21 & 23 Glos Rd pre1922

This photograph shows two properties that are now numbers 21 and 23 Gloucester Road in Thornbury.  Click here to read more about this row of houses.  The house on the left of the pair, Glyndwr, number 21 Gloucester Road, is the first of what is now a terrace of houses.  It is possible to see that this pair of houses were intended to be (as they eventually became) the first of a row of houses.  The bricks protrude from the wall of number 23 ready to be tied into a house that is yet to be built.

From the front view Glyndwr appears considerably smaller than the neighbouring house to its left in the above photo.  This is not quite the case.  Between the two properties is considerable drop in ground levels and there is a huge retaining wall.  A previous occupant of the house, Andrew Niblett, has given us a vivid description

numbers 21 to 31 were built in what was a quarry of some sorts and that is why those are lower.  There were three rooms under number 21 when we moved in.  The front cellar was dug out and had a slide down which coal was delivered.  The middle room was referred to as a basement and most of that was above ground with a door into the cellar.  At the rear was the bathroom which was entirely above ground.  My parents extended that in 1968 to form a garage.  I have also been in the cellars / basements of 25 & 27 and those also cover the entire footprint of those houses.

The excavated quarry with stone wall on top, made the garden of 21 very dark.  This became even darker when additional high fencing was added and the trees grew up.  The sun rarely shone on that rear garden.  The ‘rock’ beneath the wall

[between 19 & 21] was very soft.  There were pockets [up to 1000 x 300 mm] naturally hollow where the sand had  been eroded.  The rest of the excavated rock under the wall, was sound but fairly soft, so I could believe that some gravelly material could have been quarried there.”

Planning permissions held at Gloucester Archives show that in 1910 William Valentine Davis requested permission to build what later became 21 and 23 Gloucester Road.  We understand the work was actually carried out by William and his brothers  working together.  We have written about William below but we have written a separate page about one of his brothers, Charley Davis, who never actually lived in any of the houses.  Click here to read it

Please note that we also have a gallery of photographs of the Davis family.  Most of the photos were kindly sent to us by Andrew Niblett

The 1911 Census does not show the property.  We have no detailed information about the house until 1913 by which time planning permission had been approved to build at the rear of the houses an extension with toilet and bathroom with a tank on each extension roof to catch the rainwater from the main roof.  However we have been lucky enough to receive Charley Davis’s own account of the building process in which he explains

My brother Bill went to a sale and bought a piece of land in Gloucester Road from the Burchell family to build some houses.  Time after time the plans were rejected so in the end we went to see Mr Harold, Chairman of the Board, who finally passed the plans.  We cleared out all the muck as it was a disused Quarry.  We started building the first two houses in 1911.   The stone was dug at Baden Hill and we dressed it ourselves.  I made the windows out of Thornbury gravel and cement and it was the first piece of reconstructed stone done in the district.  The gravel was dug from the land on the opposite side of the road where the canteen now stands at the Grammar School.  We had a job to let the houses at £15 a year, but eventually let them to Mr Thomason the schoolmaster and my brother Bill and his wife Alice.”

Joseph and Frances Adeline Thomason.  By 1918 the Electoral Register confirms that the property was occupied by Joseph and Frances Adeline Thomason.  Joseph was born in Cheshire on 17th September 1884, the son of a blacksmith George Thomason and his wife Hannah.  His application for temporary exemption from military services says that he became a teacher in September 1899.  However we understand that he gained his professional qualification at Chester College where he trained between 1907 and 1909.

The census of 1901 shows that his early career was indeed as a pupil teacher and living with his family in Tarvin in Cheshire.  The census of 1911 shows him after his formal training and lodging at the home of a gardener Mr Thomas Jones in Bridge Street in Chester.  Joseph was now a teacher in a County Elementary School.  Mr Jones had four children at home, including his daughter Frances Adeline who was also a teacher in the County Elementary School.  Frances was born on 31st July 1887.

Joseph married Frances Adeline Jones on 5th June 1911.

Joseph became headmaster of the Council School (now Gillingstool School) on March 24th 1914.  It is noticeable in the log book that Thomason was a believer in firm discipline.  During his time there, frequent canings are mentioned for very small offences.  Perhaps this should be taken in the context of the standards of the time.  The children were by no means “flogged” as only one or two strokes of the cane were generally deemed necessary.  The inspector’s reports also comment on the fact that the atmosphere of the school was happy.  Standards of education also seemed to improve during Thomason’s time there.  By August 1914 three boys gained scholarships to Thornbury Grammar School and when he left the Gazette reported that  Thomason had been headmaster of the school for fifteen years during which time 81 scholarships had been won by his pupils.

In Tony Cherry’s book (“The History of a School”) there are interviews with several pupils.  These include one with Mons Smith who had some reservations about Mr Thomason because of the aforementioned use of the cane.  Despite that, she had a charming anecdote about Mr Thomason providing football boots for a boy who had been trying to play in boots three sizes too big for him.  However she was more enthusiastic about Mrs Thomason whom she called a ‘lovely lady’.

1914 was rather a significant year in world history for another reason and Mr Thomason tried to ensure that his pupils did their bit for the war effort.  By Christmas of that year Joseph was dealing with the matter of the refugee children who had come from Belgian with their families, some of whom came to the Thornbury area.  Interestingly although it was initially decided that  the children should attend the National School (now St Mary’s Primary School)  by 12th  January 1915 twelve of them were enrolled at the Council School.  Click here to read about the Belgian Refugees.

The school also began in earnest to “Dig for Victory”.   According to Tony Cherry’s book about the Council  School at this time “gardening almost ruled the timetable.  If wet weather had prevented the planned activities, all other lessons were cancelled as soon as it was dry.  If a school holiday coincided with the usual planting time, the gardening work was brought forward and completed early.”  Read more about the school’s activities to help with food production

Joseph’s wife Frances Adeline Thomason began to work as a supply teacher at this time.   Although she entered as a supply teacher she seems to have become a permanent member of staff until her resignation on 21st April 1917.

Asst. Master E.L Prosser & Joe Thomason

Joe Thomason (on the right) with Mr Prosser, his assistant master, and the football team at Thornbury Council School

In 1917 Ivy Cotton was enrolled at the Council Upper  School and her address was given as Gloucester Road.  Her parent or guardian was entered as “Thomason.”  The log book for the school shows that when she entered for the scholarship to Thornbury Grammar School she was called Ivy Thomason.  It seems that Mr and Mrs Thomason had adopted her as their daughter.  Tony Cherry’s book has an explanation of this in an account of Mr and Mrs Thomason by a former pupil, Mons Smith.  Mons said; “there was a very poor family who lived in a tiny house with one son and one daughter.  When the parents both died, Mr and Mrs Thomason adopted the daughter, Ivy Cotton, who then became Ivy Thomason and she had a good life with them.”

Joseph Thomason was called up for war service in the First World War in 1917.  On 2nd March 1917 he gave Gloucester Road as his address when he applied for a temporary exemption from service to allow him time to store furniture, arrange for another tenant and take his wife up to Chester.  He was given fourteen days to achieve this daunting task.

The school log book records a rather unusual sequence of events.  Joseph Thomason left the school on 14th March 1917 to travel to London to join HM forces but he returned to the school only a few days later on the 19th.  This seems to have been because he could not join the branch of the services he had intended.  It may have been that Thomason was not deemed suitable for active service.  Although he again left the school on 30th March 1917 to do military service, he does not seem to have been actually involved in the fighting.  When he returned to the school on 3rd March 1919 the log book noted that “Mr Thomason who had been acting as Temporary Acting Warrant Schoolmaster RN for two years again resumes his duties as Head Teacher of this school.”

On 30th July 1927 the Gazette reported on the departure of Joseph Thomason to the newly opened Charborough Road School at Filton.  Tributes were made not only to his work as headmaster but also to his work for the town and for the British Legion.

We have learned from the Charborough Road School’s website created for the school’s 25th anniversary that in April 1934 a secondary school was opened behind the original primary school.  Joseph was appointed head of what became the Secondary Modern School.  Albert John Chamberlain who succeeded him to the post of headmaster of the primary school became headmaster of the Secondary Modern when Joseph resigned in 1943.  Click here to read about Charborough Road School

We know that Joseph Thomason continued to live in Southmead Road, Bristol until at least 1951.  Joseph died in Weston Super Mare in 1962.

Frances died in Bristol in February 1984.

John Herbert and Margaret Elizabeth Bruton – the Brutons were listed in the electoral registers as living in Gloucester Road from 1927 to 1939, but we know for some of this time they were living at 18 Gloucester Road.  We suspect that they moved to 21 Gloucester Road by 1930 because someone had moved into number 18.

We have written about the tragic story of  John ‘s death, and the family in general, on the page for 18 Gloucester Road.  Click here to read more

Mrs Cutts Pensioners' Choir Group

Mrs Cutts

James and Jessie Cutts.  The Electoral Roll for 1946 shows that Glyndwr was occupied by James and Jessie Cutts.  We know from St Mary’s baptismal records that James Cutts was an engineer.  James may have been born in Derbyshire about 1909 and he married Jessie Jones in 1931 in the Wolverhampton area.  Robert George Cutts was born 12th October 1938 and baptised in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury on 15th September 1950.  Robert started at St Mary’s School in 1948 and left in 1950 to go to a private school.

By 1961 the family lived in Almondsbury.  James Cutts’ death may be the one registered in the Bristol area in 1966.  If so, he died at the comparatively young age of 57.

The Johnsons – the 1957 electoral register shows that Harry and Mair Johnson were living at 21 Gloucester Road.  Harry was a teacher at Thornbury Grammar School and Mair had also worked there.  At the time they were here she was raising the three young children.  They didn’t live here long and soon moved to live at The Elms, 26 Gloucester Road.  Click here to read more

Francis and Kathleen Niblett.  We have been told by Andrew Niblett that the family moved into the house on 5th April 1958.

Andrew has provided the following information about his family.

Frank Niblett in 1942

Francis William Niblett [known to all as Frank or Nibby,] was born in Cromhall, 3rd May 1922, and moved to Malt Cottage, Duck Street, Tytherington soon afterwards, which was close to his grandparents, Alsey and Annie Curtis.  His parents were William [Bill] and Annie Niblett.   Frank attended Thornbury Grammar School from 1933-7 where he was awarded colours for both his favourite pastimes of football and cricket.  His grandfather, Alsey was also a cricket fanatic and memorably bowled out E M Grace.  One of my father’s earliest memories was of his Grandfather taking him to see the Indians playing cricket at Bristol.  It’s funny how such interests skip generations; his grandson son Joe and he also spent many happy hours enjoying cricket together.  Frank began working for Tytherington Stone Co., sometime around 1938; at some stage that became RR [Roads Reconstruction (1934) Ltd.,] and transitioned through Amy Roadstone Corporation Ltd., [ARC,] to Hansons today.”  Frank joined the Royal Navy around 1940 and was de-mobbed in 1946 and returned to work at Tytherington Stone Co.  after the war.

Frank married Kathleen Nancy Davis on 27th March 1948.

1945 Kathleen Nancy Davis

Kathleen Nancy Niblett nee Davis

“Kathleen Nancy Davis [known to all as Nance or Nancy,] was born in The Hackett on 13th January 1926; moving a 100 yards to Oakdale the following year.  Her parents were Joseph and Gladys Davis.  Nancy attended Thornbury Grammar School from 1937-41, and her favourite pastime was playing in a local accordion band.  She began working at BAC in Filton in 1941 in the typing pool, before becoming personal secretary to Mr. Norcock.  He died shortly afterwards and she moved to Crossman & Thurston solicitors in Thornbury.  As was the custom on those days, she gave up work entirely after their marriage. 

Frank and Nancy lived in Tytherington for ten years where Andrew and Sara were both born in 1952 and 1955 respectively, before the family moved to Thornbury in 1958.

Nancy and Frank were no strangers to Gloucester Road when they moved into number 21, as both had been pupils at Thornbury Grammar School.  They arrived on 6th April 1958  with their two children Andrew [aged 6,] and Sara [aged 3.]   It was a short distance to the Tytherington Quarry where Frank worked as Commercial Manager.  Nancy soon put her secretarial skills to work by becoming ‘Correspondent’ to St. Mary’s C of E School; for the princely sum of £17/10/- per year!  Andrew acted as a courier of letters between the Headmaster and mother Nancy on occasions that such correspondence was deemed necessary.  

While living at Gloucester Road, Nancy was a keen participant of the Thornbury Shows and Carnivals, always entering in to the spirit of the occasion and sometimes winning prizes.  When the good reputation of Hill and Rockhampton WI came to Nancy’s attention, with an extensive range of interesting activities and talented members, she lost no time in enrolling.  From her theatrical roles in a wide variety of topical plays, to preparation of various culinary delights, to hand-making intricate garments, her competitive spirit was well satiated.  Her secretarial skills were well used as WI secretary for many years, later becoming president.

1959 June FrankNancy Sara&Andrew

1959 Frank & Nancy Niblett with Sara & Andrew

Frank continued playing cricket for Tytherington CC until the mid sixties.  While living at 21 Gloucester Rd, one of Frank’s most challenging yet rewarding achievements was the reopening of the rail link from Yate to Tytherington in July 1972.  The original rail link to Thornbury opened one hundred years earlier, and remained open until 1967, after which the rails were quickly taken up.  The owners of Grovesend Quarry soon realised that growth plans for the business would significantly increase the number of heavy lorries on the roads to and from their Quarry, so hauling many thousands of tonnes of stone from Grovesend Quarry by rail to depots across the country, became an attractive option.  As Commercial Manager, the project to reopen the rail link naturally was assigned to Frank.  Numerous occasions were recalled when Frank returned home exhausted following a day’s protracted negotiations with British Rail, to effect the reinstatement of the track.  Eventually, his determination and unflustered manner paid off, and the line was successfully reopened”. 

The Niblett family left 21 Gloucester Rd in November 1981 moving to The Firs in Crossways.  Frank continued  to work for Hanson as Area Commercial Manager until his retirement in 1987.   He died on 6th October 2006 aged 84.  We have a collection of photos of the Nibletts and their time in Gloucester Road amongst our galleries of family albums.  Please click here to see them

We would like to hear more about more recent inhabitants of the house.