moved in later. Bill was a butcher who worked for several businesses in Charnwood Street over time, and Ivy worked at Bagnall’s, the drapers at 214 – 218 Charnwood Street.

Harry Cleaver, motor car garage (27) – one of several covered garages. There was also a hardware business in one of the larger garages. Mr Lord recalls that Bill Sykes had a workshop in the largest garage, and the local boys would ‘wander in and help him out’ – by stoking up his fire in winter, for example.

Charles Frederick Jones, wood machinist (45) – later occupied by the Saddington family. Mr Saddington was a Committee member at the North Evington Working Men’s Club on Green Lane Road, which put on a ‘treat’ for the children once a year: ‘a show, pop and eats, fancy hats. It used to be a great day out’.

Sidney Harry Perkins, beer retailer (55) – a corner shop that sold groceries as well as beer. Children could earn a penny  per bottle by taking back the ’empties’.

On the other side of the road, going back towards Humberstone Road:

Mrs Gladys Walpole, draper (46) – Mrs Walpole’s daughter Iris later had her own clothes shop in Charnwood Street itself.

Addison and Chetwyn, children’s boot manufacturers (4a) – they had a factory at the back of the houses, with two floors and an entrance with two large half-doors. Mr Lord used to work for them after school, taking shoes on a barrow to a factory in St Saviour’s Road to be finished, and picking them up the following day. He earned 2s 6d for this – keeping 6d for himself and passing the rest on to his mother.

William Bowers, confectioner (4) – a corner shop selling groceries as well as sweets.

Mr Lord also remembers that Newby Street was cobbled, and used as part of the LMS Railway horse and cart route to factories in the Evington area. He and other boys used to hang onto the back of the wagons or sit on the back axle. ‘Get off, young Lord’, one of the drivers who knew his father would shout, and ‘I knew about it when he got home at night’.

Many thanks to Mr Lord for his memories. There are more to follow…