It’s spring 1911 and five year-old Edna Collis wears a straw hat and an inquisitive stare. She stands with her grandparents, Martin and Elizabeth Collis in the doorway of their pub, a few footsteps from Leicester’s central Clock Tower.
Business at the Admiral Nelson is prospering and they’re all in their Sunday best – Martin in a bowler hat, wing collar and smart overcoat; Elizabeth in her decorated black bonnet, with an ostentatious fur. After a tearful tantrum, their youngest granddaughter Mabel finally stands still for the photographer, bribed with the treat of holding her grandmother’s fur muffler.
The window billboards reveal that ‘Milly’s Mother’ and ‘When Knights Were Bold’ are playing at the Opera House, and ‘Olga’s Oath’ at the Pavilion Theatre. Two circular Dewar’s Whisky signs over the door are the only sniff of alcohol, yet this stretch of Humberstone Gate is packed with pubs and inns –the Plough, Craven Arms Hotel, Bell Hotel, and Stag and Pheasant are a few footsteps away. On weekdays the pavements here are crowded with pedestrians and every now and then an electric crimson-and-cream tram rattles by, heading out along the Humberstone Road.
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