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7 Hooper Street

A printer's reader, a college porter and a bedder, a railway worker, and a cook

7 Hooper Street, also called 2 Belgrave Terrace, was built in the 1870s.


The house was vacant at the time of the 1881 census, but by 1891 it was inhabited by Arthur and Sarah Curzon and their children Elizabeth, Arthur, Frederick and Frances. Arthur worked as a printer’s reader. Both he and Sarah were born in Cambridge.

By 1897 the family had moved to Edinburgh, where another daughter – Rosa – was born, but by 1911 they had moved back to Cambridge.

Both sons, Arthur William Curzon and Frederick Barton Curzon, died in 1917 in the First World War. They and their parents share a gravestone in Mill Road Cemetery. More information about the family is available at the website of the Friends of Mill Road Cemetery (see below), including links to an obituary of Arthur William Curzon and a letter he wrote home from Belgium in 1915. He was scoutmaster (and founder) of 1st Cambridgeshire Sea Scouts.


The next inhabitants were Richard and Betsy Harvey and their children Ernest and Ella. Richard worked as a college porter and Betsy was a college bedmaker. Richard was from Fen Ditton, where his father Thomas was a bricklayer; his mother Ann became a market gardener after her husband’s death. Betsy was from Boston in Lincolnshire.


By 1911 the inhabitants were Tom and Emma Duce, two of their adult sons, Albert and Samuel, and a 12-year-old grandson, Harry.

Tom and Emma were both from the village of Ickleton, where Tom’s father Edward Duce had been a railway labourer. Edward died in 1858 leaving a large family, and his widow Mary took on the job of level crossing gate keeper. The family lived at the railway crossing cottage in Ickleton, and it was natural that several of Mary’s sons would decide to spend their working lives on the railways.

Tom Duce became a platelayer, and he and Emma lived in Bishop’s Stortford for many years – where several of their 14 children were born – before moving to Cambridge. By 1891 Tom was a foreman and by 1911 he had the job of Permanent Way Sub-Inspector, responsible for maintenance and safety of the railway line. He was still living at #7 Hooper Street when he died in 1923, and Emma was still living there in 1930.


By 1939 the inhabitants were Philip and Ivy Backler. Philip was a vegetable cook, and during the war he also volunteered as an air raid warden. Philip and Ivy were still living at #7 in 1966. Philip died in 1992, having moved to sheltered housing at Ditchburn Place on Mill Road.


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

For information on the Curzon family gravestone in Mill Road Cemetery:

Arthur George Curzon; Arthur William Harry Curzon; Frederick Barton Curzon; Sarah Elizabeth Curzon

Arthur William Harry Curzon

Frederick Barton Curzon


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