Smiths Lane: An Industrial Site

by Steve Goodchild
1884 OS Map
1884 OS MapClick Image
 to Expand

Smiths Lane used to be at the centre of the industrial life of Tewkesbury, being one of the routes for moving goods from the riverside to the High Street and beyond. Opposite the bottom of the lane, on the Mill Avon, there was a gap in the warehouses giving access to the river, and probably a busy wharf for moving goods from water to cart and vice-versa.

In the early eighteenth century, Smiths Lane was Lawrells Lane. The Smith it is now named for is said to be a blacksmith’s shop on the corner of what is now Poundland. In 1836 there were twenty-four cottages in the lane, interspersed with coal yards, warehouses and stables. Some were extensive operations and residents often complained about the nuisances caused. In 1831, the contents of Mr Whitehorn’s coal yard; 300 tons of Bilston coal and 1,000 bushels of coke, was sold by auction.  A lot of coal was shipped into the town.

On what is now the Britannia’s extension and beer garden there were five cottages. Behind them was a lane which gave access to the backs of High Street properties almost to Wilkes Alley. In addition, the lane had its own court, Sweet’s, at the Back of Avon end. It contained a further six cottages, on land owned by the Russell Almshouses charity. In 1844, Mrs Drew bought the entire court for £268.

Tewkesbury Garage
Tewkesbury GarageClick Image
 to Expand

People didn’t stay long in the lane; names changed from census to census. Alongside watermen, the predominant occupation was stocking making, which became a very precarious trade indeed. One of their number, James Woodward, succumbed to cholera in 1849. In 1841, Sarah Bishop was recorded as a beerhouse keeper. Maybe her house was the Hen and Chickens reputed to have been in Smiths Lane?

The area now occupied by Poundland slowly became an area of light industry and warehousing as cottages were converted or demolished. By 1862, Joseph Firkins owned numbers 81 to 84 High Street from where he ran what must have been a very extensive wine and spirit business. Mr Firkins was one of a group of men who monopolised the brewing and spirits businesses in Tewkesbury. They are worthy of a book of their own. By 1873, a ‘newly and well-built brewery’, three storeys high, occupied the whole length of the lane, trading as the Abbey Brewery.

As brewing transitioned from small brewhouses towards the global companies we have today, the three large Tewkesbury breweries, including the Abbey, merged and in 1896 the whole enterprise was taken over by Arnold Perrett, of Wickwar. Rationalisation meant the end of local brewing and the premises was closed in 1908.

Tewkesbury Garage
Tewkesbury GarageClick Image
 to Expand

For the new, burgeoning, motor industry, the timing was perfect. The old brewery building was eminently suitable as a garage, and by 1911 Sidney Alldridge had opened the Tewkesbury Garage and was an official repairer to the RAC.  This business grew and developed, repairing and selling cars, motorbikes and eventually outboard motors. In 1920, petrol storage tanks were installed. A highlight was a visit by the famous Amy Johnson in 1938, on a tour promoting Morris cars. Like the brewery before, though, the garages in Tewkesbury consolidated and Tewkesbury Garage joined forces with Tewkesbury Car mart, at 101 High Street. In 1966, Bill Allen, a motor dealer from Cheltenham, took over the businesses and they left the High Street.

The jumble of buildings and yards behind the garage were in assorted ownerships once the brewery had closed. The Council rented a yard, John Hall ran a coal business, Messrs Gopshill Brown had a sack depot and Mr Matthews’ slaughterhouse was the last in the town. Mr Bishton opened a workshop making aircraft instruments. Businesses came and went.

In 1942, Tewkesbury’s Sea Cadet unit was founded and opened in a building in Smiths Lane, where they stayed until 1966, when the whole area, from Tewkesbury Garage to Back of Avon was purchased and demolished to create the supermarket building and car park which is there today.

On the other side of the lane, Sweet’s Court and the five cottages behind the Britannia survived until the late sixties when they too succumbed to the mania for development which had hit the town. Copying what had happened on the other side of the lane, the High Street shops next to the Britannia were purchased to build another supermarket, Liptons, and all the land as far as the Back of Avon to build Hanover Court. The Britannia was extended down Smiths Lane to take up the area of the five cottages and everything else was swept away. To their credit, these developers rebuilt the frontage of what is now Coffee #1 and Shoezone to mimic what was there before. The rear is a scruffy wasteland, though.

Smiths Lane is a main footpath between the river and town. It has been improved a little with proper paving, but it must be a prime candidate for some imaginative upgrading.

Census Data 1841-1891

Smiths Lane
William Crockett; Head; ; Male; 41; Shoeing Smith; ;y
Charlotte Crockett; ?wife; ; Female; 42; ; ;n
Charles Crockett; ; ; Male; 6; ; ;n
Ellen Crockett; ; ; Female; 5; ; ;n
Frederick Crockett; ; ; Male; 2; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Elizabeth Jones; Head; ; Female; 59; Stocking Maker; ;y
Sarah Hawkins; ; ; Female; 41; Stocking Maker; ;y
Elizabeth Hodges; ; ; Female; 10; ; ;y
Emma Hodges; ; ; Female; 3; ; ;y
Jane Jones; ; ; Female; 16; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Ann Smith; Head; ; Female; 35; Plain Sewer; ;y
Ephraim Smith; ; ; Male; 12; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
James Woodward; Head; ; Male; 54; Stocking Maker; ;y
Ann Woodward; ?wife; ; Female; 54; ; ;y
Ann Woodward; ; ; Female; 17; ; ;y
Charles Woodward; ; ; Male; 19; Shoemakers Ap; ;y
Martha Woodward; ; ; Female; 14; ; ;y
Mary Woodward; ; ; Female; 21; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Thomas Turner; Head; ; Male; 50; Blacksmith; ;y
Frances Turner; ?wife; ; Female; 48; ; ;y
Ellen Turner; ; ; Female; 11; ; ;y
Harriet Turner; ; ; Female; 9; ; ;y
James Turner; ; ; Male; 19; Labourer; ;y
Joseph Turner; ; ; Male; 4; Twin Of Thomas; ;y
Thomas Turner; ; ; Male; 4; ; ;y
John Prew; ; ; Male; 84; Labourer; ;y
Smiths Lane
James Organ; Head; ; Male; 65; Gardner; ;y
Elizabeth Organ; ; ; Female; 65; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
John Perkins; Head; ; Male; 50; Chimney Sweep; ;y
Honor Perkins; ?wife; ; Female; 45; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Isaac Tarrant; Head; ; Male; 63; Labourer; ;y
Hannah Tarrant; ?wife; ; Female; 64; ; ;y
Martha Parlour; ; ; Female; 26; ; ;y
Sarah Parlour; ; ; Female; 5; ; ;y
Susan Tarrant; ; ; Female; 71; Ind; ;y
Smiths Lane
Sarah Bishop; Head; ; Female; 50; Beerhouse Keeper; ;n
Eliza Bishop; ; ; Female; 17; ; ;n
Samuel Bishop; ; ; Male; 13; ; ;y
Mary Freeman; ; ; Female; 12; Fs; ;y
Smiths Lane
Thomas Tustin; Head; ; Male; 34; Lab; ;y
Mary Tustin; ? Wife; ; Female; 36; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Joseph Pumphrey; Head; ; Male; 40; Waterman; ;ireland
Sarah Pumphrey; ?wife; ; Female; 40; ; ;y
John Pumphrey; ; ; Male; 7; ; ;y
Louisa Pumphrey; ; ; Female; 14; ; ;y
Samuel Pumphrey; ; ; Male; 9; ; ;y
Sarah Pumphrey; ; ; Female; 5; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
William Perrott; Head; ; Male; 50; Lab; ;y
Ann Perrott; ; ; Female; 8; ; ;y
Edward Perrott; ; ; Male; 6; ; ;y
Esther Perrott; ; ; Female; 12; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Ann Hyatt; Head; ; Female; 70; Bag Mender; ;y
Smiths Lane
Honor Rice; Head; ; Female; 60; Stocking Maker; ;y
Caroline Rice; ; ; Female; 18; Lace Mender; ;y
James Rice; ; ; Male; 11; ; ;y
Richard Rice; ; ; Male; 16; ; ;y
William Rice; ; ; Male; 14; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Richard Attwood; Head; ; Male; 30; Labourer; ;y
Harriet Attwood; ?wife; ; Female; 30; ; ;n
John Attwood; ; ; Male; 0; ; ;y
Ann Attwood; ; ; Female; 10; ; ;n
Elizabeth Attwood; ; ; Female; 8; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Thomas Pittman; Head; ; Male; 55; Framework Knitter; ;y
Elizabeth Pittman; ?wife; ; Female; 52; ; ;y
Ann Pittman; ; ; Female; 10; ; ;y
George Pittman; ; ; Male; 13; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
John Brooking Jr; Head; ; Male; 35; Waterman; ;n
Elizabeth Brooking; ?wife; ; Female; 35; ; ;n
Elizabeth Brooking; ; ; Female; 3; ; ;y
Emmilor Brooking; ; ; Female; 12; ; ;y
George Brooking; ; ; Male; 5; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
Joseph Pardoe; Head; ; Male; 34; Brick Maker; ;y
Harriet Pardoe; ?wife; ; Female; 3; ; ;y
Harriet ; ; ; Female; 5; ; ;y
Isaac ; ; ; Male; 2; ; ;y
Ann Pardoe; ; ; Female; 13; ; ;y
John Pardoe; ; ; Male; 11; ; ;y
Joseph Pardoe; ; ; Male; 9; ; ;y
Thomas Pardoe; ; ; Male; 7; ; ;y
Smiths Lane
John Tomkins; Head; ; Male; 65; Stocking Weaver; ;y
Smiths Lane
Joseph Hipkins; Head; ; Male; 60; Waterman; ;y
Lydia Hipkins; ?wife; ; Female; 60; ; ;n
Thomas Grimett; ; ; Male; 70; Labourer; ;y
Charles Wilkes; ; ; Male; 14; Waterman; ;y
William Worthington; ; ; Male; 20; Lab; ;y
Smiths Lane
John White; Head; ; Male; 46; Waterman; ;y
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.