We are particularly grateful to Paul Ford for allowing us to look through the deeds of the house that is now 37 High Street in Thornbury. The oldest document in Paul’s collection was an indenture dated October 1820 in which William Rolph conveyed the property to Mary Adams. The detailed description of the ownership and occupation of the property and adjoining properties enabled us to go back into the 1700’s. Click here to read the full description
On this page we have detailed what we know of the properties various owners and occupants:
John White – the earliest name mentioned. There were several persons of that name in Thornbury in the early years and unfortunately to don’t know any more about John to identify him.
Bradley Smith – the 1769 and 1770 Poor Assessment records show that the owner of the property at that time was Bradley Smith who was letting the property to William Grove. We don’t know anything about Bradley Smith apart from the fact that he owned another property in Thornury in 1769 which he was renting out to William Taylor.
William Grove – the Poor Assessment records show that William was renting the property from Bradley Smith in 1769 and 1770, but the 1775 and 1780 land tax record shows William had become the owner and was living there. By 1781 William was renting the property to Luke Rose, his son in law. Luke had married William’s daughter, Flora (some records show her as Flower), on 3rd September 1780.
Based upon his age at his death, we assume that William was the one baptised on 2nd January 1707. We think that he was the son of William Grove and his wife, Mary Boy.
William the younger married Elizabeth Cole on 6th February 1732. Elizabeth was shown as being “of Thornbury.” They had several children: William baptised on 15th November 1732, Mary baptised on 15th February 1736 and who was buried on 6th April 1737, Robert baptised on 29th September 1737, another Mary baptised on 6th April 1739, Sarah baptised on 14th December 1740, Hannah baptised on 2nd December 1744 and Flora baptised on 9th March 1746. When William (the first of the children) was baptised the family was said to be living in Kington. We do not know whether this was the case in subsequent baptisms means that the family moved about that time.
William was living at Buckover when he died aged 78. He was buried on 18th March 1785. In his last will and testament dated 17th June 1784 he left his property occupied by his son in law, Luke Rose to his wife, Elizabeth, for her life time and after her death it was left to his only surviving son, William Grove for his life time. After his death, the property was left to William’s grandson, Daniel Latch, the son of Joseph Latch nailer and William’s daughter, Mary, on the understanding that he would pay £5 to all of his siblings who attained the age of 21.
William left his wife all his household goods and after her death they were to be shared by his children: William, Mary the wife of Joseph Latch, Sarah the wife of John Taylor, Flora the wife of Luke Rose, Hannah and Elizabeth. He left William £20 and each of his daughters £10 each. William appointed his son in law Joseph Latch his executor.
The 1796 land tax record shows Elizabeth Grove was the owner of the property. We are not sure when Elizabeth died, but we know from the last will and testament of George Rolph dated 20th May 1815 that George had bought the property at some time from Joseph Latch who had been appointed executor under the will of William Grove.
George Rolph – George had bought 35 High Street (the property next door on the opposite side of Soapers Lane) and made his home there. The 1800 land tax record shows that George had acquired the property at 37 High Street by that time. George’s last will and testament dated 20th May 1815 shows that George had erected and built a new property on the site of a ‘ruinous messuage‘ purchased of Joseph Latch. It appears that George wanted a place near to him where his stepmother could live. We know from the 1809 Rent Roll and the land tax records from 1809 to 1814 that George’s stepmother, Sarah Rolph, was living there.
George died in 1816 and Sarah was living in the house at that time he wrote his will in 1815. He left the property to his children, William and Annis Rolph ‘upon trust that they should with all convenient speed after his decease absolutely sell and dispose of the same hereditaments’. Following George’s death, we don’t know where Sarah went to live then as Richard Scarlett was listed as being the occupant of the house in the 1819 land tax records. Sarah didn’t die until 1823. Click here to read about George
William Rolph – in 1816 following his father’s death William took over the property which was left to him and his sister, Annis in the will of 1815. Annis renounced her claim on the property on 24th November 1815. It appears that Sarah Rolph had moved elsewhere and William let the property out to tenants. In accordance with the terms of his father’s will William sold the property in 1820. An indenture of lease and release dated 17th and 18th October 1820 shows that William conveyed the property to Mary Adams for £472 10s.
On 29th October 1823, William bought the same property from Mary Adams for £400. We are not sure why these exchanges happened. They might have been an arrangement to ensure William complied with the terms of his father’s will instructing him to sell the property. The opportunity for him to re-purchase the property might have arisen because Mary may have moved away from Thornbury. We can’t be sure but Mary may have been the Mary Adams who married Michael Barton of Corsham in Wiltshire on 23rd March 1824.
William continued to let the property out to tenants (see boxed text below). In 1853 William borrowed £400 from his sister, Susannah Rolph and in 1854 he borrowed a further £50 and deposited the deeds of the property with Susannah as security. He promised to prepare a formal mortgage agreement. In the following years William paid Susannah the interest of the loan without any formal mortgage. William Rolph died on 15th October 1858 aged 67 and was buried at Almondsbury Churchyard. Click here to read about William
Following his death, William’s property was left to his widow, Caroline. On 14th July 1859, Caroline arranged for a formal mortgage covering the £450 loan for the property at the request of Susannah. By 17th January 1860 the money loaned had still not been repaid to Susannah Rolph and she gained possession of the property and agreed its sale to Richard Scarlett for £200.
On 17th January 1860 Richard purchased the property for £200 from Susannah Rolph (see above). This purchase included the detached garden plot.
The 1861 census shows that Daniel Liddiatt (see below) was living in the property, presumably in the accommodation above the offices. The 1876 Rate Book shows that the offices were then used by ‘Scarlett & Gwynn’, the firm where Frederick Henry Burchell recalled as starting his career as a solicitor’s clerk. They continued to use the property up to Richard’s death in 1881 and afterwards until at least 1890. Richard died on 1st July 1881 aged 90 and was buried on 6th July 1881. In his will dated 19th June 1880 Richard left his property in trust for the benefit of his grand-daughter, Maria Ann, independent of any future husband. On 15th July 1880 Maria married Samuel Stutchbury at Alveston.
By the 1894 Rate Book the offices were shown as unoccupied although the property was still being shown as being owned by Richard’s trustees. They carried on owning it until 1919 when it was put up for sale at auction (see below). Click here to read more about Richard Scarlett
By the time of the 1905 Rate Book Albert Prewett had taken over as owner and occupier of 22 High Street. His descendents are still running the family business which Albert set up from the same building. Click here to read about Prewetts
Thomas Brothers – the 1905 Rate Book shows the property occupied by Thomas Brothers. This was a shoe shop run by James Thomas with his brother, Frank. The 1901 census shows them running their shop at 53 High Street. By 1905 they had moved to the shop on the corner of High Street and Soapers Lane (later known as 37 High Street).
The 1911 census shows that the property was occupied by Rose Thomas, a married boot dealer aged 29 born in Chadlington in Oxfordshire, Ada Sollis her sister aged 23 born in the same place and children: Liliian aged 5 and Muriel aged 3 both born in Thornbury. Click here to read more
Huins boot shop – by 1912 the property had been taken over by Arthur Claude Huins. Arthur was born in Redditch in 1879, the son of George Huins, a joiner and his wife, Louisa (nee King). In 1891 census the family were living at Millsborough Road, Ipsley near Redditch. In the 1901 census we can’t find Arthur at home nor elsewhere so we guess he may have been serving in South Africa.
A local history website on the Internet covering the history of Redditch says that Huins family were a very well known firm of shoemakers in Redditch which was claimed to have been established in 1796 and was still trading in there in the mid 1950’s.
In 1910 Arthur married Hilda Grace Wilkes in Redditch. The 1911 census shows them living in Glover Street, Redditch. Arthur had become a manager of a boot shop and they had one son called Wilfred King aged two months (born there on 6th February 1911). They must have moved to Thornbury shortly after as a daughter, Joyce was born there on 28th October 1912. Another daughter, Margaret, was born there on 7th July 1917.
The Gazette newspaper of September 1916 lists Arthur as a member of 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. The image on the left is taken from a photo of the volunteers and was marked with the name of ‘Huins’.
The trade directories show Arthur was a boot and shoe maker and he was described as a boot seller when he was summonsed in 1916 for not shading his lights at a time of national emergency. The school records indicate that the family moved back to Redditch in March 1924. At that time their son, ‘Arthur King’ (whom we assume to be Wilfred) transferred from Thornbury Grammar School to Redditch Secondary School.
Arthur Claude Huins was living at 42 Bromfield Road, Redditch when he died 25th July 1961 and probate to Hilda Grace his widow. Hilda was living at the same address but died at Minehead on 12th September 1963 probate to her daughter, Joyce Jubb.
On 15th April 1919 the property was put up for sale at auction as part of the estate of Mrs Maria Ann Stutchbury who had inherited the property from Richard Scarlett. It was described as
‘Lot 6 – a shop and dwelling house situate in the High Street. The house contains, in addition to the shop, kitchen, scullery, small yard, small workshop and underground cellar. On first floor – sitting room, two bedrooms and long passage. On second floor – three rooms. There is also back and front staircase. Lot 7 – a stable or cart shed with small garden adjoining Sopers Lane, bounded by the property of the Thornbury Town Trust and of Mr W. H. Ponting. The above two lots are let together to Mr Huins at annual rent of £24‘.
George Bernard Symes – on 26th June 1919 George bought the property from the Stutchburys for £475. George continued letting the property to Huins. George had his tailor and outfitting shop next door at 39 High Street. Click here to read about GB Symes
On 25th March 1930 George sold the property to Alfred George Excell for £675. There was a condition attached to the sale preventing Alfred using the premises as a tailors or outfitters shop, business or establishment.
Alfred George Excell – the 1925 Valuation lists and 1926 Rate Book show that Alfred was renting the property at 37 High Street from George Bernard Symes. Alfred had moved to Thornbury in 1923 and was living in the house now known as 14 The Plain. He took over the boot and shoe business which had been run by Arthur Huins. Click on the thumbnail on the right to see a larger photo of the Excell shop. Click here to read more about Alfred
Thomas Ernest Ford – Thomas bought the property from George Excell on 23rd August 1954 for £1650.
Thomas was born in Pontypool on 23rd Feruary 1907. He was the son of Thomas Ozias Ford and his wife, Maud Sarah (nee Sawyer). They both came from Bristol but Thomas was working as an annealer in the iron works in 1911.
Thomas married Doris Maloney in the Bristol area in 1937. They had four children: Rodney Ernest born in 1939, Paul Richard born in 1940, Lewis John born in 1945 and Anita born in 1948. Thomas and Doris lived at Totterdown. Thomas was a shoe repairer and Doris was working in Georges Brewery.
After the War Thomas set up a shoe repair business in Iron Acton, initially working from a little hut and then from a cottage in the High Street there. He did a mobile round collecting and returning shoes direct to people in surrounding areas. After about five or six years in 1954, Thomas bought the business of Alfred Excell at 37 High Street, Thornbury and the family moved to live there. Doris ran the shop selling shoes. She was new to this trade and was taught the ropes by Margaret King who had worked there previously for Alfred Excell. Thomas continued his repair business, collecting shoes requiring repairs from other shoe shops and doing the work at his workshop in Iron Acton.
We understand from family members that it was Thomas Ford who removed the bay windows and modernised the front of the shop in the way it looks today.
The three boys all learned the trade and became repairers although Lewis moved to the retail side of the business.
The 1961 electoral register shows Thomas and Doris moved to live in Westerleigh, Alveston. Thomas’s parents were living at 37 High Street and and his son, Rodney was also living there with his new wife, Gillian.
Business boomed. Separate children shoe department upstairs and the demand was so high that they sometimes had queues forming on the stairs waiting to get into that department. Branches were opened in other towns in the south west including Kingswood, Henleaze, Westbury on Trym, Yate, Clevedon and Tewksbury. When Thomas retired around 1972 the family formed T. Ford Ltd.
Thomas died on 19th May 1983 when he and Doris were living at Frampton Cotterell. Doris returned to live in Thornbury. She died on 23rd June 1989.
The premises at 37 High Street expanded in 1980 and eventually the firm moved to occupy two shops in St Marys Arcade and employing 13 staff. They carried on trading there until about 2009 when they were finally forced out of business by competition from out of town shopping centres.
The Fords continued to use the premises at 37 High Street as an office when they moved to St Marys Arcade. Then Kays shoes ran a business on the upper floor for a while, selling shoes to retailers. Clarks Shoes bought out the Kays business and used the space as an office.
Since the 1980’s, the premises at 37 High Street has had a number of different occupants. Burton & Sweet, the chartered accountants had their offices downstairs as a temporary basis before moving to Cornerstone House, Midland Way.
In about 1983 the shop was let to Mike Hanlan who ran a clothing shop under the name of Revelations. After two or three years he assigned lease and it became a fancy goods shop under the name of The Trading Post which later became Jason’s Trading Post and more recently the Discount Superstore.