The Kents
The Rottenburys The Fishleys Beer, birth place of Jack Rattenbury The Williams
On the 12th of August 1874 Elizabeth Chapple and Edward Kent had a son, Henry John Kent, who was born at 1 Prospect Villa, Gipsy Road, Norwood. Gipsy Road is where my parents were living when I was born, though I was actually born in King's College Hospital.

The family appears to have moved from Prospect Villa before the 1881 census was taken and at present I don't know if Henry John had any brothers or sisters.

Henry John Kent married Elizabeth Marian Crouch Bewley on Boxing Day 1896 at St Luke's Church, West Norwood. She was a midwife and layer out of the dead, "she was a real white witch," according to my mother Merlyn Brind (nee Williams). Marion knew all about herbs. Henry and Elizabeth's son George Edmund Fishley Kent was born on the 1st of October in the following year.

My grandmother, Jessie Elizabeth Kent, was born on the 12th of February 1899, possibly at Romany Road. "At one stage they all lived in Romany Road," my Mum told me. "I have got a strong feeling my mother was born in Romany Road."

She had several sisters including Liz (born on Boxing Day, 1908, her parent's Wedding Anniversary), Annie, Ethel and Olwen (born on April 27, 1913).

Henry John Kent Boxing Day 1896 at
St Luke's Church, West Norwood
Elizabeth Marian Crouch Bewley
d. January 23, 1949
See certificate
b. November 15, 1875 see certificate
George Edmund Fishley Jessie Elizabeth Liz Annie Ethel Olwen
b. 1/10/1897 b. 12/2/1899 b. 26/12/1908     b. 127/4/1913

1949 Death in the Sub-district of Lambeth South in the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth South
No. When and where died Name and surname Sex Age Rank or Profession Cause of Death Signature, Description and Residence of Informant When Registered Signature of Registrar
62 Twenty third January 1949
57 Clive Road
Henry John Kent Male 73 years Retired General Labourer Carcionoma? of stomach
Certified by ??? L.R.C.A.S.
In attendance
174a Romany Road SE27
Twenty fifth January 1949 R C Law Registrar
REGINALD CHAPMAN LAW Registrar of Births and Deaths for the Sub-District of LAMBETH SOUTH in the METROPOLITAN BOROUGH 0F LAMBETH do hereby certify that this is a true copy of the Entry No. 62 in the Register Book of Deaths for the said Sub-District and that such Register Book is now legally in my custody
11th day of February 1949

I, the undersigned, Do hereby Certify that the Birth of Elizabeth Marian Crouch Bewley
born on the 15th day of November 1875 has been duly Registered by me
Witness my hand, this 18(5?) day of December 1875
W Edwards? Registrar of Births and Deaths
Trinity, Newington Sub-District

Edward Williams met his wife to be, Jessie Kent, at TMC (Telephone Manufacturing Company) in Tritton Road, a turning off Clive Road. They both worked there during the First World War. "My Dad had been invalided out of the army and my Mum was working there," my Mum told me. "Half the people in Norwood worked there at one time. My Mum was putting Dope (possibly a cellulose type paint) on the wings of aeroplanes. My Dad was always very good with his hands. He may have been involved in aeroplane making." Mum doesn't know how her father met her mother but says: "Mum was the eldest of four or five girls. There was always a crowd of them." Perhaps they just met up, she suggests.

Edward & Jessie courted for a long time before they got married and they were married for four years before they had their first daughter, June, who had a stillborn twin. Marian was not the midwife when my mother Merlyn was born (at 10 o clock at night). Jessie hated the midwife, for some reason.

Jessie Kent's father (Henry John Kent) tried to talk her out of marrying Edward Williams because of his health. Doctors said Edward only had about a year to live. "She said 'never mind if I can have him for a year, I will'," my Mum told me.

Edward & Jessie moved in with her parents at 57 Clive Road, a three bedroom house containing grandfather, grandmother, mother, father and four daughers. There was one sink, one tap and no hot water.

The tenancy was in the name of Henry John Kent (grandfather). My Mum says: "When grandfather died, which was just before we were married, they swapped the lease to grandmother. When grandmother died they wouldn't swap the tenancy again so mother and father were evicted. They got a flat in Canterbury Grove through the council because the council had taken over unoccupied premises. They (her parents) were actually council tenants though it wasn't council property and they were there till my father died."

Clive Road only had an outside loo (a privy) and no bathroom. It had a big garden in which grandfather grew a lot of herbs The plumbing was extremely basic and there was no running water upstairs. "My father paid for the electricity to be put in," said Mum. "We had gas only until I was about 10. ...the landlord point blank refused to do anything."

The agents, who may have been Montague F Long or Veriyard & Yates, claimed that they had no power to do anything but collect the rent because the property was in Chancery, the subject of a dispute about a will. The rent was 15s a week (75p). "Bear in mind my father was earning about £3 so it was a considerable rent," said Mum.

The house no longer exists. It was demolished in the 1980s or early 1990s. Mum lived there from the day she was born until she got married, except when she was evacuated during the war. "I was only about 12 if that," she said. "We went to Ditchford in Gloucestershire... June must have been 14 and they wouldn't let her go to (the local school)...I went there for a while...

Ditchford was a tiny hamlet, consisting of a farm, a pub and a few cottages. They lived in one of two cottages in the middle of a field. Mum recalls that they got billeting money, so it wasn't totally unauthorised. "My uncle Tom found an empty cottage in the middle of a field," she said. "My Aunt Olwen and the three boys they had then, and my mother went down by train and then we got a lift from the station (Moreton in the Marsh) on a big lorry."

There were two women, seven small children in a cottage which had no water, no electricity, no gas, no anything. "We had to pump the water," she said. "The pump was on the sink in the house."

"The funny thing is that the people who lived in the next door cottage their name was Kent," Mum said. "They were evacuees too."

The Education authorities were not happy about the arrangement saying that June should have been attending school at Stratford on Avon.

"The education authority said they would give us bicycles but my mother said no way would we bicycle 14 miles there and back," Mum says. "So we were then sent to Reigate." At Reigate there was a proper Grammar School but they didn't get on with the locals. Mum says they were "too insular".

"They didn't like us being there," she said. "They used to call us 'them refugees'. They wouldn't let us have sweets in the shops. They used to say 'they're for local children'. "The people I stayed with the woman was a bitch, (Mrs Snashfold). She hated kids. She didn't want any and she didn't want us."

Honour Oak, the West Norwood school, moved to Reigate County Girls where the two schools shared facilities. Both schools had to offer part time education. "We had to go all day Saturday and got all day Monday off," Mum said. "In summer we used to have a lot of lessons out on the grass." Later the school took over a large house called Rosemead and the evacuees went there for lessons.

Mum became ill: "I was taken to hospital and when I came out of hospital my mother came and took me and I went home and then June moved in and stayed the rest of the war. They said I was suffering from malnutrition... I was the thinnest girl in the school in those days... I used to pass out in lessons... we were so appallingly badly fed... they would give us a bowl of cereals for breakfast and then they'd give us bread and jam for tea and of course we had disgustingly awful meals (for lunch) it was uneatable." The people who were supposed to look after them thought they were getting a proper meal at lunch and therefore skimped on the other meals.

When Mum returned home she went back to her own school now run as the South London Emergency School. "I stayed there until I was 17," she said, "when we had the buzz bombs and the rockets... I did school certificate during a buzz bomb raid, doodlebugs... We spent more time in shelters than we did in the classroom we became experts at all the pencil games."

The shelter was a bricked up classroom on the ground floor which had been made as safe as it could be.

After the sisters returned home the school transferred from Reigate to Ebbw Vale but their mother wouldn't hear of them going there.

Audrey passed her scholarship and started at Honour Oak and Gwen followed, though that may have been after the War.

"There had been other families where four had passed but we were the first family where all four had passed the scholarship and there were only the four," she said. "There was a bit in the paper, my mum kept it for years."

June made the front page of the Norwood Press and Dulwich Advertiser of January 24, 1941, with a letter she sent home.

"Evacuee Tells Her Story

The following has been received by our contributor "Wonavus". It comes from Miss June Williams of Clive Road, West Dulwich, now evacuated to Morton in the Marsh, Gloucestershire.

The Editor welcomes news and experiences from the young people of our neighbourhood who are enjoying the quiet and novelty of rural life.

"I am an evacuee from West Dulwich, having come away at the end of September, 1940, with my mother and three younger sisters. Each week my grandmother sends me papers to read, and while looking at the Press I noticed what you had said about wanting to hear from evacuees, and I thought that you might be interested to hear about us.

"We arrived here just at the end of summer, and had a few perfect weeks of sunshine. In fact we were able to pick blackberries right up till the beginning of December, the weather was so good.

"We are in one of two cottages on a large farm of 300 acres. There is plenty of amusement and noise since, including myself, there are seven children in our cottage and four next door, they being also evacuees from London.

"We have to get our milk from the farm dairy (quarter mile) and every thing has to be fetched either from the nearest village (two miles away) or the nearest town (three miles) as nobody will come so far to deliver. My three sisters have to walk two miles, which is rather hard when one has not been used to it! When in Dulwich I attended James Alleyn's Girls' School and I have got to go six miles to the nearest high school at Campden.

"All weekend we had been looking forward to attending an evacuees party and when we were told that it had been postponed because the roads impassable owing to snow it was rather a disappointment but all the other kiddies never murmured and we were consoled by the fact that we have the party to come!

"Every night we have visits from the farm animals, including cows, bullocks sheep and the bull. I woke up one morning to find that a sow had got into the coal shed. With the help of the cowman's wife we managed to get her out and we learnt next morning that she had had ten little piglets.

"Instead of a postman we have a red mail van draw up to the door with letters from home, and oh what a rush there is to receive them.

"I hope that all this hasn't bored you but everything up here is so different from London that I thought the people of West Norwood would be interested to hear of our life here.

"Everything is so quiet that the little children forget until reminded that there is a war on except that they miss their daddy whom they only see on occasional weekends.

"I should like to thank all our friends in Dulwich and Norwood through you who have so kindly asked about us.

"I am a Girl Guide and if I should be lucky enough to have this printed I should like Miss O English of 44 Westow Street, Upper Norwood, to know that I am still a Guide even if I can't attend meetings.

"Hoping that you and your family (if any) are well."

June also featured in the Daily Herald when she won a public speaking contest. Shirley Williams, the former Labour Minister, came second and the coverage was along the lines Williams beat Williams.

Edward Williams, my Grandfather, became a Meter repair tester. A delicate fiddly job. His health was never very good. He had a struggle keeping himself on his feet to go to work.

When my parents got married Mum said: "We lived in a horrible basement room in Gipsy Road. You had to go down three steps from the front. "They had just the one room and eventually there were two children (myself and Simon) living there.

In this one room the local Labour Party ward used to meet. Some of my earliest speaking lessons came from Labour members who tried to teach me to say 'Up the reds'.

The house was owned by a bloke called Davy who lived upstairs. He happened to be a Conservative Councillor and used his house as the Committee Rooms during elections.

One election they put up a Labour Poster and Davy tried to cover it up. One of the Labour Party members called round the police.

"A lot of councillors visited," Mum said. "They said we will have you out of here. He (Dad ) said there is a ten year waiting list. They said we will condemn it."

And so they did. It was condemned and became a garage and Mum and Dad got a council flat.

The council flat was at Moreton House, maisonettes opposite a tower block. Dad stood as a candidate for the council in a strong Tory seat around the Wolfington Road area in May 1956 . He himself had been presented to a GMC meeting as the latest recruit when he was only a few weeks old by his father. Mum was in the hospital on polling day giving birth to Simon.

At an earlier election I was in the pram whilst Mum was taking numbers outside the polling station.

June was elected a councillor in May 1956. The Williams were all very active in the Labour Party. Grandfather was the secretary of his union. The Williams basically were the ward.

My other grandfather was secretary agent for Norwood.

The Rottenburys The Fishleys Beer, birth place of Jack Rattenbury The Williams