Wednesday, 10 November 2010
The story behind the sign
I always carry a camera, and if I see a 'ghost sign' like this one I take a picture. This one is clearly visible from the northbound platform of Finchley Road station on the London Underground (one of the quirky features of the London Underground is that most of it isn't underground) It is on the back of a building in Canfield Place.
Faced with evidence like this, what's a girl supposed to do but look in the 1911 census? Sure enough, there they were at 7 Canfield Place, Charles Bryant, 25, chimney sweep, and his wife Eliza, 29, with their only child, 3-year-old Charles. All three were born in Hampstead, and they had a visitor, Ann Daw, 32, a dressmaker, born in Derby (RG 14/645 schedule 280) on Findmypast
It turns out that sweeping chimneys was a Bryant family tradition; The 1911 census shows that Charles and Eliza had been married 5 years, and the London parish registers on Ancestry.co.uk include the marriage of Charles Bryant and Eliza Daw on 6 August 1905 at Emmanuel Church, Hampstead. Charles, aged 20 was a sweep, and so was his father, also called Charles. Charles Bryant's baptiam is also on Ancestry, on 30 October 1886 at Holy Trinity, Hampstead, son of Charles Bryant, master sweep, and Eliza Sophia. The marriage of Charles Bryant and Eliza Sophia Coventry took place on 15 January 1883 at St Mary, Kilburn. Charles, a widower, was the son of George Bryant, another chimney sweep.
In 1901 7 Canfield Place is the home of Charles Bryant, chimney sweep and carpet beater - not young Charles ' father, but a cousin. Young Charles, aged 14, has the occupation 'showroom porter'. Eliza S Bryant, aged 40, is also there, described as a housekeeper, but who may be Charles' mother (RG 13/123 fol 95 p25). In 1891 Charles is with both of his parents, this time in Hendon (RG 12/1050 fol 23 p20) Eliza's age and birthplace are consistent with those of Eliza the housekeeper in 1901, and we learn that Charles Bryant snr came from Lidlingtom, Bedfordshire, and was born around 1856. This is helpful, because on the 1883 marriage certificate he is described only as 'full age'. In the same census year no Bryants were present at 7 Canfield Place, but the premises were occupied by Henry Henderson, chimney sweep, so Charles may have taken over an existing business at some time between 1891 and 1901.
In 1871 Charles Bryant snr was aged 15, and already working as a chimney sweep in his birthplace, Lidlington, but his father, George is shown as a shopkeeper, not a sweep (RG 10/1556 fol 53 page 16). But in 1861, George is 'ag lab and chimney sweep (RG 9/1002 fol 54 page 16). He too was born in Lidlington, around 1831.
George, Charles and Charles, three generations of Bryant chimney sweeps; looking forward, it appears there was also a fourth. The National Probate Calendar shows that Charles Bryant jnr died 14 February 1937, and left no will, but Administration was granted to his widow, Eliza and to Frederick Bryant, chimney sweep. Frederick was his younger son, born in November 1911. This information is shown on the record of Charles' service in the Royal Artillery in the First World War, found on Ancestry.co.uk among the British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920. He served for less than 2 years as a driver in the Royal Artillery, but was discharged as unfit due to a congenital heart defect, and received a gratuity of £15.