We are disappointed not to have any clear photos of the property. The one on the left was taken from a street photo. Numbers 16 – 20 Rock Street were the three houses where the lady is standing on he pavement. Number 16 was the house furthest away from the camera in this row of three.
We are fortunate that South Gloucestershire Council have allowed us to see the deeds of this and several other adjoining houses. They show that the three houses (later known as 16, 18 and 20 Rock Street) were built at the eastward end of a garden of a property in St Mary Street. The house on St Mary Street had been a single building, but later converted into three houses which became known as 47, 49 and 51 St Mary Street. A house was also built fronting Rock Street and later two more houses were built adjoining this house (one of which became 16 Rock Street). Click here to read about the OWNERS
OCCUPANTS OF 16 ROCK STREET
We have had great difficulty in identifying the occupants of the house in the census records so we have not attempted to do so unless we have some other supporting sources. The history of occupants is therefore based on what people have been able to tell us, backed up by census, rate books, church records, electoral registers, school records etc.
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows that the 3 houses in Rock Street in Plot 142 were occupied by George Bennett, Thomas Wetmore, Mary Cossham. We are not actually sure which one of the families occupied each house. For convenience we have assumed that Mary Cossham occupied number 16, that George Bennett lived at 20, and Thomas Wetmore lived at 18.
Mary Cossham – the 1841 census shows that Mary was aged 55 and not born in Gloucestershire. She was sharing a house with Elizabeth Taylor aged 65. Both Mary and Elizabeth were born outside of Gloucestershire and were shopkeepers.
Frances Hall – the 1876, 1880 and 1885 rate book show that the house, along with the 2 adjoining houses, was owned by Frances Hall. Click here to read more
Sarah Jefferies – all the rate books from 1876 through to 1910 show that 16 Rock Street was occupied by Sarah Jefferies. The 1881 census shows that Sarah was a widowed charwoman aged 34 born in Alveston living with her sons: Charles aged 11 and Henry aged 8, both born in Thornbury.
Sarah was the daughter of George Smart, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Hannah. She was born in Olveston about 1847. In 1851 the Smart family were living on Alveston Down. In 1861 Sarah was working as a dairy maid at Earthcott. In 1864 Sarah married George Jefferies at the old St Helens Church at Alveston. George was the son of George Jefferies and his wife Ruth (nee Pearce) who were living in the Union Workhouse in Olveston at the time of his baptism at Thornbury St Marys Church on 22nd July 1846. In 1861 George was working as a cowman at Acton Court.
In the 1871 census Sarah was living in Lower Bath Road, either next door to her widowed mother-in-law, Ruth or sharing the same house with her. Sarah had two children, Eliza aged 5 and Charles aged 2. Sarah seemed to be living in the house which later became 2 Rock Street, and Ruth was either sharing this house or living in number 4.
We don’t know where George was in 1871. He died in 1874 aged 30. We are grateful to John Gale for alerting us to the circumstances of George’s death. John who lives in Milford Haven has researched the history of the Maenclochog Railway. He found that George was amongst a group of navvies employed to assist local men in the work in 1873. In the Autumn of 1874 George was lodging with 12 other navvies in railways huts erected for the construction workers near to the village of Llanycefn. They were looked after by Louisa Brooks and her family. As the work progressed there was a lot of bad feeling between local men and the navvies who came from outside the area. There were arguments about the loading of rubble onto the trucks and threats were made against George and his mates. It may have been because of this that the contractor paid off five men including George on the evening of October 13th 1874. Later that same evening three local men, all of whom had been threatening George and other English navvies for some time, went to the huts and called out two of them. George was already outside. The three local men started beating the two Englishmen and when George appeared on the scene he was beaten severely with a large stick. As he lay on the ground he was kicked and beaten and then dragged across the river. The disturbance alerted Louisa Brooks who came out and found George lying unconscious and bleeding at the side of the road. George never regained consciousness and for the next few days was cared for by Louisa until his wife, Sarah, arrived from Thornbury on the 19th. Two days later George died. The three assailants were charged and taken to trial at Haverfordwest, but they were found not guilty. George was buried in the cemetery of Llanycefn Church. The vicar wrote in the burial register ‘Died from a fracture of the skull, hit with a stout piece of stick, a navvy he was’.
In 1891 Sarah was still living in 16 Rock Street working as a washerwoman and living with her children: Charles a groom aged 22 and William aged 9. William Hollister, a gardener aged 44 was boarding with the family. In 1901 Sarah was still there working as a charwoman. William her son was working as a groom and gardener (not domestic) and William Hollister was still a lodger and working as a gardener. Sarah carried on living in the house until her death in 1922 aged 76. She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 1st July 1922.
There was two families remembered as living in the house in the 1900’s: the Alsops and the Salisburys. We note that when the three houses were sold in 1929 following the death of John Augustus Hall, the indenture mentioned ‘H. Walker‘ as living in one of them.
William and Louisa Alsop – we have been told that Mrs Alsop lived in the house before the Salisbury family. The electoral registers from 1927 to 1935 do confirm that William and Louisa Alsop were living in Upper Bath Road, but this name was often applied to what later became Rock Street. In 1938 and 1946 only Louisa is listed. The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war lists only Louisa in the house and gives her birth date as 7th June 1877 and described her as an office caretaker.
We had assumed that William and Louisa were married, but then we discovered a reference in the accounts of W.W. Pitchers which shows that in 1935 Miss Alsop arranged with them for a coffin for her late brother, William Alsop. He died a bachelor aged 55 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 31st August 1935. William and Louisa were both buried in the same grave in the Cemetery.
In the 1921 electoral register William, Louisa and Robert were listed as living in Bulls Eyes Lane (now called Bath Road), but it was noted that William and Robert were absent. We assume that that William, Robert and Louisa were all siblings. Initially we jumped to the wrong conclusion that Louisa was Alice Louisa baptised 6th August 1882, the daughter of Thomas and Emily Alsop of Thornbury. She had a brother Robert George was baptised on 3rd October 1886 and William John was baptised on 7th September 1890. However William’s and Louisa’s age at death (see below), and the variation in Louisa’s name, mean that this family didn’t quite fit with what we knew about Louisa and William.
Looking further, we found Louisa was born in Heath Town, near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, the daughter of Louisa Alsop in 1877. Her mother Louisa married William Poole in the Bristol area in 1880. The 1881 census shows Louisa living with her parents in the home of her mother’s parents (William and Ann Alsop) in Buckover. The 1891 census shows Louisa was visiting Glebe Farm in Alvington near Chepstow. That was the home of John and Ann Phillips, a Thornbury family. The 1901 census shows she was a domestic servant living in 25 High Street, the house and drapers’s shop owned by Francis Gayner. The 1911 census shows Louisa as a general domestic servant working for Basil William Bryant at Norwich House, 43 High Street.
We have confirmed that William Alsop was Louisa’ brother, although we haven’t traced his birth and not found him in any census. It is interesting to note that the 1918 electoral register shows William Alsop was listed as being ‘c/o William Poole, Buckover’. We have also not traced any record of Robert Alsop, other than the 1921 electoral register which which lists him with Louisa and William, but noted to be absent.
From the deeds that relate to the properties later to become 7 and 9 Bath Road we know that Louisa was living in 9 Bath Road by 1920 and at least until 1922. The 1926 rate book shows that Louisa had lately been the occupant of the house which later became 4 Bath Road. Her name in the book had been crossed through which normally meant that she had recently vacated the premises. The 1934 Rate Book has the name of William Alsop as the occupant of the house.
The electoral registers from 1950 to 1958 show the house occupied by William Henry Salisbury and his wife, Nancy. William Henry was known as ‘Harry’. He was born on 14th December 1914, the son of William Hiron Salisbury, a butcher (who also went by the name of Harry), and his wife Maud (nee Savery). Click here to read about William and Maud
The Salisburys lived at Horseshoe Lane in 1918 and 1919 when Harry and his brother, Raymond John (born on 4th September 1916), started at the Council School, but they had moved to St Mary Street by 1920 when Harry went to the Council Upper School. We know that in 1924 Harry Snr purchased at auction the property he had been renting there. It was described as ‘a dwelling house, shop and premises with frontages to St Mary Street and Rock Street which started at £300 and was knocked down for £402 10 shillings’.
Harry (Snr) and Maud had one more son, Benjamin Douglas, born on 11th September 1928 who went on to become a builder for Tucker Brothers and possibly for Pitchers. The family continued living in St Mary Street.
On 13th June 1943, Maud died aged 50. In December quarter 1947, Harry Jnr married Nancy Farr in Thornbury. Nancy was born in the Cardiff area on 26th February 1918, the daughter of Walter and Catherine Farr (nee Savery). We understand that they were second cousins. When Nancy started at the Thornbury National School in 1927, the family had moved from South Wraxall. It appears that Nancy’s father had died by this time as the school records showed her parent as her mother, Kate Farr. When Nancy was baptised at Thornbury St Mary’s on 6th October 1936 both her parents were dead.
Harry Jnr was a builder and worked in the quarries. He and Nancy settled in 16 Rock Street and they continued to live there until the houses were earmarked for demolition. The 1965 electoral register shows that they moved to 16 Streamleaze, one of the Council flats built opposite the Market gates. Harry Jnr died on 4th January 1982 aged 67 years and he was buried in the same grave as his mother in Thornbury Cemetery.