As seen previously, Thomas Messenger owned the site of The Wigston Junction Brick and Tile Works by 1876. Thus, it was a likely that he also owned other property in the area.
In October 1878, he purchased 26 acres of land, almost adjacent to the brickworks, from the executors of the estate of Alfred Cooper of Wigston Hall, who died on 22nd June 1878.
The land, which lay to the east of the brickworks was separated by Saffron Lane and a strip of land belonging to Mrs. Cooper and Miss Pochin. It comprised of four fields, part of Farslade (0 acres, 3 roods, 0 square perches), Leaze Mills (4 acres, 2 roods, 19 square perches), Glengate (13 acres, 1 rood, 31 square perches) and North Kirkdale (7 acres, 0 roods, 30 square perches). The area was bounded on the south by Blaby Road, on the east by the then Midland Railway line and Wigston Station, on the north by the then London and North Western Railway line and on the west as already mentioned by land belonging to Mrs. Cooper, and Miss Pochin and a small strip belonging to Thomas Messenger himself.
The purchase price was £6,050 of which Thomas Messenger borrowed £3,000 from William Byerley Paget of Southfield, Loughborough. The £3,000 loan attracted an interest rate of 4 per cent. payable on 26th April, 1879. Both the loan and interest were duly paid off on 25th October 1879.
It is probable that Thomas Messenger bought this land as a property development opportunity. He could have been responsible for laying out Glengate, Station Road and the embryonic Kirkdale Road. Glengate and Station Road were laid out prior to 1882, when Orson Wright, who had presumably bought some land off of Thomas Messenger, was selling a large range of dwellings and land across the area including two building plots, one in Station Road close to what was Wigston Station and the other adjoining Glengate.
Kirkdale Road, South Wigston
Thomas Messenger may even have been responsible for building the long terrace of around forty houses on the west side of Glengate and those in the shorter terrace on the west side of Station Street. Both terraces were built the first half of the 1880s. The two terraces are similar in the fact that the houses are two-storey, brick built, with no front gardens, corbelled brick eaves and an entrance passage between each pair.
Glengate, South Wigston
The long terrace in Glengate may not be truly contemporaneous as there are three distinct designs. Those in the southern section of the terrace with a slightly lower roofline have strong exposed and decorative lintels with flat-headed mullion windows and doors with more decorative corbelling. Those in the central section still have strong exposed and decorative lintels with flat-headed windows and doors with slightly less decorative corbelling with a two brick thick stringer layer running along the terrace at sill level on the upper floor. The upper brick course of the stringer is comprised of a row of dark almost black bricks, whilst the lower one of decorated brick. The northern end of the terrace continues with the same two brick stringer course at first floor windowsill level but instead of flat-headed door and windows, they have shallow segmental arches, highlighted similar to that of the stringer course. The decoration along the top of the ground floor windows and doors makes a continuous stringer course along the terrace. Most of the houses appear to have originally possessed recessed boot scrappers built into the wall of the house near the front door, some of which have been removed.
Station Street, South Wigston
The Station Street terrace appears to be comprised of a plainer and uniform set of houses, although with variations, especially in the styles decorative corbelling.
By 1882, Thomas Messenger had built on one of his earlier plots of land fronting the east side Saffron Lane adjacent to the railway where a rail track, which connected the Wigston Junction sidings to his brickworks, had been lain tunnelled under the properties, which fronted both Saffron Lane and the beginning of what was to become Kirkdale Road. At the time, one of the properties on the corner of Saffron Lane and Kirkdale Road was a general shop, rented by Ellen Cecilia Connell.
How much more development Thomas Messenger undertook, if any, is unknown. In 1886 he sold off a small plot fronting Blaby Road measuring 50 feet by 130 feet for £181 10s., to allow the building of a new Congregational Mission Hall, which was initially used as a school.
Towards the end of the 1880s, areas of Messenger’s original holdings were being offered for sale; whether he still owned them and was responsible for the sell-off is unknown. Firstly, in the spring of 1888, twenty-eight properties were offered at auction but did not sale and re-offered on 10th June 1890. Less than a month later land along the length of both Clifford Street and Albion Street was offered for sale as building plots in lots of around 250 square yards each.
Timber Street and Bassett Street
At the time of his death, Thomas Messenger owned twelve properties on Timber Street and seven on Bassett Street, South Wigston. These two streets lie just south of the Blaby Road, with the earliest properties, probably built in the latter decade of the nineteenth century. They are typically two storey brick built, terraced properties, mostly with a ground floor bay window at the front, separated from the pavement by a small low wall with small garden behind. These are typical of the period being built in several blocks of terraced houses and over a period of ten or fifteen years. By 1904, only part of either street was actually built on. It is no doubt one or more of these ‘blocks’ that Thomas Messenger owned and probably did so since they were built. There has been some later infilling of two-storey semi-detached local authority properties, built around the 1920s or 1930s. There has been an amount of much more recent building, some replacing what was originally a Victorian infant’s school, subsequently the Council Girls’ School, now the Community Centre.
It may just be coincidental but in 1898 twelve properties in Timber Street were twice offered for sale by auction. The first was on 12th July 1898, followed by the second 10 weeks later at the end of September. The properties, offered in four lots, formed a single terraced group around 200ft. in length, fronting onto the south side of Timber Street. The first property was on the corner of Countesthorpe Road and Timber Street was described as “a substantially erected corner shop and dwelling house”, attracting a gross rental of £22 2s. per year. The other eleven properties adjoining the shop are all bay-windowed with palisade fence fronts and known as Exeter House, Hontion Houses, Sidford Houses, Tipton House, Sudbury Houses and Sidmouth Houses, with the latter pair originally having brick and slated workshops at the rear. Each house contained six “good rooms”, comprising of a bay-windowed parlour, sitting room, kitchen, three bedrooms, along with a blue-bricked private yard at the back and an entrance passage between each pair. Nine of the eleven houses attracted a rent of 5s. per week, whilst the two with workshops were being let at 5s. 6d. per week.
Leicestershire Record Office ref: DE5845/60. ↑
1,108 acres each. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 12th August 1882. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 5th August 1882. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury 23rd January 1886 ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 21st April 1888. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 24th May 1890. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 19th July 1890. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 2nd July 1898. ↑
The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 17th Sept 1898. ↑