Old Post Office Alley

by Steve Goodchild
OPO Alley 1885
OPO Alley 1885Click Image
 to Expand

In about 1870 the Post Office at 127 High Street closed and moved to Church Street. The alley alongside it became Old Post Office Alley. Confusingly, the lane alongside the Church Street premises is Post Office Lane. The Post Office itself has moved three times more since then

Writing in 1905, John Rogers said that in its heyday, maybe 60 years earlier, the alley was filled with stocking frames; machines for knitting stockings. There may have been up to a dozen cottages and Mr Key, a hosier, had a frame-shop at the Oldbury end of the alley. It had this in common with many alleys where people lived at barely subsistence levels in appalling squalor.  The frame shop had gone by 1868, replaced by a ‘capital brick-built cottage’, rented to Caleb Malpas at £5 4s per annum.

OPO High Street end
OPO High Street endClick Image
 to Expand

The demise of stocking knitting in the middle of the nineteenth century saw a mixed population in the alley. The standard of the cottages meant low rents and ‘less respectable’ tenants. For an alley with a maximum of eleven cottages the variety and frequency of magistrate’s court appearances is surprising. If John Moore had spent his childhood looking out over this alley rather than Double Alley he’d have seen just as much to speculate and write about! Offences committed by people who lived there were generally minor; obscene language, drunk and disorderly or fighting. There were, though, cases of school non-attendance, child neglect, child cruelty and the inevitable overcrowding. Fredrick Hook was given hard labour for wife beating and attacking a constable with a chair leg. Sophia Hawker was jailed for three months for keeping a brothel, though the problem that brought her to court was that her staff were stealing from their clients’ wallets. 

In 1913, William Green, drover, was convicted of obstructing the highway with a herd of cows. The complainant was the Deputy Inspector-General of the Indian police, who claimed that he was held up for up to three minutes. He was fined half a crown, but the prosecuting solicitor must have had a great deal of sympathy because he very publicly paid the fine! William Green was no stranger to the court, though, and had probably contributed his own misfortune because of a quick temper. His wife was from the same mould and seems to have picked fights with half the other women in the alley. They were probably not good neighbours.

OPO Oldbury end
OPO Oldbury endClick Image
 to Expand

The alley was notoriously insanitary. In 1879 there was only one convenience for the eleven houses there and in 1892 the Council were concerned that Cholera might break out again, but did little about it beyond worrying. The house numbers decreased slowly as orders were obtained to have dangerous ones pulled down. In 1938, with council houses being built elsewhere, clearance orders were obtained for eight cottages as well as all the cottages in the adjacent Bleach Yard. The war delayed demolition, but not for long. In 1950, number 5, the last, was condemned despite Councillor Bannister describing it as “a palace compared with some places in Tewkesbury” and the last resident left the alley.

With no buildings left, Hayward’s took the opportunity to extend the yard behind their shop to give space for business expansion. A concrete block wall took the place of what were cottage fronts. In the 1990s, cottages re-appeared; built on the site of the old Bleach Yard cottages, but opening on to Old Post Office Alley. Thus the old pattern of development was changed and the houses are not behind the front house. They are, though, an example of how alleys can have a new life with practical modern houses in keeping with their setting. 

Census Data 1841-1891

Old Post Office Alley
Henry Yarnall; Head; ; Male; 35; Chair M; ;no
Edward Yarnall; ; ; Male; 8; ; ;no
Elizabeth Yarnall; ; ; Female; 30; Stocking M; ;no
Henry Yarnall; ; ; Male; 8; ; ;no
Joseph Yarnall; ; ; Male; 1; ; ;yes
Mary Yarnall; ; ; Female; 5; ; ;no
Old Post Office Alley
Thomas Townsend; Head; ; Male; 30; Hair Dresser; ;yes
Hannah Townsend; ?wife; ; Female; 25; ; ;no
Old Post Office Alley
John Penrose; Head; ; Male; 20; Stocking M; ;yes
Amelia Penrose; ?wife; ; Female; 20; ; ;yes
Charles Penrose; ; ; Male; 5; ; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
George Savage; Head; ; Male; 60; Chimney Sweep; ;no
Ann Savage; ; ; Female; 40; Stocking M; ;yes
Mary Savage; ; ; Female; 14; ; ;yes
Richard Savage; ; ; Male; 6; ; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
Edward Pilley; Head; ; Male; 40; Lab; ;yes
Francis Pilley; ; ; Male; 15; Lab; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
William Penrose; Head; ; Male; 55; Stocking M; ;yes
George Grainger; ; ; Male; 25; Lab; ;yes
William Grainger; ; ; Male; 20; Stocking M; ;yes
Charlotte Hare; ; ; Female; 50; Stocking M; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
George Clutterbuck; Head; ; Male; 45; Stocking M; ;yes
Sophia Clutterbuck; ?wife; ; Female; 30; ; ;yes
Charlotte Clutterbuck; ; ; Female; 9; ; ;yes
Lot Clutterbuck; ; ; Male; 11; ; ;yes
John Priest; ; ; Male; 65; Nailor; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
Enoch Key; Head; ; Male; 40; Stocking M; ;yes
Caroline Key; ; ; Female; 15; ; ;yes
Charles Key; ; ; Male; 10; ; ;yes
Enoch Key; ; ; Male; 14; ; ;yes
George Key; ; ; Male; 6; ; ;yes
James Key; ; ; Male; 4; ; ;yes
Mary Key; ; ; Female; 8; ; ;yes
Thomas Key; ; ; Male; 12; ; ;yes
Thomas Key; ; ; Male; 35; Stocking M; ;yes
William Key; ; ; Male; 15; ; ;yes
Elizabeth Watton; ; ; Female; 15; ; ;yes
Mary Watton; ; ; Female; 14; ; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
Anthony Owen; Head; ; Male; 55; Lab; ;yes
Anna Owen; ?wife; ; Female; 45; ; ;yes
Henry Owen; ; ; Male; 8; ; ;yes
Kezia Owen; ; ; Female; 15; ; ;yes
James Hope; ; ; Male; 55; Lab; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
William Scriven; Head; ; Male; 25; Waterman; ;yes
Elizabeth Scriven; ?wife; ; Female; 25; Stocking M; ;yes
John Scriven; ; ; Male; 2; ; ;yes
George Crump; ; ; Male; 20; Lab; ;yes
Richard Watson; ; ; Male; 35; Stocking M; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
Job Price; Head; ; Male; 55; Carpenter; ;yes
Hannah Price; ?wife; ; Female; 40; Stocking M; ;yes
William Peak?; ; ; Male; 15; Lab; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
Henry Collins; Head; ; Male; 25; Bricklayer; ;yes
Haraminta Collins; ?wife; ; Female; 25; ; ;yes
Haraminta Collins; ; ; Female; 4; ; ;yes
Henry Collins; ; ; Male; 6; ; ;yes
Old Post Office Alley
John Collins; Head; Unmarried; Male; 56; Lab; Tewkesbury;
*susanah Collins; Mother; Widowed; Female; 82; ; Overbury;
Old Post Office Alley
Thomas Townsend; Head; Married; Male; 50; Letter Carrier; Tewkesbury;glos
Old Post Office Alley
John Davis; Head; Widowed; Male; 81; Farmer; Staunton;worcs
Old Post Office Alley
Philip Owen; Head; Married; Male; 68; Butcher; Forthampton;
Lydia Owen; Wife; Married; Female; 65; ; Twyning;glos
Jane Devereux; Granddaughter; ; Female; 12; Silk Winder; Tewkesbury;glos
John Owen; Son; Unmarried; Male; 30; Ag Lab; Tewkesbury;glos
Old Post Office Alley
Mary Ann Wilson; Head; Married; Female; 39; Stocking Maker; Tewkesbury;glos
Old Post Office Alley, Same As 207
Mary Hobbs; Lodger; Widowed; Female; 85; Infirm; Oxenton;
Old Post Office Alley
William Penrose; Head; Widowed; Male; 77; Frame Work Knitter; Tewkesbury;glos
Old Post Office Alley
Thomas Price; Head; Married; Male; 39; Chelsea Pensioner; Chaceley;worcs
Kezia Price; Wife; Married; Female; 36; Dressmaker; Tewkesbury;glos
Old Post Office Alley
Enoch Key; Head; Married; Male; 60; Stocking Weaver; Tewkesbury;glos
Displaying the 20 property records. There are more, but the search output is limited (paging has not been developed).
Number of records found: 21

Print Version


Your display name

Email address - required for confirmation
(it will not be displayed here)

Your comment or question

Please keep your comments relevant to this article.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment.