Royston. Queen's Road
Australia in the mid 1800s was a land of opportunity. While transportation was still in operation, free settlers had been allowed since about 1790. The Australian states were still separate entities. The 1850s saw an increase in wool production and some gold rushes.
Frederick Edwards (born about 1831) left his native Royston as a young man and set himself up in Sydney. It was there he married another Roystonian, Eliza Smith, in 1855. His successful business, set up with Dunlop, was wholesale stationery and printing. The premises were burnt down in 1906, though most of the loss was covered by insurance.
The family returned to England long before that, settling in Loughton. It was reported that they often visited Royston. Frederick and Eliza were able to celebrate their golden wedding in 1905. Frederick was active till his very last day but unfortunately died suddenly in 1906, after feeling a bit unwell one day, leaving an estate of nearly £23,000. He was described as one of Royston’s most successful sons, and a kind benefactor to the poorer inhabitants of the town.
It was in 1885 that Frederick established almshouses for 5 women and a married couple in Queen’s Road, just a stone’s throw from the station. They were for such persons as the trustees considered most deserving. They had to have been born in the parish of Royston (or one of them in the case of a married couple), or within a radius of three miles of the almshouses, or have been resident within the same area for a continuous period of at least two years immediately prior to election. The interesting detail here is that those born in (and who may have left) Royston were eligible, reflecting Frederick and Eliza’s situation. The original deed of gift was dated 1898.
In 1906 there were 5 trustees. Each resident had a house rent free and 20s (£1) a month, coal in winter and a Christmas gratuity. James Jacklin (died 1894) was reported as being the manager of the almshouses.
As for the buildings, they are not of national interest but have been listed as of local interest. They reflect important aspects of the social history of the town, incorporating an effective design and materials strongly characteristic of the conservation area. They are built in red brick. The roof tiles are attractive, being a fish scale pattern rather than the usual rectangular tiles. The window lintels have floral decoration.
Springboard Almshouses were recorded as being the owners in 2000, but by 2005 properties were being advertised for sale. The adverts suggested they were a good buy-to-let investment, though some were to be sold with existing tenants.
The Queen’s Road Almshouses Royston (Edwards Trust) charity (ref 238449) was removed from the Charity Commission listing in 2007, the funds being transferred to the Mary Barfield Charity.
There are a few references in newspapers, most referring to Edwards and Jacklin. However, there is a report about the death of Susan Chartern in 1896. She had reported pains in her side for a few days. Another almswoman, Lydia Drury, kept an eye on her. One Wednesday morning she heard activity as usual. By the evening there was some concern, so Mr Chamberlain and Frederick Dunham, her great nephew, with Lydia present, forced the door open and found her dead near the fire, fully dressed. The inquest verdict was death caused by chronic heart disease.
Queen’s Road, Royston SG8 7AP
Georef: 535466 241221
Grid ref: 52o 03′ 11″N 0o 01′ 33″W
OS 25” map Hertfordshire IV.8 1923
A History of Royston by Alfred Kingston
pub Elliott Stock 1906
Websites accessed Jan 2022
North Herts District Council report http://www.north-herts.gov.uk/sites/northherts-cms/files/royston_register_of_buildings_of_local_interest.pdf
Ancestry https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/1904/images/31874_221813-00027?treeid=&personid=&rc=&usePUB=true&pId=1478052 has the estate details for Frederick Edwards
Newspapers can be viewed on the British Newspaper Archive website at https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 28 December 1894 page 5 col 4
Obituary for James Jacklin, a builder aged 85]
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 06 November 1896 page 5 col 4
Sudden death of Susan Chartern
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 15 September 1905 page 5 col 5
Golden wedding of Mr & Mrs F L Edwards with life details
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 06 April 1906 page 5 col 4
Fire in Sydney destroyed business of Edwards, Dunlop & Co,
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 27 July 1906 page 5 col 5
Death of F L Edwards with obituary