Looking back at Jericho’s gardens
Posted - March 02, 2013
History of the back yard
When Jericho was being built in the nineteenth century every family expected to supplement its wage income by one means or another. Many of the early residents would have kept a pig or a few fowl at the end of the yard or even a horse or donkey. Others had a workshop where the family trade of cobbling, basketwork, china repairs or wood turning was practised; indeed any of the domestic skills which are now so hard to find. Women often took in washing or outwork from dressmakers or did clothes’ alterations.
With nearly half the workforce in 1871 employed as unskilled labourers who could be laid off at will, some form of supplementary income was essential for survival. Self employment was widespread also, many men having two occupations, as did Richard Mullard, who lived at 10 Cardigan Street. He ran his own hansom cab as well as his business as a coal merchant. His two horses were stabled at the end of the yard in Cardigan Street. Others had their own workshops sustaining complex family networks of employment. Yards were busy places.
By contrast, the middle class villas and houses generally had very little garden space; a narrow strip under the windows in the front, often given over to shrubs or ferns, and a small patch of lawn or flower beds at the back. Such households usually employed a part-time gardener.
Nowadays, garages have replaced many of the sites previously occupied by sheds, and yards have been given over to gardens. The garden illustrated is typical, with its old ash tree stark against the winter sky and the frozen ground bare before spring planting.
Author: Christine Cowham
This is an extract from the Jericho Sketchbook