Union Street and employment in the 1921 census

The 1921 census is the most recent available in the UK for researching individual households. Normally censuses are released at 100-year intervals. As the 1931 census was destroyed by bombing, and the 1941 census was never conducted, we will have a long wait for the 1951 census.

We have census data for households since 1841 (limited data only) and then from 1851, but the 1921 census is the only one to give details of employment. Instead of householders merely being asked what their occupation was, they were supposed to give both the employer’s name and the address of employment. If out of work — and there was a recession at the time — the last employer was supposed to be given. As we will see, sometimes full details were not given. To my mind this can provide fascinating details about how far someone had to go to work. It was normal to walk or cycle to work, or else take a train or bus. Those familiar with the neighbourhood will realise that many had a brief stroll to work, as in this street.

Union Street, St Leonards on Sea. Numbered 1-4 on the right, then 5-9 on the left coming back down the street.

I have taken Union Street, the short road connecting Alfred and North streets, as an brief example of what sort of information can be derived. Below I give details of each household, with those in work listed (with spouses). The number of rooms in the household was requested and this is given in my list, showing that some houses were subdivided. Exact details of the employers would be available from the local annual directory’s street listings.

1 Union Street (5 rooms)

Isenbiel G. Catlin, head, 45, married, born Hesketon, Suffolk, gardener, [for] Capt. M. Burton, St Leonards [this was Maurice Burton, of St Leonards Lodge, Maze Hill, one of St Leonards’ founder James Burton’s grandsons]

Ellen Catlin, wife, 48, born Hesketon, Suffolk, home duties

Three children aged 5 to 8

Two visitors

2 Union Street [4 rooms]

Ernest Sidney Barrett, head, 43, married, born Battersea, Surrey, bricklayer, out of work, [previous employer] —- Chambers, plumber, Kings Road

Alice Edith Barrett, wife, 44, home duties

Four children aged 1 to 13

Thomas Vidler, boarder, 47, single, born St Leonards, Sussex, outside luggage porter, Warrior Square station, St Leonards

3 Union Street [5 rooms]

George H. Tichband, head, 45, married, born Hastings, Sussex, postman, GPO, St Leonards on Sea

Eleanor C. Tichband, wife, 42, born Hastings, Sussex, home duties

Dorothy A. Tichband, daughter, 20, born Hastings, Sussex, book-keeper, Frouds Dairy, 21 Kings Road, St Leonards on Sea

9-year-old son

4 Union Street [3 rooms]

Emma Cox, head, 63, single, born St Leonards, Sussex, [occupation] none, (blind), at home

Marguerite Emmie Cox, daughter, 35, single, born Hastings, Sussex, domestic work 1 1/2 hours daily, 7 Maze Hill, St Leonards

4 Union Street [2 rooms]

Alice Mary Hills, head, 63, widow, born Brighton, Sussex, waiting room attendant, SE & CD Railway, St Leonards Warrior Square

6 Union Street [5 rooms]

William Adams, head, 47, married, born Hastings, Sussex, postman, Postmaster General, PO St Leonards

Jane Adams, wife, 46, born Hastings, Sussex, home duties

William James Adams, son, 21, single, born Hastings, Sussex, boot repairer, C. Crouch [employer], 1 Gensing Rd, St Leonards [now a house at SW corner of Gensing and Norman roads]

Two children, aged 8 to 13

7 Union Street [2 rooms]

Harriet Ada Creswell, head, 55, widow, born Bloomsbury, London, [occupation] none

7 Union Street [4 rooms]

Stephen Henry Robert Fisher, head, 52, married, born St Leonards, Sussex, booking clerk, Messrs. F. & L. Hickman (skinners), Western Road, St Leonards

Esther Louisa Fisher, wife, 53, born Hooe, Sussex, home duties

It is a pity that it’s not possible to go in the opposite direction, for example to find where those working on Norman Road were living.








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