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Where Do You Think They Lived? Another Look At The 1921 Census

Published on: 28 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 30 Jan, 2022

By David Rose

Looking up your family history on the newly released 1921 census can be very rewarding, but the search process can be somewhat frustrating if you can’t locate what you had hoped to find.

Reader Charles Graham came up with a puzzle when looking up details of his wife’s family by the name of Fletcher who it is known were living in Stoughton in the 1920s.

The 1921 census has been released by the National Archives – and although free to view at its base at Kew, London, it can also be accessed on the genealogy website Findmypast for a fee per transcript or original document.

Worplesdon Road, Stoughton today with Armstrong, Yeldham and Englefield Villas. Picture: David Rose collection ©.

Charles found the Fletchers by their transcript, as he thought, in Worplesdon Road, but at a house listed as 1 Brigfield Villas. But the name didn’t sound familiar and Charles asked if any Guildford Dragon readers might be able to help identify where it was or is, but added it’s known the Fletchers did live at a property called Englefield Villas at about the same time.

Brigfield Villas didn’t sound familiar to me either, although there are three semi-detached houses in Worplesdon Road that have their original names on them, high up on the left-hand house. Two are very legible, Armstrong Villas and Yeldham Villas, while the writing on the third is not so clear, but it is Englefield Villas!

When I looked at the 1921 census via Findmypast it soon became clear by viewing the original hand-written document rather than the typed transcript, the Fletchers were of course living at 1 Englefield Villas.

Therefore, it was an error made recently as the 1921 census was being prepared for public viewing. In fact, as I have quickly noticed, there are many errors in the transcripts, names as well as addresses, and occupations too. The first I noticed was in looking up members of my own family.

But the handwriting is often so poor or extremely difficult to read, and besides, this was the first UK census in which people had to fill in the census form themselves, and not by the enumerator who called on them.

Map of the properties in Worplesdon Road, Stoughton at about the time of the 1921 census and which are featured here.

However, back to Worplesdon Road in Stoughton and finding the correct address for the Fletchers gave me the opportunity to look at some other residents along that side of the road, down the hill, so to speak, to its junction with New Cross Road.

From my Stoughton history knowledge (and pictures I have) I expected to find some people I already knew of – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Today the properties are numbered consecutively, while in 1921 they were not. A 1935 Guildford street directory reveals the houses had been numbered by then and some of the families in 1921 were still there 14 years later.

Looking up Worplesdon Road, Stoughton, a few years before the 1921 census. In the middle foreground, just past Sparrow the butchers which is covered with ivy, are the row of houses then named Oak Cottages. Picture: David Rose collection ©.

Here are some details of who was living where in 1921.

1 Armstrong Villas (now 158 Worplesdon Road), head of house George Finch a retired licensed victualler.

2 Armstrong Villas (now 156), was Stanley Shaw with his wife, two children and mother-in-law. He was employed working on a lathe by the motor-vehicle makers Dennis Bros, at the foot of Woodbridge Hill.

1 Yeldham Villas (now 154), Herbert Warrener, his wife and daughter and a boarder by the name of Gladys Batemen. Herbert was a foreman fitter at Dennis Bros.

2 Yeldham Villas (now 152), here was a family whose name was well known in Stoughton for many years. Head of house was Alfred Glew, his wife, two sons and a daughter. Alfred wrote that he was the ‘leading gas stoker’ at the Guildford Gas Works.

Ernest Glew, second from left front row, pictured with fellow Yellow Bus Services drivers in the 1930s. Always known as Ernie he started with the firm in 1926. Photo from the book Happy Family The Story of Yellow Bus Services Stoughton, by Norman Hamshere and John Sutton, published in 1978

Son Alfred Glew was aged 16 and working as an apprentice turner (engineering) at Drummond Bros, the machine tool makers at Broadstreet, Rydes Hill. The other son, Ernest, was aged 12. He would later become a very well known bus driver for Yellow Bus Services in Worplesdon Road, Stoughton.

One of Yellow Bus Services’ early vehicles. The company was founded in 1921 and first based in Manor Road, Stoughton. It was a partnership between Frank Hutchins and Sydney Hayter. It moved its garage to land off Worplesdon Road in 1924. Picture: David Rose collection ©.

1 Englefield Villas (now 150), we have the Fletchers. Head of house was Arthur, a clerk at Stoughton Barracks to the Secretary of the War Office.

The marriage of Charles Roberts Fletcher (but known as Bob) and Gwendolen Alice Evans. she lived at 15 Shepherds Hill, Stoughton. Picture: Charles and Gwen Graham.

Wife Harriet was a housewife (listed as ‘home duties’) and they had seven sons, (first and second names): Frederick Arthur, Charles Roberts, Edward Stewart, Thomas William, Albert Leslie, Harold Henry and Reginald John. Four of whom were working for Drummond Bros.

The Fletchers in about 1982 at the 40th wedding anniversary of Harold. Charles Graham lists them, from left: Stuart, William, Harold, Reginald, John (William’s son), Frank (Harold’s) son, and Martin (Reg’s son). Only Frank survives now 86.Picture: Charles and Gwen Graham.

2 Englefield Villas (now 148), was Walter Gray and his wife Amy. He gave his job as ‘iron moulder, Peter’s & Co, Slough’, but ‘out of work’.

Next are a terrace of six cottages. 1 Oak Cottages (now 146), Head of household James Waltham, his wife and two daughters. He was working as an engineer’s turner at Drummond Bros.

2 Oak Cottages (now 144), Rosina Akehurst and her son Henry. She was working for Dennis Bros as a ‘general servant’.

3 Oak Cottages (now 142), Philip Rowley and his wife Ruth. He was working at Stoughton Barracks as a clerk in the War Office.

4 Oak Cottages (now 140), here was another family whose name I instantly recognised. Head of house was William Greaves, wife Mary, and three sons and a daughter.

Herbert Greaves, always known as ‘Bert’. Picture: David Rose Collection ©.

It was son Herbert who caught my eye (aged 10 at the time of the 1921 census) as he would later marry my mother’s sister Christine Kings. They lived in Wood Street Village for many years and Bert (as he was always known as) was a self-employed electrician. I knew that he grew up in Worplesdon Road, but previously did not know at which address. He worked for Dennis Bros as an electrician during the Second World War.

It is interesting to see just how many of the occupants in all these homes were working in light engineering, most at Dennis Bros or Drummond Bros.

5 Oak Cottages (now 138), head of house was Henry Courtreidge (that’s the best I can decipher from the original document), who was a widower and working as a labourer at Guildford Gas Works. He had a housekeeper living in, Ruth Cannon, listed as a widow.

6 Oak Cottages (now 136). Thomas and Margaret Harding, he was working as a carriage wagon examiner for the London & South Western Railway at Guildford railway station, and sharing the cottage was a Mary Cooper, aged 91.

The row of cottages as they look today. Picture: David Rose collection ©.

The occupants of these last couple of cottages may have had to put up with a terrific smell as next door to them was the slaughterhouse of Sparrow the butchers!

Living at their premises ‘above the shop’ so to speak, which was on the corner with Barrack Road, was head of house Robert Benjamin Sparrow, his wife Sarah Elizabeth Sparrow (butcher’s assistant), and son Robert Frank Sparrow – aged 17 and who is listed as an engineering apprentice at Dennis Bros.

Sparrow’s butchers shop as it once looked. Picture: David Rose collection, originally supplied by Colin Sparrow ©.

However, Frank later took over the family business (founded in 1880), and was a Guildford borough councillor and also mayor of Guildford.

Frank’s son Colin also took over the business and later ran it from a shop in Onslow Village. The Barrack Road shop closed sometime between 1971-74. The premises then became a antiques / junk shop and then for many years a paint stripping business. Currently, the former shop is occupied by an estate agent.

The shop is today occupied by an estate agent. Picture: David Rose collection ©.

Crossing over Barrack Road and past the Royal Hotel, the next residential property listed on the 1921 census is ‘The Chalet’.

Living there is a retired laundry manager by the name of William Miles, his wife Amy, and daughter Kathleen, and as a separate listing, Charles and Emily Adams, both not working.

Next is a property (also possibly a flat) and from the handwriting on the original document it appears to read ‘Cloverdale’. Its occupiers were Leo Adams (a house agent) and his wife Edith.

Joseph Park senior. Picture: David Rose Collection ©.

And lastly to the Parke family. They are listed as living at Hill View, Worplesdon Road, and head of the household Joseph Parke gives his profession as a draper / grocer, and indeed the family lived above their shop.

His wife was Eliza and their son, also named Joseph, was aged 12 at the time of the 1921 census. Also living with them was Eliza’s father, Alfred Binham.

Joseph Parke’s drapers shop in Worplesdon Road. The young Joseph Parke junior is evidently pictured with one of his father’s tallymen, Harry Fletcher. Could he have been related to the Fletchers above? Picture: David Rose Collection, originally supplied by Bernard Parke ©.

Joseph Parke was a credit draper. He sold clothing, including children’s school wear, to local people who paid off their bills at about one shilling per week. At any one time, he had three or four tallymen working for him who made door-to-door calls collecting the money.

The same building, but enlarged a number of years ago, as seen today. Picture: David Rose collection ©.

Joseph senior was a governor of Stoughton schools and a Guildford town councillor for the Stoughton ward. His grandson, the late Bernard Parke was also a well known Guildford borough councillor, alderman and mayor. And I’m proud to say he was a good friend of mine and of The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

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Responses to Where Do You Think They Lived? Another Look At The 1921 Census

  1. John Lomas Reply

    January 28, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    The shop Joseph Parkes, drapers and grocers, became what I believe was known as Reynold’s Grocers in business during and after World War 2.
    It was the grocers where my mother, from Byrefield Road, normally used her ration cards. She also shopped at Mr Sparrow’s.

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