This photograph shows my grandfather, Frederick George Neville (1898-1972) standing in a garden, cigarette in hand.
I’m not sure where or when the photo was taken but I’m guessing maybe the late 1940s or early 1950s. I’ve left the wall visible rather than cropping the picture as someone may recognise the location!
Frederick was born at 18 Hawkesley Road, Walthamstow on 19th March 1898, the son of Edward Neville Sheepwash and Alice Miles who had married in December 1879. He was baptised in Walthamstow on 10th December 1899.
In 1901 Frederick, aged 3, was living at 21 Salop Road Walthamstow with his mother, Alice and his siblings: Edward aged 19 who was working as a bricklayer’s labourer, Alfred (15) Ann (12) and baby Martha aged just 1.
In 1911 he, together with his mother Alice and two of his siblings (Martha, 12 and Alfred, 26) lived at 41 Tenby Road , Walthamstow. This was the household of Frederick’s brother Edward James Sheepwash and his family.
The next record I’ve found for him is his marriage to my grandmother, Esther Saunders, in 1925 at the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Walthamstow. By this time, 28 year old Frederick was a labourer, living at 33 Tenby Road. I’ve been unable to find out anything about the intervening years; born in 1898, he was old enough to have fought in the First World War but I can’t identify him in the military records.
By the time of my mother’s birth in 1928 Frederick had progressed to be a storekeeper in a cabinet works. The family name appears to have changed slightly as my mother was registered with the surname “Neville-Sheepwash”. He was still employed in the same trade in 1939, the family had moved to Lawrence Avenue in Walthamstow and had changed their surname to Neville.
My memories of my grandfather “Grandad Neville” date from the early 1960s. We used to travel by bus to The Crooked Billet and then walk or get another bus down Billet Road to my grandparents’’ house, number 349. I remember the garden of this house as my grandad would take me outside and show me the “pinks” and tell me to smell these pretty flowers. I have never forgotten the wonderful fragrance and have tried many times to grow the same plants but with little success!
We usually visited on a Saturday afternoon and grandad would be watching “Grandstand” on television. He always seemed particularly interested in the horse racing. One day he asked my grandmother to go and place a bet for him; she took me with her and into the betting shop, at which point there was a shout from the staff member “Get that kid out of here!”. I had to go and stand outside. I recall being very embarrassed about being sent outside, but I now realise that betting shops were only legalised in May 1961 – which is almost certainly the year that this incident happened. It may well have been the first time my grandma had ventured into the bookmaker’s and she unwittingly took me inside as well, not realising that children were not allowed in.
Grandad worked at the Lebus factory as a storeman and one of the benefits for me was the opportunity to go to the children’s Christmas party. I didn’t ever really want to go as I didn’t know any of the other children, but I think I must have enjoyed it in the end because I went to 2 or 3 of these before my grandad retired.
Grandad was a heavy smoker, choosing (I think) Players Weights as his preferred brand. I didn’t like his yellow stained fingers or the smell of the cigarettes. He didn’t often say very much to me, apart from when we looked at the garden together, but he seemed to be a kindly man.
He died when I was a teenager. I wish I’d known him better.