North Watford History Group

Leavesden Road in 1901

Leavesden Road map

Leavesden Road is in Callowland, North Watford, and stretches from St Albans Road in the south to Gammons Lane in the north. Housing development took place along Leavesden Road and its side roads in the 1890s on what was previously farm land. By 1901 all the present Leavesden Road side roads were in existence, with the exception of Callowland Close, a much later addition.

A revealing picture of this neighbourhood at the start of its existence can be derived from the 1901 census.

Places of Birth of Heads of Household

The 1901 census shows that only 10% of Leavesden Road heads of household were born in Watford itself, but a total of 24.5% were born somewhere in Hertfordshire. The other most frequent places of birth were Buckinghamshire (20%), followed by London (14.5%) and then Bedfordshire (12%). Only four heads of household were born outside England: two in Ireland, one in Scotland and one in Wales.

Occupations of Heads of Household

In 1901 the largest source of employment for heads of household was building and allied trades (such as bricklaying, carpentry, house painting, plumbing and glazing) in which 27% of heads of household were employed. The second largest occupational group was shopkeepers and salesmen, and their assistants, accounting for 20% of heads of household. The railway was also an important source of work, employing 10% of heads of household — two thirds in manual work and one third as clerks. Another 10% of heads of household were described in the census as general labourers.

Employment of Women

Only 12 out of 151 heads of household were women. Of these, six were in paid employment: two as laundresses, one as a charwoman, one as a cook at a coffee shop, one as a confectioner, and one who let lodgings.

Only 3 out of 137 wives of heads of households were in paid employment: one as a grocer, one as an assistant to a greengrocer (her husband) and one at a medicinal herb store.

Occupations of Children and Young People

There were only two children under the age of 13 who were recorded in the 1901 census as being in paid employment. These were 11 year-old Edith Cutler at number 63, who was a sweet-packer, and 12 year-old James Lake at number 107, who was a newspaper-boy.

53% of 13–15 year olds and 83% of 16–19 year-olds were in employment. The most common occupation for the younger age group was domestic service, particularly, but not exclusively, for girls. Domestic service was also an important occupation for the older age group, but was matched by two other occupations — building and allied trades, and printing and photography. Of those not in paid employment, 69% of 13–15 year-olds and 100% of 16–19 year-olds were female. It is probable that many were involved in domestic tasks in the home.

Household Size and Structure

The houses in Leavesden Road were mostly small terraced houses and all but four houses contained only one household. Households varied in size, primarily because of differences in the number of children. 54% of households contained 2 or fewer children, 33% had 3–5 children, and 13% had 6 or more. In addition, 15% of households had extended family members living with them, and 12.6% had one or two boarders.

Shops and Businesses in Leavesden Road

There was a wide variety of shops in Leavesden Road at this time. These included a butcher, a fishmonger, two bakers, two greengrocers, five grocers, five confectioners, three bootmakers, three drapers/outfitters, a hairdresser, three dairymen, a picture frame maker, an ironmonger and a wheelwright. There was also a post office, a pub and two refreshment rooms. This creates a picture of a vibrant community.

The shops and businesses were also a source of employment for local residents. Bracey and Clark, builders and contractors, at 129 Leavesden Road, was run by Thomas Clark, who is described as an employer in the 1901 census. James Timms, dairyman, at number 110, is also recorded as an employer, as is Sidney Ludlow, baker, at number 64.


Callowland Schools were built in Leavesden Road in 1895 — one for boys, between Shakespeare Street and Acme Road, and one for girls and infants, south of Lowestoft Road. School attendance of girls was significantly lower than that of boys, even though by this time, school attendance until the age of twelve was both compulsory and free. Kelly's Directory 1902 reports that average attendance at the boys' school was 480, while average attendance at the other school was 280 girls and 380 infants. The school master and mistresses were Edwin Ashby (boys), Miss A.M. Gardner (girls), and Miss Fowler (infants).


View larger map

Map with Leavesden Road highlighted


Research: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.
Author: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.


  1. 1901 census

[Added by Glen: 6:00pm 25 Apr 2009]
[Updated by Glen: 10:06am 9 Jun 2012]

This page was last updated on 9 June 2012.