An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War*
|Places Nellie would have visited, the parish church, 1915|
By now I shouldn’t be surprised at how what seem random bits of history have a habit of becoming entangled and by degree draw me into the story.
Of course I know that theory that you are only seven handshakes away from the great and the famous but I was not prepared for just how close I came to a couple who lived in Manchester during the Great War.
They were George and Nellie Davison who were married in 1908 and settled in Romiley after living here in Chorlton-cum-Hardy and in Hulme.
George Davison enlisted in 1914, spent time in Woolwich and Ireland and died on the Western Front in 1918.
|Duncan and Nellie Davison circa 1916|
Over the last three years I have slowly worked my way through the letters he sent and a collection of his photographs, papers and medals.
Nellie spent time with him both in Woolwich and in Ireland which I thought must have been unusual but perhaps not.
And then yesterday I came across a comment from George that a Mrs Drinkal missed Nellie commenting that “she was lost" without the presence of his wife. Now that letter was sent from Woolwich which offered up a tantalizing clue as to where Mrs Davison stayed and perhaps where George was billited.
|Well Hall Road, 1915|
And with the help of my friend Tricia from Bexleyheath we think we know where that house was.
Having found one link to a Mr Drinkal I passed the task over to Tricia who came up with the goods
He was she told me “living at 7a Elmbrook Street which appears to be hutments on the site of where the Well Hall Odeon later stood.
William Henry Drinkal and Hilda May Garrod were married in 1916 at Dunmow in Essex and had their first child in 1917.”
All of which fits because a W H Drinkhall witnessed George’s will in March 1918.
Now I know the spelling is different but the coincidences are too close and so I can now place our Nellie in Eltham in 1916 on Well Hall Road.
|294 Well Hall Road, 2015|
It would be easy get a bit silly about the connection but for someone who has spent the last few years getting to know Mr and Mrs Davison, sharing their ups and downs and his final fate there is something powerful in knowing that we share the same place.
All of which just leaves me to thank Tricia, and remind those who live in Manchester that the George Davison collection will be part of the exhibition in July to commemorate the Battle of the Somme in the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery.
Location, Well Hall, Eltham, London
Pictures; from the collections of David Harrop and Andrew Simpson
Painting; 294 Well Hall Road, © 2015 Peter Topping
Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures
*A new book on Manchester and the Great War http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War