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Learning at Black Country Living Museum

Lillian Hodgkiss

The date is 1904 and Lillian is 8 years old. She is living in the former Toll House with her mother, two brothers and an older sister. They have only just moved into the house following the death of her father - forcing them to look for somewhere cheaper to rent. Lillian's older brother, William, is working as a railway porter and is the main wage earner for the family.

The house has no gas and they get their water from the brook running through their garden. To supplement their diet they grow their own vegetables and brew herbal remedies that they sell to passers-by. Lillian's mother also makes all their clothes and earns a few extra pennies by chopping wood and making it into bundles for sale. 

Lillian Hodgkiss Detective Trail

Download the Lillian Hodgkiss Detective Trail below which lists all the sites relevant to Lillian's life. Your students can choose which sites they wish to visit and in which order. There is also a selection of linked activities to undertake at the different sites, including shopping lists and mystery objects to find and identify.


Investigation Resources

These are the downloadable links for all the resources associated with Lillian Hodgkiss. 

Please begin by downloading the Teachers' Notes. When you are ready, download the relevant PDF documents by clicking on the highlighted links


A summary of the family relationships revealed by the Census Records

Census Records

This is before Lillian’s father, James, had married and started a family of his       own.  He is living at 101 Thumpers Lane, Sedgley with his widowed mother, Mary.

  • James is 27 years old
  • He is working as a miner

1881 Census: Hodgkiss Family

  • The family are living at 101 York Street, Sedgley
  • Lillian has not yet been born
  • Lillian's father (James) is 37 years old and working as a coal miner
  • Three children live at home:

    - Mary Ann aged 6
    - Thomas aged 2
    - Sarah aged 9 months

  •  James’ widowed mother, Mary, aged 76 is also living with the family

1891 Census: Hodgkiss Family

  • The family are living at 68 Sedgley Road
  • Lillian has not yet been born
  • Lillian's father (James) is a Coal Miner
  • Six children are living at home:

    - Daughter Mary Ann (aged 16) is a Mill Worker
    - Thomas James (aged 12), Caroline (aged 7) and Sarah
      (aged 5) are at school
    - William (3) and Julia (11 months)

The 9 month old baby, called Sarah, mentioned in the 1881 census should be around 11 years old now. As there is a new child called Sarah who is only 5 years old, it is likely that the earlier child did not survive.

  • The family are now living at 163 South Street
  • Lillian's father (James) is still working as an underground coal miner
  • Six children are living at home:

    - Thomas (21) is also working as an underground coal miner
    - Caroline (18) is working at home
    - William (13) and Julia (10) have no occupation recorded
    - There are two new children: John (8) and Lillian (5)
    - There is no information about Mary Ann or Sarah. Are they
      still alive, or have they have moved away to work?

1911 Census: Hodgkiss Family

  • The family are now living at 35 Sedgley Road (the Toll House)
  • James (Lillian's father) is no longer alive
  • William (23) is working as a Railway Porter
  • John (19) is a Coal Haulier
  • Lillian (15) is a Drug Manufacturer Packer
  • Lillian’s mother (Ann) had 14 children in total but only 9 have survived. In the census records we learn about 9 of her children, with a strong likelihood that one of them, Sarah, did not survive. We also know that following this Census, William was killed on the railway – making a total of 6 children that died.

BMD (Births, Marriages, Deaths)

Certificate shows that Lillian was born on 1st January 1896 at 10, South Street, Roseville, Sedgley. Her father was working as a Coal Miner.

England & Wales National Probate Calendar Index of Wills: James Hodgkiss

This is the probate record for Lillian’s father, James Hodgkiss, who died on 10 February 1904. He had been living at 10 South Street, Coseley, Sedgley and was working as a miner. His effects were worth £70 (which would be c£4000 in today’s money).

Marriage Certificate: Lillian Hodgkiss and Alfred Jones 1925

Lillian married at the age of 29. She was still living at Sedgley Road. Her husband, Alfred Jones, was 36 and a widower. His father was deceased, but is recorded as having been a Furnaceman.


Scale: 1:10,560

Oral History Testaments

Memories from Val Masters, Lillian’s daughter


Studio portrait of Lillian’s Grandfather, Thomas Hampton.
According to Val Masters he was a builder, and built the whole of Hampton Street as well as several public houses. He eventually lived on his own and died penniless after being robbed by his housekeeper.

Toll House in c1910 from a local calendar.

This photograph was taken c1912 showing William in his railway porter uniform. Shortly after this he was tragically killed in an accident on the railway.

Lillian and her mother Ann standing on the step of the Toll House (35 Sedgley Road) in the 1920s.

Lillian visited her former home just after it had been moved to the Museum in the late 1980s.

Another photograph of Lillian visiting her former home, taken in the Brewhouse of the Toll House.

Miscellaneous Resources

The recipe for some of the herbal remedies demonstrated in the Toll House.
(We do not recommend that you try these in the classroom as all herbal remedies can have side effects)


Booking a Visit


Our Booking Team are available to offer help and advice when planning a visit. All educational groups must book in advance.

Plan your booking




Did you know?

interesting fact image

John Fowler & Company (Leeds) Limited produced around 10% of all Steam Rollers in the United Kingdom.

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