The following is a collection of facts and figures that I have gathered together concerning the life of Isaac Levy, a quite remarkable family man. Isaac Levy was born in Spitalfields on 12th October 1851. He married Kate Michaels in 1870 at which time he was described as a ‘Rag Merchant’. Isaac and Kate had 11 children: Kate, Elizabeth, Isaac, Esther, Samuel, Rebecca, John, Emmanuel, Phoebe, Rose and Florence. Tragically, Kate died in 1896 giving birth to a 12th child (a child that probably didn’t survive.)
Isaac remarried in 1897 to Leah Sesenwine (née Snook). They had probably met at the Borough New Synagogue, where Isaac was an active member of the congregation. Leah’s first husband Philip had died from TB after only 2 years of marriage. Isaac and Leah had five children but only David and Miriam survived. Therefore, Isaac fathered 17 children in total.
The 1901 Census describes Isaac as a ‘Metal Merchant’, living with his family at 62 Albany Road, Southwark. His youngest daughter Miriam was born in Camberwell in 1903, so we can deduce that the family moved to Langdon Hills soon after as the stone plaque at the Methodist Church was laid by Isaac in 1907. (The church is situated in the High Road, Langdon Hills on the corner of Emanuel Road.)
He prospered so well that the 1911 Census shows him living by private means with his family at ‘Primrose Lodge’ a large 8 roomed house in High Road, Langdon Hills.
Isaac provided the area of ground for the Nightingale Mission (later renamed the Methodist Church), where he laid the memorial stone in 1907. He also created the hall in Samuel Road from WW1 army huts where he stored his building materials and tools. He later sold the hall to Mr Alfred Brooks of ‘Goldsmiths’, who turned it into a meeting place for WW1 servicemen when it became known as ‘Hut Club’. These days it is known as the WI Hall where the ladies of the Women’s Institute keep it in very good condition.
He built several other houses in Langdon Hills some of which were occupied by various members of his family, Fleetwood Lodge, Albany and Alton. Others were Hazelmere and The Ferns (old telephone exchange) which were on adjacent corners of Vowler Road. Avondale, Midhurst and Rosemary Lodge (Dr Shannon’s home) which lay between Vowler Road and Laindon Station. The semi-detached house 1 Rose Villas and 2 Rose Villas which stood next to St Mary’s Church Hall, (near the site of the Triangle shops).
His own house “Primrose Lodge” which had been situated between Grove Avenue and Corona Road has since been demolished.
“Fleetwood Lodge” which had 7 rooms, had been situated a little further south in the High Road between Grove Avenue and Butler’s Grove and was also demolished. However, the name was adopted later by a new house built in exactly the same position.
The stretch of the High Road where these two houses had once stood was re-routed many years ago and is now slightly to the west of the current High Road.
“Alton” had been situated in the High Road between Alexander Road and St David’s Road, also since demolished.
The House ‘Albany’ which is still there and occupied, is situated in the High Road, Langdon Hills on the corner of Samuel Road (very close to the WI Hall) the house apparently having been named after the road in which the family were living when in Southwark.
I believe these houses were built between 1904 and 1910. I recently found an indication on-line that in 1923 a property in Vowler Road had been owned by Leah and one of her sons, but I haven’t any definite details.
Several roads in Langdon Hills were named after Isaac Levy’s children including, Emanuel, Samuel, David and Florence.
Isaac Levy died at home in Primrose Lodge on 25th February 1922 aged 70, leaving his family well provided for.
His widow Leah, of Fleetwood Lodge, High Road, Langdon Hills, died 31st October 1935.
During the thirties, Primrose Lodge was the home of the Wagner’s Christmas Cracker Factory before it transferred to the factory on the A127. It later became the home of Harry E Bebington, the Estate Agent and is recorded as such on the 1953 Electoral Register. I haven’t as yet established the exact year of its demolition.
Albany, had an extension built on the back at some point. This four bedroomed house appears on the 1949 Electoral Register as the home of Joseph Toomey. Joseph’s daughter Maureen married John Brook in 1947. Maureen and John lived in a bungalow called Cross Gates near Westley Road until approximately 1958 when they moved into Albany when their youngest son Jon was 8 years old. Maureen was a teacher at Langdon Hills School. Both the Brook and Toomey families were closely associated with Langdon Hills Cricket Club. Jon very kindly lent me some photographs. Probably the only remaining house associated with Isaac Levy and at least 100 years old, Albany is still a fine sight in the High Road, well looked after and appreciated by its present owners who gave me their kind permission to take a couple of photographs.
It has been a great pleasure to research into such a pleasing success story and I will of course add addition information if any becomes available.
EDITOR: Nina has asked me to add the following newspaper cutting kindly supplied by Ann Rugg.