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16 Hooper Street

A house that evaded modernisation

The original Victorian boot scraper at 16 Hooper Street

16 Hooper Street is in Leeds Terrace, built in the 1870s. Like all the cottages in the terrace, it was built with an outdoor toilet but no bathroom. From the 1920s to the 1970s baths were available at the Bath House in Gwydir Street.


The first residents were railway engine driver George Gates, his wife Harriet and their 8 year-old daughter, also called Harriet.


In 1891 the residents were Sampson Brown and his wife Emily, both from Balsham, and their children Sydney, Albert and Gertrude. Sampson was a police constable; his brother Charles, also a police constable, lived next door at no. 15. Sampson died in 1894 aged 36.


The next residents were carpenter John Clark, from Soham, his wife Jane, from Littleport, and their children Harold, Leonard, Ada and Mildred. John already lived in Hooper Street ten years earlier, before his marriage to Jane: in the 1891 census he was a lodger at no. 19. By 1911 the family – now with six children – had moved around the corner to 110 Ainsworth Street, a larger house.


In 1911 the inhabitants were brewer’s labourer Harry Frank Smith, his wife Emily and their two young daughters Dorothy and Ethel.


In 1939 the residents were salesman Reginald Wilkin, his wife Ellen and their young son. Reginald was born in Cambridge in 1905 and was still living at 16 Hooper Street when he died in 1999 aged 93.


A bathroom was installed.


UK census records (1841 to 1911), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), and the 1939 England and Wales Register.


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