Shops & Businesses

Here we take a stroll down Main Street and a walk into the past

Harry Ireland, Plumber and Glazier, 34 Main Street, Kirby Muxloe

Harry Ireland was born in 1886, in Leicester. In the 1901 census, we find him living in Barrow on Soar with his parents, his occupation being recorded as “electrical engineer”. In 1908, he married Edith Alice Fanton, who was born in Oakham, but had moved with her family to Ratby in 1897. By 1911, Harry and Edith, together with their 8 month old daughter, Evelyn Edith, were living in Church Road, and Harry’s occupation was “plumber and glazier”, quite a change from “electrical engineer”! In the 1920’s, Harry bought a plot of land on Main Street from Mr Frances Jacques, a Leather Merchant and Property Developer. The land had previously been owned by a consortium of local land owners: Thomas Haines, Percy Rose, Joseph Armson and Samuel Brooks. This is where he built his new premises, which was registered in Trade Directories as Harry Ireland, Plumber and Glazier, Main Street, telephone number Kirby Muxloe 65. When Harry retired, he sold the property to Jones and Overton Ltd., Electrical Contractors, who based their business there. They let the ground floor shop to a Hardware and D.I.Y. business called Craft Services. The shop is remembered as having everything you could possibly need for any D.I.Y. project! The ownership of the property then passed to Price and Cooke, Electricians, who continued to let the shop to Craft Services. In the late 1990’s, Craft Services closed and Price and Cooke sold the property to Malcolm Peck, who established a successful Post Office business there. Malcolm Peck retired a number of years ago and the Post Office changed hands but is still operating from the same site.

Harry Ireland is well remembered in the village, especially during WWII. By this time, he was in his 50’s, and in any event, in a reserved occupation. He held regular dances in the Church Hall. The dances were attended mainly by the young people in the village. They enjoyed all the old-time dances, such as the St. Bernard’s Waltz and the Military Two Step, as well as ballroom dancing, including the Waltz, the Foxtrot and the “latest thing”, the Quickstep. The dancing was accompanied by Victor Sylvester records, played on a gramophone. Local residents remember Harry being very tall, whilst his wife was very short, so they made quite a spectacle on the dance floor! Harry also ran dance classes for the village, long before the advent of “Strictly”!

According to records held by the Free Church, Harry was very involved in the building of the new church, after the previous church had been destroyed by an enemy bomb in WWII. It had been decided that wherever possible local builders and craftsmen should be used in the rebuilding. Harry was responsible for “plumbing and decorator’s goods”. Quite what the extent of the latter was, we don’t know! The new Church opened in 1953.

Harry passed away in 1960 and we lost a well-known figure from Kirby’s social and business life.

With thanks to John Cowling for much of the research for this article.

Harry and Edith Ireland with Lillian and Bill Oringe

Harry and Edith Ireland on the left, with Lillian and Bill Oringe. Edith and Lillian were sisters.

Photograph courtesy of Gerard Mildner, Oregon, USA