Tuesday, 21 March 2017

War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 21..... mum and Nan

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

Me, aged 1
I was born on 15th December 1940, Edward James Newport a good year for babies, but a bad year for the nation.

War had been declared on Germany the year before and my father Edward Reuben Newport (Ted) married his beloved Edith Victoria Hicks (Edie) on 16th Sept 1939 at St Paul’s Church Lorrimore Square Newington Southwark London.

He had been courting Edie for five years. She lived with her mother Sarah and brother Jim in a tenement flat off Doddington Grove in Kennington London. Edie was born on 20th November 1918 in Alloa Road Deptford and never knew her father (James Edwin Hicks) as he died of Influencer and pneumonia four weeks before she was born 4th November 1918.

The devastation this must have caused Sarah, still waiting to give birth to her daughter, is hard to imagine.
Sarah brought up the two children by herself. Her farther-in-law John Thomas Hicks headed a furriers business and a property owner together with his four sons.

My mum, Edie Hicks, aged 18
This business ran for many years and was considered as being very successful at that time. I am to believe she did not think of marrying again as to do so would incur the displeasure of her father-in-law and so she worked as a house cleaner to her sister-in-laws and relied on handouts by the family.

It seemed to work fine for the times, but I do feel that she, her daughter and son were badly treated after the old man died in 1937 as all they got was £25 each for the children in trust and Sarah got £100 for herself on the condition she did not marry again.

The bulk of the business and properties went to her three surviving brothers in law Alfred, Leonard and Albert. I shall refer to Sarah now as Nan and try and put down any memories I have of her.

 Nan was lovely, a small lady of about 5ft high round in shape and to me as a child very comfortable in an uncertain world.

She was full of stories and a wonderful cook. I was her first grandchild and she thought the world of me.

Edie, Sarah (Nana) and Brother Jim
My mother, on her way to work, would drop me off at Nan’s to go to London where she worked as a sales assistant. I was spoilt for the first four years of my life. I had her love all to myself. Bath night was at Nan’s flat, she had a bathroom which only had a cold water supply.

Hot water was pumped from the kitchen to the bathroom.

A gas boiler used for washing clothes had a hand pump that had to be worked forward and backwards until the boiled water filled the bath and was cooled before getting into it. This was a far better arrangement than filling a zinc tub in front of a fire.

Nan worked as an office cleaner in Fleet St and would catch the bus at a very early hour to do he job before the office staff started work. She was home in time to have me for the rest of the day. She worked in Fleet Street until she reached retirement age.

Later on, she moved in with my parents after I moved out to set up home with my first wife Janet.

Nan was a staunch royalist and would not hear of any criticism of the royal family. She was very proud of the fact she had seen all the great state occasions from Queen Victoria’s funeral to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. It is to me remarkable that she has lived through six monarchs. She lived to be 79 her death was on 21st March 1969.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Pictures; from the collection of Eddy Newport

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