Henry Allen and his wife, Eliza, moved to live in Thornbury in 1898 when their sons started at the National School. The 1899 rate book shows them living in the small cottage, later known as 1 Gloucester Road and the 1901 census shows them there,
Henry was born in Biddestone in Wiltshire on 22nd May 1869. He was the son of Richard Allen an agricultural labourer and his wife Eliza. In the 1871 and 1881 census they were living at Bisley near Stroud. We are not sure when they married, but the census shows their eldest child was born about 1892. We note that there is a marriage of Henry Allen to Alice Stephens in the Keynsham area in 1891 and the birth of an Alfred John Allen in the Keynsham area in June quarter 1892. Alice was born on 22nd July 1874.
The 1901 census show that Henry Allen was a gardener aged 30 from Biddestone in Wiltshire. He was living with his wife, Alice aged 27 from Wishenger, Gloucestershire. They had four children: Alfred J.D. aged nine, Edward aged seven and Eveline aged six, all born in Kingswood and Herbert aged one born in Thornbury.
Edward and Alfred John Allen, both sons of Henry Allen of Gloucester Road started at the National School (now St Mary’s School) in 1898 having transferred from a school in Kingswood. All their other children also went on to attend the National School. The school records show the birthdates of the children as Alfred John 6th April 1892, Edward 6th May 1893, Evelyn 21st January 1894 and Herbert Henry 22nd September 1899,
The Allens were to occupy the house in Gloucester Road for the next 65 years or so. Henry and Alice had a large family. According to Scribes Alcove website Reginald Henry Allen was baptised on 16th November 1900, however FreeBMDs shows the birth of Reginald ‘Harold’ in September quarter 1901 and the school record shows his birth date as Reginald Harold 10th July 1901. Their other two children were Dorothy Millicent Allen born on 28th September 1902 and Philip Furber Stephen Allen born in May 1908.
The 1911 census shows Henry and Alice living in their four-roomed house with seven of their children: Alfred, aged 19, Edward, both working as errand’s lads aged 19 and 17 respectively, Eveline a domestic servant aged 16 and Herbert, Reggie, Dorothy and Phillip, all at school. They still had time for one more child: Mervyn Miles Allen was born in 1913, but he died 9 months later in 1914.
Henry applied for military exemption in 1918. The record shows he was born on 22 May 1869, married on 22/3/1892. In 1918, he was working as gardener and cowman for Edmund Cullimore at the Shen. In response to the question ‘how long have you been employed in this employment’ he answered ‘Life’. His reason for exemption was that he was ‘engaged in milking cows and feeding pigs. He also has 4 vegetable plots to cultivate and has to assist in the cultivation of a field which he has been ordered to plough this summer’.
Henry also worked as a gardener for Dr. E.M. Grace as he was left £10 in the Doctor’s will. Henry died on 18 March 1945 aged 75 years. Alice died on 10th March 1948 aged 73. They are buried in Thornbury Cemetery.
Herbert Henry also applied for military exemption in 1917 on the basis that he was an apprentice saddler and harness maker employed by Frank Symes and still had to ‘serve his time’ until April 1919. He was granted temporary exemption until 30th December 1917. Herbert died aged 26 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 11th February 1926. He was described in the burial record as a saddler.
Another son, Edward did go to War. The Parish records show he was was a soldier aged 25 when he married Elsie Louise Peters, aged 27, from Morton, the daughter of Arthur John Peters, labourer. The photo on the left shows Edward whilst serving for the 2nd Leinster Regiment.
Local people still remember the time when the Allens lived at number 1 with their daughter, Dorothy. Both Henry and Dorothy are remembered as being very small. Apparently when Dorothy worked as a servant, Dorothy had to stand on a stool to reach the sink.
Dorothy worked for the Grace family. We are told she worked at Dr. Grace’s home at Park House, but the electoral registers throughout the 1930’s show that she was living at West Shen, the home of Francis Henry Grace, the son of E. M. Grace.
By the end of the the war Dorothy had returned to live with her mother and continued to live in the Gloucester Road house after her parents deaths. Her name appears up to the 1965 electoral register as living there. The cottages were demolished about this time but it is not known where she lived after moving away. She died in December 1987.
Dorothy Allen was something of a local character and she was generally known as “Dolly” Allen. As she became older she seems to have become a little confused and sometimes wandered out of the house in her nightdress. Mrs Excell said that the neighbours used to keep a look out for her and take her home again but it must have been a cause for worry because the cottages opened straight out onto the road, although there was less traffic than there is now. There is a humorous side to this story though because Win Jenkins said that just after they moved into a house opposite in 1960, her younger son Stephen heard Dolly in the street late one night and when he looked out the window he thought it was a ghost going down the road.