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32 Andover Road (formerly 1 Tivoli Place)
As 1 Tivoli Place this was the first house in the original 1830s terrace, consisting of three properties. Over the years it has been the location of many different trades but coincidentally the first one recorded is the same as that of today!
As early as 1843 the building had found a commercial use when it was the registered address of Mr Henry Davies, a printer and publisher, and the proprietor of the Montpellier Library. He produced many guides and pamphlets in the town in the first half of the 19th century, having founded the "Cheltenham Looker On" newspaper in 1833, of which he was the proprietor until his death in 1890.
In 1850 these premises were occupied by Mr Thomas Hale Bennett, an estate or land agent. In the 1851 census Thomas Bennett was described as a ‘building contractor living on the premises with a wife and eight children’. Mr Bennett employed eight men but unfortunately became insolvent that same year.
By 1858 Mr Edwin Chasey ran his shoe business here, at a time when boot-making was literally a "cottage industry". He was still here in 1863, when his brother William stayed with him after becoming involved in a brawl at the Crown Inn, where he sustained a badly broken leg.
In about 1865 the trade changed again with Mr Samuel Gorford's tailor shop. He was succeeded by Mr Thomas Freeman, who was an outfitter, in about 1890. Mr Freeman was actively involved in the Christian Endeavour movement, an interdenominational youth organisation that originated in the United States in 1881 and then spread throughout the British Empire. He continued here as an outfitter until 1917. In that year the shop was taken over by a baker and confectioner called Mr Dan Lewis, who also had a shop at 81 Upper Bath Road (now 224 Bath Road).
By 1925 the property was home to a confectioner’s shop, owned by Mr C Elmes, and it was also the branch post office. The post office continued under Mr Rudge and later Mrs Annie Cottle, who died here in 1939, at which point it was closed despite appeals to the Cheltenham Postmaster.
A post box stood immediately outside and was a traffic hazard. It leaned quite dangerously towards the road, and more than one car lost or nearly lost its wing mirror when driving too close to the kerb. It was after one such accident that the pillar box was moved to its present site at the junction of Hatherley Street and Andover Road.
Following the closure of the post office, the house reverted to a private dwelling. Mrs Smith lived here until 1956, when Mr Langsbury started his stationer’s and printer’s business.
Known as Lionel to his family and friends but as “Bill” to his customers, William Lionel Langsbury was born in Shepherd’s Bush, on 28th December 1932 to parents Harry and Queenie. The family moved to Ealing, where their younger son Ken was born, before finally relocating to Cheltenham after a nearby house was bombed in 1940 during an air raid. They came to live in a cottage in the yard of the former King’s Head public house, in the Lower High Street, and regularly attended St Mary’s parish church mission hall, at what is now the Winston Churchill memorial garden.
Lionel passed an examination to Cheltenham Art College, where he proved to be a talented cartoonist and it was there that he learned about printing. This paved the way for his first job, in the printing department of the UCAL pharmaceutical company.
Lionel bought a small printing press when he was 16 and started to receive orders, working from the family home. He was called up for National Service with the RAF in the 1950s, after which his parents bought the house at 32 Andover Road, in 1956, allowing Lionel to use the front room as an office for his stationers and printing business. He was then aged 24.
The volume of business grew rapidly, such that before long the rear sitting room also became a print room and the family retreated upstairs. The printing machine in the back room was made in 1938 by a German company called Heidelberg. Lionel's printing business was so successful that his brother Ken joined him in the early 1960s and this sometimes involved working through the night or in hand-colouring the printed stationery.
Excellent service was at the heart of Lionel’s approach to business and he retained many loyal customers, for whom he often went the “extra mile” by staying open late and working long hours to fulfil orders on time. Over the years the print shop acquired a fascinating air of eccentricity and to our 21st century eyes spoke of a bye-gone era. An example of this was the “filing system”, consisting of hundreds of documents hung from hooks on the picture rails in the back room.
In 2016 Lionel achieved the remarkable milestone of having been in business here at 32 Andover Road for 60 years. In commemoration of the event he produced a special edition of his "letterpress Gloucester bold" calendar, containing a selection of proverbs from a collection first published in 1640.
Very sadly Lionel died unexpectedly on 14th January 2016, aged 83, following a normal day’s work in the office. His brother Ken, in paying fond tribute, said “he was a wonderful craftsman”.
Researcher: Brian Torode,
Updated: Stuart Manton (May 2016)
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