Anyone interested in the history of Uxbridge should read this!
Hillingdon Local Studies Service on Level 6 of Uxbridge Library holds a unique record of life in the town around 1850. ‘Peregrinations of a Kiddy’ was written by Uxbridge man Thomas Strutt in 1873. As far as we know, Thomas was born about 1835, youngest child of a family of twelve, and went to Mrs Clinton’s School for Girls and Boys, roughly where Debenhams is today.
In this 60 page essay he remembers walking up and down the High Street as a boy. He describes in detail every shop, pub, house and alleyway – the Chequers Inn, where the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry band played nightly, the shops where he bought peppermint or lemon black-jacks, the cottages in Bonsey’s Yard where he and his friends went ghost hunting.
He remembers buying fish and chips, oysters and toys, at the Market House; and attending church upstairs among the straw bales, the hymns accompanied by a viol and clarinet. In his words, the people of Uxbridge come to life – from the grocer who failed to woo his neighbour’s daughter by throwing almond cake over the garden wall to a local eccentric with a photographic memory for birthdays.
Thomas’s Uxbridge is familiar and strange – take an unfortunate accident with a bucket of whitewash accompanied by an outburst of bad language, or the May Day parade, when the town’s chimney sweeps dressed as girls and danced around a leafy pyramid known as ‘Jack in the Green’ – a once common tradition lost to us today.
The ‘Peregrinations’ describes a town more lively and colourful than you might imagine. It is a riveting good read and a wonderful resource for the local and family historian, or even the quietly curious. It is available without appointment in the Local Studies Room (open weekdays 1-5, Saturdays 9.30-5.30).
By Paul – Local Studies.
Thank you for reading!