The theme this week for #52Ancestors is Starts with a Vowel and I thought it was time I wrote about my paternal Grandfather, Alfred Sydney Baldwin.
Alfred or Syd as I believe he was known as, I always knew him as Grandad B, was born on 8 March 1916 at 39 Melbourne Road in Eastbourne, Sussex, a small terraced house near the centre of Eastbourne. His parents were Reuben Leonard and Ethel Mary Baldwin formerly Cruse. Reuben was a Wine Merchant Bottle washer and Porter. Alfred had one older brother; William James (Bill) who had been born in 1914 in Hailsham. Alfred was baptised some months later, on 20 August 1916 at Eastbourne Christ Church. I have wondered whether there was such a large gap between birth and baptism because they were waiting for Reuben to be home on leave, it being the middle of WW1. I presume he had been involved in the fighting but so far have been unable to trace his service record.
In 1920 his younger brother Herbert Leonard (Len) was born on 15 March 1920 in Hailsham and a year later in 1921 the census shows the family living at 6 Sackville Road in Hailsham, Bill and Syd were both at school and Reuben was working as a Farm Labourer for A Burtenshaw JP. The family remained living in Sackville Road for many years and my parents bought a house there in the 1980s and I spent 7 years living at number 13 with them.
I have just noticed that in fact Reuben and Ethel’s marriage certificate shows them living at May Villa in Sackville Road, in 1913 which is the house that Ethel’s widowed mother Alice was living in at the time of the 1911 census so they may have lived with her until they moved to Eastbourne. Bill was born in 1914 in Hailsham, so presumably Sackville Road. I have been unable to find a baptism for him which would give his home address.
My dad tells several stories from Grandad about his time living in Sackville Road, for instance all the houses had outside toilets which were all on the same sewer and they used to wait till a neighbour had gone to the toilet and they would set a firecracker off and put it down the sewer. Whoosh would go the sewer and whoever was on the toilet would get a bit of a shock!
Syd married my grandmother Ivy on 4 August 1934 at the Registry Office in Hailsham. Syd was 18 and Ivy was 21. Syd was working at a Deck Chair factory as a woodworker. That was Green Brothers in Hailsham where David Smith, Ivy’s adopted father worked. He entered his father Syd as a Brickmaker. Syd was living at 6 Sackville Road and Ivy; 19 Garfield Road. She was a Domestic Servant. The marriage was witnessed by Emily Smith, Ivy’s aunt and adopted mother and Reginald Harmer possibly her youngest uncle and Emily Smith’s youngest brother.
In July 1935 Richard (Dick) was born to Syd and Ivy and then on the 1939 register taken just before the beginning of WW2, he is recorded as under school age alongside his parents Syd and Ivy at 24a Bellbanks Road, Hailsham. This house they lived in until they retired to a bungalow in the 1980s. I have many memories of visits to 24a Bellbanks, the outside toilet, dark and cold and scary in the winter and Christmases with Granny’s delicious sausage rolls, nobody made sausage rolls like them.
Anyway I digress, Syd was recorded in 1939 as a woodwork packer and Ivy was on unpaid domestic duties, in other words looking after the house and family. Also living with them was Leonard Fears who I have mentioned in a previous blog was also informally adopted alongside Ivy by Emily and David Smith. He was a Baker’s Roundsman.
With the onset of WW2 Syd joined the Royal Sussex Regiment and fought overseas, we know little about his war experiences but we do know that he was in North Africa and to Sicily and up through Italy. I have recently sent off to The National Archives for his service record and await whatever turns up to tell us more about his war.
My dad, Leslie Roy was born 30 January 1943 at 24a Bellbanks Road and that is where Syd was recorded for the Electoral Register of 7 May 1945.
In 1950 Bill aged 36 was killed accidentally at work at Green Bros and Syd identified his body and gave evidence at his inquest. More of that on a previous blog #52Ancestors - William Baldwin - Sussex Genealogist
On a search for newspaper articles recently I found a curious report in the Sussex Express dated 26 March 1954 where Syd appeared in court alongside a friend Leslie Wallage. The paper reports;
‘Amazing case of stolen Tea Trolley – Given the highest characters by their employers, two men were each fined £5, with a £2 7s 3d costs at Hailsham Magistrates Court on Wednesday.'
Alfred Sydney Baldwin (38) of 24a Bellbanks Road, Hailsham pleaded guilty to stealing, when a servant of Green Bros, a tea trolley, the property of his employers, between February 1 and 25. Leslie Wallage (43) admitted receiving the trolley knowing it to have been stolen. When interviewed, Baldwin admitted that he gave the trolley to Wallage, stating that he had no authority to give it away and that he was a fool. The secretary and accountant to Green Bros told the Court that they were both first class men, thoroughly reliable and conscientious. He could not speak too highly of them and the directors would like to be able to re-employ them. The Chairman said it was a somewhat amazing case for two men who had been given such characters.
Syd was re-employed by Green Bros and remained working there till his retirement.
Syd died in 1993 on 28 June after some time in hospital. He died of Bronchopneumonia and chronic bronchitis. His death certificate records his occupation as Foreman Packer, Furniture Manufacturers, retired and he lived at 34 The Gages, Hailsham. One of the last conversations I had with him before his death was on my return from holiday to Italy and we discussed some of the beautiful places we had visited in Italy. Hopefully soon with his service record I will know a bit more of these places he visited and perhaps I will share that with you.