Hughe's Alley

by Steve Goodchild
Hughes plan in the 1880s
Hughes plan in the 1880s

Hughes Alley runs between Barton Street and Swilgate Road, one of a number of surviving alleys in that area. It hasn’t survived unscathed, though, because like so many of its neighbours it contained dwellings which were unfit for habitation which were cleared and demolished as Tewkesbury dealt with its housing problems. The Alley was unusual in having houses on both sides and giving access to Myrtle and Peachey’s courts. Altogether, the alley and courts once contained twenty-one dwellings.

The alley is named for Joe Hughes, who was a dairyman. He kept cows in a meadow on Perry Hill and sold milk and butter from his shop at the front of the alley. John Rogers, who wrote about the alleys in 1905, described him as a Quaker of the old sort. His meadow contained a large elm tree beneath which both George Whitfield and John Wesley were said to have preached. This is commemorated in Lezli Lawrence’s artwork at the entrance to the alley.

The Alley Historian himself, John Rogers, opened his ironworking business in the front shop in 1850. He was a remarkable man. Born in Tewkesbury in 1808, he was apprenticed as a whitesmith and bell-hanger then travelled all over England as a journeyman before settling in his home town, where he stayed until his death in 1909, soon after celebrating his centenary. He was responsible for the ironwork around the Crimean gun in Cheltenham and both the Tewkesbury and Gloucester cemetery gates, His name can be seen much closer to home, though, on a cellar cover in Barton Street.

Life in these alleys was generally peaceful and, as John Rogers would say, respectable. People were poor. By far the commonest occupation was labourer, with some people, widows especially, categorised as pauper. The alleys also accommodated a lot of people in boot and shoe making trades, some framework knitters, basket makers, a tanner and even a nailor. 

Alley entrance
Alley entranceClick Image
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Sudden death was much more prevalent than today. Charles Smith, a habitual drunkard, fell down William Hemming’s stairs and broke his neck. Fanny Hawkins, three years old, was engulfed in flames when her clothes caught fire and died at home several days later, Agnes Heath drowned in the Swilgate whilst in a state of deep depression. Charles Cole, 28, father of four children, was suffocated when the sides of a trench he was digging collapsed. The Great War also brought a great deal of news of death, of husbands, sons and brothers.

There were occasional serial miscreants. In 1885, Alfred Newman, basket maker, was convicted of being drunk and disorderly for the nineteenth time. He was apprehended whilst threatening to murder his wife. This was an exception, though, in a generally well-behaved alley.

Hughes Alley suffered the problems of other alleys, of overcrowding and poor sanitation. In 1899, owners agreed to a piped water supply, and in 1902 five cottages were advertised for sale ‘with town water laid on’. There were none of the well contamination problems experienced by other alleys, though.

Occasionally, the tensions of living cheek by jowl led to explosions of anger, as in 1931, when Harry Barker was bound over to keep the peace after an alleged assault on Ethel Bourton, who claimed that he attempted to choke her and then threw a bucket of water over her. The cause of the quarrel was Mrs Bourton’s annoyance with Barker’s son playing in the communal wash-house. Little things get magnified.

No Caption
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By 1931, the Council had Hughes Alley in their sights for clearance and in 1935 it proposed demolition orders on four houses. Only one was demolished, though; the others were recommended for ‘reconditioning’. One was amalgamated with the neighbouring house in Swilgate road. Despite efforts, no solution was found for the other two, which were demolished in 1938. The houses in Myrtle Court, with their little front gardens, disappeared and in 1968 Peachey Court and all the adjacent property in Hughes Alley was replaced by the very discordant National Westminster Bank building, which has now closed and is being converted to offices and housing, retaining the security fencing and concrete yard, unfortunately.

The alley today can best be described as needing improvement. The paving is concrete bricks, with patches of tarmac. Only two houses remain, the rest have been replaced by walls and fences. A redevelopment at the Swilgate Road end, where once there was a hessian bag-making workshop, stopped in 2007 and has become an eyesore embroiled in flood regulation problems.

The Alley remains, though, and in time maybe some of the lost ‘character’ will be restored. 

Census Data 1841-1891

1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
Mary Weaver; Head; Widow; Female; 45; Shoe Binder; Born Birlingham Worcs.
Mary Ann Weaver; Daughter; Female; 12; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Jane Weaver; Daughter; Female; 10; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Emma Weaver; Daughter; Female; 5; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
George Weaver; Son; Male; 3; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Samuel Attwood; Visitor; Single; Male; 73; Pauper Agricultural Labourer; Birthplace Not Known.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
Hannah Moore; Head; Widow; Female; 72; Charwoman; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Eliza Collins; Visitor; Married; Female; 38; Charwoman; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
William Boulter; Head; Single; Male; 37; Tanner; Born Ledbury Herefordshire.
Ann Boulter; Siuster; Single; Female; 29; Lace Worker; Born Ledbury Herefordshire.
Elizabeth Boulter; Sister; Single; 26; Lace Worker; Born Ledbury Herefordshire.
Benjamin Boulter; Brother; Single; Male; 27; Labourer; Born Ledbury Herefordshire.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
William Burrup; Head; Married; Male; 44; Shoeing Smith; Born Castlemorton Worcs.
Eliza Burrup; Wife; Married; Female; 39; Smiths Wife; Born Norton Glos.
Charles Burrup; Son; Single; Male; 13; Millwright; Born Longdon Worcs.
Eliza Burrup; Daughter; Female; 11; Silk Weaver; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Mary Ann Burrup; Daughter; Female; 9; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Henry William Burrup; Son; Male; 7; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Honor Burrup; Daughter; Female; 4; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Emma Burrup; Daughter; Female; 2; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Alfred Burrup; Son; Male; 1month; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
George Boswell; Head; Widower; Male; 41; Milkman; Born Longford Glos.
Ann Boswell; Daughter; Single; Female; 17; Dressmaker; Born Stanley Glos.
Hannah Boswell; Daughter; Female; 13; Scholar; Born Maisemore Glos.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
Isiac(sic) Isaac Purser; Head; Married; Male; 55; Pauper Stocking Maker; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Ann Purser; Wife; Married; Female; 40; Paupers Wife; Born Barnwell Leicester.
Abraham Purser; Son; Single; Male; 15; Paupers Son Stocking Maker; Born Barnwell Leicester.
Sarah Ann Purser; Daughter; Female; 13; Paupers Daughter Stocking Maker; Born Barnwell Leicester.
Rebecha Purser; Daughter; Female; 10; Paupers Daughter Stocking Maker; Born Barnwell Leicester.
Josiua(sic) Joshua? Purser; Son; Male; 8; Paupers Son; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Caleb Purser; Son; Male; 6; Paupers Son; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
Ann Soley; Head; Widow; Female; 39; Pauper Formerly Servant; Born Longdon Worcs.
Ann Soley; Daughter; Female; 11; Pauper Silk Weaver; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Jane Soley; Daughter; Female; 9; Pauper Silk Weaver; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Henry Soley; Son; Male; 3; Pauper; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
William Purnell; Visitor; Single; Male; 40; Cordwainer; Born Uley Glos.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
John Davis; Head; Widower; Male; 71; Milkman; Born Staunton Worcs.
Dihanah Davis; Daughter; Single; Female; 50; Milkmans Daughter; Born Longdon Worcs. Deaf & Dumb.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
Henry Morgan; Head; Married; Male; 38; Hatter; Born Cirencester Glos.
Eliza Morgan; Wife; Married; Female; 36; Hatters Wife; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
James Morgan; Son; Single; Male; 11; At Home; Born Winterbourne Glos.
Sarah Ann Morgan; Daughter; Female; 8; At Home; Born Winterbourne Glos.
Lucy Morgan; Daughter; Female; 6; At Home; Born Winterbourne Glos.
Jane Morgan; Daughter; Female; 4; At Home; Born Winterbourne Glos.
Eliza Morgan; Daughter; Female; 2; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1851
Hughes Alley
1851 Ref- HO107/1974
Peter Young; Head; Married; Male; 64; Carpenter; Born Westcote Glos.
Mary Young; Wife; Married; Female; 58; Nurse; Born Ascote Oxon.
Stephen Young; Son; Single; Male; 21; Cordwainer; #Mittown(sic) Glos.
Ann Young; Daughter; Single; Female; 17; Dressmaker; Born Mittown(sic) Glos.
Notes
  • Transcribers Note: Enumerator May Have Omitted This From Schedule As Hughes Alley Is Between Schedule 101 And 109
  • Mitton?Is this an error? Problem as 58 year old Mary Young is supposed to be dead and that Peter a widower has re-married Mary Ann Hawkley - did she die in June quarter 1851?Marriage: Tewkesbury 11 595 Jun 1850: Young Peter + HAWKLEY Mary Ann ? FREEBMD;
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
Joseph Healey; Head; Married; Male; 68; Hay Trusser; Born Chaceley Worcs.
Mary Healey; Wife; Married; Female; 58; Launderess; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Henry Healey; Son; Single; Male; 21; Masons Labourer; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Joseph Healey; Son; Single; Male; 18; Masons Labourer; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
George Boswell; Head; Widower; Male; 53; Milkman; Born Churchdown Glos.
Ann Boswell; Daughter; Single; Female; 26; Housekeeper; Born Standish Glos.
Hannah Boswell; Daughter; Single; Female; 23; Shoe Binder; Born Standish Glos.
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
Charles Cleal; Head; Married; Male; 31; Shoemaker; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Elizabeth Cleal; Wife; Married; Female; 29; Shoe Binder; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Robert Cleal; Son; Male; 5; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Eliza Cleal; Daughter; Female; 3; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
William J. Cleal; Son; Male; 1; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Notes
  • Elizabeth Cleal, age 71 years of Bleach Yard, Tewkesbury TREG: 04/04/1903
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
William Hobson; Head; Married; Male; 38; Painter; Born Stroud Glos.
Emily Hobson; Wife; Married; Female; 36; Dressmaker; Born Minety Wiltshire.
Thomas Hobson; Son; Single; Male; 11; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
William Hobson; Son; Single; Male; 8; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Elizabeth Hobson; Daughter; Single; Female; 16; Servant; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Blanche Hobson; Daughter; Single; Female; 14; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
James Pates; Head; Married; Male; 38; Agricultural Labourer; Born Holdfast Worcs.
Mary Pates; Wife; Married; Female; 37; Born Eckington Worcs.
James Pates; Son; Male; 11; Scholar; Born Wednesbury Staffordshire.
Ann Pates; Daughter; Female; 9; Scholar; Born Wednesbury Staffordshire.
Mary Pates; Daughter; Female; 7; Scholar; Born Wednesbury Staffordshire.
Sarah Pates; Daughter; Female; 5; Scholar; Born Wednesbury Staffordshire.
Thomas Pates; Son; Male; 2; Born Southwick Glos.
William Pates; Son; Male; 1month; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
John Colley; Head; Married; Male; 50; Agricultural Labourer; Born Overbury Worcs.
Hannah Colley; Wife; Married; Female; 49; Seamstress; Born Ledbury Glos.
Charles Colley; Son; Single; Male; 24; Agricultural Labourer; Born Overbury Worcs.
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
John Ashley; Head; Married; Male; 39; Carpenter & Wheelwright; Born Evesham Worcs.
Anne Ashley; Wife; Married; Female; 48; Launderess; Born Longdon Worcs.#
Tabitha Ashley; Daughter; Single; Female; 12; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
George Ashley; Son; Single; Male; 10; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Edwin John Ashley; Son; Single; Male; 7; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
James Ashley; Son; Single; Male; 5; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Jane Soaley; Daughter-in-law; Single; Female; 19; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Henry Soaley; Son-in-law; Single; Male; 14; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Notes
  • John Ashley. Swilgate died age 55 (TREG 07/09/1878)
  • Marriages Dec 1857 Tewkesbury 6a 842: John Ashley + Ann Soley [Ann Soaley]
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
William Parker; Head; Married; Male; 33; Boot & Shoe Maker; Born Cheltenham Glos.
Hannah Parker; Wife; Married; Female; 27; Shoe Binder; Born Ripple Worcs.
Mary Jane Parker; Daughter; Female; 4; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Rose Parker; Daughter; Female; 18months; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
William Burrup; Head; Married; Male; 45; Blacksmith; Born Castlemorton Worcs.
Edith Burrup; Wife; Married; Female; 48; Born Norton Glos.
Mary Ann Burrup; Daughter; Single; Female; 18; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Henry Burrup; Son; Single; Male; 15; Frame Smith; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Alfred Burrup; Son; Single; Male; 9; Scholar; Born Tewkesbury Glos.
Notes
  • Lodger Listed As Schedule no 104a
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
Benjamin Bishop; Lodger; Married; Male; 50; Agricultural Labourer; Born Dymock Worcs(sic).
Jane Bishop; Wife; Married; Female; 33; Tailoress; Born Upton Worcs.
Notes
  • See Schedule no104
1861
Hughes Alley
1861 Ref-RG9/1806
Thomas Parker; Head; Married; Male; 31; Boot Maker; Born Cheltenham Glos.
Notes
  • email from Brenda Yoxall byoxall@ihug.co.nz: Fanny PARKER married John junior (John William RICE ) and they were my great grandparents. Fanny died in 1957 and Tewkesbury library have an article written about her when she turned 95 years old in 1955 which they kindly supplied to me.
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