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Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association. Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.

Barrow Community Association is a registered Charity No: 505692.
Barrow Voice Team
Advertising Deadline
24th April 2005

Spring Copy Deadline
31st April 2005
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The Editor
17 North Street
Barrow upon Soar
Leics LE12 8PZ

Village Shopping in 1945

To accompany my collection of village photographs, I have drawn maps of Barrow for several different periods of the 1900s to correspond with the considerable growth of the village in the 20th century.

However, to use an 'in phrase', the 20th was a century of two halves. During most of the first half, the map was practically unchanged. Certainly, new houses were built (including the council houses on Grove Lane, Sileby Road and River View) but with the exception of River View, no other new streets or roads had been made since Warner Street and New Street were built in the early 1900s. In the second half of the 20th century, there was of course a seemingly unending expansion of the village - starting with the Brook Lane development just after World War II finished in 1945. This year represented an important turning point in the development of Barrow. Also, at that time, there were probably more shops and businesses etc than at any other time in our history.

I offer this 1945 map to place on record where all the commercial and service establishments were located at this important time. Apart from some 'fine tuning' assistance from Mrs E Pagett, the map had been drawn from memory. Thus I hope that any errors or omissions will be excused.

From time to time, reminiscences about the village appear in Barrow Voice and any further elaboration here would be superfluous. However, I must add that the number of shops is amazing - especially when one considers that WWII had just ended. Strict rationing of most food, clothes and fuel had been in force for nearly six years and yet, the village managed to support four bakeries, four family butchers, a pork butcher and ten grocery or general provisions shops. Although the sweet ration was only 3/4 lb per month, there were three confectioners despite the fact that the grocers also sold sweets.

There were three coal merchants in the village and also,Tom Draper of Sileby delivered coal here. Even in those days when the population was less than half that at present and very few people had a cheque book, there were two banks in the High Street opening two mornings a week. Other financial institutions were the Co-op which operated a Penny Bank and the Barrow Building Society. It had an office in Granby Street, Loughborough but was open for business on one Monday evening per month in the school room of the Wesleyan Chapel.

With so many facilities available and prices strictly controlled, one wonders why visits to Loughborough were so popular. Perhaps it was the cheap fare - 4d for adults on Howletts,Trent or Midland Red buses or the attraction of the three cinemas and the Theatre Royal. But then in the 1940s, we had our own dance hall, film shows and our own repertory company, 'The Jesters' but that is for another time!

Kevon Thompson

The Old King Bill

One of Barrow's many 'lost' pubs, the King William IV Beer House was situated on the corner of High St. and Church St., opposite the Three Crowns. It is now a private house owned by Jim and Joy Greig. During recent building works, they invited me to take a look at the remaining evidence of its life as a pub.

King William IV reigned from 1830 to 1837 and was Queen Victoria's uncle. He served at sea from the age of 14 until he was 25 when he was made Duke of Clarence. For the next 20 years he lived with an Irish actress called Dorothea Jordan, siring 10 children. He then unexpectedly became next in line for the throne, and had to marry to produce an heir (and to find someone with money to pay off his debts). Unfortunately, his marriage to Adelaide of Saxe-Coburg produced only two daughters who died in infancy. Many pubs were named after this colourful character, including ours which opened in about 1840.

Figure 1 : Front view of building with owners standing by  horse and cart.

It is surprisingly difficult to trace the history of pubs and landlords in public records, particularly when they were only Beer Houses rather than fully licensed Inns. However we do know that the King Bill was run by Mary Perkins in 1896, probably by her husband Alfred in 1891, and by Arnold Squires in 1936. The public area consisted of 2 rooms: the Bar, accessed by the front door (fig. 1) which is now bricked up, and the Snug, which was separated from the Bar by a wood and glass partition. Beer was brought up from the cellar in jugs and served at the bar counter. This route to the cellar is now blocked off, but can still be identified. The thralls, on which the barrels stood, are still in the cellar (fig.2). To the right of the house was a skittle alley, visible in the photo taken from Cotes Rd.(fig. 3), which occupied the site of old stone cottages whose doors and windows can still be seen in the wall between the King Bill and the Alliance and Leicester. A fireplace remains on the back of this wall.

As with many older houses in the village, its construction is a bit of a hotchpotch. The garden wall may well be medieval; the cellar and parts of the lower walls are stone; there is evidence of timber frame and cob (mud and straw) (fig.4); much of the house is oak beamed, usually reused from ships or other buildings (fig.5). It seems possible that its origins lie as far back as the 1600s, and parts certainly date from the mid 1700s. Unfortunately the deeds are incomplete and unhelpful.

Joy Greig (nee Lewin) has a photograph of herself in the garden, aged about 11 - strange that she should come to live there so many years later. She tells a tale that her mother was sent to the King William IV by her grandmother with a jug to buy some beer. However, she was underage and someone snitched, for a police constable was waiting for her when she arrived! Jim has an intriguing invitation card, dating from the early 1900s (fig.7).

The pub finally closed its doors for business in 1942, but during the second world war it was home to evacuees from Ipswich. Norman Riley remembers playing with them in the skittle alley, and when it got dark they would be fetched out by Margaret Horton carrying a lantern. One night, however, the windows were lit up not by the lantern but by the crash of a Dakota aeroplane near the railway in which four Canadian airmen were killed. According to Ken Quail, on VE Day the owner threw all the beds and bedding out of the window into the street and set fire to them. More evacuees from London lived in the cottages by the Three Crowns, who apparently returned later with gifts of jellied eels which, says Norman, were horrible' As a Londoner by birth, I could not possibly comment (ugh).

There are two photographs of the building in the Community Centre lounge that are worth a look, as are the other pictures therein.

Jim and Joy would like to thank everyone who has commented so favourably on the recent facelift to their home, carried out by Ken, and I, in turn, thank them and Norman for sharing all this information. As usual, any errors are mine alone.

FOOTNOTE - You may remember the search for Bucknall Hill, which we decided was also known as Tom Sheppard's Hill and Barrow Hill on the Nottingham Road. I recently found out that John Bucknall was granted an allotment in 1761 under the Enclosures Act at the top of the very same hill - problem solved.

Extra information, pictures, ideas and comments gratefully received at or phone me on 01509 412196.