Tag Archives: Heffer

A few of my favourite things – old newspapers from a bedroom cupboard


Diane enjoying a treasure trove of old newspapers

At last, we had finished cataloguing items in the upper part of the house.  Before starting on the downstairs rooms, we were asked to reflect on what we had found so far and which item held a special interest.  For me, this was a difficult question and I did not immediately know the answer.  So many things have given me an insight into the lives of the Parr family.  The treasures in this house are not valuable paintings or pieces of costly silver but everyday objects which have been cherished and, in many cases, put to use in a different way to that which was originally intended.  For example, a chocolate box fashioned in the shape of a casket, is used as a pretty container for handkerchiefs.

I remembered how much interest we had found in the pile of old newspapers kept in a cupboard in the front bedroom.  With so much cataloguing to be done, we had only briefly scanned them but now I had the whole morning to look at them in more detail.  These yellowing pages give an insight into the world in which Mrs Palmer lived.  It had been clear to us that Mrs Palmer was a Royalist so it was no surprise to find many pictures and articles on events such as Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation and the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.  The Daily Mail’s edition of 22nd June 1982 announced the arrival of Prince William with the headline ‘It’s a Boy’.  (Wasn’t this headline repeated only a couple of years ago when Prince William’s own son was born?)  The oldest paper in the pile is the Illustrated Mail of 13th February 1904.  This had a half page entitled ‘Women’s Corner’ which contained hints on domestic issues such as how to clean copper along with sketches of the latest fashions for women.  Long dresses with enormous sleeves seemed to be the order of the day.  A drawing of a hat described as a ‘serviceable silver grey beaver with cockade on one side’ looked anything but serviceable to me and I wondered what Mrs Parr would have made of this page.

The paper which gave me the most pleasure, however, was the Cambridge Daily News of 1st June 1953.  Undoubtedly it had been kept because of the Special Supplement on the Coronation but it was the ordinary day-to-day pages which I loved.  The advertisements and local news articles give a picture of a bygone Cambridge.  Local businesses had taken space wishing Her Majesty a long and successful reign.  (Their wishes have been granted!)  Some of the businesses such as Heffer’s and Miller’s Music are still trading but others like Joshua Taylor’s no longer exist.  There is a picture of Joshua Taylor’s shop with its windows displaying red, white and blue rosettes.  I expect all the shops in Cambridge would have been similarly decorated in celebration of the Coronation.  Dale’s Brewery gave ‘loyal salutations and heartfelt wishes to Her Majesty’.  The former brewery is exactly opposite the David Parr house and is now a coffee shop popular with local residents (and us, of course).  Looking out of the bedroom window, the large clock with Dale’s Brewery in black lettering still hangs on the wall is in full view.  It seems almost in touching distance!


Dale’s Brewery celebrates the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II


The paper reported that Jack Hobbs ‘England cricketer and Cambridge’s most illustrious son’ had received a knighthood.  A 6 bedroom house in De Freville Avenue was for sale at £3,000.  A quick Google check tells me that such a property now commands a figure in the region of £1,660,000.  Two undergraduates (one from St John’s and the other from Trinity), were fined 15s and 10s respectively for ‘riding a bicycle designed for one’.

A look at the situations vacant section shows no sign of equal rights!  Addenbrooke’s Hospital offered positions for dining staff to work 48 hours per week at a wage of 122s for men and 92s 6d for women.  An advertisement for a shorthand/typist (is there such an occupation these days?) specified that applicants must be single whilst British Rail wanted a female clerk and a smart man (25-30) as office supervisor.

This Cambridge Daily News, ordinary in its day, I now find a most intriguing historical document.   It showed me that in the intervening years much had changed but some things do remain the same.  On the evening of 1st June 1953 The Archers could be heard on the Light Programme and 20 Questions was being broadcast on the Home Service.

Working at the David Parr House is a pleasure and I am privileged to be able to see into the lives of people who lived many years ago.  I look forward to starting the cataloguing of items downstairs and have no doubt that there will be much more to discover.


Diane Heard, Camdfas Heritage Volunteer at the David Parr House


The Leach-Heffer Connection


The family members in this lovely photograph from the Leach archive, dated April 1906, are gathered in the back garden of St George’s (now 56) De Freville Avenue in Cambridge. The elderly woman in the centre is Mary Ann Leach (nee Goodenough, 1838-1909), widow of Frederick Richard Leach (1837-1904) and grandmother of the children in the photograph.

Looking at the ages of the children, it is probable that the baby seated on the ground is  Olive Leach (1904-1988), third child of Frederick McLean Leach (1868-1948) and Alice Mary Ross Leach (nee Chapman, 1877-1956), that the young boy perched on a stool on the far right is Olive’s elder brother Anthony Frederick Leach (1901-1989) and the girl in the white dress is their eldest sister Mary (1891-1961).

The two children wearing ‘sailor’ jackets are likely to be Eric Standley Heffer (1897-1994) and his sister Frieda Millicent Heffer (1899-1973) and the young man in the centre back may be their elder brother, Ralph Laurence Heffer (1893-1973), although it is hard to determine the age of the man in the photo.

Alice Leach would have been very heavily pregnant with Frederick McLean Leach who was born in July 1906 so she may have been absent from the photo for that reason or be concealing her ‘bump’ behind the Heffer children. Although we might expect little Tony to be resting his head on his mother’s lap, she does not look heavily pregnant. This may mean that the woman seated on the right is Ada Heffer (nee Leach, 1866-1936). The man seated on the left with  the moustache may be Frederick McLean Leach (1868-1948) or he may be Harry Heffer (1865-1947). Any of the three younger women could be Ethel Leach (1874-1922) or Edith Leach (1878-1928), unmarried daughters of Frederick Richard Leach and Mary Ann.

Fifteen years prior to this family photograph, at the time of the 1891 census, when Ada Leach was 25, there was a ‘Visitor’ recorded at her family home and workshops in City Road – one Harry Heffer, a 26 year-old ‘Commercial Clerk’. Less than a year later, on the 25th February 1892, Ada Matilda McLean Leach (1866-1936), eldest daughter of Frederick Richard and Mary Ann Leach, married Harry J. Heffer (1865-1909) at Christ Church Cambridge, bathed in the rainbow of lights and looked down upon by the myriad faces of the large stained glass window created by Frederick Leach in 1885.

Christ Church Cambridge

In his small, red “Atlas” pocket diary for 1892, Frederick Leach, father of the bride, wrote, “Ada wedded to H. Heffer at Christ Ch . . . sunshine came out for the occasion”. The words are written in red ink – it was clearly a happy occasion and one of his ‘red-letter days’ when all the family got together to celebrate. It appears that the reception was held at the Leach firm’s City Road workshops as Frederick writes (also in red ink) on the two days preceding the wedding, “Commenced the preparations for the wedding. Arranging Top shop, arranging glass shop, arranging Top office. Awning up the top office stair. General dusting out and clearing for 25th”.

City Road Workshops Photo: Tamsin Wimhurst
City Road Workshops Photo: Tamsin Wimhurst

Harry J. Heffer had seven siblings and one half-sibling. His parents were William Heffer (1843-1928), born in Exning in Suffolk, the son of an agricultural labourer and Mary Webb, born in Balsham in 1837. They were married at All Saints, Cambridge on the 28th May 1863.

At the time of the 1871 census, William and Mary were living at 10 Clement’s Place in Cambridge with their three children, Charles (7), Harry (6). Kate (4) and George (2) and a lodger, Thomas Barnes, who was an Ironmonger’s assistant. William defined his occupation as ‘Groom’.

By 1881, however, the family had moved to 104 Fitzroy Street and William gave his occupation as ‘Stationer’. In 1891, he added ‘Bookseller’ to his title.

In 1896 the firm added another branch in the more central location of Petty Cury and by 1901 five of William and Mary’s children were employed in the business– Kate Adelaide Heffer (1867-1940), Ernest William Heffer (1871-1948), Lucy Mary Heffer (1873-1951), Frank Heffer (1876-1933) and Sidney Heffer (1878-1959). George Herbert Heffer (1869-1947) was a bank clerk and Emma Louise Heffer (1874-1974) was a nurse. She travelled to Melbourne, Australia in 1904 and died aged 100 in 1974.

Shelley Lockwood