Posts Tagged ‘Leigh’

Grandparents’ wedding

February 24, 2016

Granny and Grandad married at St Stephen’s Church in Tonbridge which must have been home parish for Grandad. It was 5th June 1920. Grandad, Reg Ware, had signed up for war service under age and had promptly been captured and became a prisoner of war. I do not know when he was repatriated. Granny was Jessie Jones and I know so little about her for she died in 1932 with four young children. Grandad remarried, perhaps too hastily, and there was an uneasy relationship between step mother and step children. First wi9fe, Jessie, became a taboo topic which was, no doubt, tough for the children.

What we do know is that Jessie was born in Ashton on Mersey in Cheshire and for some reason her gardener father brought his family south to the Tonbridge area. In 1911 the family lived in Hildenborough.

Unless lucky, one doesn’t know much about the earlier years of grandparents. I certainly don’t know how or when the two met. I don’t know if they had been childhood sweethearts or if they met after Grandad was returned home from the war. These days we’d call them childhood sweethearts anyway for they were both still teenagers when they got married. I almost feel it is a surprise that their first child came slightly over a year after the marriage.

We do have a couple of marriage photos and here is one of the bride and groom.


By this time Jessie lived in Leigh and this is thought to be at her family home.

It looks as though Reg has grown since he bought that suit!

This is by far the best photo I have of Jessie so let’s zoom in on the couple.


Shame they weren’t smiling but I still find this a charming and moving photo.

Paddling my own canoe

December 6, 2014

Back in the 1950s (and onwards) my family used to visit the loveliest of men. He was called Dick Wood and he lived at Leigh (formerly Lyghe) near Tonbridge in Kent. Back then Dick and his first Wife, Edie, lived peacefully in a council house in the village. Dick was a council worker. He made sure all was well at the village sewage works. It may sound like a job for someone of more limited academic ability but Dick was broadly read and had a huge fund of knowledge. He was a lovely chap. I hardly remember Edie who died when I was young but Dick remains a man I often think about. He really was a super human being.

Not only that, he had a canoe and here’s a picture by my dad of me paddling it. It was 1952 so I’d have been aged 3.


But this, I have to say is a work of fiction, created by my dad in pre photoshop days. Here is the reality.


Yes the canoe is on stands in Dick’s garden.

Sadly Dick and Edie never had children of their own although they always maintained an interest in the evacuee who had stayed with them. I think they quite enjoyed our family.

Harold (Bob) Jones

October 21, 2014

Harold was the fifth child of my great grandparents, Robert Jones and Ada (nee) Allman). He was born 27 5 1905 in Sale, Cheshire and moved to 5 Gresham Villas, Hildenborough Kent, with his family before 1908. His siblings were Mabel, Harry, Ernest, Jessie (who was my grandmother), Stan and Lily. His half brother was Frederick Jones

Bob, as he was always known (perhaps there was too much confusion with his brother, Harry) married Rose Peacock who came from East Peckham, Kent. The marriage took place on 18th December 1937 at East Peckham Church.

Harold was a member of the Home Farm Cricket Team. he is seen here, standing 2nd from right.



Harold (Bob) and Rose Peacock on their wedding day – 18th December 1937. The couple lived at Forge Square, Leigh. Bob was a forester or gardener. Harold and Rose had a daughter, called Mary. Mary was buried on 25th September 1940. She had lived for just three hours.


The 1939 /1945 Leigh Special Constabulary. Harold is standing at the back 2nd from the left. Below is Harold’s Special Constable Duty Card.


Harold at 5 Forge Square, Leigh where he and Rose lived during their married life.


Harold’s death, was on 26 6 1983.  Rose lived until after 1987.

It saddens me that I never actually knew Harold and Rose.

Dick and Ivy

April 21, 2014

When I was a child, family friends seemed few and far between but one man stands out as a real friend and he was called Dick. Dick lived in Leigh in Kent. He was a quietly spoken man, with a lovely gentle accent and a wife I don’t remember really called Ede or Edie.

I liked Dick very much and when we visited grandparents in Tonbridge, we often broke our journey home at Leigh Halt and went to see Dick, Sometimes, if there was time, he’d take us to his place of work which was the little sewage treatment plant for Leigh. Walks with Dick were full of country facts. He seemed to know every bird, every tree, and every flower. He knew where to see fish in the river. In fact he knew everything. I realised my dad also engaged him in conversation about politics and other matters of a more national or international kind and Dick was fully up to them as well. It was clear that Dick was perceptive and sharp witted despite what seemed to be quite a lowly job.

By the time I was a driver and went off to see grandparents on my own or with my girlfriend, Dick had remarried. He married his next door neighbour called Ivy. It amused me that after years of calling him ‘Mr Wood’ which was his name, she persisted well after they were man and wife.

Like my dad, I found Dick a fascinating chap and we used to visit him whenever we could.

Here he is with Ivy.


This was on one of my dad’s Industrial Archaeology courses in the early 1970s. Dick loved to learn.

I have no doubt that Dick influenced my father and me as well. He never had children of his own, so it is good to think that some of his ways still live on.

Leigh, Kent

October 16, 2013

Like any place, Leigh, a village near Tonbridge in Kent, will mean different things to different people. It is a quintessential English village with a green. In the summer that famed sound of leather on willow can be heard as games of cricket unfold. Cricket bats and balls are (or at least were) made quite locally.


For me it is a family history place. A number of relatives lived there and some died there and are buried in the churchyard. According to a plan my great aunt Mabel occupies a spot somewhere in this photo.


It’s the gap where there isn’t a stone.

I’d love to know more about Mabel’s somewhat short and varied life. She was born in 1893 in Sale in Cheshire and came south with the family in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1916 she had a daughter who never knew who her father was. In 1919 she married Robert Baker and had a daughter called Beryl. Robert died in 1920 and probably should be regarded as a victim of the First World War. He took his own life and it would seem he suffered from what we now call post traumatic shock syndrome – then, more simply, called shell shock.

In 1922 Mabel had another son. Again, the father is not known.

Mabel died in 1937. Daughter Beryl followed in 1939. It sounds a sad, tormented life, yet my uncle, who lived there when his mother died, found it a wonderfully warm and friendly household.

I’m pleased to say I have a picture of Mabel on a seaside jaunt.


Mabel is on the right. The other lady is Alice Smith, mother in law of Mabel’s brother, Stan. I think that is a wonderfully charming photo.

But do you know, my main thoughts of Leigh centre around a true gentle man (deliberately two words although he was also a gentleman) who lived there. He was a family friend called Dick Wood and I must write about him one day.