The blog from the heart of Leicester's Clarendon Park

Edna’s Memories: a Lamplighter, a Night Baker and a Panama Hat

Those of you who have lived in Clarendon Park for a long time will have many memories of the area’s past. But do you recall Ashby’s butcher, where hot pig’s belly was sold from a bucket? How about the Queens Road laundry owner who had a mouthful of starch that he spat onto the collars of shirts as he ironed them? Or the runny-nosed lamplighter who walked three steps, then ran three steps as he illuminated Clarendon Park’s gaslit streets?

These are the memories of Edna, who died recently at a ripe old age, having lived in Clarendon Park all her life. Edna captured her earliest memories of the area in a typewritten memoir. This little piece of history was given to Edna’s neighbour, Will, and he sent me a scan of it so that I could share it on this blog. Edna loved sharing her memories and this seems like a fitting way to help her do just that.

I’ve reproduced the memoir below, keeping the original formatting and typos. Below that is a scan of the document itself – there’s something quite special about the yellowing paper and the imperfectly inked letters.

Clarendon Park Road - From London Road -
Between C.P.R. and Knighton Park Road there was (and still is) a cut through known as Duke's Drive (Association unknown)
Corner of Portland Road and CRP There was a Maternity Home.
Cecilia Road Right hand side from West Ave to Queens Road there was a Bakery owned by Mr. Shipley. He kept a horse and cart in the gateway.
Montague Road and Edward Road Corner Slaughter house belonging to Kempins butcher.
CPR corner Queens Road opposite Bank was Adlard and Roffes bakery.
Queens Rd beyond Bank was Taylors dairy.
Queens Rd. Now Colin Brown, butcher, was Ashby's butchers, where you could buy hot Faggotts and hot Pigs belly in a basin.
Montague Rd. Left hand side from Queens Rd to West Ave was the 'Dispensary' where prescriptions were made up for people who belonged to the 'Dispensary' by paying a small amount a week. (Before National Health)
Montague Rd. Left hand side from Queens Rd to St. Leonards Rd was Mr. Walker the cobbler who used to sit with a mouth full of nails and carry on a conversation at the same time.
Queens Rd. Now Hay Corn and Seed merchant was a Chinese Laundry. He kept the starch in his mouth and spat on the collars as he ironed them.
CPR Opposite what was St. John's School was the 'Floatiron Laundry a little below this was Kirby and Wests dairy. I can remember the white stand that held the whole ham and the big white cream churn with the ladle on the side.
The district was served by at least 2 milk men who came round with a milk float pulled by a horse and the milkman stood on the back of the float together with the churns. The ladles of various sizes were hung on one side and we fetched the milk and on high days and holidays the cream. Our milkmans name was Mr. Pepper
The Co-op baker came round with bread and cakes and always arrived in Orlando Rd at about 3.30 to 4.00 p.m. when the horse was given his hay bag and the baker, being about at the end of his round swept out the van and we children would try to catch the lovely crusty bits before they hit the ground.
Another regular caller (each Monday morning early) was the Rag and Bone man who always used the same cry which I can remember very clearly - thus 'A Rag Bone, A Rag Bone, any Hare or Rabbit skin, any old boot or shoe, I pay top price, A Rag Bone'
Orlando Rd. This is a lovely, and unusual group of terraced houses each with a Forecourt. Those on the left hand side are single fronted and those on the right are double fronted. In one of these double fronted houses lived Mrs. Wills who sold gas mantles. I hated it when I was sent to get a new one as her house always smelled strongly of boiled cabbage.
The 'Lamplighter' came round at about dusk with his long pole with a light on the end and a hook. With the hook he pulled down one of the chains in the lamp and lit the lamp. In the morning he came again and pulled the other chain to put the lamp out. When we were children we were told that we must always 'come in' when the Lamplighter came. The Lamplighter we had used to walk three steps and run three steps, and in the winter he always had a wet nose.
Occasionally street hawkers came round and I well remember the man with a barrow of tiny Canary Bananas which were very cheap. Then there was another 'Rag and Bone' man who would give you a windmill in exchange for old clothes and if you could manage to find a lot he gave you a Goldfish. Occasionally an Indian came round selling carpets and table clothes and other exotic items. This caller frightened us to death.
Leopold Rd. On the corner of Leopold Road and CPR was a baker known as 'The midnight baker' proper name - Mr.Watson. He made his deliveries very late, in fact very, very late from which practice he derived his name. His van was horse drawn and his coach lamps were always lit.
Oxford Rd. Here was another slaughter house owned by Nicholls who's butchers shop was on London Rd, just below Highfield St. It was a 'Kosher' butcher and the meat was slaughtered according to Jewish Law.
A 'Fish Man' pushing a barrow used to serve the district. His name was Mr. Myring, He pushed his barrow up Cenetery Hill and turned into Victoria Park Rd. I was sent as a small girl to meet him at Victoria Park Rd and St. Leonards Rd corner to fetch 1LB of Cod, neck fillet which cost 6d.
The Salvation Army had a meeting place on Queens Rd. just before Bulwer Rd. opposite this was the Sunday School for the Congregational Church at Springfield Rd and London Rd.
On C. P. Rd was the Knighton Church Rooms, just above the old St. John's School and higher up was the Crusaders Hall where the Band of Hope was held.
On Queens Rd where the Friends Meeting house is now was a field which contained a beautiful Chestnut tree, this tree was huge and a picture when in bloom. Many years ago there was also a white horse in this field and a little boy called Jack Goadby who lived in Howard Rd held his hand out to the horse, through the railings whilst wearing his Panama hat and the horse took a bite at the hat and half of Jack's hair.

4 Responses to “Edna’s Memories: a Lamplighter, a Night Baker and a Panama Hat”

  1. Will Dias

    Thanks for publishing this. I’ve followed this blog for years, it’s become part of our community. Best wishes

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