Meet the Parr Family who lived at 44 Seymour Road in the early years of the Twentieth Century. I've come across a wonderful Edwardian photo album of theirs which gives us some nice clues about life on the Ladder 110 years ago.
Most of the photos seem to have been shot in 1902-1903. Although it goes beyond Harringay, most of the images I'm going to share are local or nearby.
Dad, Henry W Parr, was 40 in 1903. He worked as a commercial traveller. His wife Eliza was 41 and seemed not to have been working during this part of her life. Eldest son Henry A Parr was 25 and worked as a publisher's clerk. Younger sin Stanley was 14 and still at school. Last but not least, meet Jack, the family dog.
More Parr family photos soon.............
Great pix! Are you sure Henry W is only 40, he looks older to me, plus it means he fathered Henry A at 15.
Nice French doors at the back too, I think that may have been unusual? (We had an outside lav and a door for the kitchen)
Henry W's age is correct according to the 1901 census (see below). But I too was very surprised. He looked more like 60. I hadn't thought about the age gap between him and Henry A, but you're right if everything's as it seems, he was a very young father (a shotgun wedding perhaps!!?).
As to the French windows, I'm not sure how unusual they are, but we have original french windows leading from the main part of the house to the garden. There weren't originally french windows on the back addition.
These are marvellous, Hugh, and they have even been helpfully labelled for you! Agree the father looks much older than stated - more like a grandfather than a father - and the elder son's pose is a typical one for 1903. But those of the wife and younger son might have been taken yesterday, so informal is the style. I grew up in one of the larger houses at the bottom of Seymour. I doubt if our house ever had French windows to the garden.
Regarding the windows, it's interesting to note the neighbouring house has a different style window to number 44, on itse first floor. But it is similar to the French windows at the back, as well as the street facing windows on number 44.
As the houses look in near pristine condition, there must have been possibilities for the owners of the brand new houses to choose how to have them fitted out as they wished. So they weren't all quite exactly alike. The owners of 44 obviously saved some money on the back windows.
That’s pretty typical for the Ladder. The land was sold off for development as individual plots. Some buyers/developers bought just one or two plots. I think the biggest single sale was something like 20 or 30 plots. It was very usual for a single row of houses to contain many different styles.
Today people make money through buy-to-let. Back then then it was as likely to be buy-to-build (and then very often let). Henry and Eliza may very well have been tenants.
I was also thinking that they may be tenants. That might also explain the move northwards to perhaps a 'first own home' ?
Renting was the norm for what would then have been described as a lower middle class family. Read Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith.
... and you know what is also interesting. It's great to see that the 44 number above the door had survived at least until 2008.
More interesting is the brickwork and grouting in the 1902 photo. Take a look at how it has been touched up, only ca. ten years after the house was built. Especially the wall between 44 and 42. Was the terrace settling and the houses moving apart from each other? (slipping down the hill?) Has some sort of stregthening been added?
The 44 is stil there today. It's not that unusual. We still have ours too. The rarest survivors are the original wrought iron fences. I can think of two. There are probably more, but not that many.
As to the apparent repair, I;m wondering if what we see is the line between yellow and red stock bricks. It looks like the window may have been edged with red stock. On the other hand, if it is a repair, it's not that surprising. A great deal of these houses were shoddily built. In fact so shoddily were they built that Hornsey Council forced some of them to be torn down and started again. Today we complain about profiteering landlords. Then it was profiteering amateur developer/landlords.
One of the surviving railings is on Lausanne Road. I've mentioned the story of the German lady who used to live in the house before and was delighted to come across a first hand account of the story today on, of all places, a community website in Richmond!
Most of the wrought iron fences were sacrificed to the war effort in 1940 I believe. Often they weren't used as the quality wasn't good enough.