Friday, 30 November 2012

Small world strikes ... in Nelson Street

As I appear to have finished my latest Open Uni TMA on my deadline day (which is a week before everyone else's due to forseen circumstances in the next week) I am going to indulge myself with a continuation of yesterday's blog on the Gardener's Arms on Nelson Street, Barnsley.

While I was researching the pubs on Nelson Street on Tuesday evening I did not restrict myself to internet sources.  I am fortunate to have access to a selection of electoral roll books from Barnsley from 1930 to 1974 (no - don't worry, the house isn't going to cave in under the weight of all 44 years I only have 6 books!).  These books have been some of my favourite bed time reading when I'm a bit under the weather - you just need to turn the pages and scan down the names, enjoying the names of those odd little terraces and courts in the centre of Barnsley that are hard to pin point even with a map.  Clearances of older houses (OK, slum clearances - but some people dispute that all the houses knocked down were actually slums) appear to have taken place in Barnsley in two tranches.  The first in the 1930s and the second in the late 1950s to early 1960s.  Comparing any street in the electoral rolls over the 40 odd years gives clear indication as to when the populations moved on (though looking at all the books would pin it down even better I don't think the OH would appreciate the extra shelf space I'd need and the local studies library is currently closed.)  These books give a way of finding out who lived on Nelson Street after the currently available census data runs out.  I was interested to see what kind of people lived there and how old the houses were that were so in need of knocking down.

The photographs and maps on Yococo provide wonderful irreplaceable visual evidence of the housing that has gone.  Try a search with the word 'bleasby', this brings back a collection of pictures from the 1930s including some fantastic images of the insides of typical homes.  A search on 'location plan' brings back a set of annotated maps of the areas which were cleared and various buildings demolished in the 1950s and 60s.  (Don't worry that the images look a bit squashed on the info pages - click on zoom for the full size images and their proportions are correct - the 1930s pictures are huge though, you'll have to set your browser magnification down to 25% or less to see the whole image!)

Nelson Street features on only one of the Yococo images, although a search of the surrounding streets with the help of a contemporary map will give you glimpses of street corners.  The house that features, number 8,  has a stone inset that reads Vine Cottages MDS 1838 (I'm not 100% about that interpretation of the date - what do you think?).  It looks like quite a sizable house, steps to the front door, so probably a cellar underneath, ground floor, 1st and 2nd floors above.  The outbuildings in Court No 4 were probably stores originally - I find it hard to believe they were always homes as they became later.


Location of No 8 Nelson Street (in front of Court No 4) and date stone (from Old Maps and Yococo)
We worked out yesterday that the Gardener's Arms wasn't present on a map of the area in 1852, but that surrounding houses were.  From the Kelly's directory I found on Ancestry I can see that St George's church, which is nearby on Pitt Street, was built in 1821 and the Church of the Holy Rood which was on the other side of Nelson Street to the Gardener's Arms, in 1821, extended 1832 (thanks to the website of the school children of Holy Rood Primary School for this information - nice to see children interested in history).

The census for 1841 lists 296 people living on Nelson Street.  In 1851 there are 338 people living on Nelson Street amongst them my OH's 3x great-grandparents Peter and Harriet Duncan, who only married in October 1850, the year before.  Their first son and my OH's 2x great-grandfather was baptised in July 1851 in the nearby St George's church, so he was, more than likely, born on Nelson Street, a very precise 9 months after Peter and Harriet's marriage.  A further child, Mary is also baptised at St George's church in 1853, then the family changes allegiance to St Mary's in 1857 suggesting a move of house.  In the 1861 census they are living in Summer Street.  They may have moved before 1857 however as Mary, the second child, is reported in the Leeds Times as dying at Jamp (Jump?) near Barnsley in 1855.

Isn't it a small world ... we only started looking for missing pubs and start finding ancestors lurking in the same place.

Peter Duncan is a joiner and cabinet maker.  He may have been employed by George Hardy, a joiner master employing 1 man and 2 apprentices also living on Nelson Street in 1851.  George Hardy is easy to find in the 1861 census, living at 34 Nelson Street, he gives his occupation as Retired Joiner.  Oddly Court 4 is listed between numbers 33 and 34 Nelson Street ... is this significant, is no. 33 or 34 Vine Cottage or does the order in which the enumerator has transcribed the census schedules not reflect a walk down the street as one might think.  The fact that the numbers are sequential not separated into odds and evens suggests a different numbering system for the street than that used in the 1930 before demolition or even in the 1911 census.

Working backwards from George Hardy I found the Eagle Inn, landlord James Simmons, Provision Dealer and Beerhouse Keeper.  The pub was listed between numbers 8 and 25 Nelson Street - this makes no sense at all!  The Eagle was listed at number 17 by 1911, possibly 17 - 21, as it consists of 3 cottages joined together.  This enumerator must have just thrown his schedules up in the air and transcribed them in the order they hit the table!

Cross checking against an 1862 Trade Directory that I just happen to have printed out from the Historical Directories site, I found that James Simmons was listed at the Eagle Inn, number 9 Nelson Street.  OK, the street numbers are definitely different in the 1860s.

George Hardy proved useful again for finding Nelson Street in the 1871 census, this time he is living at number 6 - but Court 4 is still adjacent.  The rest of the numbering works out much better and lo and behold the Gardener's Arms turns up at no 18, with William Midgley, Innkeeper, his wife, son and six lodgers.  That makes number 8 Nelson Street, Vine Cottage, the home of Richard Kibling (or Kitching) Plasterer, wife, three daughters and a lodger.  Not as well off a family as I had expected in such a large house, but possibly he was in business on his own account.

That's where I'll leave you for this evening, but I'm getting fond of Nelson Street now, who knows what I'll find tomorrow.

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