What was the centre
of the village like in 1925? Well, the population in 1921was
only 887. (In 2001 it was 7,355).
Groby Sold in 1925!
Did you know that most
of Groby was sold in 1925? Since the late Middle Ages, Groby
was an estate village belonging to the Grey family, the Earls
of Stamford and Warrington. The coat of arms of the 8th Earl
are in the church in a diamond-shaped frame and the shield is
on the sign of the Stamford Arms. You can see the blue and white
stripes and the boars heads on the shield.
Anyway, after the death
of the 8th Earl, Lady Venetia Grey decided to sell off the estate.
Many of the cottages were sold to the tenants occupying them.
There were 6 farms and
some small holdings and 30 of the cottages were still thatched.
Many of the buildings were made of Groby granite with Swithland
slate rooves or rather "Groby slate" as I like to call
it, as it would all have come from the slate pits in the village.
You can recognise local slate because it is very thick. It does
not split well so the slates at the ridge of the roof are much
smaller than those at the eaves. This grading of the slates was
done to save weight on the rafters. Brick buildings with welsh
slate rooves came later. Only the houses of the most well-off
residents, such as the farmers, would be 3 storeys high, the
rest were all 2-storey.
There were only a few streets.
On Leicester Road, the house nearest to Leicester was just below
the top of the hill, opposite the modern post office. It is the
double-fronted brick-built house which is still there. On the
post office side was and is a row of brick terraces and then
the Stone Row cottages. Crown Cottage was thatched, then a couple
of stone cottages which later became the skittle alley of the
pub, and the Stamford Arms itself.
Some of the old cottages
still remain in Rookery Lane. (There was no road through to Pymm
Leys field track.) So, at the corner of the Rookery and Rookery
Lane there was a yard of crowded cottages that were pulled down
later, in the 20th century. A rookery in this sense, means an
area of housing for poor people who could only afford to rent
a house or part of a house in an area where they had to live
very tightly packed together.
Turning up Ratby Road,
on the left, there is little change as far as the old Co-Op,
now Cathy Stephens, the jewellers. Next came a large farm, where
Crane Ley Road refers to the last farmer. Chapel Hill existed
but not, of course, the modern houses. From the thatched cottages
onwards, Chapel Hill has changed little but the old chapel was
pulled down after Coronation Year, 1953 and the new modern chapel
was built. Between the chapel and White House (White House Close)
there were no houses, but a muddy track across two fields. The
White House, then known as Cowpen Cottage, was quite isolated
in the middle of the fields and remained so until at least the
The Allotments on Ratby
Road, existed of course, so the quarrymen could grow home-grown
vegetables for their families. On the left-hand side, towards
Ratby, there were no houses until you reached Brook Vale Cottages.
Along this length the mineral railway line from the quarries,
ran beside the road down to the "main line near Desford".
Returning from Ratby, the
first houses you met, were Victoria Cottages. The stone built
block of 4 households at the top of the hill, was there in 1925.
Opposite the brick terraces of houses still on the south east
side of Ratby Road, was a very similar, long row on the north
west side. These houses were 2-up and 2-down and originally had
shared outside toilets.
Towards the bottom of Ratby
Road on the left was the entrance to the quarry and the railway
line. Around the (railway) Wharf were some large brick buildings
including the engine shed. The four-square stone house of a quarry
manager still remains in line with the old railway. Just short
of the bottom of Ratby Road, some of the cottages still remain,
now including the chemists and the hairdressers. There was a
cruck-built cottage there until the 1960s when its arched timbers
were revealed as it was pulled down. The oldest small house in
the village is opposite and just inside Rookery Lane. The cottage
is now known as the Blacksmiths Cottage although the only connection
is that the forge lay close to it. It is thatched and timbered
and the spaces between the timbers were filled in with wattle
and daub, that is interwoven small hazel branches and mud. The
wattle and daub has been replaced by bricks.
Turning the corner past
the (1925) post office (now the Delicatessen) into Markfield
Road, the stone cottages as far as the thatched one nearly opposite
the church would have been there in 1925. So also would the cottages
up the hill to the 2 thatched cottages just short of the modern
bypass (built in the early 1960s.) Returning to the centre of
the village, Old Cottage is old, much older than the church which
was built in 1840.
The castle mound, hidden
behind the church, next to the bypass, was sleighted in 1127.so
the mound was obviously visible in 1925. (The lord of the manor
offended the king so he sleighted the castle [knocked one side
of it down] so he would have no more trouble from Groby.)
Next comes the Old Hall.
What we see is only a small remnant of a very large complex of
buildings. Construction probably started about the time the castle
was sleighted. The Old Hall grew and diminished over the centuries.
Back to 1 Leicester Road,
Chaplins, the butchers, complete with slaughter house. Cows were
slaughtered in the village in living memory but thereby hangs
another tale! The Chaplins' house would still have been thatched
in 1925. Where the new Co-op has its car park, was still part
of the farmyard of the Old Hall. Behind the bus stop was a different,
older stone wall and the sheep dip, fascinating to watch - I
remember! There were no houses in Newtown Linford Lane so back
to the village school.
There were two schools
buildings in the village in 1925, that became the Infants and
Junior Schools by the 1950s. These are the two stone buildings
opposite the modern post office, now the Village Hall and a private
house. The schools had a total of 6 classrooms, the 2 rooms in
the smaller older building were used by the Infants. There was
no hall (in what is now the Village Hall) unless the partition
between 2 of the rooms and the desks were pushed back. Toilets
were in the yard.
I have mentioned all the
roads and streets that existed in 1925 and by the 1950s there
had been no change except that a moderate number of semi-detached
houses had been built along the Leicester Road, Marina Drive
and Wallace Drive. It was in the 1960s and 1970s that Groby began
to grow and grow and grow!
Do you know better? Do
you remember more?
Tell us your memories of
Groby - we can record them, we are trained to record and eager
to listen. If you prefer, write down your memories yourselves
and let Groby Heritage Group have a copy. We do have a copyright
statement for you to agree so that your keep control over what
happens to your memories.
We all know so much about
Groby but will our children?
Alison Coates, September