The photograph above shows the property at 15 High Street with the name of ‘C. Olds’ above the shop. The photo shows a line of civic dignitaries about to lead the “grateful” poor down to the church on Christmas morning. The dignitaries have just left the Swan Inn next door where they had breakfast and are lining up right outside Charles Olds’ business.
Charles Olds was born in Bitton, Hanham about 1831. The 1841 census shows us that his father, Edward, was a cooper in Bitton. By the 1851 census there was a change of employment. Edward and Rachel Olds, Charles’s parents were farming 4 acres and employed one man. By this time Charles aged 20 was already a shoemaker. He was living on the farm with his parents and sisters, Salley, Jane, Mary, Ellen and Elizabeth. Of his brothers Jonathan aged 18 was working on the farm and Edward aged 5 was still at school.
In 1854 on 30th September Charles Olds married Charlotte Pitcher of Alveston in Clifton in Bristol. Charlotte Pitcher was the daughter of James and Mary Pitcher. The 1841 census shows Charlotte Pitcher aged 8 with her parents, James and Mary Pitcher, farmers at Upper Morton. The 1851 census shows that the Pitcher family were living in Kington near the White Horse Inn. James Pitcher was 58 and born in Alveston. He was farming 115 acres and employing three labourers. His wife Mary Ann was aged 39 and born in Morton. Charlotte was aged 18 and born in Alveston. She had a sister Caroline aged 11 and brother George aged 9. The family had a servant, Elizabeth Potter and two labourers William Summers 18 and Charles Taylor aged 14 living in the household.
Charles and Charlotte had two sons, both baptised in Thornbury: Edward James baptised on 18th February 1857 and William Henry baptised on 5th June 1859.
The 1859 rate book shows Charles had taken over the property at 15 High Street. He was renting it from Henry James Dodd. The 1861 census shows Charles was a boot and shoe maker. He was aged 30 born in Hanham living with his wife, Charlotte aged 28 born in Alveston and Edward J aged 4 and William H aged 2. Charles seems to be successful. He was employing 6 men and an apprentice. By the time of the 1862 rate book Charles had become the owner as well as occupant of the shop.
William Henry Olds sadly did not live very long. A memorial inscription in the churchyard of the United Reformed Church shows that he died on June 15th 1863 aged only four years.
The family attended what is now the United Reformed Church in Thornbury and their daughter Ann Francis born on 6th December 1865 was baptised there on 16th June 1867.
The 1867 rate book shows Charles still living at 15 High Street, but by the 1871 census shows that the family lived at Morton and the shop at 15 High Street was being used by a tailor, George Morgan. Charles Olds was aged 40 and still a boot and shoe maker employing seven men and two apprentices. By this time their children were; Edward James Olds aged 14, Arthur Charles Olds 8 and Annie Francis Olds aged 5.
We are not sure what further use Charles made of the shop at 15 High Street. The 1876 and 1880 rate books show Charles as owning and occupying that property, but the rate books of 1876, 1877 and 1879 show Charles was also now occupying 4 Castle Street in Thornbury, a house owned by Richard Scarlett. It is not clear why he rented this property. The 1877 trade directory also refer to Castle Street as his address and describes Charles as ‘a private resident’.
The 1881 census shows that the Olds were still living in Morton in a house called Severn View which was quite close to the Anchor. He had a farm there of 27 acres. He continued living here combining his business as boot and shoe maker with being a farmer. At this time Charles and Charlotte had only nine year old Mary living at home with them. The property at 15 High Street was unoccupied at the time of the 1881 census.
The rate books indicate that Charles carried on as owner of 15 High Street and photographs show his name continued to be displayed above the shop although Charles is listed as living elsewhere in the 1891 and 1901 census records. We suspect that Charles only used 15 High Street as his business premises during this period. The trade directories of 1889 and 1899 also mention that Charles Olds was a deputy registrar of marriage. Charles Olds died on August 16th 1904 aged 73 years. Probate was granted to his widow Charlotte, Arthur Charles Olds his son and George Whitfield a miller. His effects were valued at £2811 9s 9d.
On August 31st 1904, the minutes of the meeting of what is now the United Reformed Church said; “This church meeting hereby places on record its very deep sorrow at the decease of Charles Olds and recognises with great affection, his deep earnest piety, and Christian Spirit also his forty two years of earnest faithful service as deacon.”
The 1910 rate book show that ‘Mrs Olds’ had taken over the ownership and she was renting out the shop to John Allen. Charlotte died November 23rd 1915 aged 84 years.
In 1899 the records of what is now the United Reformed Church show that Mary Ann Pitcher Olds aged 27 years married Frederick Bladwell a builder from Bath on March 15th.