51 Fleetgate

51 Fleetgate is at the moment closed due to structural problems.

This Grade II* listed building is thought to be the oldest residential house in North Lincolnshire. The front section is part of what was a single house incorporating 47, 49 and 51 Fleetgate, possibly dating from 1325. A major extension was started around 1425 when a large oak-framed hall was built on the rear of the north and which is now number 51.

The house was open from the floor to the crown post roof which was originally thatched. There would have been an open fire in the middle of the floor, with smoke escaping through louvres in the thatch. During the 17th century the chimney stack was added.

The property was later split into three houses and number 51 was bought by the Clipson family and opened as a barber shop and tobacconist in 1908.

The Clipson family did not alter the interior, which remains much the same today as it would have done in 1900. The house is owned and maintained by North Lincolnshire Council.

Main Features

Front Room – Barbers Shop and Tobacconist’s.

The ceiling is papered with advertising posters for the Lloyds Newspaper, some featuring news items from a paper published in 1890. There is Stanley meeting Livingstone during their explorations of Africa and the famous daredevil Blondin crossing Niagra Falls on a tightrope. There are also pictures of Victorian families and of sporting events.

There is an Edwardian wash basin which was the only source of mains water ever to be connected to the building. It is not connected now. It would have been used for shaving, with hot water brought in from the kitchen range side boiler. The basin was not connected to the drains, so waste water would have drained into a bucket and been carried outside for disposal.

There is a razor rack at the side of the sink. Razors were sharpened with a leather strop.

The bay window was added in 1927.

There were three barber chairs, which were converted from ordinary kitchen chairs. Men would have waited their turn in the chair, sitting on wooden benches like the ones still in place.

Lighting in 1908 was by gas and the fittings are still in place.

The open fire surround is probably Georgian, with the grate dating from the early 1900s.
The deed on the wall is dated the 29th year of King George III (1789).

Some of the bottles on display in the barbers shop (front room)
Barbers Roof
One of the advertisements on the ceiling of the barbers shop (front room)

Rear South Room – Kitchen.

The range used coal for fuel and would have been lit every morning. If the owners were house-proud, the outside of it would have been polished with black lead every day.

The cupboard to the left of the range would have been perfect for storing food that had to be kept dry, so salt, sugar and flour would have been kept there.

Flat irons were used for ironing clothes and would have been heated to the correct temperature close to the fire.

The oven would have been used for baking bread, although at one time there was probably a separate bread oven in the scullery.

Lighting was by gas back in 1900 and the fish tail lamp is still in place.

Possibly an early modification was the addition of a sleeping platform over the next door area, supported by the large beam to the right of the door.

Later on a full upper floor was added and a wall was built under the beam to form two separate rooms – the kitchen and a separate scullery.

The windows are examples of the Yorkshire slide design, which goes back several hundred years.

The doorway is very low. People were not generally so tall as they are now.

The doors are of a very simple plank construction and the door fittings are handmade examples of the blacksmith’s trade, forged by heating and hammering into the required shape.

The range complete with iron still in situ.

Rear North Room – Scullery.

The set pot was used for heating water for the weekly wash, which was always done on Monday. Clothes were also boiled in it as a final washing stage. The fire would have been hard to light and burning coals would have probably been carried through from the kitchen range using an ash pan.
The dolly-tub was used for soaking dirty clothes overnight in washing soda and then for washing in hot water after being soaped and scrubbed. Either a posher or a wooden dolly was used to agitate the clothes in the dolly-tub. Another tub would be filled with cold fresh water for rinsing clothes after washing.

The wooden tub was used for scrubbing and soaping dirty clothes. (Before detergents were invented)

Clothes were part dried by squeezing them through the wooden rollers of a mangle. (There is a Victorian one in 51 Fleetgate)

There is an arch to the left of the set pot which was probably where a bread oven originally stood. These were heated up with coals and then the coals were scraped out and the risen dough placed in the hot oven.

The slop-stone is an early version of a kitchen sink and was carved from York stone. It would have probably been connected to a drain, leading to a sewer or a soak-away.

There is a bathtub at 51 Fleetgate which is typical Victorian. The family would have taken turns to use it one a week. In winter, baths would have been taken in front of the kitchen range. This would have stopped the water cooling down too quickly.

There are many kitchen tools on show in 51 Fleetgate. These include shears, sleaver, peel, straining frame, salt glazed pots, stew and jam pans, cast iron saucepans, slop pail, fire shovel, Edwardian posher and many more.

One of the windows has been blocked up in the scullery. This was probably done after the introduction of tax on windows in the 17th century.

The floor was originally all brick, laid in a herringbone pattern.

The pine table would have been regularly scrubbed to keep it clean, especially before and after food preparation.

The water pump in the yard was the only source of fresh water. (There is now a tap next to it connected to the mains supply)

The scullery with the washing implements used at the time.
The scullery complete with may old items not generally seen today.

Upstairs Rear Wing – Bedroom Area.

The long window uses leaded glass, though originally they would have been just open, with shutters that would be closed when it was cold or windy.
The fireplace is Georgian, made in the 18th century.

When first built, the hall would have stretched right to the wall of the front rooms with no staircase, no chimney breast, no dividing walls, and no upstairs floors. It would have been high roofed. The reeds used for the thatched roof would have been visible and there would have been no glass in the windows. The timber frame was the strength of this design and the walls were just bricks laid on edge with mortar to fill the spaces between the frame timbers.

The timber used for the frame is oak. It is probable that the carpenters would have been trained as shipwrights, perhaps working at one of the ship building yards on the Haven, when not building houses.

The crown post roof is also visible in the walls of the room. This room is the best place to see the medieval crown post roof.

The crown post roof is also visible in the walls of the room.
This room is the best place to see the medieval crown post roof.

Upstairs Front Room – Bedroom Area.

The fireplace is Victorian and quite different from the taller Georgian fireplace in the back room.

Coal was expensive and it is likely that the fire would not have been lit very often. If the fire was lit the coal would have had to be carried all the way upstairs from the coal shed in the back yard. In the morning all the ashes would have had to be carried back down stairs and got rid of.

The lock on the door has a wooden case.

The Yorkshire slide window dates from the 18th century.

The fishtail gas burner provided light at night.

The toilet was situated outside in the back yard.

The display in this room is changed frequently.
The fireplace with map above.

The Rear Garden.

The rear garden was lovingly restored and maintained by a band of volunteers and is looking wonderful.

The gardens of 51 Fleetgate looking away from the building.
The gardens of 51 Fleetgate looking towards the building.