Friday, September 30, 2016

Season of mists in Radnor Street Cemetery

As we prepare for our last guided cemetery walk of the 2016 season on October 9 I thought you might like to make a return visit to a series of virtual walks we took sometime ago. 

It is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and time for another virtual walk among the memorials at Radnor Street Cemetery.  I shall don my raincoat and carry an umbrella as the weather forecast is not good, but you can put on the kettle, make a cup of tea and join me from the comfort of your computer.

We begin with a stranger to Swindon and a gravestone in a precarious condition. As you can see there is a crack beginning to creep around the edge.  Invariably when this happens the whole surface of the stone shears off when all record of that person is lost.  Sadly there are a number that have so suffered when you look around the cemetery.

This is the last resting place of Jane Martinelli who died in 1893 aged 65.  From the brief details on the gravestone I wondered if Jane and Thomas might be Italian, but further research has revealed that Jane was born in Worcester, and this is about all  that can be discovered about her.

The Martinelli story, on the other hand, is one of fluctuating fortunes. In the 1891 census Jane is living with husband Thomas at 13 John Street, Swindon.  Thomas worked as a Railway Coach Builder and states his place of birth as St. Pancras, London. He was baptised at Trinity Church on December 26, 1831, the son of Louis Martinelli, also a coach maker.

Still no Italian birthplace though as Louis was born in Holborn in 1799.  Business as a coach maker must have been good because when Louis died in 1884 he left £6,180 2s 10d worth today about £3.2 million.
Back another generation and at last the Italian connection.

Thomas’ grandfather was Aloysious Louis Martinelli born in Italy in 1761.  A barometer maker Aloysious married Abigail Marshall at St. Anne’s Church, Soho in 1799.  Sadly Aloysious died in Lambeth Workhouse in 1845 aged 84.  Perhaps son Louis hadn’t made his fortune by then!

Returning to Swindon and Jane’s story.  The Martinelli’s don’t appear to have had any children.  Tracking them through the Victorian census returns revealed they lived in Manchester and Birmingham before arriving in Swindon.

Thomas married again in 1894, the year after Jane’s death. It would appear the original intention was for Thomas to join Jane here as there is plenty of space on the gravestone for an additional inscription.

The leaves may be falling but the lush ivy never deserts the cemetery.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Women's Exhibition 1909 - Names of first stall holders announced

Continuing a series of blogposts in the lead up to the Women's Exhibition and Craft Sale on November 12 at the Christ Church Community Centre.

In the February 11, 1909 edition of the Votes for Women newspaper a list was published naming those women who had already signed up for the Women’s Exhibition and Sale of Work.

Kensington WSPU            One General Stall
Kensington WSPU            Millinery Stall
Streatham WSPU             Stall for Children’s Clothing
Richmond WSPU              One Stall
Chelsea WSPU                   Artists’ Stall
London Western Unions (Hammersmith, Chiswick, Barnes)           One Stall
Forest Gate and Wanstead WSPU             One-quarter Stall
Birmingham WSPU          One Stall
Nottingham WSPU          One Stall
Bristol and Bath                One Stall
Brighton WSPU                 One-half Stall
Torquay, Plymouth, and Paignton             One Stall
Lancashire           One Stall
Yorkshire             One Stall
Glasgow               One Stall
The Writers’ League (Pres: Miss Elizabeth Robins)              A Book Stall
The YHB               Photograph Stall
Lady Sybil Smith                One Stall
Mrs Garrett Anderson, MD (Mayor of Aldeburgh)              One Stall
Mrs Thomas       One Stall
The Misses Flora Macdonald, Thompson, and Leggatt      Sweet Stall
The Misses Beck and Mrs Marshall            Farm Produce Stall
Mrs Murrell        One-quarter Stall
Miss C. Turle      One quarter Stall
Miss Whittaker One quarter Stall
Mrs Howey         One quarter Stall
Mrs East               A Lucky Tub

Other women had pledged sums of money varying from 10 shillings (50p today but worth considerable more in 1909) to £100 from Miss Mordan*, described as someone ‘who has helped over and over again with money and personal service’ but on this occasion was unable to undertake a stall.
An appeal from M. Thompson, F. MacDonald and L. Leggatt is published in this edition of the newspaper regarding the Sweet Stall.

‘We wish to appeal to the members and friends of the Union to help us with the sweetmeat stall. Help can be of three kinds:- (1) Home-made sweets, which are the most acceptable of all, if well made and prettily packed in boxes, and tied with the colours of the Union; (2) bought sweets, which must be sent in boxes all ready packed; (3) money, for purchasing sweets, boxes, ribbons, etc., and as the bazaar will last for two weeks the outlay will be great. We shall be glad to hear as soon as possible what definite offers friends are prepared to make.“

Meanwhile …

'The Chelsea WSPU has undertaken the art stall, for which we are asking for promises of contributions of all kinds of artistic articles such as leather work, metal work, furniture, woodcarving, pictures, statuettes, pottery, artistic draperies, jewellery and enamels, needlework, embroideries, decorative work, photographs. We have already had valuable promises of pictures, statuettes, pottery, leather work, and embroidery, and we hope when the art stall is better known we shall have many more offers coming in. Some of us are collecting autographs of well known artists; we shall add to these the autographs of the leaders of the movement, and of those who have been to prison for the cause, for which we shall make a charge. For all this we need promises of help in material, money, and time during the sale. We hope friends will send in their names as soon as possible. We wish to call attention to a meeting, which has been fixed for next Tuesday, February 16, at 4, Trafalgar Studios, Chelsea, at 5.30 pm to arrange matters and to get help. – F.E. Haig.

Chelsea also suggests a supply of artists to take portraits and ten minute sketches during the exhibition, and they have plans for taking silhouette portraits, and may possibly make some arrangements for photography.'

*Clara Evelyn Mordan was born in 1844 in South Kensington the daughter of Augustus Mordan and his first wife Elizabeth. Augustus was a wealthy manufacturer who produced gold and silver pencil cases (propelling pencils) and employed 200 people in his business. When he died in 1901 he left more than £100,000 to be administered by Clara and her brother Percy.

Clara joined first the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1888 before becoming a member of the executive committee of the Central Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1900. In 1906 she joined the WSPU and became a generous sponsor.

She was also a great supporter of St Hugh’s College, Oxford where she donated £1,000 to endow a scholarship.

Clara Mordan died on January 22, 1915 at 18 Marine Mansions, Bexhill, East Sussex. She left effects to the value of £47,702 4s 6d.

Lady Sybil Smith - suffragette and stall holder at the Women's Exhibition 1909

Lilian Lenton - listen to interviews with Lilian and other suffragettes

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mrs Pethick Lawrence rallies the troops

Continuing a series of blogposts about the Women's Exhibition and Sale of Work held in May 1909 in advance of our own Swindon Suffragette event on November 12.

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence got the ball rolling for the Women's Exhibition and Sale of Work in the January 28th 1909 edition of the Votes for Women newspaper.

The special scheme to which I have referred is connected, not directly with the militant side of this movement, but with its organising and its educational side, a side not one whit less important, a side absolutely essential to success. Everybody can take part in this scheme. Not one in our ranks is too poor, not one is too old or too young, or too frail to render some bit of service in connection with it. And everybody can begin at once – this very day. We are holding in May an exhibition. It will be an Exhibition of the Colours; an Exhibition and a Sale of women’s work, and will be open for a fortnight. During that time we shall attract and draw together many thousands of people, and having drawn them together we shall make new recruits and win new members, new supporters, and new workers to strengthen our ranks. We shall draw the attention of the business world and of the holiday world to our colours, and extend their popularity, purple, white, and green must be the prevailing colours of the summer of 1909. The popularity of the colours means very much to the influence of our organisation. Our exhibition must also prove so original, so interesting, and so effective from the picturesque point of view as to be yet another revelation of the resource and capacity that is in the Women’s Social and Political Union. It must be so successful as to be the talk of the town.

Apart from all this, however, the Exhibition and the Sale of women’s work has to fill the war chest. The financial result should be expressed in a sum of at least £5,000 for the campaign fund. How is this sum to be realised? There are to be one hundred stalls set aside for articles for sale. The allotment of these stalls should take place at once. There is no time to lose if they are to be adequately furnished. The stalls are not large. They measure 6ft, 8ft and 10ft respectively. But since the exhibition will be open for a fortnight – from May 13 to May 26 – everyone who becomes responsible for one stall must undertake to collect and supply goods to the value of £100 at the very least. Every day the stall will have to be replenished as articles are sold and taken away by the purchasers.

We are anxious to receive applications at once, both from individuals and from local unions or other societies. Those who cannot promise to supply one whole stall can make themselves responsible for one-half, one-quarter, one-fifth, one-tenth or even for one-twentieth part of a stall. In order to perfect our plan of organisation it is necessary to have promises sent in without delay.

Very prompt has been the response already to this new need for help and co-operation.

The secretary of the recently formed Actresses’ Franchise League has written, most generously offering on behalf of her society to take over the entire responsibility and work of providing the whole of the entertainment programme, and as many popular actresses have promised to take part, the success of this department is ensured. Women artists have proved themselves equally generous , and their stall will be one of the attractions of the exhibition. And women writers have also come forward, and will give not only a stall but their personal service during that fortnight in May.

The West of England has offered to supply two stalls, many of the London Unions have come forward with the promise to help by becoming responsible for the whole or for the half of one stall. The Women’s Press is taking several stalls.

About thirty stalls have been allocated already. The remainder ought to be taken over this week. Working parties are being organised in various centres. So far as it is possible the colour scheme should be followed. White, purple and green should be the predominating colour upon all the stalls.

Handwork of all kinds – embroidery, needlework, art work in wood or leather, in metal or enamel – all these things are wanted in large quantities, and all these things take time to do and complete. And the time is short. Every little helps; and wherever our members are, however isolated from comrades who sympathise with them, they should sit down at once and ask themselves: “What is my contribution going to be to the success of this scheme? What have I got to do now?” And the moment they have made their decision let them communicate with the Exhibition Secretary at 4, Clements Inn, Strand, London, W.C. I would urge them not to lose a single post…

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence
Our very own Artkore teapot made by Lynette Thomas

Edith New as she appears on the Cambria Bridge mural by local artists The Visual Drop

Swindon Suffragette - Edith New 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In loving memory of George Boucher

Our next guided walk at Radnor Street Cemetery takes place on Sunday, October 9 and will be the last of the season. During the 2016 season more than 100 people have joined us on our monthly walks around the cemetery, contributing to our ever increasing knowledge of those buried there. 

We are already planning ahead for the 2017 season with another Swindon Heritage History Day plus burial register look up days and a big Art event as well. Keep in touch by visiting the Radnor Street Cemetery facebook page and the Swindon Heritage website.

The last serious act of vandalism to take place in Radnor Street Cemetery happened across one weekend several years ago.

A break in at the chapel saw windows smashed, including the beautiful rose window above the door. The intruders lit a fire in the sacristy, the small room off the chapel, using a box of documents stored there.

The documents were a 'Form of application for permission to erect or restore a memorial' and included a description with the measurements of that memorial; the inscription; the name and address of the owner of the grave and how much the memorial cost. Invaluable information lost in the fire, but in recent weeks I have glimpsed a rare surviving document.

These are the details of the Boucher family grave. As you can see this document tells us who the stonemason was, the dimensions of the memorial and the inscription.

In loving memory of George Boucher died 8th July 1915 aged 61 years also Mary Boucher died 25th February 1943 aged 88 also Alice and Ethel their beloved daughters.

The owner of the grave was Annie Elizabeth Boucher who lived at 30 Swindon Road. The grave plot is C484 and the memorial cost in total £3 10s.

Alice died in 1897 aged 16. Ethel died in 1956 aged 70.

George and Mary Anne were originally from Herefordshire where they married in 1877.  They both came from farming families and were neighbours living in Cublington.

By 1881 they had moved to Swindon and lived in 19 Thomas Street Rodbourne. George worked as a Machine Man in E & M shop in the works. 

Ten years later and George was now a machine manager in the Iron Works and the couple had 7 children and lived at 54 Linslade Street.

By 1901 the family were living at 111 Linslade Street and the elder children had left home. Emily 22 was working as a parlour maid while Ethel 15 was a machinist in the shirt factory.

At the time of the 1911 census the couple had just two children living at home in Linslade Street. William had followed his father into the works as an engine fitter and Ethel was a machinist at the Cellular Clothing Company.

Henry died on July 8, 1915 and Mary in 1943. Ethel was still living at 111 Linslade Street when she died in 1956, so the family occupied that house for more than 50 years.

A 1917 Trade Directory lists Annie as a shopkeeper at 30 Swindon Road, which was her last home in the 1960s. She died at Cheriton Nursing Home  on 31 December, 1962. She doesn't appear to be buried in Radnor Street Cemetery and she certainly isn't in this grave. She left effects valued at more than £5,000 to be administration of two solicitors. She never married and I'm guessing there were no family members left.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Women's Exhibition and Sale of Work

In the lead up to 2018, the 100th anniversary of when some (though not all) women got the vote, join us for events celebrating suffragettes and Edith New.

Swindon Suffragette in collaboration with Swindon Heritage will be holding a Women's Exhibition and Craft Sale at Christ Church Community Rooms on November 12, 1-4. The inspiration for this event is the Women's Exhibition of 1909 held at the Prince's Skating Rink, Knightsbridge in 1909.

During the lead up to the event I will be publishing extracts from the suffragette newspaper Votes for Women following preparations as they developed.

The Women's Exhibition

The arrangements for the great exhibition to be held in the Prince’s Skating Rink by the Women’s Social and Political Union from May 13 to May 26 are already in active progress. The response to the appeal of Mrs Pethick Lawrence is bearing splendid fruit, and a very large number of friends of the Union have already come forward and offered to take their part towards making the exhibition a great success.

In the first place, the decoration and general arrangement of the colour scheme has been placed in the hands of Miss Sylvia Pankhurst, who will carry out the design throughout the whole of the building, and those who have seen and appreciated Miss Pankhurst’s work will know that a delightful effect is sure to be produced.

With regard to the exhibits, a number of ideas have already been forwarded to headquarters, and some of these are being undertaken, and others are being considered. It is too early yet to give any details, but from time to time we shall be able to describe the arrangements which are being made.
As announced last week, the whole of the entertainment programme will be provided by theActreses’ Franchise League. Arrangements are being made to set aside a special part of the exhibition for this purpose, and this will undoubtedly prove one of the most attractive and interesting features. It is quite impossible for the Union to express in words how much it owes to the generous men and women who are so kindly offering their services for the purpose.

We have also made good progress with the allotment of stalls to the local unions and to private individuals. The Kensington Women’s Social and Political Union have generously offered to take charge of two stalls, which will be of different characters. One will be a general stall and the other a millinery stall. We shall hope to be able to announce in a later issue more particulars as to these. The Streatham WSPU have also decided to take one stall, and they are making arrangements to devote it almost entirely to children’s clothing. Several other local unions are considering the possibility of taking one whole stall or of taking part of a stall together with other local unions; their committees are meeting in the course of the next week or two, and definite announcements will then be forthcoming. The various districts represented by the different campaigns which are being undertaken by the organisers of the NWSPU are also making themselves responsible for one or more stalls. Bristol and Bath are going to provide one stall, and Torquay, Plymouth, and Paignton are going to provide another stall. Lancashire will be represented by a stall, and Yorkshire by another; for the Yorkshire stall special preparations are being made for local commodities; among others there will be a division for Yorkshire foods, such as Yorkshire parkin and home-made pickles, etc. Birmingham has undertaken to supply one stall, and Scotland will also be represented.

We are glad to be able to announce that Mrs Garrett Anderson, MD, Mayor of Aldeburgh, has promised to be responsible for one stall. The Writers’ League, who President is Miss Elizabeth Robins, have promised another – a bookstall, which will attract great interest. Our friends the YHB, have undertaken to be responsible for one stall. A sweet stall is promised by Miss Flora Macdonald and Miss M Thompson, with whom will be associated Miss Leggatt. This promises to be very popular. Lady Sybil Smith has kindly undertaken to provide a stall where a speciality is to be made of lamp and candle shades and other fancy articles. Mrs Thomas is providing one stall. The Misses Beck and Mrs Marshall and others are providing a novelty in the way of a farm produce stall; their attendants will all be dressed in country costume, and considerable interest will attach to the articles of sale.

Mrs Murrell and Miss C Turle are offering to supply one-quarter of a stall each. We shall be glad to hear of one or two other ladies who would be willing to complete this. Mrs East of Chiswick, is providing a lucky tub. Mrs Ward Higgs, Mrs Willock, and Mrs Lucksmoore are each sending goods to the value of £15; Miss Solomon goods to the value of £10; Mrs Fergusson and Mrs Edwards goods to the value of £5. A number of other friends are expecting to be able to give us definite promises in the course of the next day or two, so that we hope by our next issue to be able to give further particulars. We shall be glad to hear from those of our friends who are working for any of the stalls particulars which may be interesting, so that, as far as possible, we may keep our readers informed of our progress week by week.

Women's Exhibition 1909

Women's Exhibition 1909

Sylvia Pankhurst

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Letting off steam!

So the weather could have been a bit kinder, but did it really matter? STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway was packed to the rafters with railway enthusiasts old and young, while outside eight traction engines blew in chorus to the sound of the replica hooter.

There was something to interest everyone at the Swindon Railway Festival, and I'm going to do it all over again tomorrow.

Come down to STEAM, Fire Fly Avenue for Part II of the Railway Festival 10 am - 5 pm.

Bust of Daniel Gooch

See the latest copy of Swindon Heritage for the story of the man who saved the Medical Fund

Swindon Heritage editor Graham Carter on camera

Colin Hatch from Hatch Heritage & Steam Engineers Ltd and Neil Lover
Andy, Bob and Diane from the Swindon Society 

Colin Hatch gives last minute instructions to music mogul and model railway enthusiast, Pete Waterman

Friday, September 9, 2016

Spoilt for choice

This weekend must be the busiest in the year in Swindon. Not only is it Open Heritage Days, but it's Part II of the Swindon Open Studios event while the Swindon and Cricklade Railway are holding a Wartime Weekend and the Swindon Railway Festival takes place at STEAM.

Here are a few words about the STEAM event copied from their website.

'This year, we celebrate 175 years since the birth of Swindon as a railway town (Swindon175). As well as some of the UK's finest ever model railway layouts, we'll have our biggest live steam display yet, courtesy of Hatch Heritage & Steam Engineers. And among the superb traction engines, you'll get to see and hear the replica Swindon Works Hooter, successfully recreated by Colin Hatch for Swindon175.

The Hooter will sound at several points in the day. This will be a nostalgic reminder of how the Hooter was in the days of the Swindon Railway Works. (The Swindon Works Hooter could be heard at regular intervals every day: early in the morning, at lunchtime and at the end of the working day. It was used to ensure Swindon's railway workers got to work on time!)

Railway Festival Talks Programme – Saturday Only
Sir Daniel Gooch Theatre, STEAM Museum
11.30am Wartime GWR, Elaine Arthurs & Felicity Jones
12.30pm Swindon Works The Legends, Dr Rosa Matheson 
1.30pm A Year in the Life of the Great Western, Tim Bryan'

Visit the website for more information.

Lydiard House and the neighbouring church of St Mary's will be open to visitors. Call in and see the magnificent St John polyptych which is only open on a few occasions during the year.

Swindon Heritage along with the Swindon Society will have a stand at the STEAM Swindon Railway Festival so come along and see us.

And on Sunday the Swindon Heritage team will be conducting a guided tour of Radnor Street Cemetery, meet at the Chapel 2pm. If you've never had a walk around this historic cemetery, take an hour out of your busy Sunday to join Andy Binks and me. We have several new stories to tell.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Unveiling of Swindon Blue Plaques

Blue Plaques to honour Swindon’s brave WWII Fighter Pilots to be unveiled - 3pm on Thursday 8th September 2016.

Two of Swindon’s bravest sons will be honoured on Thursday 8th Sept 2016 when the Swindon Heritage Team unveils not one but two commemorative Blue Plaques in the heart of the town.

Brothers Harold Starr and Norman ‘John’ Starr were born in the Central Hotel, Regent Street, Swindon. The hotel was replaced with a cinema in the 1930’s and today the Art Deco building houses the popular Weatherspoon’s pub, The Savoy. As soon as were approached about the idea of having Blue Plaques on The Savoy they immediately said yes and have been assisting with logistics ever since.

Squadron Leader Harold Starr (1914 – 1940) was born and raised in Swindon. He bailed out of his burning Hurricane during the Battle of Britain in 1940 but was gunned to death by a Messerschmitt as he floated down to earth in his parachute. His wife was carrying their unborn child. He is buried in Radnor St Cemetery in Swindon in a Commonwealth War Grave. He was 25 years old.

Wing Commander Norman John Starr DFC and BAR (1917 – 1945) was born and raised in Swindon. He was shot down and killed whilst piloting an Avro Anson over Dunkirk in 1945. He was flying back to England to get married to his sweetheart the following day. He never made it back. He is buried along with his three crew members in Dunkirk Town Cemetery in a Commonwealth War Grave. He was 27 years old.

As featured in the Swindon Heritage Magazine, these will be the second and third of our ongoing Blue Plaque scheme. Our first plaque unveiled was earlier this year in North Street, Old Town and is dedicated to Swindon born suffragette, Edith New.

Funding for our heroic pilots’ plaques was made possible by donations from the public and Starr family members via:

The Magazine is a quarterly publication. £4.99 per edition. 
Plaques will be installed by Chris Garrett. He also fitted the Edith New plaque.
Unveiling the plaques will be by the pilots’ Nephew, 93 year old retired Squadron Leader Peter Starr Mills and Great Niece Sue Giles.
Location: Savoy Pub, 38-40 Regent Street, Swindon, SN1 1JL
Contact: Noel Beauchamp 07980720593

Squadron Leader Harold Starr

Wing Commander Norman John Starr

Harold Starr's grave in Radnor Street Cemetery