NOTE – in the period between 1840 to about 1870 there were three houses on the site where numbers 3 and 4 The Plain now stand. We think that at some time between 1871 and 1880 the three houses were replaced by the two large houses which are visible today. This is because we have a copy of old photograph which from the names of the tradesmen above two shops in the High Street (Williams and Tidman). Lionel Dearing whose family were ran the shoe shop for about 50 years in the 1900’s understood that the buildings were re-built by Tucker Brothers, the builders who were based in St John Street. We note that there seems to be only two occupants in the 1871 census and afterwards in the Rate Books and census records. This page covers the occupants of number 3 since 1876.
The 1876 rate book shows the house was owned by William Bevan. It was occupied by William’s cousin, James Bevan. By 1880 James Bevan had become the owner.
James Bevan – James was born on 24th September 1854. He was the son of Thomas Bevan and his wife, Ann (nee Parnell) who were living at the Seven Stars beerhouse in Rock Street at the time of his birth. By the time of the 1871 census, James’s father had died and his mother had moved to a small cottage at 9 Gloucester Road. James was living with her and had started working as a bootmaker.
The 1876 rate book shows James had moved to The Plain where he had set himself up as a bootmaker and leather seller. On 28th June 1877 James married Anna Maria Grove at Hill. Anna was born on 6th July 1845, the daughter of John Wetmore Grove and his wife, Hannah. The 1901 census shows Anna was born at Peddington which is between Hill and Berkeley. James and Anna had one son, Albert Edward, born in September quarter 1878.
The 1881 census shows James and Anna living on The Plain. James was a bootmaker employing two men and two boys. They were living with their son, Albert, Anna’s father, John W Grove, a retired carpenter aged 64 from Hill and a bootmaker’s apprentice, George C Clay, aged 16 from Staines in Surrey. When Anna’s father died in 1885, she seems to have inherited a house and garden in Saw Mill Lane (the house later became known as 1 Saw Mill Lane) – this property is listed under James’s ownership in the 1890 to 1910 rate books.
The 1891 census shows James and Anna living on The Plain with their son, Albert E aged 12 and an aunt, Elizabeth Smith, a retired grocer aged 82 from Hill. The 1901 census shows just James, Anna and Albert living at The Plain. Albert was described as a musical student. In 1896 James appears to have bought a property in St John Street for his son, Albert Edward. Click here to read more
On 11th August 1913 James bought the four small cottages known as the Oxhouse cottages (later known as 3 – 9 Rock Street) for £140.
James died on 9th November 1914. His death was caused by a heart attack when out walking and another a few days later. In his obituary published in the Gazette it said James was much respected and took an unostentatious but useful and practical part in the public work of the Town. He was a prominent member of the Congregational Chapel, being a member for 40 years and a deacon for 24 years. He had also been a teacher at the Sunday School there. He was a Governor of the Thornbury Grammar School, a member of the local Committee of the Thornbury Council School, one of the Parish Council for many years, a member of the Thornbury Town Trust since its inception and a director of the Thornbury Gas Company.
Anna Maria was also a member of the Congregational Church. She died on 6th October 1916 aged 73. They are both buried in the graveyard alongside the Congregational Church.
Albert Edward inherited the family business and the Oxhouse cottages. We are not sure if Albert was directly involved with the business. In 1907 Albert had married Kate Elizabeth Anderson in Thornbury. Albert is listed as living on The Plain in the 1918 and 1921 electoral registers. The 1923 trade directory lists ‘James Bevan and Son’ as a boot and shoemaker on The Plain. However we know from researching the Dearing family, that Sidney Herbert Dearing became a manager of the shop, initially on behalf of Albert’s mother. The trade directories of 1927 and 1931 show that the shop may have continued trading under the name of ‘James Bevan’ although it was owned by Sidney Herbert Dearing. By this time the shop had expanded and was advertised as ‘Boot and Shoemakers, Sports Outfitters, Clothiers and Sole Agent for Wizard All-Leather Arch Supports’. Albert died in Maida Vale on 15th June 1936.
The Dearings – the 1921 electoral register shows Sidney Herbert Dearing lived on The Plain. His family were to remain living here until 1957, and Sidney continued running the shop until about 1970. Click here to read about the Dearing family
David Smith and Hawkes . A programme of the Thornbury Amateur Dramatic Society for 1970 carries an advertisement for Dearings and their shoes and hosiery with the proprietor shown as ‘Mrs C Hawke’. Around this time the shop was split between David Smith running a men’s outfitters shop and ‘Hawkes’ who sold handbags and accessories. In 1978 David Smith moved to his shop at the bottom of the High Street next to the NatWest Bank and Hawkes occupied the full shop. The ‘Hawkes’ shop was run by Michael and Cynthia Cromey-Hawkes.
In more recent times, the property has been used as a hairdressers trading under the name of ‘Bryants’.