In the latter part of the 19th Century, Joseph Hands and Henry John Deane were in partnership at 42 Town Hall Passage, Loughborough, as Deane and Hands. The earliest record available of that practice is in 1882 although we suspect that it dates much earlier than this.
In 1897 Deane and Hands separated and, on the 25th September 1897, Joseph Hands commenced on his own account at 63 and 64 Mill Street (now Market Street), Loughborough, taking a lease from 24th June 1897 for 21 years at a yearly rent of £35.00, from the owner, a Mr Jacob Smith. On 1st August 1919 a new Lease of the premises was granted to Edward Hands who was Joseph’s son. The new Lease was for 7 years from 1st August 1919 at a rent of £60.00 per annum. It appears that Arthur Ernest Armstrong had acquired the property on 27th September 1918 and that the property had originally belonged to a John Clarke grocer whose second wife was Sarah Kate Clarke above and the person who sold to Arthur Ernest Armstrong.
On 1st December 1924, Edward Hands bought 62 and 64 Mill Street at the price of £1,100.00 and on 27th July 1925, he bought 8 and 8 ninths square yards forming the site of two wc’s adjoining for £10.00. Then on 21st September 1925, he bought a strip of land at the back by Angel Yard for £5.00. The site of the wc’s was bought from Armstrong and the strip of land from Hepworths.
On 8th June 1933, Edward Hands died suddenly. Claude Lewis who had come up to Loughborough from Carmarthen as his assistant solicitor in or about 1930 bought the premises from the Estate on 29th September 1936 for £1,600.00
Claude Lewis, Joseph Hands and his son Edward Hands apparently lived in grand style and were best known for their exploits on the hunting field. Edward Hands is reputed to have frequently galloped off the hunting field down Market Street to his offices, tying up his horse in the double door entrance at the side, scraping his boots on the boot scraper in the wall outside the door of the offices and then getting down to a bit of conveyancing. He lived in Burton Walks, Loughborough, in a house which -it is said- still has his initials in the lintel over the front door. According to an old man who used to work in Archie Moss’ Garage as a petrol pump attendant, Edward Hands used to walk to the office from his home each morning and when the old man was a young boy would give him a half penny or a penny to carry his umbrella in front of him.
Claude Lewis used to recount how Edward Hands’ maid called upon him when he was gardening at his house in Outwoods Road or Outwoods Drive, Loughborough, to tell him of Edward Hands’ death and how he then had to arrange for someone to sit with the body and take charge of all funeral arrangements.
Claude then continued the business for the following three years until the outbreak of World War II. During the War, Claude was called up into the RAF. He was too old to fly but acted in an administrative capacity. Like most lawyers, he ended up as an adjutant. Throughout the War, the Practice of Edward Hands & Lewis was largely carried on by Claude Lewis’ clerk, Miss Stubbs, a redoubtable character who effectively ran everything. Claude was occasionally allowed home at weekends to sign cheques etc.
Claude Lewis had a great deal of Welsh charm and built up a successful practice after the War. As the large- Estates which had been occupied by the military forces during the War were sold off, there was plenty of conveyancing and he also had a reputation in relation to probate matters besides acting for various developers, a local building society, the Convent and numerous Roman Catholic organisations and Roman Catholic individuals, together with various companies.
On 5th April, 1984 aged 79 years, and after more than 50 years in practice, Claude Lewis retired.
In the late 1980s, it became apparent that 63 Market Street could not be developed further because of planning restrictions but that its value exceeded its value for current user because various institutions wanted to buy it. Eventually it was sold to Alliance and Leicester plc who demolished the old building and built a new one on the same site.
Edward Hands & Lewis moved in February 1990 to 3 Rectory Place, Loughborough. These premises consisted of some old cottages which were derelict but which were a listed building. The Partners purchased the premises, restored them and extended them. The offices won a design award.
At various times in its history, Edward Hands & Lewis had other offices. From at least as early as 1930 to 2005, it had an office in Shepshed which was manned one day per week. For some years in the 1980s and 1990s, it had an office in Sileby.
Continually growing and evolving, Edward Hands & Lewis purchased The Old School Rooms on Loughborough Road, Leicester and renovated the building to form its head office. The Loughborough office returned to premises on Market Street, close to its original site from 1897, and in 2013 Edward Hands and Lewis relocated their Market Harborough office to the prestigious Union Wharf.
The firm is now one of the premier firms in Leicestershire having been recognised as such in 2009 and 2011 by the Leicestershire Law Society being voted County Law Firm of the Year. In 2012 Edward Hands and Lewis won Business of the Year at the Oak FM Pride of Loughborough Awards and early this year have become finalists in the Leicester Mercury Business Awards for Services.