In 1901, 14 year old Carrie had begun working as an eyelet maker which was probably very boring and poorly paid but the income would have been much needed.
Her father died in November 1901 leaving herself, her older brother Bill and her mother to look after five young boys aged between fifteen months and seven years old. This must have given a lot of responsibility to 14 year old Carrie and made life even harder for her.
I am indebted to Jean Walker, Caroline's granddaughter, for a lot of the information which follows.
Her eldest daughter Lilian died of "exhaustion and pulmonary tuberculosis" in 1931 aged just 21.
In 1936 her middle daughter Laura was married in the same church as Caroline and her husband.
Around 1938 Jack, Caroline and youngest daughter Lena went to live at 55 Ledbury Road, Bayswater. Jack was a master printer by then and had a printing business called "Rosewarne". They lived next door to the Hermsen family and it seems they had a 19 year old son, Anthony, who was infatuated with Lena from the first time he met her. Jean remembers, "I don't think it was exactly the same for my mum (Lena), he just worked on it. My grandfather didn't want my mother to marry my father, saying they were both too young, and it was wartime, but my nan (Caroline) said that she had had the same problem with her father years ago."
Anthony must have persuaded his future father-in-law, Caroline's husband, that it was a good idea to marry their daughter and they married in August 1940. They continued living at Ledbury Road and Jean recalls, "Great gran, Hannah, lived in the top flat where various sons would stay whenever they came back from service ....... All the printing machines were in the basement. Once it got flooded and my mum picked up a rat. We were watching on the steps that led down to it which was horrendous. I can't remember what was on the ground floor but there was a snooker table in a huge room above which had the kitchen behind that. I wasn't allowed to the top floor because great gran was up there with the dog ........ They had a full sized snooker table above the shop and having a house that saw so many visitors, games were always being played."
Jack died in June 1947 and Caroline sold the printing business. She went to live with her widowed mother Hannah in their old two bedroomed flat at 41 St Ervans Road, North Kensington. Jean recalls, "Caroline slept in the front room which was the lounge, and Hannah in the back one which was the kitchen. There were only two rooms plus a toilet on the back of the property which the flat upstairs used too. They didn't have a bathroom." The Great Western Railway line passed by the back of the house on the journey to Paddington and Westbourne Park Station was at the end of the road. One other interesting insight into life in these tough times is the fact they kept a tortoise on the outside roof !
To earn money Caroline knitted professionally all her life. She took orders from the big stores up in London including Harrods and Derry and Toms and mainly knitted ladies cardigans. Her expertise was 'sewing up' which turned an ordinary garment into something saleable. Then with the cast-off unused wool she made things for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Jean remembers, "She knitted all my children's matinee coats and did dolls size clothes for the boys when they were born as their heads were too tiny for normal baby sizes. She knitted dolls outfits for the girls too".
Nan's special friend in life was Nell Lowe. She lived on the floor below in St Ervans Rd and, although she was about 10 years younger, they did everything together. Both had been widowed so helped each other. She and Nell would go to the afternoon pictures three times a week at ninepence a time.
Caroline was a great supporter of the Royal family and went to everything up in London that she and Nell could go to. They almost certainly attended the Coronation in 1953. They also went up to the carols every New Years Eve in Trafalgar Square. In later years they both went on cheap break holidays to holiday camps early and late in the season, where they would walk for miles. It was always for two weeks !
Her present to all the grandchildren was to take them to Wembley or Earls Court to see an Ice Show each year.
Caroline died in July 1971 at St Charles Hospital, Ladbroke Grove, London aged 84. Her cause of death was given as 'broncopneumonia, emphysema and chronic bronchitis'. She had outlived all her 7 brothers !
She was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery. In order to save on cost, her ashes were scattered secretly over her husband and daughter Lillian's grave. All the old Lowes family graves are nearby.
Jean concludes by saying, "Caroline was a lovely grandmother to have; we saw her often. She came to our house most Sundays when we were growing up and always brought sea food with her as her contribution to our tea. It was she who introduced us to winkles, shrimps and prawns !"
Her two surviving daughters lived to a good age. Lena died in 1996 aged 80 and Laura died in 2002 aged 90.