Thursday, 30 April 2015

Albert Edward Wilkins (1923-2014), L.E.B (Southern Area Administrator)

The following item was written by Russell Wilkins, a second cousin of mine.

Albert Edward Wilkins was my father. This profile contains information and some anecdotes he told me and some details of family history, that I have gained mainly from photographs and his habit of writing details of the photograph on the back.

Ted was born on 27th July 1923 in Abbey Wood (Vincent Terrace, Abbey Road). He was the only child of Albert Henry Wilkins and Beatrice Louisa Wilkins (nee Tothill). As a child / young man he was known as Eddie and later as Ted.

Although his father Albert Henry died tragically of heart failure when Eddie was only five, he had already had several holidays with him at Ramsgate, Eastbourne and Isle of Wight.

Eddie with his Dad in 1928

After the death of his father, his mother Beatrice continued to run the “Wilkins Dining Rooms” and “The Four Aces Snack Bar” which were family owned and provided Eddie with a happy and quite privileged childhood.

School photo showing Eddie 2nd row, 3rd from left, the best turned out boy in the picture?

Living in and around the family businesses, he became a great collector of cigarette cards, collecting over one hundred and fifty sets. He also had a considerable stamp collection. Although he had no brothers or sisters he was very close to his cousin Ron (Finnis) also his cousin Florrie (Wilkins) and his Aunt Daisy (Finnis).

Young Eddie with his Mum Beatrice and her sister Daisy Finnis

Eddie was almost 15 years old when he started work for the Electricity Board, but when the 2nd World War started he was called upon to be an ARP warden.

Eddie (in foreground) with other ARP wardens at Christmas Dinner in shelter under Burton’s shop in Powis Street, Woolwich.

In 1942 when he was 19 years old, Eddie joined the Royal Air Force, Transport Command. It was in 1943 when he left from Glasgow, sailing down the Clyde on the Orient Line troopship The Orion via Cape Town to Durban. On route their convoy picked up two seaman who had been adrift for 84 days. From Durban my father boarded The Bergenfjord, a Norwegian ship “that made the Orion seem luxurious”. They sailed northward, my Dad said that a big moment for him was when he was leaning over the ship’s rail one late afternoon, when he noticed some of the convoy move off eastward and he thought “thank God I’m going to Egypt not India”. His next stop on ship was Aden then into the Red Sea, to Port Tewfic on the Suez Canal Egypt where he disembarked. He spent 1943/4 in North Africa, moving from Ismalia, Suez, Jemalia, Cairo, Giza, Tourbrook, Benghazi, Borca Pass, Tripoli and Tunis in April 1944. From June 1944 he was in Sicily, Catania and Palermo. While he was in Sicily, Vesuvius erupted and the RAF evacuated all inhabitants from the village of San Sabastiano on the slopes of Vesuvius, without any casualties.

Lava blocking the line of the Funicular Trolley up Mt Vesuvius.

It was during his time in Sicily and later in Italy that Eddie formed his great love of opera. He moved with his command into Italy late 1944 early 1945, where in January 1945 his command group had an audience with the Pope in the Vatican City. During the entire period of his active service, he wrote to and received letters from his mother Beatrice, highlighting the closeness of the bond between them.

Having risen to the lofty heights of Corporal, he was pleased to be demobbed on the 8th December 1946 and returned to work for the London Electricity Board. Earlier, in March 1946, he married Joyce Irene Fletcher, the daughter of Charles and Charlotte Fletcher, who had a newsagent’s business on Winn’s Common, in Plumstead. Eddie and Joyce had a son, Russell Neil (me) on 27th September 1949, in the Hainault Hospital, Erith. The marriage did not last and my parents divorced in 1951.

He married for a second time in 1955, this also ended in divorce, and there were no further children. In 1965 Eddie/Ted married for a third time, to Sheila Mildred Matcham, the daughter of a trawler-man from Cleethorpes, Grimsby. They met in Yugoslavia in 1959 when they were both on holiday. Their first home was in Nithdale Road, Plumstead, then a flat in Wessex Drive, Erith. After a few more years they moved the short distance across the road to a 3 bed semi in Wessex Drive, where they lived happily for over 40 years.

Ted became a grandfather in 1977, when his son Russ and wife Diane had a daughter Gemma (DOB 2.6.77), Ted had two further grandchildren, Lois (DOB 5.11.83) and Edward (Eddie) (DOB 1.6.87) from Russ’s second marriage to Lyndsey in 1982.

Ted with his grandchildren in 1995

He enjoyed his grandchildren and was never happier than when he teased them. He became a great grandfather on 20.12.03, when Eloise was born to grand-daughter Gemma. He always took great pride in all of his offspring.

Ted spent his entire working career within the electricity industry with the L.E.B and latterly with E.D.F., rising to become the Area Administrator, spending periods of time at Woolwich, Erith and finally Bexleyheath Head Office.

With Sheila, Ted continued to enjoy many foreign holidays and was particularly fond of Rhodes (one of the Greek Islands), which he visited many times with Sheila. He gained much enjoyment from watching Charlton Athletic FC over many seasons, through thick and thin, mainly thin. Other interests included reading, opera, classical music and the garden, which Sheila had crammed with varieties of plants and shrubs of many colours and provided many happy hours for Sheila and Ted.

Ted & Sheila in their garden

When Ted first retired he became a volunteer driver for a local hospital. Although unable to take holidays abroad in his later years, he still enjoyed many holidays in this country, but as his health deteriorated in the last couple of years, these became impossible. He was married to Sheila for over 48 years, the majority of which were spent living at Wessex Drive until the last few weeks of his life which were spent in Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, until he passed away on 6th February 2014 aged 90.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Mabel Barry / Lanyon nee Wilkins (1891-1957)

Mabel was born on October 1st 1891 in Woolwich. She was the youngest of nine children (two boys and seven girls) of Henry and Jane Wilkins. One of Mabel’s sisters was my grandmother Gertrude Amy Wilkins (1890-1919).

When Mabel was born her family was living at 31 Kidd Street, Woolwich Dockyard, which was the address of the grocery shop run by Henry Wilkins. In 1900, he began to operate a coffee house at 11 Church Street, Woolwich. The 1901 census shows Henry (aged 50, a coffee house keeper), Jane (49), Albert (23), Alice (21), Ethel (19), Bessie (16), Annie (15), Herbert (13), Gertrude (11) and Mabel (9) living at this address.

Mabel was still living at 11 Church St in 1911. The census gives her age as 19 and her occupation as a rubber casing machine hand working for Siemens Brothers Electrical Works. Also at the address were her father Henry (62, a dining room keeper), mother Jane (59), sister Gertrude (21) and niece Florence Wilkins (7).
Mabel at the marriage of her sister Gertrude in 1912

In 1913 Mabel married Laurence Barry in Woolwich. He was aged 25, she was 21. His occupation in the 1911 census was “fireman (ship)”. This was a rating for Merchant Navy seamen working in the engine room. Mabel and Laurence went on to have three children, Laurence Robert in 1915, Norah Annie in 1918 and Dennis in 1921. Dennis died soon after he was born.

In 1915, Laurence volunteered to join the army to fight in the war. He was a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery and was sent to Egypt, where he arrived on 30th October 1915. He survived the war, returned home and rejoined the Merchant Navy.
Laurence Barry's Merchant Navy record card 

Electoral registers show Mabel and her family living at 5 Glass Yard, Woolwich from 1922 to 1932. They moved to 38 Arsenal Road, Eltham in 1933. The electoral register for 1939 shows Mabel and Laurence living at this address with their children Laurence and Norah. The 1939 national register shows that Mabel's husband Laurence was by then working as crane driver in a brass foundry.
38 Arsenal Road (in 2012)

Mabel's son Laurence Robert Barry joined the Merchant Navy in 1930. On August 23rd 1940, he was on board SS Cumberland, which was in a convoy heading from Liverpool to Curacao. The Cumberland was torpedoed by a German submarine. Laurence, aged 24, and three other of the ship's crew of 58 were killed.

Mabel's husband Laurence died in 1942 aged 53 in Woolwich. Probate records show that administration of his estate (value £535) was granted to Mabel. She remarried in 1943 to Charles Lanyon. She was aged 52, he was 55. Charles’s first wife, Ethel had died earlier that year. The 1945 electoral register shows Mabel and Charles at 38 Arsenal Road with Charles’s children Gladys Mamie (born 1917) and Harold (born 1921). Gladys had moved out by 1949. Mabel, Charles and Harold continued to live at this address until Mabel died on July 1st 1957 aged 65. She was buried in Plumstead cemetery in the same grave (K / 2031) as her first husband Laurence. Probate for her estate (value £2097) was issued to Charles Lanyon (a retired carpenter) and Norah Annie Stemman (her daughter, who was married to John Stemman). Charles died in 1967 aged 79.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Albert Henry Wilkins (1877-1928), dining room keeper, and his wife Beatrice Louisa Wilkins nee Tothill (1885-1959)

This item includes information and photos kindly supplied by Russell Wilkins, Albert's grandson.

Albert Henry Wilkins was the eldest brother of Gertrude Amy Wilkins (1890-1919), who was the mother of Eric William Taylor (1913-2003), my father. Albert was born on 26th December 1877 at 13 Whitworth Place, Plumstead, the second child of Henry Wilkins and his wife Jane (nee Cornwell). When Albert was born, Henry’s occupation was fresh meat dealer.

The family was still living at 13 Whitworth Place, when Albert was baptized at St Mary Magdalene, Woolwich on 27 Jan 1878. The 1881 census shows Henry Wilkins aged 29, a greengrocer and dairyman, living at 21 Prospect Place, Woolwich with his wife Jane (29) and their children Elizabeth (5), Albert (3) and Alice (1).

In 1891 the Wilkins family were living at 31 Kidd St (a shop), Woolwich Dockyard and consisted of Henry (aged 41, a grocer), Jane (40), Elizabeth (15), Albert (13), Alice (11), Ethel (9), Cecilia (7), Annie (5), Herbert (3) and Gertrude (1). Kidd St is now called Wood Hill. The site of 31 Kidd St is now occupied by modern housing. 

Albert Henry Wilkins aged about 18

The 1901 census lists Henry Wilkins aged 50, a coffee house keeper, living at 11 Church Street, Woolwich with his wife Jane (49) and children Albert (23, machinist shell factory), Alice (21, shirt machinist), Ethel (19, cook domestic), Cecilia (called Bessie, 16, shirt machinist), Annie (15), Herbert (13), Gertrude (11) and Mabel (9). The site of 11 Church Street is now occupied by post war housing.

On 2nd January 1910, Albert (aged 32, a tram conductor) married Beatrice Louisa Tothill (aged 24, born on the Old Kent Road in London, her father was a coachman) at St Michael and All Angels Church, Woolwich. 

Marriage register entry

The 1911 census shows the couple living in 3 rooms at 9 Vincent Terrace, Abbey Road, Abbey Wood. Albert’s occupation is given as a tramway conductor, employed by London County Council. Albert's grandson, Russell Wilkins, has the ticket holder that he used.

Albert was a witness on the parish record of the marriage of his sister Gertrude (my grandmother) in 1912. 

Albert aged about 40

In 1911 Albert’s father Henry left his business premises in Church Street and opened Dining Rooms at 14 Beresford Street, Woolwich. Albert and Beatrice took over the business after Henry died in 1915. They lived at 499 Abbey Road, Abbey Wood (Albert’s sister Gertrude was living at 503 Abbey Road in 1916). Electoral registers from 1923 to 1929 show Jane (Henry’s widow), Albert and Beatrice Wilkins at 14 Beresford Street.

Albert and Beatrice had a son, Albert Edward Wilkins, in 1923, when Albert was aged 45 and Beatrice was 38.

The photo above (taken c 1927) shows the Wilkins Dining Rooms in Beresford Street. The people standing in the doorway are (from left to right), Florence Graham nee Wilkins (Albert's niece), Albert and his wife Beatrice. My father had memories of visiting the dining rooms when a child (after attending church at the Baptist Tabernacle opposite) and being given a meal by Beatrice (known to him as “Aunt Beat”).

Beatrice Louisa Wilkins nee Tothill

Albert Henry Wilkins died of heart failure on 31st December 1928 aged 51 years. The probate index record for him shows that he left no will and that administration of his estate (valued at £498 4s 3d), was granted to his widow, Beatrice, who continued to run the business at 14 Beresford Street after his death. Jane Wilkins lived there until she passed away in 1934. 

In 1939 Beatrice (aged 54) married Thomas Charles Nicolls (aged 62). They are shown in the photo above. The 1939 national register shows Beatrice (a caterer) and Thomas (a steel sawyer) living at 14 Beresford St. My mother remembered visiting the dining rooms in 1940 with my father and that Aunt Beat gave them gifts of food that was rationed during the war. Thomas died in 1945. My parents kept in touch with Beatrice - she was a godmother to my sister Evelyn.

The photo above shows the redesigned front of the dining rooms at 14 Beresford Street after the war. Beatrice continued to run the business until 1951. Beresford Street has been redeveloped and the building that housed Henry’s / Albert’s / Beatrice’s dining rooms no longer exists. Beatrice also owned the Four Aces Snack Bar, which was where the ambulance station on the new ferry approach is now. 

Four Aces Snack Bar

Beatrice died in 1959 aged 73. Albert and Beatrice are buried in grave O/115 in Woolwich Cemetery. The headstone (which is in good condition) is inscribed
Sacred to the memory of ALBERT WILKINS. A dear devoted husband and father who was called beyond suddenly 31st December 1928, aged 51 years. His life was all unselfishness, his end was peace, perfect peace. Also BEATRICE wife of the above, who died 16th March 1959, aged 73 years

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Laurence Robert Barry (1915-40), Merchant Navy seaman who died in WW2

Laurence Robert Barry was born on November 30th 1915 in Woolwich, the eldest child of Laurence (1887-1942) and Mabel (1891-1957) Barry who married in 1913. Later they had two other children, namely Norah Annie born in 1918 and Dennis born and died in 1921. Mabel’s maiden name was Wilkins and she was a younger sister of my grandmother Gertrude Taylor nee Wilkins (1890-1919). Laurence Robert Barry was a cousin of my father, Eric William Taylor (1913-2003), although my father seems to have lost touch with most of his Wilkins relations and never mentioned him to me.

Electoral registers show Laurence and Mabel Barry living at 5 Glass Yard, Woolwich from 1922 to 1932. They moved to 38 Arsenal Road, Eltham in 1933.

Laurence Barry senior was a Merchant Navy seaman. The FindMyPast website has records showing him in this occupation from 1919 to 1935. His son Laurence Robert followed the same career and joined the Merchant Navy when he was aged 14. He lied about his date of birth, giving it as November 30th 1914 (it was actually 1915). Laurence Robert’s first job was as a bellboy on RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Ascania, a Cunard Liner built in 1923. It carried passengers, mail and cargo on the route London-Southampton-Quebec-Montreal, switching to Halifax and New York during the winter. 

Laurence Robert's first Merchant Navy record card

Laurence senior also worked on RMS Ascania in 1925, 1929 and 1935. In 1925 and 1929 he is described as a “Greaser”. This was a rating for Able Seamen working in the Engine Room Department of a ship. Greasers were responsible for keeping oil-levels in various sumps on generators, compressors (air and refrigeration), winches, steering-gear etc. topped-up. They kept all machinery in the engine-room and on deck lubricated. They would also make sure engine-room bilges were kept pumped-out, so were kept fairly busy both at sea and in port.

Laurence Robert worked on RMS Carinthia, another Cunard liner, in 1932 and 1933. In 1934 he was back on RMS Ascania. A Merchant Navy record card for him that year gives his height as 5 foot 4 inches, eyes blue, hair fair and complexion fair. He worked on other ships after this – a record card gives their numbers but not their names. 

1934 Merchant Navy record card

In 1938, Laurence Robert (aged 22) married Ann E Curry (aged 22) in Woolwich. They had a daughter in 1939.

The picture above was taken in 1939. The couple on the left hand side are Laurence Robert and Ann Barry. The photo was taken at the wedding of Thomas Henry Drake (a cousin of Laurence Robert) to Kathleen Marguerite Dunger in Woolwich.

After the Second World War was declared in 1939, Germany began to attack British shipping in an attempt to prevent food and materials reaching Britain. Many merchant ships were sunk, mainly by German submarines. About 36,000 British civilian seamen died during the war. On August 23rd 1940, Laurence Robert was working as a Greaser on board SS Cumberland, which was a cargo boat in a 32 ship convoy heading from Liverpool to Curacao. The Cumberland was torpedoed by German submarine U-57, 25 miles north east of Malin Head, County Donegal. Laurence Robert, aged 24, was killed. It seems likely that he was working in the engine room (which would have been below the waterline) when the torpedo struck. Laurence Robert’s body was not recovered. His name is on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London. Three other of the ship's crew of 58 also died. They were Greaser Thomas Herbert Baker aged 39, Greaser John Nicholas Donnelly aged 27 and Greaser James Reginald Tribbeck aged 21. The SS Cumberland sank on August 26th 1940.

Names on the Merchant Navy Memorial, Tower Hill

An inscription at the memorial reads “The twenty four thousand of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets whose names are honoured on the walls of this garden gave their lives for their country and have no grave but the sea.”

 The Merchant Navy Memorial, Tower Hill.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Diary of a Common Fan by Russ Wilkins

My second cousin, Russ Wilkins (grandson of Albert Henry Wilkins) has been a keen supporter of Charlton Athletic Football Club for many years. The club was founded in 1905. Russ kept a diary “of my thoughts, feelings and aspirations surrounding Charlton AFC’s Centenary Season 2004/05, as a committed but ordinary fan since 1961.” This was published as a book in 2005. Around 1100 copies sold.

The front cover of Russ’s book

The back cover of Russ’s book

Charlton were in the Premier League, playing against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, much wealthier clubs. In spite of this, after 29 games they were in a creditable 7th place in the league with 43 points. It seemed possible that Charlton could qualify for European competitions, for the first time in their history. However, as had happened regularly before, their form collapsed at the end of the season and they ended in 11th position, with 46 points from 38 games. Russ’s well written book describes the successes and the disappointments of the year. I found it to be a very enjoyable read, particularly for someone like me, who takes an interest in Charlton AFC’s fortunes.

Two sections of Russ’s book were included in “A London Year: 365 Days of City Life in Diaries, Journals and Letters”, compiled by Travis Elborough & Nick Rennison (2013). It contains extracts from the writings of Londoners (some famous and others not well known) from Tudor times to the twenty-first century.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Group photo from 1912 wedding between William Taylor and Gertude Wilkins

Russell Wilkins has shown me a copy of this picture from his late father's album. His photo has notes on the back identifying most of the adults in it. I have incorporated this info into the text below.

The wedding was 26 May 1912 at Holy Trinity Church, New Charlton. William (aged 22) and Gertrude (22) are in the front row, third and second from the right.

William Taylor was the 5th of 7 children and had 3 brothers and 3 sisters. Gertrude Wilkins was the 8th of 9 children and had 2 brothers and 6 sisters. The group seems to be mostly (perhaps all) members and friends of Gertrude’s family.

Other people in the group are :
Man in front row next to William – Herbert George Wilkins (aged 24)
Man in back row, second from left – Albert Henry Wilkins (34)
Herbert and Albert were Gertrude’s brothers and both witnessed the marriage certificate.
Old lady in front row on left – Gertrude’s mother Jane Wilkins nee Cornwell (60).
Woman in front row on right - Mabel Wilkins (20), Gertrude’s youngest sister.
Short woman in second row standing between Jane and Herbert Wilkins – Beatrice Louisa Wilkins nee Tothill (26), the wife of Albert Henry Wilkins.
Woman in second row on left - Daisy Gertrude M Tothill (24), a sister of Beatrice. Daisy married Albert E Finnis later in 1912.
Girl in back row next to Albert Henry Wilkins - Florence Wilkins (9), a daughter of Cecilia Mary Wilkins, who was a sister of Gertrude.
Woman in second row next to Beatrice - Maud Emily Dimon nee Slade (36), a Wilkins family friend. 
Woman in middle of second row, standing between Herbert and William – probably Ethel Suter nee Wilkins (30), Gertrude’s sister who later became William’s second wife after Gertrude died in 1919.
Woman on right hand side of second row – Mary Allen (known as Polly) Wilkins, wife of Herbert.

The other two adults in the group are standing third and second from the right in the second row. They could be Elizabeth Jane Jenkins nee Wilkins (36), who was Gertrude's eldest sister, and her husband Walter Hugh Jenkins (37). The man is holding a baby who could be their son, Stanley Hugh Jenkins, who was born in 1911.  

Monday, 8 December 2014

Henry Wilkins (1851-1915), grocer and coffee house keeper.

I have recently made contact with Russell Wilkins, who is a second cousin to me - he is a grandson of Albert Henry Wilkins (1877-1928). Russell has kindly provided some photos of Henry Wilkins and his wife Jane, which I have included in the article below. 

Henry Wilkins was my great grandfather. He was the father of Gertrude Amy Taylor nee Wilkins (1890-1919), who was the mother of Eric William Taylor (1913-2003), my father. Henry's name is given as Henry William Wilkins on Gertude’s marriage certificate and as Henry Albert Wilkins on the register for the marriage of his daughter Ethel. It is given as Henry Wilkins in all other records I have found.

Henry was born in about 1851 in Bethnal Green. His birth does not seem to have been registered and I can find no record of his baptism. Henry’s father was Henry Wilkins, who was born 1825 in Bethnal Green. His mother Sarah (nee Perryman), was born 1826 in Mile End, London. Henry was the second of their six children.

The 1861 census shows Henry Wilkins senior (aged 35, a cats meat dealer) living at 9 Sussex Place, Plumstead with his wife Sarah (34) and their children Sarah (10), Henry (8), William (5), Thomas (3) and Alfred (1).

In 1871 the family, consisting of Henry Wilkins senior (47, a street hawker), Sarah (47), Henry (20, a street hawker), William (17, a street hawker), Thomas (14), Alfred (13) and Ann (10) were living at 6 Taylor St, Woolwich. The house was near Woolwich Arsenal station but no longer exists.

On 28 October 1875, Henry married Jane Cornwell (from Kelvedon in Essex) at St Andrews Church, Islington. They were both listed as aged 24. Henry’s occupation is given as provision merchant. The church where they married still stands. It is in Thornhill Square, an area of Islington which still contains Victorian houses, most of which are in good condition.

Jane and Henry Wilkins

Henry and Jane’s first child, Elizabeth Jane was born on March 30th 1876 in Kelvedon, Essex. The dates indicate that Jane was pregnant when she married. Their next child Albert Henry, was born on the 26th December 1877. The family were then living at 13 Whitworth Place, Plumstead. Henry’s occupation is given as a fresh meat dealer. The rest of their children were Alice Annie (born 1879), Ethel (born 1881), Cecilia Mary (born 1884), Annie (born 1885), Herbert George (born 1888), Gertrude Amy (born 1890) and Mabel (born 1891), who were all born in Woolwich.

Parish records show that the family was still living at 13 Whitworth Place, Plumstead, when Albert Henry Wilkins was baptized on 27 Jan 1878 but had moved to 21 Prospect Place, Woolwich by the time Alice Annie was baptized on 16 Nov 1879. The 1881 census shows Henry Wilkins aged 29, a greengrocer and dairyman, living at 21 Prospect Place with his wife Jane (29) and their children Elizabeth (5), Albert (3) and Alice (1). They were still at this address on 24 Feb 1884 when Cecilia Mary was baptized.

In 1891 the Wilkins family were living at 31 Kidd St (a shop), Woolwich Dockyard and consisted of Henry (aged 41, a grocer), Jane (40), Elizabeth (15), Albert (13), Alice (11), Ethel (9), Cecilia (7), Annie (5), Herbert (3) and Gertrude (1). Kidd St is now called Wood Hill. The site of 31 Kidd St is now occupied by modern housing. 

The Greenwich Heritage Centre has Kelly's Directories for Woolwich. The earliest one they have is 1893 which lists Mrs Sarah Wilkins, Greengrocer, at 31 Kidd Street (Sarah Wilkins was Henry‘s mother – so it seems that Henry worked for the family business in 1891). The same entry appears every year until 1900. From 1901 to 1911 there are entries for Henry Wilkins, Dining Rooms at 11 Church Street, Woolwich Dockyard.

Jane Wilkins nee Cornwell in about 1900

The 1901 census lists Henry Wilkins aged 50, a coffee house keeper, living at 11 Church Street with his wife Jane (49) and children Albert (23, machinist shell factory), Alice (21, shirt machinist), Ethel (19, cook domestic), Cecilia (called Bessie, 16, shirt machinist), Annie (15), Herbert (13), Gertrude (11) and Mabel (9). The site of 11 Church Street is now occupied by post war housing.

Henry and his family were still living at 11 Church St in 1911. The household consisted of Henry (62, a dining room keeper), Jane (59), their daughters Gertrude (21) and Mabel (19) who were both rubber casing machine hands at Siemen’s Brothers Electrical Works and their granddaughter Florence Wilkins (7). Florence (born in 1903 when her mother was 19) was an illegitimate child of Henry’s daughter Cecilia Mary Wilkins. It is perhaps surprising that she wasn’t with her mother who married in 1905 and was living with her husband and their two daughters at 13 Gough St, Woolwich in 1911. The census return says that nine children were born to Henry and Jane of which eight were still living (their daughter Alice Annie died in 1910). The number of rooms the family occupied at 11 Church St is given as four. In 1901 ten people were living at this address, which must have been a squeeze !

The Kelly’s Directories for 1912 to 1916, show entries for Henry Wilkins, Dining Rooms at 14 Beresford Street, Woolwich. This is close to the main entrance to Woolwich Arsenal, which must have been good for business. There are no directories for 1917 to 1919, the next available ones being for 1920 and 1923, which list Albert Wilkins, Dining Rooms at 14 Beresford St (Albert was Henry‘s eldest son). The electoral register for 1914-15 lists Henry Wilkins as living at 14 Beresford Street. There are no more registers until 1919, when Beatrice Wilkins (Albert’s wife) is listed at the address.

The Wilkins Dining Rooms in Beresford Street, with Henry standing in the doorway. The photo was taken between 1912 and 1915.

Henry died on 15 July 1915 in Woolwich. The death register gives his age at death as 66. His wife Jane appears in the 1932 electoral register living with Beatrice Wilkins at 14 Beresford Street, but not at this address in 1933. Jane died 12 December 1934 aged 84. Both Henry and Jane were buried in Plumstead cemetery in grave K2058, together with their daughter Alice Sowersby nee Wilkins, who died in 1910 aged 30. I have located the plot, which is grassed over – there is no headstone or stonework.