LAST week, we told of Stan Laurel’s early childhood connections to Bishop Auckland.

Stan’s father, Arthur Jefferson, arrived in the town in 1889 to co-manage the Theatre Royal, which he later renamed the Eden Theatre. Arthur liked to keep an air of theatrical mystery about himself.

“There is a lot confusion about Arthur’s date of birth – there are some tales of him being as old as 95 when he died in 1949 – and no one seems to know who his father was,” says Bishop Auckland historian Tom Hutchinson. “He may well have been born in the Birmingham area, and there is a suggestion that Jefferson wasn’t even his real name.”

Fortunately, Mark Arnott kindly consulted the 1891 census in search of some hard facts.

The census-taker found Arthur and his wife, Madge, living in a boarding house at 15, High Tenters Street – this, we reckon, is in the shadow of the 1970s’ Vinovium House where a little car park is today.

Arthur is recorded as being 28 years old – which means he was 86 in 1949 – and had been born in Birmingham.

The census provides a fascinating snapshot of life in the terraced street.

At No 13 lived a cartwright whose daughter was a milliner and whose sons were a lithographic printer and a chemist’s apprentice.

At No 14 lived a greengrocer and his family and a coalminer and his family plus two lodgers, one of whom was a navvy and the other was a sanitary pipe maker.

No 15 was the lodging house run by Sarah Barker, a 51-year-old widow from Bishop. She lived with her three sons and two daughters, and the lodgers who were “theatrical manager” Arthur and his wife, Madge.

Their son Stan, who would have been nearly 11 months old, is not listed, so on the night of the census he must have been with Madge’s mother in Ulverston.

Also boarding at No 15 was John Price, a 66-year-old comedian from Birmingham – presumably that week’s star of the show at Arthur’s theatre.

No 16 was also a lodging house, run by John Curry and his wife. Their boarders included Thomas M Thorne, 41, a theatrical manager from Derbyshire. He was Arthur’s partner in the theatre, although their partnership was on the verge of dissolving. Mr Thorne, 41, was lodging with his wife Florence, 40, a professional actress, and their son, Francis, 19, a scenic artist.

Next door in No 17 lived Thomas Whitfield, 29, a bonesetter from Hunwick. Bonesetters were medically unqualified specialists who would set breaks and fractures and heave dislocated shoulders and limbs back into place. Because of the physical nature of their work, bonesetters were usually strong men, and Mr Whitfield would have benefitted from the accident-prone nature of the Durham coalfield.

The cries of anguish emanating from No 17 High Tenters Street do not bear thinking about.