Published in the West Sussex Gazette on 19th July 2001.
Harold Taylor was born in 1926. His mother was a widow from the First World War, although her husband did survive the battles, only to succumb to the influenza epidemic which followed, leaving her with three children to bring up (Harold's half siblings). Harold goes on to tell us about his mother's background.
She was an only child and illegitimate at that, born in 1884 and christened at Ford Church.
Her mother had worked at the Railway Hotel, Ford as a cook. My mother's father is a mystery, although some say that he was the ostler at the hotel. From what I remember my mother telling me, I think he was either a gentleman visiting, or his carriage man. She told me she can recall when she was very young that two ladies used to visit her mother from a carriage, and that she was always sent outside when they came.
Mother left school at nine and worked as a kitchen maid to her mother. The only place of work I can recall her telling me of was at a place in Ireland, which must have been on the West Coast. The family she cooked for was one of the owners of the Cunard White Star line. I recall her memories of kissing the Blarney Stone, and always imagined it was on a bridge over a stream until I visited the area myself, only recently.
I believe the family's name was Montcalm. The lady gave her a gold sovereign to keep until she was really in trouble. She did not part with it until after I was born, and then only lent it, always intending to recover it, though she never did.
The exact circumstances of her first marriage I do not know, but her family in general came from Wick. Her first husband worked at the gas works in Arundel. I think he was foreman. He came from London, and the house he lived in was pointed out to me during the Second World War. It was in the road that leads from Victoria Station to the Houses of Parliament. I understand it was a block of offices and the family were caretakers, living in the basement.
During the First World War my mother was a lamp lighter for Deans Gate Yard in the law offices area, which would be near to where she was living. I do know also that she lived in the Portland Dockyard area for a while.
Her mother, it would appear, lived with her brother and his family at Wick, and married a man from the East Preston Workhouse, although for some obscure reason never lived with him. My mother did adopt his name of Newnham, however, before her marriage. I gather that this man did not die till after the Second World War, but I do not know anyone who was aware of him or visited him. My eldest half sister, Florence, (seventeen years older than me) always said he was a horrible man.
Harold's mother subsequently met his father in the 1920's and they went on to marry, having three children together, Harold being the youngest.
This article was published in the West Sussex Gazette on 19th July 2001