London House of Kitty Beardsley

After tailor Thomas Wass, Adeline takes us to see the next premises — “the private house of Mrs Kitty Beardsley and then the next shop was called ‘London House’, kept by Mrs. Beardsley. This was the leading millinery and drapery establishment in Ilkeston. She also had a grocery business.”

This was at 97 Bath Street in 1871 when the houses in Ilkeston were finally numbered.

Mrs. Kitty Beardsley was the wife of grocer/baker/draper John Beardsley of Bath Street and was born Catherine Skeavington in 1804. She was the daughter of Robert (one-time innkeeper of the White Lion at the top of Nottingham Road) and Elizabeth (nee Garton) .
Her husband John Beardsley, born about 1798, was the second son of coalminer Solomon and Mary (nee Gregory). John had also been a collier but in the 1830s traded as a baker and grocer.
Their marriage took place on April 1st, 1821.

The advert on the right is taken from the Pioneer of December 10th 1857.

The children of John and Kitty Beardsley

The Beardsley couple had at least 12 children, though Adeline only recalls “three sons and four daughters”. She lists her seven children as ….

Solomon whom we shall meet later as we walk down the west side of Bath Street.

Amos who was married to Sarah Birch, daughter of South Street joiner John and Sarah (nee Wagstaff) in 1863.

Older brother Albert who married Mary Ann Duro, daughter of South Street publican at the Nag’s Head beerhouse, William and Lucretia (nee Rigley) in 1866.

Solomon, Amos and Albert were bakers. The latter two ‘baker boys’ moved away from Bath Street.
In the early 1880’s Albert settled in Stafford with his family but by the end of the century was at South Shields, trading as a dairyman.
Also in the 1880’s Amos and family decamped from Ilkeston and found their way to Leicester via Bolton.
However the family returned to Ilkeston to live at Rothsay Villas, Stanton Road. We shall meet Amos again in South Street, close to Weaver Row.

Mary became Mrs. S. Lowe, of South St.
The oldest child was Mary, born in 1821 and married to Samuel Lowe in 1847; we meet them in South Street.

Betsy became Mrs. Bamford (or so Adeline writes — but we all make mistakes)
Elizabeth (Betsy) Beardsley, born on August 18th, 1826, married engine smith John Balmforth in 1855. The latter was born near Ripley and in that town the couple spent the first years of their marriage. In the 1870’s the lure of Bath Street brought them to Ilkeston where John traded as a grocer/confectioner. He died in that street on January 31st, 1886 and wife Betsy spent the last years of her life at Ripley Cottage in Gregory Street. She died there on November 21st, 1896. She left an estate which included the freehold Ripley Cottage as well as 13 freehold premises in Awsworth Road (nos 30-38 inclusive) and Eyres Gardens (nos 3-6 inclusive).

Ripley Cottage in Gregory Street (2023)

Ripley Cottage went to auction in February 1897 when it’s interior was described as containing a drawing room, dining room, entrance hall, kitchen, pantry, four bedrooms, bathroom. Outside were a coalhouse, washhouse, water closet, bakehouse with a large bake oven, all within an enclosed yard. The cottage had been built especially for the Balmforth family only a few years before. It was sold for £520 to Mr. Wood.
Both John and Betsy were buried in Ilkeston General Cemetery.

Maria became Mrs. Flint.
Born on March 20th, 1838, Maria married Harry Walter Flint, 12 years her junior, in 1877 and for several years the couple kept the grocer’s shop at 97 Bath Street after the death of Maria’s father. Their son, Harry John Beardsley Flint died in 1891, aged 11, at the family home of 34 King Street.

Maria died on January 8th, 1895, at Whittington Villa in Gregory Street, aged 56, leaving her estate to her husband. This included life interest in the shape of rents of £80 annually from property and which he held jointly with his late wife’s sister Catherine (below). This came to the daughters from the estate of their father. (A copy of the will is below).  The lease on the property would be up in about three or four years and then the rents would be £20 or £30 more. However Henry was anxious to sell his legacy and approached auctioneer Edwin Sutton of 157 Bath Street — he promised Edwin a fee of £25 if he could sell Henry’s interest by auction. Edwin reckoned that he could get about £400 for the ‘property’ if it were auctioned off — but he never had the chance to prove this !! Before he could, Henry decided to sell his part of the estate privately to his nephew** for about £250, something which the auctioneer had strongly advised against. Edwin and Henry had been close friends for 18 years but now that friendship was severely tested. The auctioneer had already done some work for Henry and expected payment — which was not forthcoming — the dispute therefore ended up in Ilkeston County Court in August 1895, when Edwin was awarded £9.

** the nephew to whom Henry Walter Flint sold his ‘interest’ ? I haven’t yet been able to establish — however I do know that his name was Beardsley and that he lived in Stafford. This points strongly to a child of either William or Thomas Beardsley, brothers of Maria, both of whom left Ilkeston to live and trade in Stafford. Both got married there and raised several children — one of these Beardsley sons was the purchaser of the ‘Flint legacy’. However, before the purchase was finalised, watchmaker and jeweller Henry Hoggard Beaumont, who traded at the neighbouring shop (number 64 in 1895) offered around £300 for the property but this was turned down by Henry Walter.

Born in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire in 1850, Harry Walter Flint was by trade a bricklayer/builder like his father Henry, and it was he who was chosen to build the fire brigade cart sheds in Pimlico for the Local Board.

He later moved to Derby.

Kate became Mrs. Brand. 
Youngest daughter Catherine was born in 1845, married Harry Morley Brand in 1875 and lived at Arden Villas in Gregory Street. She died in 1897.


However, I believe that there were at least four other children.

John, born in 1828, a grocer’s assistant, died in 1856, “much respected by a large circle of friends”.

Maria the first, born about 1834, died two years later.

There were two other sons; William, born in 1824, and Thomas, born in 1836.

I believe that William left Ilkeston in the 1840’s to live in Stafford where he worked as a shoemaker, married Jane Tittensor there in 1859, and then was innkeeper at the Queen’s Head in Broad Eye, where he died in 1883. He had at least five children.

His younger brother Thomas worked with his father in Bath Street as a baker until he followed his brother to Stafford in the 1860’s. There he married Elizabeth Ferns in 1866 and lived his life in Back Walls North where he traded as a shoemaker/finisher and died there in 1898. He had at least seven children.


Catherine (Kitty), the mother, died in Bath Street in December 1869 after a lingering illness. Her husband John died there in October 1875, aged 77.

Below is a copy of the last will of John Beardsley, dated April 27th 1870, made a few months after the death of his wife, when all his children, except daughters Maria and Catherine, were married and had left home. The two unmarried daughters remained in the Bath Street home with John, and were his main beneficiaries.

Courtesy of Pam Bates


In the Ilkeston News and South Derbyshire Advertiser of April 1857, John Beardsley was thanking his customers for their patronage during the 25 years that he had been in business, and was making them aware of the fine range of goods to be found at The London House General Drapery, Mantle, Bonnet and Millinery Establishment, adding that “Mrs Beardsley confidently invites an early inspection of this stock, and intending purchasers will bear in mind that nowhere can they buy any articles in the Trade of better quality, or at a lower price…”

So let us pause here to reflect upon the Ilkeston News.