Surprisingly, the houses were not symmetrical; one having a double height bay to the front, with the ground floor portion apparently being open to accommodate the front door. If the contemporary drawing of the site is correct the other house, had at the time, a plain front, with a ground floor bay window being added around 1920. Externally the two houses appear to have changed very little over the intervening 120 years.
They were occupied almost as soon as they were built. However, either as an oversight or because of complaints, in August 1890 the firm applied for permission to install a bath and W.C. in one of the houses.
The 1891 census, both houses, rather confusingly, were known as Field Cottage, a name likely to be a play on Field House, the home of Walter Burder, about half a mile away on Ashby Road.
The earliest known occupants, in November 1891, were William Brooks, the site manager, and John Hull, who tended the furnace, living at Nos. 82 and 84 respectively.
Although the houses were owned by the firm, and presumably specifically built to accommodate two of their workers, they were not rent free; both William Brooks and John Hull initially paid a rent of 2s. per week. This rose dramatically over the next five years to 7s. per week, although this may be the rent on both houses. William Brooks remained at No. 82 until he retired in 1917, when he moved across the road to No. 55 Rosebery Street.
John Hull remained at No. 84 until his death, aged 64, on 24th May 1909. He was born in Whitwick and by 1881 was living, with his wife Betsy Hewitt, at No. 33, Albert Street, Loughborough, when he was described as a labourer. Ten years later, in the 1891 census, he is described as an iron foundry furnace hand, presumably responsible for being on hand to attend the furnace, as and when required. This was confirmed in the 1901 census when he is described as a “furnace tenderer”.
John Hull was followed by Charles Alfred Jacques (see Chapter 4), who moved into No. 84 in the autumn of 1909, despite not being a foundry-man and stayed until his death in 1928. The next occupant was Thomas Monks (1874-1950) and following his death aged 76, his widow, Lucy, remained there for another eight years. Lucy Brooks (1888-1986) married Thomas Monks in Loughborough in 1929 and the daughter of William Brooks ending up living next door to the house where she was brought-up.
The following occupant at No. 84 was Walter Cunningham, who moved in at the end of 1958 and lived there for a little over 10 years. He was followed by Cecil “Tut” Downs.
Even then the houses were only let to employees and the tenancy agreement included a cause whereby the tenants were expected to act as out of hours’ security guards:-.
AN AGREEMENT made the 12th day of March 1969 between MESSENGER & COMPANY LTD., of Cumberland Road, Loughborough (hereinafter called “the Landlord”) of the one part and CECIL DOWNS of 84 Cumberland Road, Loughborough (hereinafter called “the Tenant” of the other part. WHEREAS the tenancy hereunder is created for the sole purpose only of providing accommodation for the Tenant during the continuance of his said employment by the Landlord and the occupation of this cottage by the Tenant is on condition of such employment and on the determination, thereof the tenancy shall also determine forthwith.
- THE Landlord lets and the Tenant takes the cottage known as 84 Cumberland Road, Loughborough, TO HOLD the same from the 20th day of February 1969 from week to week until this tenancy is determined either by the determination of the contract of service existing between the parties or as hereinafter provided.
- THE tenancy hereby created may be determined by either party on any Saturday by four weeks’ notice in writing provided that upon the determination for any reason by either party of the said employment of the Tenant the said tenancy shall (whether or not any such notice shall have been previously given) ipso facto cease and determine.
- DURING the continuance of the said tenancy the following provisions shall have effect: –
- The Tenant shall keep the premises clean and in good condition and shall replace all cracked or broken panes of glass and keep the said garden ground in a proper state of cultivation.
- The Tenant shall not be at liberty to assign or underlet any part of the premises nor shall the Tenant use or permit the premises to be used otherwise than as a residence for himself and family.
- The Tenant shall whilst occupying the said house and whether inside or outside his normal hours of duty warn off all trespassers whom he may see on the property of the Employers, and on the request of any night watchman or other servant of the Employers assist in the protection and preservation of the Employers property against intruders and others or in case of the outbreak of fire or other emergency and take all necessary steps to combat same and promptly report to the Employers or their Manager any urgent messages or communications affecting the Employers business which may be delivered to the said house.
- The Landlord will save as mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof execute any repairs to the premises that may be reasonably necessary and will pay all rates and taxes and insure the premises against loss or damage by fire.
Following the collapse of the firm, Cecil Downs moved out of No. 84 and into No. 82, where along with his wife Elizabeth, they stayed for a couple of years.
Ernest Shearstone Walker and family followed William Brooks at No. 82, residing here until his death in 1943, following which his widow, Florence, continued to live there with her son-in-law Harry Smith and daughter. Following Florence’s death in 1946 aged 69, Harry Smith and family remained there until the late 1950s and perhaps the early 1960s.
By 1963 Thomas Wesson, the foundry foreman, who had previously been the tenant at No. 55, Rosebery Street, another of the firm’s houses, was living at No. 84.
The two houses were still in the firm’s ownership in 1980, when they went into liquidation. They were purchased as part of the site, by Bennett Brothers.
In 1985, planning permission was unsuccessfully sought, by the owners of the site, to convert both properties into flats. At the time, No. 82, the larger of the two properties had a porch, larder, kitchen, living room and lounge on the ground floor, with 4 bedrooms and a bathroom (over the porch) on the first floor. No. 84, being the smaller had three rooms on the ground floor, a kitchen and two living rooms (presumably originally one would have been described as a lounge); whilst on the first floor there were two bedrooms and a bathroom. At the rear, the two properties were separated by a pair of back-to-back outhouses running from the back of the house to the side wall of the old offices.
In 1986 the then site owners, trading as the Cumberland Road Estate, successfully applied for planning permission to change the use of No. 84 from residential to office and storage. Whilst permission was granted, there were numerous constraints, including a limit of 4 parking spaces immediately outside of the property and a restriction on access being limited to 8 am. until 6 pm., Monday to Friday and 8 am. to 1 pm. on Saturday, with no activity allowed on Sunday’s or recognised Bank Holidays. Part of the reason for these restrictions was that the adjoining property, No. 82, was still tenanted.
Five years later, in 1991, a similar application was made for No. 82, with the garden being converted into a car-parking space, which would have resulted in the removal of the Silver Birch tree, which still (2105) sits at the front of the garden. The response, on 7th April 1992, from the planning authority, following two letters from local residents, was to grant the application subject to the plan being amended to show two off-street car parking spaces and the retention of the adjacent Silver Birch tree. There appears to have been no response from the site owners and the planning authority duly declared the planning application as withdrawn on 24th December 1992.
Today (2017), both properties remain residential and whilst the Silver Birch has had its top removed and stands about 10ft. high.
- In May 1890 Messenger & Co., submitted plans for two houses in Cumberland Road, which the Borough Surveyor, Mr. A. W. Cross, recommended the committee approve. – The Loughborough Herald and North Leicestershire Gazette, 8th May 1890. ↑
- Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/01. ↑
- Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2745/2/1. ↑
- Wills’ Loughborough Almanac and Street Directory – 1892. ↑
- Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/01. ↑
- The couple married in Loughborough in 1874. ↑
- Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/279. ↑
- Register of Electors – 1981 and 1982. ↑
- Charnwood District Council Planning applications – P/95/0849/2 and P/95/0997/2. ↑
- Charnwood District Council Planning application – P/86/2487/2. ↑
- Charnwood District Council Planning application – P/91/2915/2. ↑