This blog is about John's son, another John, who would take his family 350 miles further south and enable my grandmother to meet my grandfather.
John was born in Mochrum, Dumfriesshire in 1872, three weeks after his parents married. He was the oldest of three boys and two girls. When he was about 6, his parents brought them over the border in order for his father to find work in the blast iron furnaces of Whitehaven.
John didn't follow his fathers trade but became a tanner's labourer. The likelihood is that he worked up the road from where they lived at nearby Walkers Tannery in Scotch Street "with an impressive chimney and a double decker bridge which echoed to the sound of the marching clogs of the tanners within the works. No trace of the tannery remains, nor does the rich smell of the new leather or the stink of the raw, fatty hides being hauled into the factory on a grab-chain.” (www.whitehaven.org.uk)
His mother died aged 38 of tuberculosis when he was just 17. Two months later on 23rd April 1890, when he had just turned 18, John married 17 year old Catherine Ann Wilkins in Whitehaven Methodist Church. The Church had only recently been built in 1877 but is now, sadly, redundant.
On the 1891 census, John and Catherine were living with her parents family at 55 Scotch Street. At some point they moved to their own house at number 74 Scotch Street where they began to grow their family :
- 1891 William
- 1892 Janet
- 1894 James Dalrymple
- 1896 Helen "Nellie"
- 1899 Edward
- 1901 Florence Margaret
By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to Siguirville at 18 Tanyard Lane in Redhill. It was a five roomed property and must have been pretty cramped to house John and Catherine together with their seven children. John was now a 'beam man in tanyard' working alongside his two eldest sons.
Kelly's Directory shows a tannery, Samuel Barrow & Brother of Tanyard Lane. The company made butts which is the thickest and strongest part of the cow hide, and considered the best cut for firmer items such as belts. In the History of Reigate Borough Fire Brigade it reports that in 1912 :
By 1925, when his eldest son married, Tanyard Lane had been renamed as Oakdene Road.
John died aged 68 on 6th December 1939 of some form of bladder cancer. During the next seven years, four of their children also died, including my grandmother, and it wasn't until 1949 that Catherine, now 77, died at her son James's house at 12 Packham Road in Gosport.