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18 Milford Street

A tailor, a carpenter, a plumber, and a radio engineer

18 Milford Street is one of a terrace of three houses on the north side of the street, built in the 1880s.

1891 census

James Wilson, head, 38, tailor’s traveller, b. Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Elizabeth M Wilson, wife, 39, b. Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Cecil J R Wilson, son, 17, builder’s clerk, b. Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Ida E M Wilson, daughter, 16, b. Hitchin, Hertfordshire
James W Wilson, son, 14, tailor’s apprentice, b. Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Clement F Wilson, son, 12, scholar, b. Cambridge
Horace E Wilson, son, 10, scholar, b. Cambridge
Edgar S Wilson, son, 9, scholar, b. Cambridge
Percy L Wilson, son, 7, scholar, b. Cambridge
Bernard C Wilson, son, 6, scholar, b. Cambridge
May B Wilson, daughter, 5, scholar, b. Cambridge
Eva M Wilson, daughter, 3, b. Cambridge
Frank H Wilson, son, 2, b. Cambridge
Aubrey C Wilson, son, 8 months, b. Cambridge

James Wilson ran a successful business as a tailor and robe maker. In 1881 he and his family had been living in a smaller house across the road at 5 Milford Street. By 1901 they were living in a four-storey house at 4 Auckland Terrace (31 Newmarket Road).

1901 census

George Gentry, head, 52, carpenter & joiner, b. Barking, Essex
Emily Gentry, wife, 53, b. Barking, Essex
Inez E Wilkins, daughter, married, 27, b. Thaxted, Essex
Albert V Gentry, son, 18, baker’s assistant breadmaker, b. Cambridge
Ernest W Gentry, son, 16, carpenter’s apprentice, b. Cambridge
Basil G Wilkins, grandson, 10 months, b. Cambridge

The Gentry family had previously lived at 63 Kingston Street and 164 Sturton Street, and were later to move to 129 Sturton Street.

While living at 18 Milford Street they managed to get into the newspapers several times. In 1900 the Fire Brigade put out a major fire in a timber workshop in the garden, which George Gentry used for his carpentry business (Cambridge Weekly News, 21 September 1900, page 5). He had left two candles burning while taking a ‘five-minute’ break from work. He lost his carpentry tools, a bike, a mangle and wringer, and a large quantity of wood. Luckily some hens were saved from a coop next to the workshop.

In 1902 there was another fire, this time in the house, but the family managed to put it out before the Fire Brigade arrived. According to the Cambridge Daily News of 7 July 1902 (page 3), the fire was caused by ‘Mrs Gentry’s sister’s little girl, Bessie Wilkins, aged two years, playing with some matches in the front bedroom. The child set light to some muslin curtains at the window. The fire was soon extinguished, the damage, which was confined to the curtains, blind, and dressing table, only amounting to about 5s.’ On 8 July the Cambridge Daily News published an Erratum: ‘We are asked to state that it was Mrs Gentry’s daughter’s child, Basil Wilkins, who caused the fire, and that the damage is estimated at £5.’ Basil, the two-year-old arsonist, grew up to become a police constable.

A few months later  –  to earn some money to pay for repairs? – Emily Gentry put her name to a glowing endorsement for Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills in the local newspaper (Cambridge Independent Press, 14 November 1902, page 2): ‘For years I suffered from gravel [kidney stones], and fearful pains across the small of my back, and loins, which at last extended so that my whole back was in terrible pain, and I could not turn in my bed … It was not until I obtained some of Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills (from Boots’ Drug Stores) that I obtained any relief … I am so grateful for the benefit I have received from Doan’s Pills that I shall not fail to recommend them whenever I get an opportunity.’

1911 census

John Percival Harper, head, 34, plumber, b. Ealing, Middlesex
Nelly Harper, wife, 29, b. Newmarket, Cambridgeshire
John Robert Harper, son, 5 months, b. Cambridge
Married 1 year, 1 child

John Percival Harper is listed in various trade directories as a plumber, glazier and gas fitter. He used a workshop at 1 Mackenzie Road from at least 1904, and later moved his home and workshop to 5 Hooper Street. The Harpers were living in Hooper Street when Nelly died in 1922.

1921 census

Arthur W Hubbard, head, 38, District Secretary, Nat. Fed. of Building Trades Operatives, b. Norwich
Florance E Hubbard, wife, 39, home duties, b. Cambridge
Frank W Hubbard, son, 15, b. Gt Melton, Norfolk
Winnifred M Hubbard, daughter, 13, b. Cambridge
Donald A Hubbard, son, 4, b. Cambridge

1939 England and Wales register

Bertram G Reynolds, 20 Jun 1894, married, radio engineer, civil defence service A.R.[P.]
Marjorie L Reynolds, 22 May 1895, married, unpaid domestic duties
Three children [closed records]


UK census records (1841 to 1921), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), the 1939 England and Wales Register, electoral registers, and local newspapers available via


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