This house did not become 16 Gloucester Road in Thornbury until the numbering of houses was introduced generally until the early 1950s. However, there were numbers allocated to the houses in the terrace from a lot earlier. This house was originally described as ‘5 Laburnum Terrace’.
We haven’t yet seen the deeds of number 16. Our earliest source of information is the Tithe Survey published in 1840 which shows that about half the terrace had already been built. Plot 248 of this survey includes the two houses with gardens, now known as numbers 16 and 18 Gloucester Road. These properties were owned by John Hodges, the builder who built the terrace. John was recorded as living in one of the two houses, Thomas Longstreet was living in the other house, but unfortunately we don’t know which house each person was living in.
We discovered that the deeds of numbers 8 Gloucester Road and 10 Gloucester Road both contain copies of an indenture dated 14 August 1865 which relates to numbers 16 and 18. This document refers to earlier indenture of lease and release of 23rd and 24th August 1832 which shows the land was conveyed by James Ford to John Hodges. We assume therefore that number 16 was built by John Hodges at some time between 1832 and 1840.
In the early days of the house, it was occupied by members of the Hodges family. The 1841 census appears to show the house was occupied by John Hodges’s son, James Hodges and his family. James aged 29 was a wheelwright. He and his wife Charlotte had a 15 month baby boy called John. Ann Trayhurn aged 15 lived in the house as a servant. Their daughter Martha was baptised on 5th February 1843, The 1851 census shows James and his family were living at 6 Pullins Green. It is interesting to see that three trade directories between 1842 and 1852 describe James as ‘beer retailer’. There were several beerhouses in Thornbury at this time. Under the Beer House Act any person with room in their front parlour could open up for the sale of beer or ale. No spirits were allowed to be sold. We are not sure whether this refers to the period he was living in Gloucester Road or in Pullins Green.
Following the death of his wife, Charlotte in 1856, James appears to have moved back to live at 16 Gloucester Road. A trade directory published in 1856 shows James was back in Gloucester Road, then called Colwell Street Lane. He was listed as a wheelwright. The 1861 Census shows James Hodges was living in 16 Gloucester Road. He was now a widower aged 48 and working as a carpenter. The Census shows James had been born in Olveston. Martha his daughter was aged 17 and born in Thornbury. Her occupation is described as “formerly a dressmaker.”
The 1862 rate books shows James living next door at 14 Gloucester Road and the occupancy taken over by his father. James died on 15th February 1866 aged 55. He and Charlotte are buried in Thornbury St Mary’s in the same grave as his parents. Their only daughter, Martha, married a photographer, James Noble Greenham in St Paul’s in Bristol on 24th February 1867. After their marriage Martha and James Noble Greenham lived in St Paul’s in Bristol. The deeds of 5 St John Street show that when Martha’s grandfather, John Hodges, conveyed number 5 to his son, George Hodges in 1873, he arranged for Martha to receive £8.00 in annual rent.
A map in the deeds of 8 Gloucester Road shows the ownership of property in the terrace in 1865 and shows that number 16 is owned by John Hodges. An indenture dated 14 August 1865 shows that John Hodges sold three properties, including number 16, to his son, George Hodges, for the sum of £50 for the lot. In the 1871 Census, George’s father, John Hodges was living at number 16, although now he was now a widower aged 85 and retired from his work as a carpenter. John died on 8th June 1877 aged 91.
George carried on as owner until his death in 1905. In his Will, George arranged for Trustees to manage the property. The trustees were initially his four surviving daughters, Sarah Ann Hodges, Fanny Staley Hodges, Emma Jane Hodges and Laura Evelyn Balls and one of his two surviving sons, Austin Edgar Hodges. Over the years, these Trustees gradually died off and new ones were appointed to ensure that the Estate was managed properly. The houses were gradually sold off. Read more about George Hodges and his estate
The Selman family – William Arthur Selman and his wife, Martha A. E. Selman, bought the house from the Hodges estate in the late 1950s. They lived there until 1988.
They were known as ‘Bill’ and ‘Lena’. They must have moved to Thornbury area in the mid 1950s. They are not listed in the 1954 Electoral Register, but in the 1957 Electoral Register they are listed in 16 Gloucester Road and in the 1959 register their son, Arthur William Beverley (Bev) Selman was also living there.
Bill was born in the Chipping Sodbury area on 13th July 1907. He was christened at St Saviour’s at Coalpit Heath. The 1911 Census shows him and a younger brother, George, living with their parents, Arthur Selman, a farmer and his wife, Emily at Coalsack Farm, Mangotsfield. In 1931 Bill married Martha Eliza Adeline Prior in the Chipping Sodbury area. ‘Lena’ was born in that area in 1907. She appears to have been the daughter of William Prior, a miller and his wife, Annie Jane (nee Greenwood) who were living at Nibley Mills in the 1911 Census. In that Census Lena was living with her widowed grandmother, Eliza Greenwood, (described as ‘farming land’) at Horton near Chipping Sodbury. Also living in the same house was Lena’s uncle, Beverly Arthur Greenwood who was ‘working on farm’.
Bill and Lena had two children: Emily E. Ann born in the Axbridge in 1934 and William Arthur Beverly whose birth was registered in Weston Super Mare in 1938.
As we got to know the Selmans, when we moved into number 18 Gloucester Road in the 1970s, we considered them as ‘locals’. Their daughter, Ann, tells us they moved to Thornbury in the 1950s from Rudgeway where Bill had been working for Sir George White; they lived in a flat in the grounds of the White home there. Previously the family had been living in Tickenham near Clevedon where Bill had been a farmer. Ann was not aware of any previous connection with the Thornbury area, but we thought Mrs Selman told us that she came from the Hackett, an area on the outskirts of Thornbury about half a mile from the centre.
In the late 60s when Chris first met Bill, he was working for the Thornbury Rural District Council. He had previously worked as a ‘binman,’ but his physique and general health and age meant that he was restricted to less strenuous tasks such as street cleaning. His regular duty was as attendant at the cattle market each Thursday. Apart from opening and closing the market, his main activity was chatting to the farmers. After the market closed he had to clean it up mostly with the aid of a hose pipe, and this was completed on Fridays. Chris, himself was working for the Council trying to introduce new working methods and increasing productivity – in the case of Bill, he gave up, realising it was a ‘lost cause’.
Bill’s affinity to farmers and his general demeanour gave Chris the impression that he had been a farmer at one time and this has been confirmed by his daughter. We have also been told that Bill had been a roadman for Gloucestershire County Council before joining Thornbury Rural Council. He certainly had the ruddy red features usually associated with roadmen, and their favourite tipple (cider). Bill himself was a diabetic when we knew him so this had curtailed any drinking of cider.
They had two children that we knew; Ann and “Bev”. Ann married for a second time in the same month that we did in 1979. We know this because Mrs Selman had an uncanny knack of knowing everything that we did. It was unnerving to have her congratulate us on our forthcoming marriage when we had not told anyone – even close family. Then she explained that she was at the Register Office and happened to see our names. It doesn’t explain how she knew what we ate (she asked why I didn’t give Chris a proper Sunday lunch) or that I read in bed.
Bev was always a worry to his mother. His first wife was called Sheila, but he had more than one partner which shocked Mrs Selman who was very strictly brought up. He settled down a lot after he gave up rough cider – he said he was troubled by the fact that some of his friends were going blind. He was a lovely man though and very good natured and generous. Click here to see more on Bev
The Selmans were ‘rural folk’. Bill had an allotment in Thornbury, and he used his garden to grow vegetables. He used to cycle up and down the High Street with his garden spade and fork long after it was safe for himself or other road users.
They also kept chickens, or probably bantams would be more accurate. We often heard him going out to the chickens in the very early hours – he could be heard singing “chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken, lay a little egg for me”. We could track his movements pretty accurately. We have had many neighbours, with massive stereo equipment and even an operatic singer but one of the few sounds we ever heard through the wall was Bill Selman. He seemed to belch as he left his bedroom in the morning and then we would hear “manerrrrrs” in a rich Gloucestershire accent. This was then followed by the song to the chickens – ‘chick, chick, chick, chick chicken, lay a little egg for me’ – much more characterful than having an alarm clock we thought.
Bill died aged 81 in December 1988. Lena had died a couple of years earlier.
Duncan Moncrieffe – who acquired the house in early 1989. Duncan was born in the Cheltenham area in 1960, the son of Ivor L Moncrieffe and his wife, Jean (nee Brown). Duncan was a builder, and with the help of his brother, Cameron, and their friends, he gutted the inside of the house and made extensive modernisations and changes. He demolished the old kitchen and bathroom and built a two storey extension. He installed French windows to the back bedroom and dining room, installed central heating and removed the old fireplaces. Most woodwork and all plaster work were replaced at this time. On completion, Duncan named the house ‘Laburnum Cottage’ which it has retained ever since.
Sadly after all this work, Duncan did not live in the house very long. He had been very ambitious with his plans for the house and this proved very expensive. He went to work in Germany and let the house to three young men for about a year. When Duncan returned from Germany, his parents came to live in the house with him, but eventually he had to sell the house. He continues to live in Thornbury.
Lindsay and Clinton T Lloyd – Clinton and Lindsay bought the house in December 1996. Clinton (shown on the right) was a South African who studied medicine at the University of Cape Town, qualifying in 1990. He moved to England where he worked at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, specialising in adult cardiac surgery. His wife, Lindsay was from Scotland and she was a nurse.
They sold the house and moved away in January 2000 when Clinton got a job at Southampton University Hospital. They now live in Plymouth area with their three sons.
Melville Kitchen & Deborah Dear – the current owners bought the house in 2000.