Posts Tagged ‘builder’

Why the name, ‘Alban Estate’

November 29, 2011

The Alban Estate has featured a few times recently. One entry prompted an interesting comment from Rosie Clarke.

Hello! Thanks for identifying the most outlandish religious names as Masonic.

However, I grew up in St Albans in Hertfordshire, and several of the other house names have a connection with that city. I see the estate was called the Alban estate – do you know if the builder who would have named it might have been from Herts as well?

The St Albans place names are Kingsbury (Water Mill), Clarence (Park), Abbey (magnificent cathedral), Sopwell (nunnery),

Chequers might not refer to the Prime Minister’s house in Buckinghamshire – it could be related to Chequer Street, an ancient street in the centre of St Albans.

Romeland is an area of St Albans near the old Roman city, though I don’t think the name is used much these days. There’s still a Romeland Hill though.

Verulam comes from the old Roman city’s Latin name, Verulamium. There’s a boys’ school with this name, and Lord Verulam lives outside the town on the Gorhambury Estate.

Nearby towns and villages are Harpenden, Radlett, Shenley, London Colney / Colney Heath. There seems to be a little place called Ridgehill near London Colney as well.

At the moment, we do not know why it was called the Alban Estate. Can anyone help with that?

But we do know that the builder, George Bishop was a Market Lavington man, through and through.

George was born in 1884. The family have proved elusive on the 1891 census and back in 1881, before George was born, the family were in Market Lavington but without the father.

We can find the family living on Church Street, Market Lavington at the time of the 1901 census. 17 year old George was a mason’s apprentice. His father was Jesse, an agricultural labourer and his mother was Mary. The three of them were all Market Lavington born. So too, was the elderly Sarah Cooper who was boarding with them. She may well have been George’s maternal grandmother.

The trio of Bishops were together in Market Lavington in 1911. This census is self written and Jesse says he was born in Bishops Cannings so this is probably, actually, correct. Our George William Bishop is listed as a bricklayer.

George married Hellen A Nolton at the start of 1916. That is what the records say, but we believe it should be Helen A Notton. The Nottons were the bakers at number 1 High Street, Market Lavington – where the Post Office is now. Helen’s parents were Edward and Helen. The entire family were born in Market Lavington.

George and Helen had a son, Edward G Bishop born in 1918.

We can keep a vague track on George and Helen via electoral rolls and directories we have in the museum. In 1926 George and his wife, known then as Annie, lived on Church Street in Market Lavington, probably with George’s mother. In 1939 George and Annie lived on The Spring in Market Lavington. George’s mother was still on Church Street.

A 1954/55 directory lists only heads of house and has G W Bishop on The Spring. E G Bishop lived at Ladywood, The Spring.

Burial records for St Mary’s, Market Lavington record the burial of George on 10th August 1955 and of Helen Annie on 9th October 1959.

The 1964 electoral roll lists Edward G and Irene Bishop at Araunah on The Spring – one of the Alban Estate houses his father had built.

It seems we find no family connection with St. Albans – unless you know different.

We do not seem to have a photo of any member of the Bishop family. Can you help us with that?

Building The Alban Estate

November 21, 2011

Time was when houses were fairly individual although, of course, semi-detached houses have always been like one another and terraced houses, inevitably, have much in common with their neighbours. But in Market Lavington, The Alban Estate was the first larger scale development of similar houses. We have looked at aspects of these houses, along The Spring and Park Road, before (click here). Today we bring you a photo of the houses under construction – believed to be in 1926.

George Bishop's men build The Alban Estate, Market Lavington in 1926

The houses were built, speculatively, by George Bishop, a local builder and his employees. Many of these are shown in the photo.

Brickies, ladder and scaffolding

Here are some of the brickies, one with a hod of bricks as he climbs up the ladder. This leans against the scaffolding – hefty wooden poles, held together by roping. Times have certainly changed in the UK scaffolding business.

George Bishop himself lived on Church Street in 1926 – just along the road from these new houses.

James Gye and some tiles from Market Lavington

March 9, 2011

James Gye was well known as a wheelwright himself, but also as an employer of builders and carpenters. Their premises were on White Street in Market Lavington – an area now known as Gye’s Old Yard.

James was born in about 1839 in Fiddington which would then have been an outlier of West Lavington, between Market Lavington itself and its tithing of Easterton. His father was William Gye who had farmed about 50 acres in Fiddington.

James married Mary Ann Durnford in 1861. In 1871 the Gye family lived in Market Lavington but in 1881 they were in the new parish of Easterton, possibly at the old family home at Fiddington. After a run of daughters, the couple had produced a couple of sons. Sadly, the elder of the two, also James Gye, died in April 1899 aged just 23.

April 1899 was the month in which a bill was delivered to James Gye for tiles.

An 1899 bill from the Lavington Brick, Tile and Pottery Works to Mr James Gye can now be found at Market Lavington Museum

The bill came from The Lavington Brick, Tile and Pottery Works of Broadway House, Market Lavington. The house still stands having grown, in recent years, a Doric portico. Some of the industrial buildings of the old company are still extant and put to other industrial use. The quarries have been filled and that area is now the depot for a transport company.

The bill contains the entry ‘late W Box’. William Box had been the brick master for many years until his untimely death in 1894.

This entry about the Holloways comes from the Wikipedia website at

Holloways remained a family firm through several generations. The original brothers were sons of Thomas and Elizabeth Holloway, of West Lavington, Wiltshire where Thomas was a local jobbing builder and bricklayer. They had five sons, James (1851–89), Henry Thomas (1853–1914), John (1854–1932), Henry (1857–1923), and Samuel (1862–1938). Thomas moved to London to work with his eldest son James in 1868, and the rest of the family followed in 1870. James and Thomas became bricklayers and then general foremen, James at only about 18 and Thomas at 21, John was apprenticed as a carpenter, whilst in due course Henry joined a firm of timber merchants and Samuel began work in a solicitor’s office. James set up his own business with a few hundred pounds in capital in 1875 and by the following year had new premises at Marmion Rd Lavender Hill and his father and other brothers joined the firm. Henry became office manager, Thomas outside manager, John worked as a carpenter and Samuel apprenticed as a joiner. Initially the firm concentrated on speculative house building in Clapham but rapidly expanded to take on larger contracts such as churches, schools, public libraries and baths.

We can see that our brickworks was part of a much larger organisation, not dependent on James Gye and his few tiles to make a living.

Church Restoration in 1910

October 1, 2010

St Mary’s Church in Market Lavington is old with parts of it being built 800 or so years ago. No wonder that repairs are needed from time to time.

One such occasion was in 1910.

H J Sainsbury and workers restore the Chancel at St Mary's, Market Lavington in 1910 - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Sainsbury was one of the commonest names in the area in past times. In 1851 there were almost 150 people with the Sainsbury surname in the Lavington area. This can make it hard to sort out which branch of the family Sainsburys belonged to. We do have a huge Sainsbury family tree in the museum.

H J Sainsbury was probably Herbert John, born in 1874. His son must have been added to the firm’s name at a very early age for the first child, also Herbert John, was born in 1910.

It looks as though the chancel had a complete rebuild in 1910.

A Quote from W Hopkins and Sons

August 12, 2010

The Hopkins were successful and active traders in the Lavington area. Their main base was at number 21 Church Street, which served as shop and store. They had other premises too, such as ‘The Lighthouse’ where gas was made for distribution around the village of Market Lavington.

But as this quote for a job shows, they didn’t only supply merchandise to the building trade, they were also actively involved in carrying out the work.

W Hopkins and Sons of Market Lavington quote for a job in 1911

This document, at Market Lavington Museum, is a quote for levelling the graveyard and restoring the tombstones to an upright state at West Lavington Church. It is dated 1st April 1911 (presumably it was not an ‘April Fool’ joke). To do this work, W Hopkins and Sons asked for the princely sum of £5.

The items shown as images on this piece of business paper are of interest. Bits of gutter and drainpipe hardly look exciting items to our 21st century eyes but perhaps in 1911 dealing with wastewater was all the rage.

It looks as though the bottom of the quote has been used as a notepad for some calculations. We do not know what that is about.

This is one of many bills, receipts, invoices etc that we have at Market Lavington Museum from a wide range of local businesses, past and present.

Hopkins (and companies)

April 6, 2010

A small metal label in Market Lavington Museum carries the message, ‘Hopkins & Co. Acetylene generator makers and lighting engineers. The Lighthouse, Market Lavington’.

Hopkins & Co. acetylene label - early 20th century

Several buildings in Market Lavington have large square brackets on the wall (The Workman’s Hall for one) which once held gas lamps, no doubt supplied with gas by the Hopkins family.

The Hopkins ran a number of businesses in Market Lavington. Generating acetylene gas and supplying it was one thing they did. The family also were builders’ merchants as well as builders.

The Museum’s little copper plate, some 8cm across, is one artefact amongst several we have. What the Hopkins called ‘The Lighthouse’ we now know as ‘8, Church Street’. The Hopkins main shop was next to what is now the Drummer Boy pub. There were also premises where Milsoms Court now stands.

Some of the Hopkins family are buried in the Drove Lane Cemetery. A click here will lead you to information about it.