Bracey & Clark
100 Cecil Street map
Bracey and Clark Building Contractors is one of the longest established businesses in North Watford, having been founded in 1894. It is currently located at 100 Cecil Street, and has been there since at least 1904.
Kelly's Directory of Watford, 1904, lists Bracey and Clark, Builders & Contractors, as being at 129 Leavesden Road, 29 St John's Road, and Cecil Street. The 1901 Directory only gives the Leavesden Road address. The early addresses listed for the business reveal the identities of the two men who founded it. They were Frederick Bracey, born in 1858, and Thomas Clark, born c. 1844.
The 1901 census shows that resident at 129 Leavesden Road was 57 year old Thomas Clark, builder, contractor and employer. Also at that address were his wife, Mary Ann, his daughter Alice, who was an assistant school mistress, and daughter Emily.
Thomas Clark had a difficult start in life: He was born in Walsham le Willows, in Suffolk, c. 1844, the son of a thatcher. But by the time Thomas was seven years old, his father had died; Thomas, his sister and mother were living with her mother and father, William Jaggard senior. William Jaggard was described as a "Pauper/Ag Lab" [Agricultural labourer], and Thomas' mother, Sarah Clark, was also described as a pauper. 
A turning point for Thomas came when he became a builder's apprentice for William Jaggard junior, a "Builder Machinist employing 4 Men and 3 Boys."  By 1871, Thomas was working as a carpenter in Leighton Buzzard, and by 1881, had moved to Watford, living at 35 Queen's Road with his wife, Mary Ann, and their children. In 1891, he was still working as a carpenter and living at 167 Queen’s Road with his wife and children, including son Harry, who was a carpenter's apprentice.
The other half of Bracey and Clark was Frederick Bracey, who was born in Redbourn, Hertfordshire, in 1858, son of a carpenter, who was also called Frederick Bracey. In 1881, Frederick, aged 23, was living with parents and sister in Codicote. Both he and his father were working as carpenters, his mother as a laundress, and his sister as a dressmaker.
By 1891, Frederick was living at 79 Gladstone Road, Watford, with his wife Ellen, and he was still working as a carpenter. Presumably this is how he encountered Thomas Clark, who was also a carpenter, living nearby, and they set up Bracey and Clark in 1894. In 1901, Frederick Bracey was described as a builder and employer, living at 29 St John’s Road, Watford, with his wife Ellen and daughter Mabel.
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Research: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.
Author: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.
Photograph: with kind permission of Peter Hall, Director, Bracey & Clark.
- 1851 census
- 1861 census
[Added by Glen: 11:48pm 12 Jan 2009]
[Updated by Glen: 08:58am 20 Jan 2009]
[Updated by Glen: 11:20pm 4 Feb 2009]