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The Coal Wharf, Hooper Street

The coal wharf on Hooper Street was located by the railway line opposite Calverley's in the 19th and 20th centuries

Image kindly donated by Charles Hall of Hooper Street showing the coal wharf buildings in the 1950s

The Hooper Street coal wharf was on the south side of the street, on a site later occupied by Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre. The coal wharf may have its origins in Headly’s, when they ran the foundry on this site from the 1840s to the 1890s. The site is within the Ironworks housing development, and the perimeter wall shown in the photo was still standing until January 2020.

From the early 1900s the Hooper Street coal wharf was run by Coote & Warren Ltd., a coal merchant based in East Anglia and north London, and operating from the 1850s until 1960. They had other premises in Cambridge, including a coal wharf on Hills Road by the railway bridge; see the Capturing Cambridge entry for Coote and Warren’s Coal Wharf, Hills Road.

The wharf’s foreman lived on-site, in a house facing Ainsworth Street, as seen in the photo. By the 1950s the premises were used by D & H Contractors.

1901 and 1911

The first resident foreman was William Casey, who lived there with his wife Hannah. William was born in 1862, the son of James Casey, a brick maker who lived for many years in Newmarket Road. In 1891, before moving to Hooper Street, William was the foreman of a coal wharf at 146 Newmarket Road.

In 1901 William and Hannah shared the Hooper Street house with Hannah’s father George Jarvis, a boot maker.

In 1911 they shared the house with 12 year-old Ethel Barker, Hannah’s great-niece. Ethel’s parents, Charles and Mary, and five little brothers lived nearby in a very small cottage in Norfolk Terrace. Although described as a ‘visitor’ in the census, Ethel may have come to live with William and Hannah, who had no children of their own.

In 1911 William and Hannah also had a boarder, Herbert Ashman, another employee of the coal wharf. Herbert was born in 1886, the eldest of four sons of Arthur and Belinda Ashman. Arthur was a coal merchant and, in 1901, the publican of the Railway Inn, Pampisford. Herbert went into the coal business like his father. In 1913 he was foreman of the Coote & Warren coal wharf on Hills Road, and in 1914 he was married. In the First World War he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and was killed in action in 1918, leaving a widow, Ellen. Two of his brothers, Edward and Frederick, were also killed in the war. The three brothers are commemorated on the war memorial in Pampisford churchyard.

1939

In 1939 the coal wharf foreman was John Wright, who lived there with his wife Annie and son John, aged 15, who had begun training as an instrument maker for Air Ministry Production.

Sources

UK census records (1841 to 1911), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), and the 1939 England and Wales Register. For Herbert Ashman’s death and military service, see e.g. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/24603217.

For the history of Coote & Warren Ltd., see e.g. http://www.galata.co.uk/store.asp?storeAction=showDetail&stockID=4094. NB Most online sources say that the company was created as a merger of two earlier companies in 1908, but the full name ‘Coote & Warren’ appears in Kelly’s Directory as early as 1879. For Coote & Warren on Hooper Street, see e.g. Kelly’s Directory 1904, 1913, 1916, Spalding’s Directory 1935, and The Blue Book Directory 1938. For Coote & Warren on Hills Road, see also Kelly’s Directory 1892, 1896.

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