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Old Barrow

What can you find out about Barrow from Trade Directories and the census?
Kathryn Timmons shares some facts and figures with us from the 19th century

The Heritage (Streets) group is looking at the Trade directories for Barrow in the 19th century and at the census information which is available between 1851-1911. We are mostly interested in looking at how occupations have changed, as well as what services were available in the village during this time. Here are just some snippets of information.

In the Trade Directory for 1846 in North St (which included what is now High St) there are five pubs and four beer houses, three bakers and five butchers. The people of Barrow must have been well shod as there are eight boot and shoe manufacturers.

In 1851 there were 293 framework knitters recorded (17.3% of the population). Other main occupations were agricultural labourers (110), seamstresses (77) and lime quarry workers (58). There were also many servants working in the larger houses of the village (63 are classified as servants, coachmen, footmen and similar).

Occupations which would not be easily recognisable now are cordwainer (shoemaker): worker in cordovan, (the Spanish for leather), haggler (street seller) needle maker, chair bottomer, ostler (stableman at an inn) and straw bonnet maker.

In 1863, there are 14 grocers listed, one of whom is also a hairdresser. There are two wheelwrights, one of whom is also listed as an ironmonger; the other as a cricket bat maker.

In the 1881 census a Card Student is listed: what did he do? There were eight beadswomen (Enumerator’s spelling) living in the almshouses in North St. In addition to 59 stocking frame knitters, there were seven others working in the hosiery industry. More than 132 people were involved in lime production. This indicates it was a major industry in Barrow at that time.

In the census for 1901 in Beveridge St alone (then called Industry St), of the 177 people listed 24 were employed in hosiery, 8 in some aspect of the lime industry and there were still 9 framework knitters, though Black and Drivers factory probably opened between 1885 and 1887.

In 1911 the census records show that in the 12 households in Nook Lane, (now Melton Rd), there were two limestone workers, five hosiery workers, four cement workers, two overhead crane fitters, two farmers, and a nurse, who was presumably a midwife too. Unusual entries in this census were an Anglo French gardener, an Army Pants maker, a gas engine driver, and a 14-year old hosiery hand errand boy.

Kathryn Timmons for the Streets Heritage Group

Barrow Lime Industry: Investigation 2
Did you notice the building work going on down Cotes Road, next to Brooker’s exnursery, for another small development of houses?

Well, the beauty of it is that we get to find out a little more about the industrial past of Barrow upon Soar. You may/may not remember the number of different limekilns that were discovered under the Miller and Wilson’s developments (over 100). Yes, you’ve guessed... yet more kilns. This time, only TWO.

One had not survived in the ground so well, but the other survived very well both at and below the ground level. It shows another development in the history of Barrow limekilns. This one (pictured right) has a wider area at the mouth or base of the kiln, built in the local mudstone in the form of small slabs. This wider area is believed to allow a wheelbarrow more space to turn round and take the lime out from the kiln. (why didn’t they think of that before?). It also has a deposit of the lime produced in the kiln, showing as the white layer left near the base. The date? It is thought to be about the late 18th century, but that has not been confirmed as yet.

At the time of writing, the archaeological unit who investigated the larger developments already mentioned, is ‘geophys-ing’ on the Melton road site proposed Jelson development, and WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY’LL FIND THERE!

More kilns maybe. Watch this space.

Terri Davies