Thomas Harrold (1832-1919)

The life and times of Thomas Harrold (Architect, Auctioneer, Surveyor & Historian)


1832 Thomas Harrold was born, his father was Thomas Harrold Senior who was a carpenter, builder, cabinet maker and a timber merchant based along Castle Street in Hinckley.

Thomas trained as an architect at Bristol in the offices of the Hansom family (Joseph Aloysius Hansom who invested the Hansom Cab and designed the Hinckley workhouse).

1850 Thomas produced some drawings of Gothic architecture, which was part of his architect training. He developed a love of church architecture which would remain with him for the rest of his life, which included taking an interest in their conservation.

On his return to Hinckley, Thomas established the firm T&G Harrold along with George Harrold (his brother), they would be listed as joiners, builders, constructors. Auctioneers, surveyors, brickmakers, and agents for the Lancashire Fire and Life Insurance. Thomas became the driving force behind the partnership, he mainly concentrated on the surveying and auctioneering part of the business, most of the auctioneering was held at The George Hotel in the Market Place.

Thomas became the surveyor on the construction of the Nuneaton to Wigston Railway. He was also known to have walked around the parish arranging the sale of land and property. Thomas would be kept very busy in the office arranging auctions, writing catalogues, drawing plans along with arranging advertisements, he would often work late in to the night.

Thomas was the architect and was responsible for the construction of some dwelling just above the junction of Castle Street and New Buildings. He would also see the rebuilding of a tower that had subsided at Higham Grange in Higham.

1865 He would relax by participating in long walks, skittles, wood carving and music, he would become a member of the Hinckley Choral Society and sang at one of their concerts. Thomas would become a member of a local field club and would attend their meetings as well as going on excursions to Historical places which fulfilled his interest of historical, architectural and geological interests.

1868 Thomas became a member of the new Local Government Board, this saw him involved in local Hinckley affairs such as approving plans of new road layouts.

1879 Thomas fell in love with Nora May, who was a governess at Newport Pagnall and later at a rectory near Yeovil in Summerset.

1881 Thomas was still living along Castle Street in Hinckley with his brothers George and William who at the time were builders, Charles that was a warehouseman and his sister Sarah. Eliza Smith was their eleven year old niece, she was the daughter of a sister and had died. Emily Palmer was the family’s domestic servant that lived at the address.

1882 Thomas broke of the relationship he had with Nora May when she moved to Suffolk to be adopted by a rich aunt.

17th July 1890 In the morning Thomas joined the Rev A.L Watherston, Davis and Atkins joined the Warwickshire Field Club at Hinckley Railway Station. They travelled to Croft, and headed off to look at the Church, followed by the stone quarry to see how the stone was crushed and the large sheds which were acres in size. This is where the Croft Adamant paving slabs are made along with numerous fine art items. He also visited the quarries at Huncote and Narborough, before having lunch at the Narborough Hotel, then the final visit was to the quarry at Enderby.

Thomas had a keen interest in the recording of local sayings, anecdotes and superstitions which he would keep on scraps of paper and loose pages. This would be a labour of love which he would do for over thirty years.

1894 Thomas addressed a public meeting which may have been party political, he was involved with detecting bogus voters and political parties, it was found that there had been a revision of the register of electors.

During the 1900s Thomas’s business was in decline, between 1907 and 1915 he left his property along Castle Street and became the lodger of Mr Clarke along Clarendon Road. At this time he was living off charity that was provided by the Freemasons. A couple of local historians H.J Francis and A.J Pickering visited Thomas while he was living along Clarendon Road, the purpose of the visit was to draw on Thomas’s local knowledge of Hinckley for their research.

29th March 1919 At the age of 87, Thomas Harrold died peacefully at 9:25pm, during his declining years he would sleep a great deal. He was buried in an unmarked grave next to his family at the Cemetery along Ashby Road in Hinckley, no obituary would appear in the Hinckley Times.

Sadly it would appear that Thomas Harrold had become forgotten over time.


Recollections of the Hinckley Theatre

The Hinckley Theatre was in the large yard and premises at the back of those fine old half-timbered houses in The Borough, most certainly the finest specimens of 15th or early 16th century work in the town.

My grandfather, George Harrold, fitted the place out for our travelling company, who flitted without ‘paying the shot’. They were followed and caught at Chilvers Coton or Bedworth and some of their properties were seized, two wigs, one of a dark brown hair, the other a grey, beautifully fashioned, and a felt cock and pinched hat. Appropriating them, these being preserved by my father, came into my possession and have been carefully preserved by me.

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