The plan on the left dated 1880 shows the area around the junction of Outer Back Street (now known as Rock Street) and Bath Road. There was a row of four houses on Rock Street, just to the south of the junction with Bath Road. These were known locally as ‘The Oxhouses’, but when house numbering was introduced in the 1950’s, they became known as numbers 3 – 9 Rock Street.
Unfortunately we have not found any photos of these houses. We understand they were very small with one room downstairs and one bedroom upstairs. There were no doors fronting Rock Street. Access was via the shared court at the rear, between the back of the houses and the gardens. The toilets were at the bottom of the garden (you can actually see the block of toilets in the plan above).
An 1822 Indenture referring to the properties later known as 11 to 19 Rock Street mentions that those properties were formerly part of a messuage and garden on the north and eastwards side, which were the estate and inheritance of Ralph Grove on whose death the property descended to Kingsmill Grove the younger, his nephew and heir-at-law, who sold and conveyed the property to William Cowley. We believe that the property referred to is the same property mentioned in Ralph Grove’s will dated 1790 in which he left to Kingsmill Grove two gardens and the orchard thereto adjoining called ‘Blayes’ situate in or near a certain place or street there called the Back Street. If this is the case then it implies that the houses later numbered 3 to 9 Rock Street were not built until after 1790. One other clue about the origins of the houses is found in an abstract of title referring to the adjoining properties (2 and 4 Bath Road). This notes refers to the houses as in Rock Street as ‘the four small messuages or dwelling houses some years ago erected by William Osborne deceased’. In William Osborne’s will dated 22nd August 1807 William refers to ‘my four small late but now built messuages or cottages with gardens and appurtenances thereto belonging situate in the Borough of Thornbury’. He declared that Mary Mills, Sarah Eley, his servant Ann Hopkins and Ann Slade, wife of Charles Slade be allowed to occupy the houses during their lifetime.
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows the houses were owned by Hector Maclaine and occupied by William Jones, Henry Herbert, William Davies and William Herbert. There is a memorial on the wall of St Mary’s Church summarising Hector’s military exploits. He died on 15th January 1847 aged 62. Click here to read more
Following Hector Maclaine’s death, the properties seem to have passed to his son, William Osborne Maclaine as the rate boks from 1876 to 1905 show him as the owner. Both William’s sons pre-deceased him and on his death in 1906, the property passed to Mrs Herbert Jenner-Fust. Her maiden name was Flora Maclaine Ross, and she was thought to be William’s cousin. She is listed as the owner in the 1910 rate book.
We know from the Gazette that the property was put up for auction in 1913 described as ‘four small cottages known as ‘The Ox House Cottages’. They were purchased on 11th August 1913 by James Bevan of Thornbury for £140. At the time of the sale they were occupied by Mrs Gough, Miss Bendall, Giles Reed and Charles Jefferies. Following the death of James Bevan on 9th November 1914, the property was inherited by his son, Albert Edward Bevan. The 1926 rate book shows that Albert Edward was the owner of the 4 houses at that time.
On 3rd June 1931 Albert sold the cottages to Frederick James Bishop for £150. At the time of that sale the houses were occupied by Mrs Mary Ann Burrows, Wilson George Parsons, Thomas Lanfear and Frederick Rugman as tenant. Albert was described as a musician living at that time at 55A Portsdown Road, Maida Vale, London. Frederick Bishop lived for a long time with his wife, Lily (nee Alpass), in a house called ‘Auklands’ on the Gloucester Road. We understand that Frederick worked for Crane’s, the firework makers and that Frederick invented a particular kind of firework effect known as “glitter.” Frederick died on 10th September 1958 and the cottages were transferred to his executor, Kate Elizabeth Bevan, widow of Auklands, Gloucester Road. She was the widow of Albert Edward Bevan who had sold the property to Frederick. Albert had married Kate Elizabeth Anderson in Thornbury in 1907. Following the death of Albert and Frederick’s wife, Lily, both Frederick and Kate were listed as living in Auklands.
By 18th December 1962 the cottages had been demolished and Kate sold the land to Gloucester County Council for £500. The land was left vacant for a long period. In 1981 there were proposals for a possible bus station on the land but this never materialised. Eventually the land was used for the creation of a garden area adjoining the Town’s new police station.
Click on the linkson the sidebar on the left to read about the occupants of each house