In the Leicester Daily Post of June 6th 1914 Hathern was declared as the second healthiest village in Leicestershire (Old Wigston was the healthiest). This was despite the dire state of the village's sanitation prior to mains water being provided. Apparently Hathern's 24 oldest residents had an average age of 82 years.
Singled out for special attention were two neighbouring houses one containing a brother and 2 sisters aged respectively 86, 87 and 81 and the other containing a married couple aged 85 and 81. By deduction from our census records we can now reveal who these people were (certainly) and where they lived (approximately). The two households were as follows :-
- Charles Groves and his wife Ann. Both had been framework knitters in silk.
- Joseph Swift and his sisters Ellen and Elizabeth : Joseph had been blind since the age of three yet for many yrears had worked as a brushmaker from home with some support from a blind charity. His sisters had both been domestic servants. Their nephew was J. Alex Swift who founded the hosiery factory still in operation (2020) - editor's note : my grandmother 'Dolly' was his niece and made mention of 'Blind Joe'.
Now where exactly did they live ? Somewhere on the corner of Wide street and Derby Road - maybe in or near to plot 279 on the 1883 map. In 1881 the last house on the right up Wide street (Bramley household ) is followed on Derby Rd. by 3 Henson households and Sarah Kelham then Joseph Swift in 'The Cottage' and then The Dewdrop. In 1891 at top of Wide Street is Bramley followed by Dutton and Groves and 2 uninhabited houses and then The Dewdrop. In 1901 the last house in Wide street (Bramley) is followed is followed by Poplar House (Groves) and on Derby Road Swift followed by 2 uninhabited houses and The Dewdrop. In 1911 the last house up Wide Street (Dutton) is followed on Derby Road by Monk and Cooper (maybe in the newly built Myrtle Cottages) , Groves and Swift, then 2 uninhabited houses and the The Dewdrop.
A few months later 'Blind Joe' was dead - the following obituary appeared in the Melton Mowbray Mercury on March 4th 1915.