The photograph is of 30 Castle Street in Thornbury and it was taken in July 2012 after being extensively restored.
Rebecca Harvey and her step-granddaughter had left this house by the 1901 Census and the Census seems to show that this house was standing empty. Click here to read about Rebecca Harvey
Charlie George Hicks. The first record we then have of what happened to the house is in the rate book of 1905 which shows that Francis Williams owned it and that it was occupied by Charlie George Hicks. The 1910 rate book still says that the house was occupied by Charlie George Hicks. We are unable to say anything about Francis Williams because there was more than one man of this name at this time.
The 1901 census shows that Charles G Hicks was aged 42 living in Gillingstool with his wife Lucy aged 33. They have three sons at this stage; George aged nine, Arthur aged seven and Hedley aged one. Charles was from Stow on the Wold and his wife from Great Chesterford in Cambridgeshire but the children were born in Thornbury. The 1901 census and the trade directories of 1904 and 1910 show that Charles kept a shop in Castle Street. He was a ‘colporteur’. This is apparently an itinerant seller or giver of books, especially religious literature.
Charles was the son of William and Jane Hicks and was born in Stow on the Wold. William Hicks was an agricultural labourer. He married Lucy Fenton in Thornbury in the December quarter of 1890. In 1891 Charles was married to Lucy aged 28 and they were living in Crossways. He was described as a colporteur. The 1910 rate book shows that the house was occupied by Charles George Hicks and owned by Francis Williams. The 1911 census shows Charles George Hicks aged 52 and a gardener who had been married to Lucy for 20 years. They had five children. George aged 19 was a printer’s assistant. Arthur aged 17 was apprenticed to a tailor. Two of the remaining three, Hedley 11, and Hubert aged 9 were still at school. Joseph was aged only one year.[/fusion_builder_column]
Charles George Hicks appears in electoral registers until 1921. We are unable to trace the family after that date.
Henry Herbert Millin. By the rate book of 1925 Henry Herbert Millin who also appears as Henry Birt Millin had moved into the house owned by Francis Williams.
We believe that he was born in Upton on Severn in Worcestershire in 1892. The 1901 census shows him living in Upton with his uncle and aunt, James and Sophia Smith who ran a confectioner’s shop. Henry Bert Millin joined the Yorkshire Light Infantry in September 1914.
We have been told that he was a railway guard. His wife was Mrs Alice Barnes. They married in the June quarter of 1915 in Sculcoates. They had a daughter Edith May Millin who was born 5th June 1919. Edith attended the National School. They were living at Castle Street in 1923. Edith later became the cook and housekeeper at Miss Trayhurn’s school in Thornbury. They moved to Eastland Ave.
Henry died in Weston super Mare in 1973.
The notes we have from Ann Riddiford say that at one time there was a wet fish shop here. We have no further information on that point.
Frederick and Beatrice Pearce. The electoral register of 1931 shows the names of the occupiers as Frederick and Beatrice Pearce.
Frederick Pearce was born 12th October 1899, the son of Thomas Pearce, a haulier. We have seen a magazine article in which Fred was interviewed and explained that he was actually born in Pill in Somerset but spent most of his life in this area.
Frederick was the third son and his school record says that he was born on the 12th October 1899. The FreeBMD website shows that the birth of Frederick Thomas Pearce was registered in the December quarter of 1899 in the District Long Ashton, which could include Pill. For the early part of his life the family lived in the Falfield area. Click here to read more about Thomas and Sarah Pearce
Thomas and Sarah Pearce later lived at The Baths in Thornbury with their children, including Fred. The “Baths” or “Bathings” were a famous institution in Thornbury. The house where the Pearces obviously lived was attached to an open air swimming pool in Thornbury. The pool was a basic arrangement with the water coming from a stream running down from Vilner. We have been told that there were also private bathrooms there at one time because so many Thornbury houses lacked this amenity. There was also a substantial piece of land here which was often used as market garden so it is no surprise to find in the trade directories from 1923 to 1938 that Thomas Pearce was also a market gardener.
On the 10th March 1928 Frederick Thomas Pearce, then aged 28 married Beatrice Maud Walker the daughter of Frederick Walker and grand-daughter of Charles Wiltshire of John Street. Beatrice was born 8th July 1897.
Frederick’s address at this time was said to be “The Baths” although the newspaper reported that the couple were settling to live in Castle Street. Frederick Pearce worked with Oliver Higgins as a blacksmith in the forge on Pullins Green. We have a wonderful photograph of that period taken inside the forge itself above left.
Fred and Beatrice’s son Donald L. Pearce was born on 19th March 1929. He started at the National School, as St Mary’s was then known, on April 1933. The family were said to be living in Castle Street at that time. He left school to go to work. We have been told that he worked as a blacksmith with his father, a fact which was confirmed by Fred in the magazine article quoted earlier.
Frederick and Beatrice’s other son Douglas H. was born on 5th June 1932. He left school in October 1936 because of problems with rheumatism and returned only in January of 1937.
In the summer of 1937 the Gazette had an article which described how little Douglas was saved from drowning. Ronald Gough who also lived in Castle Street said he had been swimming on his own at the Baths, while little Douglas watched him. Ronald went into the changing rooms from where he saw Douglas lean over the water and then fall in. Ronald said that Douglas went under twice and was unconscious. Ronald took him round “to his grannie’s,” which must have been the house at The Baths. Then Ronald ran to the allotments to fetch Fred Pearce. Douglas recovered from his adventure and Ronald Gough was commended by his scout troop leader for his actions.
The trade directories for 1939 show that Herbert Pearce was a market gardener at The Baths. Possibly when Frederick moved to Castle Street his brother either took over or continued the business of market gardening.
Eventually Fred took over the forge from Oliver. Bill Lenham who lived in St John Street as a child says he can remember Fred outside the forge on Pullins Green fitting the metal rim or tyre onto wooden cartwheels. Apparently this often took place when the other men in the street were home from a day’s work as it needed the efforts of three or four men to fit the hot tyre over the wheel and cool it quickly.
On 13th September 1947 there was a report in the Gazette of the funeral of Fred’s father Thomas Pearce then aged 79. The report says that Tom died at the residence of his son, Frederick, and his family in Castle Street. The service was held at Thornbury Congregational Church. The report of the funeral said that Thomas Pearce had been a market gardener for many years. However, we have been told that although at the time of his death Tom was living in his son’s house (30 Castle Street), up until his final illness he had been living in number 46 Castle Street where he ran a sweet shop.
Fred Pearce was a well-known local character and an article appeared about him in a Gloucestershire magazine in 1968. Click on the thumbnail image above on the right to read this article.
The electoral registers continue to show that Frederick and Beatrice lived at 30 Castle Street up until their deaths. Frederick Thomas Pearce died on 13th November 1977 aged 78 years. His wife Beatrice Maud Pearce died 13th March 1986 aged 88 years and was buried with her husband in Thornbury Cemetery. We have a copied a profile of Fred Pearce written about 1965 by Mary Neathey and printed in the Outlook Magazine produced by the Thornbury and District Community Association. Click here to read a transcription of that profile
Douglas Pearce continued to live in his family home for many years leaving everything in the house much as it was in his parent’s time. He died on 11th September 2008. On the left here is a photograph of Douglas Pearce and a friend, Bert Hunt in the Wheatsheaf pub in Thornbury. Douglas is on the right.