History of 19th century building on campus revealed

New information about the history of 1 Salisbury Road was revealed during a visit by Dr Sula Ellis to the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA), which is based in the building.

Dr Ellis is the great granddaughter of Samuel and Annie Maria Squire, who had the house built in 1878, and was shown round by Colin Hyde of the EMOHA during her visit .

Samuel Squire inherited the firm of Morgan Squires, who had several shops in Leicester and were one of the city’s best known stores. Annie Maria Squire, nee Gimson, was a cousin of the celebrated designer Ernest Gimson. This is the third visit by relatives of the Squires to 1 Salisbury Rd since EMOHA has been in the building and Dr Ellis has contributed to the Archive’s small collection of photographs and memories.

The couple raised 17 children at 1 Salisbury Rd and their family memories include their third son Bert attempting to make gunpowder by the basin in the hall; it blew up, leaving him without eyebrows or eyelashes.  The doctor ordered him to stay in a darkened room for weeks afterwards.  Fortunately he did not lose his eyesight and Bert grew up to become a GP, but the hall basin remained cracked ever after.

Ruth Squire, who called herself ‘number 14’, recalled that inside the house there was a hall with the breakfast room on one side and a large drawing room and dining room on the other. A green baize swing door led through to the kitchen premises and a back staircase to the maids’ bedroom. There were two maids and a boot boy to clean all the boots and shoes, a special row of shelves for them just inside the back door, and over these shelves hung a row of different sized brass bells which connected up with various rooms.

Annie Maria Squire lived in 1 Salisbury Rd until her death in 1948 when the building was acquired by the then University College of Leicester, only a few years before gaining university status.