Isaac Levy 1852-1922

Local builder, businessman and benefactor

By Nina Humphrey (née Burton)

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.

Photo:Isaac Levy on the horse.  Unknown event and location.

Isaac Levy on the horse. Unknown event and location.

Isaac Levy was born in Spitalfields in 1852. 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, Emanuel, 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 1904, 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.

Photo:Isaac Levy laying a memorial stone at the church on corner of Emanuel Road 1907.

Isaac Levy laying a memorial stone at the church on corner of Emanuel Road 1907.

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.

Photo:Looking north from top end of High Road Langdon Hills.  View of Primrose Lodge in the distance.

Looking north from top end of High Road Langdon Hills. View of Primrose Lodge in the distance.

“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, Alexander 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.

Photo:Albany before the rear extension was added. Summer 1949

Albany before the rear extension was added. Summer 1949

Jon Brook

Photo:Cross Gates. Early summer 1952

Cross Gates. Early summer 1952

Jon Brook

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.
Photo:Front of Albany viewed from High Road. 2013.

Front of Albany viewed from High Road. 2013.

Nina Humphrey

Photo:Albany showing the rear extension viewed from Samuel Road. 2013

Albany showing the rear extension viewed from Samuel Road. 2013

Nina Humphrey

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.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Isaac Levy 1852-1922' page

This page was added by Nina Humphrey(née Burton) on 13/02/2013.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Nina, I am Isaac Levy's great grandson. I stumbled on your article while attempting to add to a family tree on Ancestry and am very grateful for some of the revelations. I didn't know about the 3 children of Leah's who didn't survive - my grandfather was David, who died in 1962 the year before I was born so my knowledge comes from my late mother (David's daughter).

I have a few momentoes of Isaac/David:-

- an engraved silver trowel presented to him on laying the foundation stone of the Church in 1907;

- a photo of Isaac, Leah and David from c.1920 in what I believe was the garden of Fleetwood Lodge; 

- David's Langdon Hills Cricket Club cap with "LH" on the front (he was a very keen cricketer).

I do know that Isaac named the roads after his children, but I can't shed light on whether St David's Road is connected to my grandfather. Alexander wasn't one of his children's names, but Samuel, Emanuel and Florence were. I presume there were some other roads with other childrens' names in the past.

Thank you so much for this. Isaac must have been an interesting man and I also know he was a long-serving officer of a Radical club in London. The Radicals were the forerunners of the Labour party and I understand he wanted to give something back as he had started as a quite a poor man in the East End before making his money in scrap metal.

By Dave Nicholsby
On 30/08/2016

I believe my grandad Walter Arber lived in Stanley Villa, Laindon, some time beginning last century. He was a printer with a business in Roman Road, Bow, E3. Don't have dates available but I think it was around the time of WWI. If anyone has further info or photographs I would really like to hear from them.

By Roy Arber
On 14/09/2014

A newspaper cutting kindly supplied by Ann Rugg has been added to the above article.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 04/02/2014

Further to the comment of Bobby Connell, 14/02/13. Bobby is my nephew and grew up in Laindon and attended Laindon Park Primary and Laindon High Rd. schools but in common with many of the old Laindon young people emigrated to Australia where he raised his family. I have a photograph of Bobby, his wife and grown up sons if it is of any interest.

By W.H.Diment
On 01/08/2013

My apologies to Bill Diment for not being as clear as I should have been in my posting of 25/07/13. The Christian name to which I refer is, of course, St. David's Road. Not David Road. Sorry for the confusion.

By Alan Davies
On 31/07/2013

Further to the naming of St.Davids Rd .Can it be that the answer is that it was not named after Isaac Levy's son but simply an assumption that this was the case. Alan remarks that the name David is obviously a Christian name but this is incorrect as David together with Emmanuel and Samuel were famous people from the old testament and Alexander (Alexander the great) and Florence (Florence Nightingale) were famous people not connected with the Hebrew faith. I suggest that Isaac chose names of historical renown irrespective of their given faith.

By W.H.Diment
On 30/07/2013

Nina, could it be something as simple as Isaac Levy's child, David, dying young or being handicapped in some way and the father seeking to honour him in this special manner? Do we know anything about David and his lifespan? One gets the impression that Isaac Levy was well integrated into the Gentile community and perhaps borrowing a saint was not so strange to him. All pure conjecture of course.

By alan davies
On 28/07/2013

Alan and William. The road that runs parallel between Alexander Road and Samuel Road is St David’s Road. I am hoping eventually to discover the origin of its name. The roads that run westward from the High Road are named after Isaac Levy’s children but St David’s Road does pose a couple of questions. He certainly had a son called David. 1. Was it originally called David Road and the ‘St’ added at a later date. 2. Has it always been called St David’s Road with no connection to Isaac Levy. I’m still working on that with the hope of finding more information. Best wishes.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 26/07/2013

Hallo Alan, While my memories of Langdon Hills are limited, like you I can only remember a St.Davids Rd. While Nina refers to a son David she does not specifically refer to a David Rd. , but in other parts of her comment she does refer to a St.Davids Rd. Can anyone say if there was ever a David Rd. as it does not appear as such on any of the maps published in the archive.

By W.H.Diment
On 26/07/2013

Nina, you mention that several roads in the area were named after Isaac Levy's children. Emanuel Road, Samuel Road, Alexander Road etc. Specifically you mention David Road. I always knew this as St. David's Road. Of course I never had heard anything about Isaac Levy at the time or his impact on the area. It seems strange that such an obviously Christian name should be mixed in. Did common usage simply bring about the change? Was it ever changed officially? Or, more likely, is my memory simply not reliable?

By Alan Davies
On 25/07/2013

I have added some extra information to the above article, as I have recently learned the names of some other houses in the High Road, Langdon Hills that were built by Isaac Levy.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 19/05/2013

Thank you Sue. I haven’t any clues as to how Vowler Road got its name. I certainly couldn’t trace anyone in Isaac Levy’s family with that name. I will keep looking.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 21/02/2013

Hi Nina, A very thorough account, it must have taken many hours. No reference to how Vowler Road got its name?

By Sue Ranford
On 20/02/2013

Ellen. You are absolutely right. Primrose Lodge stood high on a bank on the corner of Corona Road and Grove Avenue. It must have been a beautiful sight. I’m not sure which year it was demolished but it was definitely still there in 1953

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 18/02/2013

Nina, a comment on Victory Stores if I may. Certainly in my time it never bore this name. It was universally known as The Corner Shop or else Townsend's (the proprietor) or later Lungley's. Of course it may well have been known as Victory Stores earlier. 

If it helps at all, the bungalow south of the Haunted House on Berry Lane, was called Melrose. Perhaps with a vacant lot in between. Then, continuing south, another vacant lot, then Prescott Avenue with a bungalow called Virginia on the south side of Prescott Avenue. The Nunn family lived in Virginia. It was Mr Nunn who first formed the Berry Athletic Club. 

Sometimes it would appear that houses were named after important events. Jubilee Cottage or Trafalgar come to mind. You surmise that Isaac Levy's houses were built 1904-10. If the Haunted House was indeed one of his then, as Victory House, may it's name have referred to the Boer War of 1899-1902?

By Alan Davies
On 17/02/2013

Hi Nina, I'm sure I remember Primrose Lodge,was it very near Corona Rd going up towards Grove Ave? possibly the first house on the corner. I remember a very large house, I think it may have had a wall and it stood quite high on a bank. There were primroses on the whole bank from the pavement going up towards the house and if it is the right property it had the most amazing line of poplar trees shielding the house. 

I loved the autumn as when the poplar trees lost their leaves they were very deep, as a child they came almost up to my knees and I just loved dragging my legs through them to make them rustle. My mum used to try and stop me in case there were things underneath the leaves that she didn't want me to get on my shoes.

By Ellen English Née Burr
On 17/02/2013

Nina, thank you for the most recent information. As I said, my memories cover the period up to 1946. Quite possibly several changes took place between 1946 and the 1949 Survey. 

It would appear that Mr Hayes in Lot 12 on the north side has gone. The family must have moved elsewhere in Laindon as I seem to have seen reference to Mr Hayes and his association with the Radion in these archives at some later date. Presumably his bungalow was razed although why in view of the housing shortage at that time is puzzling. 

The two houses demolished referenced in Lot 11 seem to coincide with my memory. The westerly one destroyed by the rocket and the second one never built on. In my time at least. 

On the south side (Berry Lane end) Lots 12, 13, and 14 were never developed in my time. That part of Vowler Road was just hawthorne and scrub. The first bungalow would have been Lot 11 described as "neglected." It was so in my day and was occupied by the Samson family. 

On the south side, on the corner with the High Road was an electrical sub station with the usual high wire fencing to keep people out. Then came Colmoor although I always knew it as Col-Mor. I remember it because it was a pretty white house and the occupants kept the fenced garden looking absolutely beautiful. It had to be one of the prettiest gardens in Laindon. Some of other names seem to ring a bell. A distant bell that is. 

Around the corner from the Vowler Road/Berry Lane junction, heading south on Berry Lane lived a family named Gotabed. German I assumed. They had a daughter Shirley. Us young lads, with our highly developed sense of humour, always referred to her as Shirley go to bed. It seemed a lot funnier back then.

By Alan Davies
On 17/02/2013

Alan. I have been delving a little further into the subject of Vowler Road. I re-read the information I found online concerning a deed that was put in place in 1923 by Leah Levy and two of her sons. Two houses that were involved at that time were ‘Ingleside’ and ‘Freda’. It could be that they owned the land rather than just one property as I had first thought. 

Isaac Levy certainly owned land in the area as he donated some for the Nightingale Mission which was built on the corner of Emanuel Road (later renamed The Methodist Church). 

For your information, here is a list of properties in Vowler Road shown on the 1949 Survey, going from the High Road westward to Berry Lane on the north side. 

  1. Vacant Lot – tidy.
  2. Somerset Lodge – 4 rooms.
  3. Sunnyside – 7 rooms. 
  4. Woodfield Lodge – 4 rooms.
  5. Maldon Lodge – 4 rooms. 
  6. Norman Villa – 6 rooms. 
  7. Stanley Villa – 6 rooms. 
  8. Fairhome – 6 rooms. 
  9. Ingleside – 7 rooms. 
  10. Hewey – 4 rooms (description, bungalow - old house destroyed’). 
  11. Vacant land – two houses demolished. 
  12. Vacant land – scrub. 

On the opposite side (south side), going in the same direction. 

  1. Allotment. Colmoor – 3 rooms. 
  2. Courtfield – 6 – 7 rooms. 
  3. Restawyle – 4 rooms. 
  4. Eva Villa – 6 rooms. 
  5. Fairbridge – 6 rooms. 
  6. Friston – 4 rooms. 
  7. Little Plantiles – 4 rooms. 
  8. Denton – 5 rooms. 
  9. Redlands – 5 rooms. 
  10. Delia – 4 rooms. 
  11. Unnamed – neglected – 4 rooms. 
  12. St Olaves – 4 rooms. 
  13. Woodberry – 4 rooms. 
  14. Northwood – 4 rooms. 

Only one property in the road was described as neglected. All the others are described as in good condition and very well kept. I hope this is of interest and maybe you remember some of the properties named.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 16/02/2013

Nina, thank you for further unravelling the story. As stated earlier, I knew Vowler Road very well as a child and at that time, 1935 to 1946 there was no two-storey house on the north side of Vowler Road near Berry Lane. A stream, or maybe a large ditch, it depended upon recent rainfall, emanated from underneath Berry Lane at the corner of Vowler Road. This is shown on some maps. It meandered through hawthorne and underbrush, around Raglan Road, under a small footbridge as it crossed Beatrice Road and disappeared in the direction of the railway line. The first lot on the north side of Vowler Road, whose back yard was bordered by the stream/ditch, was a bungalow occupied by the Hayes family. Mr Hayes was the projectionist at the Radion. The second bungalow was occupied (I think) by two retired spinster school teachers. Then came a vacant lot. Then a succession of bungalows. If I follow you correctly Nina, this third vacant lot may conceivably have been the site of Leah's house. The plot thickens in that the 1949 Survey should also show the second lot as vacant. It suffered a direct hit from the German V1 (or was it V2). You cannot get much more vacant than that!

By Alan Davies
On 14/02/2013

Alan. The property I think Leah Levy may have owned in 1923 wasn’t Stanley Villa where the Lockett family lived, it was on the same side of the road but much further to the west, almost at the end just before it meets with Berry Lane. Unfortunately no name was mentioned. We have looked on the 1949 Survey and that plot is shown as waste ground, therefore the house had been demolished by then. Other houses have since been built there. We are still working on it, along with trying to identify the ‘haunted house’ in Berry Lane which was on the opposite side of the road from Victory Stores/Lungley’s. That plot is shown on the 1949 Survey but as it was derelict, it isn’t named. I’ve tried to trace it by using earlier Electoral Registers, but those are in order of the occupier’s surname, rather than the house names, so without knowing the occupier’s name, it is extremely difficult to pin point. I have eliminated some houses in Berry Lane, but found there had been a house called ‘Victory House’ at one time. I am trying to trace it’s position because I have a theory that a clue might be in the name of the shop opposite. Victory Stores may have been named after ‘Victory House’. Maybe the ‘Haunted House’ had been ‘Victory House’. I will continue trying to find more evidence. If I can gather any more information about Isaac Levy and his buildings, I will of course also add it to the article.

Lee. Thank you for that. We have looked into what you said about the house in the background of the second picture above and you are absolutely right. That house is still there in Vowler Road, we drove passed it today. It's No 17 and called 'Courtfield'. We looked on the 1949 Survey and found it described as having 6 to 7 rooms, built of brick and slate and in good condition. The Electoral Register shows that in 1949 two couples lived there. Beatrice and Edwin Jarvis and Yvonne and Leslie Savage. It is now over 100 years old.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 14/02/2013

Very interesting! It is amazing how these threads from a person's memory resonate across the years and elicit connecting memories from others unknown and never met. It has been suggested on a different page in the archives that the building in the distance of the photograph of the church on the corner of Emmanuel Road might be the abandoned house on the corner of Berry Lane to which I refer. I suggest it is more likely to be Stanley Villa. Lee Harlow's posting would seem to infer the same. From the corner of Emmanuel Road they were both in the same general direction.

By Alan Davies
On 14/02/2013

Further to Alan's comments in respect of the Lockett family. There were other older children, Doris who married Terence Connell. Doris is still alive and living in Pitsea. 

Ronnie (Podgy) who played football for Laindon FC and married Charlie Wignall's daughter and later took over the business of turf accountant, shown on the High St. map as Lockhart. I don't know if he and his wife are still alive but after retiring were avid supporters of the Essex CC and could usually be seen in the very select life members pavilion at Chelmsford.

By W.H.Diment
On 14/02/2013

The name of the house in Vowler Road owned by the Lockett family is 'Stanley Villa'. Albert & Elizabeth Lockett were my grandparents. Jack Lockett lived in the house until his death in 2009. The house was sold in 2010. Sadly Betty passed away several years ago, Ken is alive and well and living in Devon.

Editor:  Hi Bob, do you have any photographs of Stanley Villa that predate the recent revamp of its exterior, if so they would be of great value to the LDCA photo archives.

By Bob Connell
On 14/02/2013

If you look closely at the church picture next to Emanuel Road, in the distance you see a large property. I think that building is still, standing today as well.

By Lee Harlow
On 13/02/2013

In regard to the Vowler Road property owned by Leah in 1923. I walked Vowler Road countless times in my childhood and have tried to jog my memory as to which house that could be. At that time Vowler Road was a made-up road and possessed paved sidewalks on either side. Altogether quite an up-market street! The only house which comes to mind is a large two story house (all of its neighbours being bungalows) about midway between the High Road and Berry Lane on the north side of street. I wish I could remember its name. At the time, the 1940's, it was occupied by the Lockett family. There were several children. Betty was in my class at Langdon Hills Primary School and Kenny played in one of the Youth Centre table tennis teams in the same era as I did. 

There was another two story house which, in its prime, must have been impressive located on the south east corner of Berry Lane as it did a sharp left turn at the junction with Bridge Road and Beatrice Road. This was abandoned and derelict but the two story architecture was similar to the other Levy buildings. It stood out among the modest little bungalows in that area. I often wondered why it was allowed to become a ruin as it appeared to be structurally sound and would have been quite imposing in its day. 

Nina, is there any indication that this derelict house might have been another of the Levy buildings?

By Alan Davies
On 13/02/2013
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