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. 

HATHERN. Death of Mr. Joseph Swift.—A well-known and much respected resident in the person of Mr. Joseph Swift passed away at his residence on Derby-road on Friday. at the advanced age of 86 years. The fact that Mr. Swift was totally blind from his infancy made him a notable figure in the parish. It was remarkable how until quite recently he could find his way practically to every house in the village, and invariably he could recognise people as he met with them in the streets. In his younger days he worked as a brush maker. The deceased until his death resided at Vine Cottage with his two sisters, whose respective ages are 88 and 78 years. The interment took place on Monday afternoon at the New Cemetery, the Rector, Rev.J G. Laurance, officiating at the Parish Church and also at the cemetery






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