Arthur William Christopher (1859-1916)
Of Wickford in Essex
Railway Signal Fitter

©Compiled by Michael Russell FIPD Apr 2015 (Last updated Apr 2016)

Link to House of CHRISTOPHER Master File


Arthur William CHRISTOPHER (1859-1916)
with his brother Ephesus Harry CHRISTOPHER (1866-1944) (seated) taken c.1886
©Picture Michael Russell FIPD 1972


1. The Early Years 1859-1881



Birth Certificate of Arthur William CHRISTOPHER
©Compiled by Michael Russell FIPD


Arthur William CHRISTOPHER (1859-1916) was my great grandfather and the eldest of 10 children of Henry CHRISTOPHER Junior (1838-1914) and Mary Ann KEYS (1835-1914) . A detailed account of his childhood has already been given under the Life of his father which can be accessed via the link provided. Suffice it to say that he was born at Alfred Terrace in West Ham on 29th June 1859 and traveled with his parents when they moved to Sydenham in Kent where he was baptised at St Bartholomew's church with his younger sister Eliza Ellen in 1863. He also went with them to Turkey and survived the Cholera outbreak in 1865 which killed both his grandfather and younger brother Joseph Henry CHRISTOPHER (1864-1865). He lived in Mill Lane in Maldon from their return to England in 1866 to 1878 when they returned to West Ham to live. As a young man he followed his father's trade to become a signal fitter working for the railways and It was at West Ham that he was reacquainted with the Denman Family and went on to marry their daughter Catherine.

2. Marriage at The United Free Methodist Church in Field Road West Ham - 10th September 1881


Marriage of Arthur William CHRISTOPHER to Catherine Lucy Denman 1881
©Compiled by Michael Russell FIPD

When Arthur and Catherine married they did so at the height of the Methodist movement in West Ham. The United Methodist Church in Field Road(1) originated about 1861 when Free Methodists from the 3rd London circuit started mission meetings there. In 1863 a school-chapel was built at the corner of Field Road and Essex Street, and the church seating over 500 was added in 1870. When Arthur married there it was undergoing enlargement and a new hall was built at the corner of Essex Street and Norfolk Street with further extensions in 1907. Field Road became head of the Forest Gate circuit, for many years one of the leading United Methodist circuits. Among it's early converts was Tom Elliott who became a prominent evangelist, known as the 'Happy Shoemaker'. The Ministry of James Wright (1889-1902) was it's most prosperous period. Meetings at Field Road continued until the opening of the new building at Woodgrange Road in 1956. The Field Road buildings were later demolished and by 1962 flats had been built on the site.

As far as I can tell the Christopher family had not up to this point shown much interest in religion, although they had like the majority been steadfastly baptised, married and buried by the Church of England. A more profound interest in Religion however seems to first manifest itself with this marriage between Arthur and Catherine. Arthur's indoctrination however has much older origins and appears to have come from the Denman Family. It needs to be remembered that the Christopher family had been closely associated with John Denman since 1845 during the time of Arthur's grandfather. John Denman had married Elizabeth James (1822-1859) at Stockwell Independent Chapel in Colchester in 1849 and this non-conformity with the established church seems to have resulted in John and Elizabeth joining the Methodist movement soon after they moved to West Ham in 1855. John Denman's eldest son John James DENMAN (1853-1939) was born in Colchester in 1853 and married when he was 20 to Mary Christopher (1854-1932) who was Henry Christopher Senior's younger sister, so family ties were strong and made stronger when John looked after some of Henry's children that did not travel to Turkey with him in 1865. After John's 1st wife Elizabeth died, John remarried to Ann Brazier and this was in the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Chelmsford so Catherine Lucy Denman was raised as a strict methodist and Arthur and Catherine raised all their children in the faith as well.

Catherine Lucy DENMAN (1857-1935) was born on 5th Feb 1857 at 3 Oxford Terrace in West Ham the daughter of John DENMAN (1817-1886) by his first wife Elizabeth JAMES (1822-1859) and had until her marriage lived her entire life in West Ham. My mother identified the picture of Catherine on the right in 1974, which she thought was taken shortly before her marriage to Arthur. It was among Catherine's possessions when she died in 1935 and descended to her youngest daughter Minnie and hence to my mother in 1972. Immediately prior to marriage she was working locally in Church Street as a domestic servant to a 39 year old stock brokers clerk called Thomas M Denman & his wife Emily & 5 children, who was presumably a relative of some sort.

As can be seem from this very unusual marriage certificate they were the 136th marriage at the Free Church in Field Road and they were married on 10th Sep 1881 by the Rev Richard Elijah Abercrombie (1840-1897) who was Minister there in 1881. He later went to serve the Ministry in Jamaica where he died in 1897 at the age of 58 in Kingston. I have over 600 birth marriage and death certificates of the family and in 40 years of research this is the only certificate that I have come across which bears a victorian stamp.

At this point it is worth mentioning that the picture at the top of this account, of Arthur with his brother Ephesus, was we think taken about 1886. Before I move on a few more words about Catherine's elder brother John James DENMAN (1853-1939). He became an engine driver on the railways, married Mary CHRISTOPHER (1854-1932) in 1873 and raised a family of 9 children in West Ham. On Christmas eve 1886 Mary gave birth to a baby girl, their 7th child, that they named Alice Mary DENMAN (1886-1961). Alice was baptised we think a few months later when this excellent picture was taken of both families. The original photograph on the left is an ambrotype (on glass with a tin surround stuck on the outside). In 1980 this was falling apart so I sent it to a professional photograph restorer and he produced the image on the right. From this my mother was able to identify all the people in the photograph.

3. Baptism of Alice Mary DENMAN - 1887

    
From left to right: Alice Mary Denman in her christening robe being held by her father John James Denman (age 34) standing next to his wife Mary Denman nee Christopher (age 33);
Next to Mary is Catherine Lucy Christopher (nee Denman) (age 30) and Arthur William Christopher (age 28); sitting is Ann Denman widow of John Denman (age74)
In front Florence Lizze Christopher (age 3) and Lilian Katherine Christopher (age 2)
©Picture by Michael Russell FIPD 1980

Arthur and Catherine were to have 9 children, seven of which lived into adulthood. More information on each of them is given at the end of this account. The first five children were all born at Stratford between 1882 and 1888 the only blot on the horizon being the death of their first child, a one month old baby they named Alice Lavinia Christopher on 28th Aug 1882. She was soon followed by Florence Lizzie CHRISTOPHER (1883-1973); who now became their eldest surviving child, then Lilian Kate CHRISTOPHER (1885-1961) and the last born at Stratford was my grandmother Emily Bertha Christopher (1888-1960) on 12th March 1888. Unfortunately the Field Road Forest Gate United Methodist registers are held at the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford to which I do not have access as I live in Wales. They have not yet (March 2016) been imaged and placed on SEAX the Essex Record Office on line imaging of registers service so all I know is that they left West Ham after 12th March 1888. [Note:- If anyone out there has access to Chelmsford I am happy to purchase copies of the children's baptism registrations].

From a very short obituary notice in the Essex Newsman dated 30th Sep 1916 I know that Arthur and his family came to live at Wickford in Essex "just prior to the opening of the railway" so they clearly moved later in 1888.
4. Wickford Junction Railway Station in Essex - 1888
    [Note:- For those interested in Wickford Railway Station (or the village, its history and people) I recommend the Wickford History Website which can be accessed via this link. I am grateful to Geoff Whiter in particular for posting the pictures shown below. It's a big site so I have also provided this more direct link to pictures of Wickford Railway Station and Wick Lane Railway Crossing]

On the 1st January 1889 a new Railway Line was opened from Shenfield to Wickford. Construction had begun in 1885 and this 50 mile stretch of line meant that they had to build 2 viaducts, 67 bridges, 126 culverts, 20 railway stations and 4 goods yards which required 28 million bricks and the excavation of 2.865,000 yards of earth(2). The 1st picture above shows construction of the line and one of the bridges so must date around 1887 when the foundation stone was also laid for the Railway Station(3). In addition to the line they also built 'cottages' (actually houses) for their employees by the bridge in the High Street and at the level crossing where the line crossed Wick Lane. For more information read Maurice Wakeham's excellent article "All Aboard" on the Wickford History website.

Arthur's job as a signal fitter and his arrival prior to the opening of the line shows that he was being employed to help establish the signaling for the new railway station and junction with the existing line. The official opening of the line took place on 1st January 1889 and was attended by the station master Thomas Locking. Arthur was also present and later on 3rd February 1899 at the Annual Railway Supper held at the Castle Inn he was reported in the local press as being one of those who sang as part of the entertainment. The 2nd picture above is an early picture of Wickford Junction station showing a passenger train standing at the platform. The third picture is said to date from 1907 whilst Arthur was working there, but I cannot clearly identify him in the photograph. He was sufficiently important to the operation however that he was offered one of the better railway cottages in Wick Lane (see picture below) for him and wife and three children to live in. This was to be their home for the next 28 years. Arthur and Catherine were Methodists but the Methodist church on Southend Road does not appear to have been established in Wickford until 1927 so they appear to have attended the Congregational Chapel in the High street opposite Martket Road trurn off where Arthur was later to be buried.

On 29th December 1889 they had another son whom they named Arthur William Harry Christopher (1889-1968) who was the first of their children to be actually born in the Railway Cottages at Wickford.
5. Suicide at Wickford Station - 3rd Sep 1890

The following year there was a tragedy on the line just before entering the station. A friend of Arthur's a Charles Crow (1855-1890) a native of Chelmsford was killed. Charles Crow had married Susan Pilgrim in West Ham at the end of 1877 and worked there as a general labourer before joining the Great Eastern Railway in 1887 as foreman of a platelayer gang constructing, and then maintaining, the new section of line being built between Billericay and Wickford. For the sake of convenience he had settled close to where construction had reached when he arrived and was therefore still living in the small hamlet of Ramsden Bellhouse 2 miles before Wickford.

According to the inquest he left home at 3.30 to go to work on perfectly good terms with his wife and went to the goods yard at Wickford where he was seen by a colleague and was well and sober. He then had a pint of ale and a steak at the Swann Inn before leaving at 12 o'clock. The driver of the 12.48 train from Shenfield saw him sitting on the rail with his arms folded and his head on his breast as though he was asleep. Despite opening the steam whistle and applying the break the driver was unable to stop the train before it reached him and he was killed. Arthur was one of the witnesses called at the inquest to attest to his state of mind at the time The jury, probably more out of consideration for his wife than anything else, returned a verdict of accidental death. Susan of course also lost her home and went to Romford to live with her widowed sister Esther Saitch.
6. Wickford Railway Houses - in Wick Lane (1888-1914)

From the 1891 Census it's clear that Catherine's widowed step-mother Ann DENMAN (1812-1898) (shown in the group photograph above in 1887) also came with them to live at Wickford cottages. Ann was to remain with them until her death at the age of 86 on 29th Sep 1898.

Frederick Joseph CHRISTOPHER (1891-1958) was their next child to be born in the cottages on 27th August 1891 followed by my great aunt Minnie Amelia CHRISTOPHER (1894-1972) who is responsible for preserving all the Christopher photographs including these. She was joined by their last child Robert George James CHRISTOPHER (1899-1984) on 19th Oct 1899. At the turn of the century Arthur appears to have joined the 'A' Company of the 2nd Dorset Regiment as a private infantry soldier No.5894 and was posted to the Field Force in South Africa. He was subsequently awarded the Queens Medals for service in South Africa for 1901 and 1902 with clasps showing service in the Orange Free State and Transvaal during that period.

The picture left of the Railway Cottages shows that they were semi-detached houses, and is thought to have been taken about 1900/1905. They lived in the one on the left with the rose growing over the porch.

The picture right is included as it's taken in the front garden of the Railway Cottages (taken a bit later around July 1916). Arthur William Christopher was by then seriously ill and could not come outside, so is looking through the window. Catherine Lucy (aged 59) is standing in the black dress with her grandson Edward Thompson (age 6) behind her. Standing right is her daughter Lillian Katherine (aged 31) by then married to Herbert Hammond.

The lady sitting on the grass facing away is Florence May Christopher (1900-1944) (aged 16). She was the adopted daughter of George Robert Christopher (1870-1940) who worked for the gas works at Plaistow in West Ham. George was the grandson of Henry Christopher Senior. Florence May NEALE was born on 27th Sep 1900 and we think orphaned very young as she is already living with George when the 1901 census was taken and listed as a 'nurse child'. Soon after this she was formally adopted. The Christopher and Denman families continued to be closely related visiting one another both at Wickford, and Plaistow in West Ham. In 1923 Florence May was to marry Catherine's youngest son Robert George James Christopher. The young girl sitting in front on the grass is Lilian Katherine Hammond (aged 9) Catherine's granddaughter. There are some really good pictures of Wickford on the Wickford History site, but it's a big site so I have provided direct links to some of those that relate to Arthur's time there 1888-1914:-
    (1). Swann Inn owned by Mr Edward Cox whose wife Louisa Cox was one of the witnesses at the inquest into the death of Charles Crow in 1890. This picture dates from 4 years earlier in 1886.
    (2). Wickford High Street a gallery of old photographs which includes the one below sent to Florence Lizzie Christopher
    (3). In and around Wickford High Street another gallery of old photographs - this one includes a picture of the railway bridge they lived close to
    (4). Wickford Congregational Chapel Arthur was buried at Wickford Congregational cemetery in 1916
    (5). Wick Lane - circa 1910
    (6). The Old Railway Cottages This is useful as it shows the location of the Railway cottages close to the bridge and confirms they were demolished in 1987


I have also included here a postcard that was sent to Arthur's daughter Florence Lizzie Christopher and posted on 20th April 1905 when she was away horse riding as it shows Wickford Village as it was when they lived there.


7. Death of Arthur William CHRISTOPHER In 1914 and Catherine Lucy CHRISTOPHER in 1935

This picture of Arthur William Christopher was taken in 1916 when he was already ill. He is sitting looking out of the window at Wickford Railway Cottages and wearing the smoking cap that his father obtained whilst they were in Turkey and used to wear.

Smoking caps were popular in the period 1840-1880 and usually worn by gentlemen in the privacy of their home. They got their name because men wore them whilst smoking to stop the hair from smelling of smoke and also to keep the head warm.

Arthur died from cancer of the stomach and liver at The Railway Cottages in Wick Lane in Wickford at the age of 57 on 23rd September 1916 and was buried at the Wickford Congregational Cemetery in Essex.

The picture of Catherine was taken on the same day as the picture of Arthur in 1916 at the Railway Cottages. When he died in September of that year Catherine was then obliged to leave the Railway Cottages and she moved to live in Westcliff-on-Sea living at 69 Fleetwood Avenue with her daughter and my great aunt Minnie Amelia Christopher. Catherine died of Coronary Thrombosis in Southend General Hospital on 25th October 1935 leaving the little that she had to Minnie.



Catherine Lucy CHRISTOPHER nee DENMAN (1857-1935)
With her grandchildren, three of her children and daughter in law

    

These pictures were taken at 69 Fleetwood Avenue in the back garden the first taken in the spring of 1917, shortly after Catherine moved to live in Westcliff-on-Sea after Arthur's death. It shows Catherine (aged 60) with her grandchildren. My mother Edna Clara McNally (aged about 18 months) is sitting on Catherine's lap. Back left is Christopher McNally her brother (age 3); back right is Lilian Katherine Hammond (aged 9); front left Edward Victor Christopher Thompson (aged 6) ; front right Herbert James Christopher Hammond (aged 7)

The second picture taken Jan 1925 shows back row Catherine Lucy Christopher nee Denman (age 68) back left her grandson Edward VC Thompson (age 14) back right her grandson Herbert JC Hammond (age 15) centre left her daughter Florence Lizzie Thompson (age 41) very centre her daughter and my beloved great aunt Minnie Amelia Christopher (age 31) centre right Florence May Christopher (aged 24) her daughter-in-law and wife of her son Robert George James Christopher sitting on the grass (aged 25).


Arthur and Catherine's 8 Children (1882-1899)

(1). Alice Lavinia CHRISTOPHER (1882-1882) Born on 25th July 1882 at Stratford in West Ham she only lived a month and died on 28th August the same year.

(2). Florence Lizzie CHRISTOPHER (1883-1973)

Florence Lizzie Christopher was born at Stratford on 16th Nov 1883 but grew up at Wickford Railway cottages in Essex. It is easy to forget that most girls around this date received only a cursory education. The elementary Education Act of 1893 raised the school leaving age to 11 and later to 13. When Florence was 13 we have an interesting insight into her life as we find her already working as a 'nursemaid' at Beeches Farm just down the road from where they lived. The farm of 238 acres was originally owned by Thomas Bell a well known figure in the local community who had actually made a contribution towards the cost of building the school. Thomas however died in April 1895 and it passed into new hands. I think the farm was bought by Henry Lester and his wife Ellen who had a young daughter Emmeline who aged 5 needed to attend school, and a 1 year old son named Henry. I think they employed Florence to look after the two children and their growing family. They have 4 children by the time of the 1901 census. One of her jobs would have been to walk and fetch Emmeline from school, probably with Henry in the pram. At midday on Wednesday 12th May 1897 several bags containing the children's dinners were stolen out of the school porch. Suspicion fell upon 5 men who had been 'loafing about the neighbourhood' who were pursued by the local constable and with the help off the constable at Billericay arrested them. I only know of this incident as they appeared before the magistrate at Brentwood when the school master a Mr William John Sully, Mr Henry Lester a local farmer and Florence Lizzie Christopher were called to give evidence.

Florence later married Victor Golding Thompson, a stone mason by trade, in the 3rd quarter of 1910. Victor was the son of Edward Thompson a bank clerk from Dalston in Middlesex by his wife Mary Ann Golding who originated from Leyton in Essex.

    They had only one son Edward Victor Christopher Thompson who was born on 15th December 1910 at Frederick Villas in Westcliff Park Drive in Westcliff-on-sea. When Florence's father died and her mother had to vacate the Railway Cottages in 1916 her presence in Westcliff was the main reason that her mother also moved to live near by. During the first world war her husband served in the Railways Royal Engineers Regt [Soldier 52835] and attained the rank of Sergeant. He was later awarded a Temporary rank of Warrant Officer I (W.O.1) (WR/296333) and awarded the 1914/15 star for service in France and the British War and Victory medals. He was discharged from the army on 20th Feb 1919.

    Florence decided that she had to go out and take whatever work was available in order that her son could attend technical college. He eventually joined the Civil Service and in 1972, was employed in the Home office at Romney House in SW1. Her hard work was repaid when he was awarded the OBE. Her husband Victor died in the 1st qtr of 1967 at the age of 79. I met Florence in 1972 and she struck me as a very cheerful grey haired lady who had all her faculties and sense of humour unto the end. She died at the age of 89 in May 1973 at 64 Chatsworth Gardens Harrow Middlesex, at the house of her son.

(3). Lilian Kate CHRISTOPHER (1885-1961)

Like her elder sister she was born at Stratford, West Ham but grew up at Wickford Railway Cottages in Essex. When she was 16 years old Lilian, with her younger sister Emily (my grandmother), both worked as general house servants at 'Goal Farm' in Barling. The farm situated only 6 kilometres north-east of Southend-on-Sea was being run then by Emily the widow of Alexander Allerton a farmer. Around August 1907 Lilian married Herbert James HAMMOND (1886-1979). Herbert had been born on 28th May 1886 at Brentwood in Essex the son of Walter Joseph HAMMOND (1855-1887) an inspector of weights and measures by his wife Lucy Ann nee SMITH a native of Marylebone in London. Herbert never really knew his father as he died the year after he was born. His mother however re-married when he was 10 years old to Frederick George HARRIS. Herbert was working as a grocers errand boy before the age of 14 but soon followed in the footsteps of his older brother Arthur James Hammond and became a Railway Clerk. He progressed to become the stationmaster at Snarsbrook Wanstead near Leytonstone where they lived. They both became closely involved with the St John's Ambulance Service and were active in carrying out other charity work. They had two children as shown below. Lilian died on 29th Dec 1961 at the age of 76 followed by her husband Herbert at Redbridge in Essex in 1979.

      (3.1) Lilian Katherine HAMMOND (1907-1988) (Picture left about 1932) Lilian named after her mother was born on 27th Nov 1907 at Brentwood and married John WARD in 1929. They had a daughter Mary Ward born in 1930. Lilian died at Redbridge in Essex in 1988.

      (3.2) Herbert James Christopher HAMMOND (b.1909) (Picture right about 1939) Herbert was born on 3rd April 1909 and married Hilda M Lang at Hendon in Middlesex in 1936. In the early 1960's they were living at 28 Embry Way in nearby Harrow.



(4). Emily Bertha CHRISTOPHER (1888-1960)

Emily was my grandmother and a more detailed account of her life is available via this link. Suffice it to say that she grew up at Wickford with her siblings and was like them raised as a strict Methodist. By the age of 13 she was working as a general house servant with her elder sister Lilian at Goal Farm in Barling. Over the next decade she remained in service and by 1911 was a domestic servant working for the widower John Herbert Gooch a bank clerk and his sister Eleanor. She lived with them at 41 Argyle Road Westcliff-on-Sea where among other things she was responsible for looking after his 5 year old son. Arglye Road was within easy walking distance of where her married sister Florence Lizzie Thompson lived in Westcliff Park Drive. The following year she married my grandfather Percy Nicholas McNally at St Paul's Church in Westcliff-on-Sea. Immediately after marriage they moved to live at 53 West Road in Shoeburyness where Percy worked locally as a plasterer.

They had three children (4.1) Christopher McNally (1913-1997) (4.2) Edna Clara McNally (1915-1995) my mother and (4.3) Thomas Edwin McNally (1927-2010). Percy fought in the 1st world war attesting for the Royal Engineers on 11th Dec 1915 [SoldierWR/255879] and like so many of that generation lost two of his brothers. He was at Eppes but survived to return to his family being demobilized in April 1920. Emily contracted Parkinson's disease around 1925 and spent most of her life as an invalid. She passed away at West Road on 26th January 1960 followed by her husband Percy in 1967. Emily and Percy are buried in St Andrews churchyard in Shoeburyness.

(5). Arthur William Harry CHRISTOPHER (1889-1968)

Arthur was born at Wickford Railway Cottages on 29th December 1889. According to his daughter Marie, whom I met several times in the 1970's, he started his working life at the Iron Foundry at Rayne in Essex which lies on the north side of the old Roman Road now known as Stane Street. He took an apprenticeship as a pattern maker and worked in the pattern workshop. Arthur later left the Iron Foundry and joined the Great Eastern Railway Company and at the age of 22 was working for them as a general labourer at Stratford whilst living in boarding accommodation at nearby Cann Hall Road in West Ham. Granny Christopher his mother apparently took his younger brothers wages to pay for his lodgings. He met his wife Maud Fitch (1890-1982) the daughter of William & Anne Fitch at Braintree and they married there on 11th March 1915. They settled to live at Southend-on-Sea where their eldest child Arthur Victor Christopher (who for some reason was known throughout the family as Jim) was born at Sutton Road on 31st May 1916.

A year later on 13th June 1917 Arthur was called up to serve for his country and traveled to London to attend a medical examination. Unfortunately he was caught in a bombing raid on London. As soon as you mention bombing in London everyone thinks of the blitz during the Second World War, but bombing occurred even before 1917. The Army Medical Centre was actually in Liverpool Street Station and Arthur was there being examined with four others when the German air force dropped bombs on the station which hit an incoming train. Two of his companions were killed outright and two died the same night, Arthur being the only one to survive. In some respects this was extremely lucky, but he was very seriously injured and the pain would incapacitate him restricting his mobility for the rest of his life. As to the air raid itself, it was carried out by 15 'Gotha' airplanes (picture right) which were made from a wooden frame made of ash which was bound with wire and covered with plywood and linen fabric. It had a machine gun mounted on a turntable on the front and could carry 14 bombs. Unfortunately the bombing run did most of it's damage before it reached the station. In all 104 people died and 154 were seriously injured but the worst part was that it hit a school killing 16 children between the ages of four and six and injuring over 100 more. In all Arthur and Maud had four children:-
    (5.1) Arthur Victor CHRISTOPHER (1916-1992). Born at Sutton Road, Southend-on-Sea on 31st May 1916, Arthur like his father worked for a time on the Railways and married twice. Firstly to Annie Katherine DENT by whom he had two children , Brian born in 1942 and Jean born in 1945. He divorced Annie in 1983 and remarried the following year to Grace Florence WRIGHT nee LORD (1921-1989). He died in Brentwood Essex on 12th Nov 1992.

    (5.2) Marie CHRISTOPHER (1918-2005). Born at Station Avenue, Prittlewell on 3rd Mar 1918 Marie married John Oswald ELLIS (1918-1990) at Brentwood on 18th March 1944 . They had no children and in 1992 moved from 25 Maywin Drive in Hornchurch where the lived for many years to 63a Ongar Road in Brentwood. Her husband John died in 1990 but Marie lived until she was 87 passing away in Nov 2005.

    (5.3) Stella CHRISTOPHER (b.1922) Born at Station Avenue in Prittlewell on 1st June 1922 Stella married Frederick William CLAPHAM at Brentwood on 21st Oct 1951. They had three children Ralph C (born 1953); Clive C (born 1955) and Kim Christopher (born 1960).

    (5.4) Olive CHRISTOPHER (b.1923) Born at Station Road Prittlewell on 3rd Oct 1923 she married Eric TOWNSEND at Brentwood on 1st June 1945. He died on 16th July 1960 leaving his estate to his widow Olive.

(6). Frederick Joseph CHRISTOPHER (1891-1958)

Born at Wickford Railway Cottages on 27th Aug 1891, at the age of 19 he was working in Wickford as a contractors carman but still living with his parents. On the 22nd July 1916 be married Violet Rose STEER (1893-1924) the daughter Harry Adams Steer a tailers cutter by trade and his wife Frances Mary nee Waller. Although Violet had been born in Canning Town in West Ham her parents had moved to live in Wickford in Wick Lane prior to 1901 where she met Frederick. Although she moved to live at Crays Hill in Billericay with her parents prior to 1911 but they remained in contact and married in 1916. They had two children (1) Beryl Frances C Christopher (1917-2003) who married Edward Smith in1943 and lived on a farm near Hanningfield in Essex. and (2) Kenneth William Harry Frederick Christopher (1921-1999) picture right taken in 1926 when he was five years olkd. He married Margaret Dinah Woodward in the Rother Valley of West Riding in Yorkshire in the 1st quarter of 1948. They had two children Stephen D Christopher born in Sheffield in last qtr 1956 and Ailene. Kenneth died in Sheffield in 1999. Violet unfortunately died on 15th April 1924 as a result of an epileptic fit, falling into the fire and dying from the resulting burns.

After the death of his first wife he went to live for many years with a schoolteacher called Elsie Wooten, but she would not get married as she would have lost her pension. Elsie died and he eventually married a neighbour named Sarah Ann MAYBANK (1898-1996) in about Aug 1943. Frederick died at St Andrews Hospital in Billericay at the age of 66, whilst living at Gladwell Church End Lane in Runwell Wickford in Essex. He left his estate of £658:17s:5d to Sarah Ann who lived to the ripe old age of 98 passing away in Aug 1996.

(7). Male CHRISTOPHER (1893-1893) - Born prematurly at 8 months on 11th March 1893 and only lived for 2 hours. (Certificates placed on Ancestry.com).

(8). Minnie Amelia CHRISTOPHER (1894-1972)

Born at Wickford Railway Cottages on 28th February 1894 her passport confirms that she was 5 feet 4 inches tall with blue eyes and brown hair. She was raised as a Methodist by her parents with whom she lived in Wickford until her fathers death. The war years were particularly hard on Minnie. In 1915 when she was still only 19 her boyfriend Maurice was killed in France, something she never seems to have recovered from as she remained a spinster. Maurice sent her the Sweetheart Card pictured on the right shortly before he died. As the youngest girl her father on his deathbed in 1916 made her promise not to leave her mother which she honoured, moving with her when they had to leave the Railway Cottages in Wickford to live with her at 69 Fleetwood Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea. Her mother died in 1935 when she inherited all the family memorabilia.

She became a dental nurse working in the private practice of Mr Copeland a dental surgeon operating in Westcliff-on-Sea. She remained in close contact with all her siblings visiting my grandmother Emily regularly at West Road in Shoeburyness and was consequentially well known to my mother. Minnie was responsible for keeping all the family photographs that I have made available here and on my Family Tree on Ancestry.com. After retirement she traveled widely for example holidaying with Mr Copeland and his wife and friends in France and Switzerland in 1950; Belgium and Germany 1952; Spain 1954; Salzburg Algeria and the US in 1955; Germany in 1956; Belgium 1957; France, Austria Liechtenstein in 1958. In her old age she passed onto me all the family lore regarding their time in Turkey and at the Railway Cottages in Wickford. She died in Westcliff Hospital at the age of 78 whilst living at 16 Cliff Road.

(9). Robert George James CHRISTOPHER (1899-1984)

Born at Wickford Railway Cottages on 19th Oct 1899 he came into the world just late enough to avoid conscription for the 1st World War. The first of the 4 pictures shown below was taken around the year 1909 and had been kept by his sister Minnie Amelia and descended to my mother. He trained to become an electrician and moved to Plaistow in West Ham living at 129 Sutton Court Road with his 1st cousin once removed George Robert CHRISTOPHER (1870-1940). George Robert was the grandson of Henry CHRISTOPHER Senior (1814-1865) via his son George CHRISTOPHER (1845-1881). I am grateful to Elizabeth Draper a member of our extended family for the photographs below taken of their house at 129 Sutton Court Road London E13 in October 2015.

George Robert Christopher and his wife Harriet had 2 children of their own but also adopted an orphaned baby girl shortly after her birth who was named Florence May NEAL (1900-1944). She is shown in the picture in Section 6 above taken at Wickford Railway Cottages when she was still only about 16 years old and shows how closely in touch the families remained throughout this period. Robert married Florence May CHRISTOPHER on 17th Nov 1923 which when we think the picture of them together shown below was taken. Although they had no children my mother said they always seemed very happy together. Unfortunately Florence suffered from Epilepsy and during one particularly severe attack on 6th July 1944 she fell onto the open coal fire and later died from her burns.




Elizabeth Draper comments:- The house at 129 Sutton Court Road itself doesn't seem to have changed much - the sash windows have been replaced with double glazing and the roof retiled some time in the last 30 years, but otherwise it's pretty much a three up, two down as it would have been, although it is more likely that one of the bedrooms is now a bathroom. It faces south and has a small back garden, but it backs onto a small park so gets plenty of light in the north facing garden. The whole estate seems to have been built at the turn of the century. St Martin's Church, Boundary Road, was built on the very edge of the Diocese of London, in 1894, when all around it was rhubarb fields and a market garden. It held 5 services on Sundays, starting at 6.00am for those working on the docks or in the Spitalfield and Billingsgate markets. In 1896 there was still very few buildings in the vicinity.

Robert re-married in March 1945 to Eva Elizabeth DRAKE (1901-1990) the daughter of James DRAKE an Engineers turner by trade by his wife Mary. Eva was born at Stratford and they had two daughters Christine (born 1947) and Susan Catherine (born 1951) See picture top right. Robert died at the age of 84 in Barking in Jan 1984. Eva appears to have moved North after his death and died at the age of 88 in Humberside.

Genealogical Notes:-

(1). Source British History Victoria County History of Essex Vol6/ pp123-141
(2). Source:- Chelmsford Chronicle Friday 4th Jan 1889
(3). Source:- Essex Newsman Saturday 2nd July 1887 page 3

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