What business is it of yours?

Speaker: Sandra Moore

17 January 2017

For the first meeting of 2017 Sandra Moore made a return to the Society to tell us about some more of the characters buried in Belgrave Cemetery, this time in the character of Mrs Eliza Billington, landlady of the Bull’s Head, Belgrave (deceased).

Elisa lived from 1848-1915, a time of great change, with the coming of the railways, and the industrial revolution leading to the demise of the framework knitting as a cottage industry as large factories opened up around Leicester resulting in high unemployment.

Dressed in a costume of the period, she began her reminiscences with the men returning from the 1905 march to London. More than 400 men had walked to the capital and back, hoping to petition the King, to protest against the lack of employment opportunities in the area. (More details from the Leicester Mercury).

She talked a little about life as a publican at the Bulls Head, which she ran with her husband Thomas during the 1890s and into early 20th century. They started serving food while she was the landlady attracting a better class of clientele!

Using examples of people buried in the cemetery she described of some of the businesses and lives of people who she would have come into contact with in the Belgrave area of Leicester. These were illustrated with b/w photographs and postcards. They included Henry Wilkinson (1849-1904) who became keeper of the Victoria Model Lodging House in Britannia Street; Benjamin and David Exton who were bakers; Henry Pugh, the butcher; Thomas Hoskins, of Hoskins Brewers; and George Tebbs,  who started as an ironmongers assistant, and later owned an Ironmongery business, but was also a musician and a founder of the De Montfort Orchestra (profile of George Tebbs).

More well known perhaps was Walter Bentley born in 1866, who starting rose growing at Red Hill in 1890 and moved up to Wanlip in 1937 but the 2nd World War meant more land was needed for food and more than a million rose trees were burned. The most recent burial was that of Wilfred Barry Deacon in 2012. Better known as impresario Barry Young he bought Goscote Hall Hotel which he turned into a cabaret venue and later ran the Starlight Club in Coalville (tributes).

Sandra Moore assembled these stories by advertising in the local press for information from families of people who are buried in the Cemetery, and has therefore, received personal memories and family photographs with which to illustrate her talk.

For more details of Belgrave Cemetery visit the Friends of Belgrave Cemetery website.