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9 Milford Street

Home for a railway servant, and later a draper's shop, a sweet shop and a barber's shop

9 Milford Street is in a terrace of 11 houses on the south side of the street, with a plaque reading Clara Terrace 1869. The terrace was built by property developer and coach builder John Burford, and he named it after his daughter. 9 Milford Street was a shop for much of its early history, and once had a shop front.

1871 census

Edward Farrow, head, 38, railway servant, b. Harlow, Essex
Ann Farrow, wife, 28, b. Ely, Cambridgeshire
Richard H Farrow, son, 4, scholar, b. Cambridge
Annie M Farrow, daughter, 5, scholar, b. Cambridge
Edward Farrow, son, 7 months, b. Cambridge
Arthur Merry, wife’s brother, 12, errand boy, b. Cambridge

By 1879 the Farrows had left 9 Milford Street; the tenant was James Smith, engine driver, who signed a petition in that year asking for sewers to be built in Milford Street.

Edward Farrow died in Shoreditch, London, in 1880. In the 1881 census, Ann Farrow and three children, including 11-month-old Mary, were still living in Shoreditch, where Ann was working as a dressmaker.

1881 census

William J Coward, head, 26, tailor & general draper, b. Cambridge
Mary Coward, wife, 25, b. Cambridge
Alice M M Coward, daughter, 7, b. Cambridge, blind from birth
Lilian May Coward, daughter, 5, scholar, b. Cambridge
Florence L Coward, daughter, 3, scholar, b. Cambridge
Cecil W G B Coward, son, 1, b. Cambridge
Emma Rule, servant, 13, general servant, b. Balsham, Cambridgeshire

By 1891 the Coward family had moved to Maid’s Causeway in Cambridge, where William worked from home as a tailor for many years.  In total the Cowards were to have 11 children, several of whom worked in the tailoring business; two daughters became school teachers and another became a typist.  The eldest daughter, Alice, was blind but she too had a career: in Kelly’s directories of 1904 and 1916 she is listed as a masseuse.

1891 census

Mary A Wallis, head, widow, 48, confectioner, b. Knighton, Cambridgeshire
Ernest J Wallis, son, 18, carter, b. Hornsey Rd, London
Harry F Wallis, son, 13, gardener, b. London
Sidney B Wallis, son, 10, school boy, b. London

Mary Ann Wallis had been a house maid before her marriage to coach builder Henry Wallis in 1870. After his death in 1881 she earned a living from cookery skills she had learned in service; she is listed as a confectioner at 9 Milford Street in Spalding’s street directory of 1884. In 1901, once the children had left home, she was working as a cook in the household of a barrister in Adams Road, Cambridge.

1901 census

John S Gent, head, 66, police pensioner, b. Lynn, Norfolk
Jane Gent, wife, 65, b. Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
Kate F Gent, daughter, 31, b. Pimlico, London
John G Gent, son, 28, ironmonger’s clerk, b. Pimlico, London

John Sutton Gent had been a constable in the Metropolitan Police, and had lived in London with his family until retirement. In Kelly’s street directory of 1900 he is listed as a confectioner at 9 Milford Street, so perhaps he took over Mary Wallis’s business.

There is no 1911 census entry for 9 Milford Street. Street directories from 1912 to the mid-1930s list the occupant as Henry (Harry) Stephen Scott, hairdresser. He died in 1936, after which his widow Ada is listed as running a general store.

The south side of Milford Street in the 1970s, showing the shop fronts at numbers 9 and 10.

1939 England and Wales register

Ada E Scott, 22 December 1878, widow, general storekeeper
Doris W Scott [later married name Page], 29 May 1915, single, press stamp operator
Kenneth S Scott, 13 October 1926, at school

From the early 1950s, street directories list Leonard John Page – Ada’s son-in-law – as the shopkeeper, with Ada living at the address. Ada died in 1964, but Leonard was still running a shop there in 1975.


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


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