Cloverfield House or Villa, is on the corner of Quarry Road and Midland Street behind the Midland Hotel. It’s believed to have been built in the 18th century by the Burnell (or Burnill) family, who quarried stone from land to the rear. From the late 1700s it was lived in by several generations of the Owen family who were also quarry owners and stone merchants. In the 1870s it became the home of the village doctor James Nowell and from about 1887 to 1904 was occupied by sign writer Frederick Leslie and his family.
The photograph above was taken in about 1906 when the house was owned by Charles Hubert Greenwood Fox. He was born in Holbeck in 1873 and ran a business roasting cocoa. The photo is of him, his wife Alice (nee Brown), baby George, Lovis Cyril Fox and his sister Frances. After they left the house passed to Charles Hubert’s younger brother, Francis Cecil Pearson Fox, who earned a living as a fitter on textile machinery. After his death in 1940 the property passed to his unmarried daughter Gladys Mary Fox.
A few years before the First World War a row of single storey shops was built in the garden backing onto the ground floor and obscuring the front door and windows. The house also appears to have been split up with part of it becoming 4 Midland Street. One of the shops became a drapery where several generations of Oulton and Woodlesford children were taken to buy their new “Sunday best” clothes just before Whitsuntide every year.
The shop was run by John Bingham and his wife Elizabeth along with her younger sister Maggie. Born in 1869 John spent his early years in Lincoln where his father was the landlord at the White Swan inn. He must have had some bad luck however because by 1881 the family had moved to Normanton where he was listed as a labourer.
John became a draper’s assistant in the town and after his father’s death continued to look after his widowed mother. After her death, at the age of 41 in 1909, John married Elizabeth who was only 24. She was the daughter of Enoch Downes, a Shropshire born miner who had moved to Yorkshire in the 1880s but left the pits after he saved enough to set himself up as a newsagent and postmaster in Altofts.
The Bingham’s shop was opened by 1913 and continued to trade through the 1920s and 30s until the end of the Second World War. With the proceeds from the business the Binghams built Fernlea on Holmsley Lane. Elizabeth, her son Jack, and Maggie continued to live there after John Bingham died in 1945.
The shop was taken over by Norman and Margaret Asquith (nee Parker) who sold wallpaper. Living with them was Norman’s older brother, Philip Asquith, who worked as a kitchen range fixer and wall tiler. Gladys Mary Fox also ran a shop nearby selling hardware and “fancy goods.”