The above photograph was taken in 2009 showing the row of houses opposite the old Grammar School (now Castle School 6th Form Centre) in Thornbury. The house which is the second in the row of four houses is 17 Gloucester Road, one of the four houses built by Frank and George Tucker who operated under the name of Tucker Brothers. We believe it was built in 1908. Click here to read about the row of houses
The house was given the name of ‘Heathview‘ which is inscribed in a concrete lintel on the front of the house.
Alpass Sisters. The 1911 census shows that the house was occupied by the four Alpass sisters: Ellen then aged 62, Annie Laura then aged 48, Lillie then aged 46 and Ella then aged 43. All the ladies were unmarried at this point. The sisters tended to marry rather late in life. At the time of the census there was another lady in the household Elizabeth Coulstone, a married lady aged 59. This is yet another Alpass sister who married Decimus Coulstone in 1877.
The Alpass ladies were the daughters of Stephen and Maria Alpass who had been farming in Elberton in the census of 1871. Stephen Alpass had a reasonably large farm of 253 acres and he employed six men and two boys in 1871. In the 1871 census the family had eight children living in the household. After the death of her husband Maria went to live in Thornbury. In the census of 1901 they were living in 18 Gloucester Road. Please click here to read more about the Alpass family.
Another sister Clara had moved to live at Heathview, presumably when it was first built. Her monumental inscription in Berkeley Cemetery shows that she died whilst living at Heathview, Thornbury on 29th May 1909. The oldest of the family was Ellen and she remained at Heathview for the rest of her life. She died there in January 1917. The remaining unmarried sister Annie Laura appeared in the Electoral Roll for 1918 at Heathview before she went to live with her sister Ella. Ella had married Charles Phelps and they lived further up the Gloucester Road at a house called Stevelands.
Benjamin and Eva Laycock. We know from the 1922 Electoral Roll that the next occupant of Heathview was Benjamin Laycock and that he lived there with his wife Eva Hannah Laycock.
Benjamin was born on 28th December 1887 in Keighley. He was the son of Arthur Laycock a machine tool operator and his wife Annie. The 1901 census shows that they lived in Rochdale. He was a graduate of Manchester University. The 1911 census shows that he was lodging in Hawarden in North Wales with a brick salesman and his family. At that time Benjamin was a teacher in a County Secondary School.
Benjamin married Eva Hannah Fletcher in Rochdale in 1911. Eva was born in Castleton, Lancashire on 15th May 1889, the daughter of Thomas Fletcher a butcher and his wife, Emma. Benjamin and his new wife Eva Hannah remained in Hawarden after their marriage and their daughter was born there on 14th August 1912.
Benjamin Laycock came to Thornbury in September 1919 to teach mathematics at Thornbury Grammar School and he became housemaster of Clare House. Joan Higgins who was a pupil at the school remembered Mr Laycock and said he was a wonderful mathematician. Benjamin’s daughter Lilian Mary Laycock was admitted to the same school on 20th January 1920. It seems that eventually she also became a member of staff there.
On 2nd January 1937 the Gazette reported on the wedding of Lilian Mary (Molly) Laycock of Heathview in Gloucester Road to Albert George Champion at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury. He was a tailor’s manager and the son of Mr and Mrs C Champion, a farm bailiff, of Liss near Petersfield . The report says that “Molly” (as she was known) had been a member of staff at Thornbury Preparatory School which we know from other sources to be part of the Grammar School. The report also mentioned that both of them were members of the Thornbury Bridge Club.
During the Second World War Benjamin became an air raid patrol.
We have been lucky enough to have been given a book written by John Pridham who grew up in Thornbury. He remembered one story about the notoriously unreliable gas supply in Thornbury in the time when Heathview like many other houses used gas lighting;
“a good light also required a steady supply of very delicate gas mantles and constant care to ensure that, when not lit, the gas was turned off. The question, “Can you smell gas?”, immediately brought people to their senses and sent them off sniffing in all directions. (My Grammar School maths master, Mr Laycock, obviously did not sniff enough and suffered serious injury when he came downstairs one morning and lit his pipe which raised the kitchen ceiling by about an inch!)”
Sadly Benjamin was again injured, this time fatally, in a motor accident near Stoke on Trent in November 1940. According to the Gazette of that time “Mr Laycock was driving his car with his mother Mrs Anne Laycock as a passenger when he was involved in a collision with a Forces vehicle. Mrs Laycock received injuries which were almost immediately fatal and Mr Laycock was taken to hospital suffering from a broken leg and fractured ribs. He died in hospital on Monday.”
The Thornburian Magazine (the magazine for pupils and ex pupils of Thornbury Grammar School ) reported on the death and said that Mr “Laycock was a popular member of the Thornbury Branch of the British Legion which he served as hon. Treasurer and formerly acted as vice chairman. He was also for many years a stalwart member of the Thornbury Society of Gleemen.”
Dr John Harold Buddery and his wife Heather. John and Heather Buddery were listed as living in Heathview in the 1965 and 1970 electoral registers.
John Buddery was born in 1928 in Yarmouth, the son of Harold Martins Buddery, a teacher and his wife Charlotte Elizabeth (nee Pitchers). John married Heather Rendle in Blyth in 1954. They lived in the Wantage area and their children Alison and John were born there before moving to Thornbury. We have been told that Dr Buddery came to Thornbury to work at Berkeley Nuclear Power station. We know from the baptism record of their son, Peter Euan David, that the family were living at Warwick House in St Mary Street. Peter was baptised at St Marys Church on 26th May 1962.
John was also a director of Severn Science (Instruments) Ltd. In 1960 he was a co-author of a work called “Beryllium (Metallurgy of the Rarer Metals). We believe that Heather Buddery was probably an art therapist in Bristol and that she worked at Bristol Cancer Help Centre. Heather died in 1988.
We know from the next owner of the property that Dr Buddery sold the house in 1990.