Evans Court or Alley
67 Barton Street is now the Bluebell Wood Florist shop. Beside it there’s a closed door which was once the entrance to an alley which went down to Saffron Road. The brickwork of the alley entrance has an intriguing ‘cutaway’ which must have had a purpose we can only speculate about; a ghost of a forgotten past.
It’s had a lot of names. John Rogers, whose history of the alleys tells us much of what we know about them called it Evans Court, named for William Evans, ‘a plain working man, a nail-maker’ who lived in the front house and worked from a workshop in the alley. In the 1841 census, though, it was Clark’s Alley, named for Thomas Clark, a cooper. Before that it was Pullock’s Alley, named for George Pullock. In 1848, though, the commissioners for the Tewkesbury Streets decreed that it should be called Evans Court and that is what it remained, though occasionally being referred to as Evans Alley.
Despite it being a short alley there were seven houses in it. The nail-making shop used by William Evans must have been additional to this. That seems a lot of buildings, and they must have been very small cottages because can’t be easily individually identified on the early Ordinance Survey maps of the area.
The demise of stocking knitting can be traced through the alley residents. In 1841, five cottages had stocking makers among their occupants. In 1861 there were three and by 1881, long after the end of the trade in Tewkesbury, only Eleanor Smith was recorded as making stockings, and she was a widow of 81 years, living alone and probably on poor relief.
Life in the alley seems to have been quiet and uneventful. There were occasional problems, but very few. The award for the biggest nuisance must go to Edward Cook, in 1910. For some reason he took against his wife, who eventually sued him for desertion and claimed maintenance. She alleged that he had, on several occasions, declared that she was an ‘eyesore’ and turned her out onto the street. He alleged that on the last occasion he was wholly justified because he’d arrived home to find another man in the house, which he took exception to. When the Bench refused to grant a maintenance order, a tussle broke out between them which court officers had difficulty calming down. Mrs Cook seems to have moved to Cheltenham.
In 1937, there were five cottages in the alley, which were offered for sale as a single lot, together with the front house. Later in the same year, though, the alley joined the list of those scheduled for clearance. The process was slow because it had to give opportunities for owners to propose alternatives to demolition and it had to have government approval. The first proposal was that Nos 3 and 4 might be saved, Nos 1 and 2 should be subject to a clearance order, requiring the tenants to leave, and No 5 should be demolished. Two years later that was still the position. Despite the intervention of the war, and the housing crisis it brought. It appears that 1,2 and 5 were indeed demolished. 3 and 4 survived as separate dwellings into the 1950s.
The last records found are of Albert Huggins being fined £1 for assaulting his neighbour, Ward Martin. Then, in 1952, Ward Martin was fined 10s (50p) for failing to stop at the ‘Halt’ line on the Ledbury Road junction whilst riding his bicycle. A common misdemeanour at the time. After that, the alley simply faded away and disappeared.
Census Data 1841-1891
Census Data 1841-1891
- No Other Details Are Listed On This Schedule. It May Be A Seperate House Or A Lodger With Schedule 059.
- William Charles Greening, age 15 months at Evans Alley 19/4/1891 (TREG: 25/04/1891)