A distinctive feature of Hertford has always been the numerous yards running off the main streets and usually accessed through archways. Whilst some of these are still evident today, although often now developed and very different from how they would have been over 100 years ago, many others either no longer exist or are unnamed, making their exact locations and identities hard to pin down. Sometimes these yards were also known by more than one name, often after the person who occupied the building on the corner of the yard and the main street, adding to the difficulty in identifying them precisely.
Most of the houses in these yards were built at the beginning of the 19th century as a means of increasing the number of properties available for rent – which in turn generated votes for the landlords or their associates at local elections! This was because any man who lived in a house with a fireplace was entitled to a vote; as such he would be called a pot-walloper. As many buildings as possible were squeezed into the often quite restricted areas and typically each one had a single living space downstairs, one bedroom upstairs and a garret above that. A cooking range was provided, but there was no running water, a well or pump in the yard being the only source of water for all the households. There were also no individual sanitary facilities, only communal privies at one end of the yard, so living conditions were basic and far from ideal.
Following on from two previous articles on this website about the north and south sides of St Andrew Street, Hertford, in 1911, this one attempts to identify some of the inhabited yards that were located in this street at that time and, by referring to the census records for 1911, discovers who was living in them.
Brewhouse Lane, these days with two access points on the north side of St Andrew Street (alongside Baan Thitiya Thai restaurant and Yeomanry House), still exists as a residential area today, although it has been completely redeveloped in recent years. It was formerly called Newsells Lane and was also known as Youngs Alley.
As its current name suggests, there was a brewery here from the early 18th century until the mid-19th century. By 1911, according to the census, there were 15 residential properties of various sizes located here, as well as a slaughterhouse and a maltings at the far end of the lane.
No. 1 was occupied by Emily Parkins, a 45-year-old widow from Haslemere in Surrey, who was employed as a charwoman. Living with her in this 2-room property were two daughters and a son, all born in Haslemere – Ellen Emily, 27 and married (although her surname in the census is given as Parkins), Annie C. E., 24 and single, who worked as a laundry maid, and Percy Walter, 18, who was a leather dresser.
No. 2, a 5-room property, was the home of Edwin Ford, 41, a boot maker, originally from Warmley in Gloucestershire, his wife Emily, 43, from Oxton [sic: Hoxton?] in London, and six of their seven children – Emily, 17, born in Bethnal Green in London and now employed as a general servant, Edith, 12, born in Hertford, Beatrice, 9, Dorothy, 6, Edwin, 4, and Herbert, 2. The last four had all been born in Bristol.
Alfred Mansfield, 42, a carman employed by the borough council, lived at No. 3 with his wife Sarah, 38. They had both been born in Hertford. Their two surviving children (two others had died) lived with them in the 3-room house – Lidda (Lydia) Ann, 16, who worked as a general domestic servant, and Ada Ellen, 8, both of whom had also been born in Hertford.
No. 4, a 5-room property, was the home of William J. Martin, 45, also a carman, from Green Tye near Much Hadham in Hertfordshire. His wife was Eliza, 44, also from Green Tye, and they had eight children, seven of whom were still living at home in 1911. William L., 20, was a carman like his father, Albert J., 17, was a general labourer, and Annie, 15, worked as a general servant. Jessie E., 13, Henry H., 9, and Florrie M., 5, were all at school. The baby of the family was Alice M., aged just 1. The three eldest children had been born in Green Tye, whereas the other four had been born in Hertford.
Elizabeth Witticks, a 45-year-old widow from Hertford, lived at No. 5. She worked as a general domestic, as did her eldest daughter Rose, 15. She also had three other children – Eva, 10, Willie, 6, and Oliver, 4, who were all at school.
No. 6, a 5-room property, was the home of David Cannon, 40, a bricklayer, and his wife Annie, 48, who worked as a charwoman, both of whom had been born in Hertford. Living with them were three of their four children (one had died) – Ernest, 12, who was still at school but also worked as an errand boy, Horace, 8, also at school, and Winnie, 2. Three other males, all with the surname Rushin, are listed as living here in 1911 and all are referred to as ‘sons’, although the family connection is not clear (perhaps Annie had been married before?). Arthur Rushin, 25, was working as a jobbing butcher, Ephrain Rushin, 21, was a carman, and Alexander Rushin, 19, was a porter.
Abel Elliott, 55, a general labourer, and his wife Janet, 60, both from Hertford, lived at No. 7, a 4-room property. They had no children, but had taken in a boarder, George Hewington, 33, also from Hertford, who worked as a stonemason’s labourer.
Stephen Game, 69, from Standon in Hertfordshire, lived at No. 8, a 5-room property. He was employed as a general labourer and was married to Susannah, 64, also from Standon. They had eight children, three of whom had died, and in 1911 two were still living with them – their daughter Elizabeth, 34, and their son Walter Samuel, 20, a brewer’s labourer, both of whom were single and had been born in Hertford. Completing the family were two grand-children – Ethel Mary Game, 12, and Alfred Stephen Game, 5. They too had been born in Hertford.
Next door at No. 9 lived Charles Whittaker, a 55-year-old widower originally from Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, who worked as a printer’s compositor. Living with him were his daughter Jessie, 19, single, described in the census as a housekeeper (quite possibly for her father), and his grand-daughter Eva Game, 7. Both girls had been born in Hertford.
No. 10 was the 5-room home of Samuel Mansfield, 42, a widower, who was employed as a lamp lighter for Hertford Corporation. He was originally from Great Chesterford in Essex. Two sons and a daughter lived with him – George, 19, born in Ware in Hertfordshire, who worked as a miller’s labourer, Ernest, 15, also born in Ware, who was a grocer’s errand boy/cartman, and Louisa, 10, born in Hertford, who was at school.
The Field family lived at No. 11. Head of the household was Hertford-born William Field, 46, a widower, who worked as a dustman for the borough council. He had seven children, all of whom lived at home with him – Lucy, 16, described in the census as a housekeeper, William, 13, Joseph, 12, Florence, 9, Edward, 6, and Daisy, 5. Lucy had been born in London, but all the other children had been born in Hertford.
No. 12 was the home of William Johnson, 39, a general labourer, born in Hertford, who lived there with his mother Selina, 72, from Essendon in Hertfordshire, who was the housekeeper.
Agnes Gray, 32, from Little Amwell near Hertford, lived at No. 13. She was employed as a washerwoman in a laundry and is described as married, although her husband (Alfred?) is not listed in the 1911 census. She had four children – Vera, 11, born in Hertford, John, 7, born in Watton-at-Stone in Hertfordshire, Bessie, 5, also born in Watton-at-Stone, and Harold, 2, who was born in Hertford.
The census has no listing for No. 14.
The last home in the street, No. 15, was that of William Edwards, 45, an ironmonger’s carman, from Hertford. He was married to Maria, 48, originally from Buntingford in Hertfordshire, and five of their six children, all of whom had been born in Hertford, lived with them. William James, 20, worked as a butcher’s carman and Arthur Abel, 15, was employed as a barber’s assistant. The other children were John Leonard, 14, Lilian Mary, 12, and Annie May, 10.
According to the enumerator of the 1911 census, there were stables and a warehouse as well as private houses in Rix’s Yard, which was located between No. 14 and No. 20 on the north side of St Andrew Street.
No. 16a was the home of James Herbert Farrow Jnr, 50, from Hertford, who was an ‘outside porter’ working for the railway. Although described as married, there is no reference to his wife in either the 1901 or the 1911 census and the household was being run by a housekeeper, Alice Amelia Parker, 57, from Watton-at-Stone in Hertfordshire. Also living there were James’ three children – Florence Amelia, 10, Eva Eileen, 6, and Herbert James, 4 – as well as his father, James Farrow Snr, a 93-year-old widower, who had been a boot maker, now described in the census as a ‘boarder’.
James Bilton Hartfield, 67, a labourer and bricklayer originally from Beddington in Surrey, lived at No. 16b. He was married to Ann Maria, 68, from Barham in Kent, and they had three children, of whom two had died. The surviving child, Anne, who at the time of the census in 1891 was 14 years old and employed as a dressmaker’s apprentice, was no longer living at home in 1911.
Another labourer and bricklayer was resident at No. 16c. James Mead, 43, from Hertford, was married to Elizabeth, 38, also from Hertford, and they had three sons – John, 18, Herbert, 9, and William, 7, all of whom had been born in Hertford and were still at school.
No. 16d was the home of William Mead, a 77-year-old widower from Hertford, who was employed as a general labourer. His son, Joseph, 32, who lived with him, also worked as a general labourer.
Joseph Lynch, 45, from Islington in London, lived at No. 16e. He was a farm labourer and his wife, Mary Ann, 52, from Towcester in Northamptonshire, was employed as a hawker (a street seller who travels from place to place selling goods). The couple had no children.
The 1911 census lists just three properties in Victoria Place, which at the time was located between No. 13 and No. 15 on the south side of St Andrew Street, and is now near the entrance to the present-day car park.
No. 15a, which had three rooms, was the home of Charles Wright, 28, a railway goods porter, from St Neots in Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire) and his wife Ethel, 27, from Buntingford in Hertfordshire. They had three young children – Herbert, 6, Edith, 3, and Nellie, 1, all of whom had been born in Hertford.
No. 15b was a larger property, with six rooms. Joseph Seymour, 68, from Benington in Hertfordshire, lived here with his wife and daughter. He worked as a jobbing gardener and had been married to Mary, 61, from Little Munden in Hertfordshire, for 39 years. Emily, 22, one of their eight surviving children (the ninth had died), still lived with them. Born in Hertford, she was employed as a domestic ‘day girl’.
Henry Webb, 66, a widower, lived at No. 15c, which also had six rooms. Born in Datchworth in Hertfordshire, he was employed as a sawyer to a coach builder. Living with him were his son Charles, 34, who was a general labourer, and a widow, Emily Chapman, 61, from Wadesmill in Hertfordshire, who was employed as their housekeeper.
Oakers Buildings, a mews built in the 1830s and owned by the Oaker family, were located near the exit of the present-day car park adjacent to Beckwith’s and were reached through a carriage arch between No. 31 and No. 35. They comprised 17 cottages, each with just three rooms, and in 1911 they provided homes for about 58 people. For many years the Board of Health had been concerned about the poor state of the buildings and their lack of clean water, and by 1885 they were finally condemned as unfit for habitation, although as the 1911 census reveals they were still being occupied 26 years later. They were eventually demolished in 1933 to make way for the new car park.
The house that once stood at the entrance to Oakers Buildings, identified at the time by a plaque on the building, was known as Poet’s Corner. In the early 1830s this was the home of John Thacker Saxton, a radical activist who campaigned for parliamentary reform and who had been involved in the famous Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819. From c. 1833 until his death in April 1835 he was the proprietor of The Radical Reformer and Hertford and Ware Patriot, and was responsible for many of the satirical poems that were published at the time of the 1832 and 1835 elections in Hertford.
In 1911 No. 33a was the home of Alfred George Foster, 34, a bricklayer’s labourer, who was originally from London. He lived there with his wife Lizzie, 26, from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, to whom he had been married for just six weeks.
The Ansell family lived at No. 33b. Head of the household was Isaac Ansell, 36, from Braughing in Hertfordshire, who was employed as a gravel digger. He had been married to Annie, 34, from Hertford, for eight years and they had three young daughters – Gladys, 6, Bessie, 5, and Dorothy, 2, all of whom had been born in Hertford.
At No. 33c there was another gravel digger, Joseph Everett, 28, from Hertford. A single man, he lived with his sister Elizabeth, 26, who worked as a general domestic servant, and brother Charles, 25, who was a roadman working for the county council.
John Dearman, 32, who worked as a labourer in a mill – or, more specifically, in a ‘chamois leather manufactory’ – lived at No. 33d. His wife was Edith, 32, and like her husband she had been born in Hertford. They had two daughters – Ethel, 5, and Kathleen, 2 – and the census also lists a niece, Elizabeth Bulley, 1, who had been born in Little Amwell in Hertfordshire.
No. 33e was the home of a 76-year-old widower, James Webb, a farm labourer, from Walkern in Hertfordshire. He had taken in a boarder, Jack Patemoster [sic], 40, another widower and also a farm labourer.
George Cockman, 42, a gravel pit labourer from Ware in Hertfordshire, lived at No. 33f with his wife Emma, 37, from Hertford, and one of their two children, Elsie, 13, also born in Hertford.
At No. 33g was Leonard Moulding, 28, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, who was a general labourer. Living with him there were his wife Minnie, 23, also from Cheshunt, to whom he had been married for less than a year, and her brother Leonard Leeby, 15, who worked as a farm labourer. Leonard and Minnie had had one child, who had died.
A 68-year-old widow, Jane Pell, originally from Banbury in Oxfordshire, lived alone at No. 33h.
James Waller and his family lived at No. 33i. James, 29, a gravel digger by trade, was from Hertford [?] and was married to Ellen, 34, who was from Clerkenwell in London. Their three surviving children lived with them (one other had died) – George, 7, Albert, 2, and Alfred, 1 – and they had also taken in a lodger, George Wright, a 63-year-old widower, who was employed as a general labourer.
Between No. 33i and No. 33j there were stables, according to the 1911 census enumerator.
No. 33j was the home of James Ansell, 29, from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, who was a general labourer for a farmer, and his wife Annie, 31, from Wormley in Hertfordshire. They had three children (a fourth had died) – James, 7, Horas, 5, and Ivy, 1.
James Lower, 24, a gravel digger from Hertford, lived at No. 33k with his wife Pellie, 24, from Ware in Hertfordshire. They had two children – James, 4, and Edith, 3, both born in Hertford.
At No. 33l was Henry Morris, 32, and his family. From Tewin in Hertfordshire, he was employed as a plasterer for a builder. He had been married to Lilian, 31, from Ware in Hertfordshire, for 13 years and they had had three children, one of whom had died. Their surviving children were Sidney, 13, and Claude, 11, both born in Hertford.
William Robins lived at No. 33m. Aged 30 and from Buntingford in Hertfordshire, he was a soldier – a private in the ‘4th Bedfordshire’. He was married to Lilly, 29, who was from Hertford, and they had two children (a third had died) – William, 3, and Maud, less than a year old.
No. 33n was the home of a 56-year-old widow, Sarah Ann Tearle, who had been born in Bengeo in Hertford. She lived there alone.
William Martin, 35, a general labourer who was from Chatham in Kent, lived at No. 33o with his wife Emily, 31, from Ware in Hertfordshire. Their only child to date had died, but living with them (and listed as a ‘brother’) was William Hankin, 16, also from Ware, who worked as a horse driver for a gravel merchant.
Fanny Cox, a 39-year-old widow from Hertford, lived at No. 33p. She had had five children, one of whom had died and three of whom lived with her – Charles, 17, who worked as a bottle washer at a brewery, Elvina, 10, and Elsie, 6. In addition to her own children Fanny had taken in a 14-year-old girl called Alma Taylor, described in the census as a ‘nurse child’. This term was used to describe a foster child, possibly from the workhouse, and Fanny would probably have been paid to take care of her. Also staying with the family on the night of the census was a visitor, Annie Newland, a single lady aged 69, from Hertford.
The last house in Oakers Buildings was No. 33q. This was the home of Eliza Hyde, a 64-year-old widow from Hadley Wood in Hertfordshire. She had taken in a lodger, Thomas James May, 46, a married man who was employed as a butler, and who originally came from March in Cambridgeshire.
This was once located between No. 63 and No. 67 on the south side of St Andrew Street and reached through a carriage arch, but it no longer exists as this section of the street (from No. 53 to No. 85) was demolished in the mid-1960s when the Gascoyne Way was built. Confusingly the 1911 census transcription entries refer to ‘Riddills’ Yard and, as was often the case, other names for the yard were also used – in this case Pavitt’s Yard or Hattam’s Yard – dictated by the name of the shop or other premises at its entrance. In 1911 there were 14 properties here, occupied by about 55 people.
No. 65 was the home of William Giddy, 56, who was a ‘grounder’ [sic] at an oil mill by trade, although at the time of the 1911 census he was out of work. He was originally from Plymouth in Devon and was married to Prudence, 56, from Barnstaple in Devon. They had had eight children in total, two of whom had died, but two others still lived with them. The eldest of these was George, 24, born in Whitechapel in London but sadly paralysed since birth. His 16-year-old brother was also called William – he had been born in Hertford and was employed as a cartman at a flour mill. Their home had three rooms.
John Carter and his wife lived at No. 65a, which had three rooms. John, 69, was a general labourer (‘now relief’, according to the census). Originally from [Much?] Hadham in Hertfordshire, he was married to Rebecca, 68, from Ware in Hertfordshire, who worked as a domestic charwoman. They had had five children, three of whom had died.
At No. 65b, which had four rooms, was William Dinnis, 39, and his family. From Potton in Bedfordshire and employed as a carman for a coal merchant, he was married to Lizzie, 37, from Abridge in Essex. Their five children were William John, 15, who worked as a labourer for a skin dresser, George Abraham, 13 (both of whom had also been born in Abridge), Martha Elizabeth, 9, born in Waltham Abbey in Essex, May, 4, born in Hertford, and the baby of the family Lizzie, just 6 months, also born in Hertford.
A 52-year-old widower, Mr C. Fitkin, lived at No. 65c, which also had four rooms. He was originally from Tring in Hertfordshire and worked as a general labourer for the borough council. Living with him were his two sons and two daughters, all born in Hertford – Frederick, 21, a carman for a corn merchant, Harry, 19, a general labourer, Kate, 17, and Florence, 12.
No. 65d was the home of Thomas James Allen, 30, from Hertford, who was employed as a general labourer. He was married to Daisy, 25, also from Hertford, and they had two young children – William Thomas James, 6, and Ada Dorothy Gladys, 3, both Hertford-born. A 68-year-old widower, William Henry Brace, boarded with the family. He was a boot repairer from Ware in Hertfordshire.
No. 65e was a slightly larger house, with five rooms. Head of the household, all of whom had been born in Hertford, was William Ives, 32, a general labourer. His wife was Emily, 31, and their four surviving children (two others had died) were Dorothy, 10, Ethel, 5, Olive, 4, and Ester [sic], 3. Their aunt, Rebeca [sic] Ives, aged 68 and a widow, lived with the family.
At No. 65f, a 4-room house, was Benjamin Hart, 36, from Benington in Hertfordshire, who worked as a carman for a miller. He was married to Alice, 35, from Hertford, and two of their three children lived with them – Phyllis, 10, and Doris, 8, both born in Hertford.
William North, 25, from Watton-at-Stone in Hertfordshire, was also employed as a miller’s carman. He lived at
No. 65g with his wife Ada, 27, from Stapleford in Hertfordshire, and their young son Joseph, 2, born in Hertford.
No. 65h was the home of Henry Folds, 25, from Breachwood Green in Hertfordshire, who worked as a horseman on a farm. His wife was Charlotte, 25, from Hertford, and they had two children – Margaret Elizabeth, 4, and Benjamin Ernest, 3, both of whom had been born in Luton in Bedfordshire. The family had taken in a boarder, William George Lewis, 33, a farm labourer, from Hampstead in London.
Henry Darton, 66, from Hertford, lived at No. 65i, the largest house in the yard with six rooms. He worked as a general labourer and was married to Amelia, 67, from Braughing in Hertfordshire. They had had no fewer than 12 children, two of whom had died and three of whom still lived with them in 1911 – Louisa, 43, William Henry, 42, a general labourer, and Albert, 22, a carman for a miller. They were all Hertford-born. Also living with them was a boarder, Frederick Alexander, 33, from Sutton in Surrey, who was a domestic gardener.
David Taylor, 61, from Hertingfordbury near Hertford, who was employed as a carman for a coal merchant, lived at No. 65j with his wife Eliza, 60, from Watton-at-Stone in Hertfordshire. They had three children, but only their grandson, John Taylor, 13, born in Hertford, is listed as living with them at the time of the 1911 census.
No. 65k was the home of Alfred Henry Fitkin, 24, from Hertford, who was employed as a miller’s cartman. Although the house had four rooms he lived there alone. With his fairly distinctive surname, he could well be related to the Fitkins living at No. 65c.
Elizabeth Rickett, an 88-year-old widow, originally from Ashmanhaugh in Norfolk, lived at No. 65l, which had four rooms. Described in the census as an ‘old age pensioner’, she was fortunate in having ‘private means’ – surprising, therefore, that she lived in what was probably quite basic accommodation.
The last house in the yard was No. 65m. Living here were Mary Ann Cleverly, aged 61 and a widow, from Ware in Hertfordshire, and her daughter Elizabeth Eliza, 41, who was employed as a domestic cook.
Fiddle Yard and Hayden’s Yard
There were two other small yards running off St Andrew Street – Fiddle Yard (also known as Hill’s Yard) and Hayden’s Yard (also known as Dimsey’s Yard, after John Dimsey, a seed merchant who had lived in this area in c. 1869).
Fiddle Yard was originally located behind the Fiddle Inn at No. 16. It still exists, on the north side of St Andrew Street with its entrance alongside Deli Il Vino, but it is now known as Arbon Court. It has recently been redeveloped with three new houses.
Hayden’s Yard, however, was lost in the mid-1960s when this part of St Andrew Street was demolished to make way for Gascoyne Way. It was a very small yard on the south side of the street and was originally reached through an archway between No. 83 and No. 85, near the premises of George Pateman’s dairy at No. 83a.