Albert Harry Gummery
Albert Harry Gummery was born at 95 Henwick Road, Worcester on 21 July 1871, the second child and only son of Henry Gummery and his wife Mary Ann Woolvin. When he was baptised at nearby St Clements church three weeks later his father's occupation was given as "Artist". The family lived at 95 Henwick Road from around the time of the 1871 census until 1892 when they moved to Droitwich, apart from a stay at The Firs in Stoke Prior at the time of the 1881 census.
Bert Gummery, as he was known, was first listed as a photographer, aged 19, in the 1891 census while living at 95 Henwick Road with his parents. The box on the census form entitled "Neither employer nor employed" was ticked, so it appears that even at that early stage Bert had set himself up as a working photographer and was self-employed. By 1892 Bert and his father Henry had set up business in Burrish Street, Droitwich as Gummery & Son, Photographers. By 1896 they had moved to High Street, and by 1898 were located in Friar Street. These latter two addresses were in the central business district of Droitwich so it seems probable that Gummery & Son had premises - studio and developing rooms - on the main shopping street and lived on the two floors above.
On 7 February 1899 Albert Harry Gummery, photographer and bachelor, aged 30, married Annie Maria Blackham, a spinster of Ombersley, aged 32, at Ombersley parish church about 4 miles west of Droitwich. Annie Maria Blackham was not entirely accurate about her age in the marriage register. She was born in 1853 in Birmingham, the daughter of George Blackham, an accountant, and his wife Eliza Woodman, so was actually aged 45 when she married, 17 years older than her husband. No children were born to Bert and Annie.
Annie Maria Blackham had been married before she met Bert Gummery. In March 1876 she married Edwin Frederick Sage at the Register Office in Birmingham. Edwin and Annie had two children, Frederick George William Sage born in 1877, and Lillian Maud Pattie Sage in 1881. The marriage was not a happy one and in 1887 Annie took the unusual step of filing for divorce. Under an act passed in 1858, divorce could be granted by the new Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes. In order to obtain a divorce, a wife not only had to prove her husband's adultery, but also that his adultery had been aggravated by cruelty. Only 150 divorces were granted in 1860. Annie had no difficulty proving both adultery and cruelty, and the divorce was granted in February 1888. She was given custody of the children, and Sage was ordered to pay the costs of £68.11.07.
Henry Gummery retired from the photography business sometime before 1901, probably when
Bert took on his wife's son, Freddie Blackham, to work with him. Freddie, though born a
Sage, used his mother's maiden name of Blackham for a period of time, as did his sister,
Lillian. A 1904 trade directory shows that Bert and Freddie became business partners,
listing Gummery and Blackham, Photographers,
Boer War Service
Bert enlisted with the Worcestershire Artillery as a territorial i.e. a part-time soldier, in 1889. The enlistment age was 18 at the time so he could have joined any time after 21 July 1889. In 1891 he transferred to the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, E Company (Droitwich), coinciding with the family's move to that town. On 16 January 1896 he was promoted to Corporal, then to Sergeant on 30 September 1899. He volunteered for service in the Boer War in South Africa, one of only three men from the Droitwich Volunteer battalion to do so. An Active Service battalion was formed of volunteers from the 1st and 2nd Volunteer battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment who mustered at the Shirehall, Worcester on 21 January 1900, amongst them being Corporal A.H. Gummery. They underwent 14 days training before heading to Aldershot on 12 February where they were issued with khaki uniforms. On 19 or 20 February the Worcestershire Volunteers Company under the command of Captain W.B. Bucknall with Lieutenants Checketts and Pardoe and 120 men sailed from Southampton, joining the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at Bloemfontein in April 1900.
By mid August the company was in Pretoria, then Watervaal, before moving at the beginning of September to the Magaliesberg Valley in the Transvaal under General Clements where they had daily skirmishes with the Boers while trying to secure the valley. The fighting on 10 September was the hardest yet, beginning at 6am and going on until 8pm. The large artillery guns of both sides fired over their heads as they advanced, and bullets rained down from the unseen Boers positioned amongst the rocks on the hills above. The Volunteer Company was well up in the firing line on the hill with the regulars, when they were ordered to lie down and return fire. At 3pm they advanced for the cover of another hill which they reached without anyone being hit, and continued firing until dark. At 8pm two companies advanced with bayonets to take the Boers' position, but the Boers had retired.
They remained in the Magaliesberg Valley until 7 or 8 October when, with other County Volunteers, they were ordered home. Arrangements were made for the journey home but the orders were countermanded and the Volunteers were sent to Brandfort, 40 miles north of Bloemfontein on lines of communication duty where they remained for a further 6 months. They experienced plenty of sniping form the Boers during this time and an all-out attack was expected but didn't eventuate.
The following report was received from Colonel Scott Napier, General commanding centre
section of the lines of communication -
The Volunteer Company consisting of Captain Whitcombe and 81 men sailed from Cape Town
on 16 May 1901 and arrived at Southampton on Saturday 9 June 1901. They disembarked the
next morning at 7.30am and trained to Worcester arriving at Shrub Hill station at 4.00pm
where they marched to the Guildhall for an official reception. From the Worcester Herald
dated Saturday 15 June 1901, page 6 -
Of the Worcestershire Volunteers who went to South Africa 6 died, 1 was buried at sea, nearly 30 were invalided home, and a few joined the Imperial Yeomanry. Aside from the Worcester Jewel, Bert was awarded The Queen's South Africa medal (a medal awarded to all who served in South Africa between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902) with two clasps, the Cape Colony clasp and the Orange Free State clasp. Only 26 clasps were authorised - Bert received 2 clasps out of these 26.
In 1909 he was also awarded the Volunteer Long Service medal for completion of 20 years service. By 1909 Bert was a Sergeant in E Company (Droitwich) which formed part of the 8th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment after the 1908 army reorganisation under General Haldane (the 8th Battalion, Territorial Force, was formed from the Volunteer battalions).
Bert Gummery's Queen's South Africa medal with Cape Colony and Orange Free State Clasps
Volunteer Long Service and Good Conduct medal awarded to Bert Gummery in 1909
Inscriptions - top, Queen's South Africa medal: "6697 Pte A.H.
Gummery. Vol: Coy Worc: Regt."
Competitive Rifle Shooting
The National Rifle Association Museum at Bisley have a record of Sergeant A.H. Gummery,
2nd Volunteer Battalion, The Worcester Regiment competing at the annual July Imperial
Meeting held at the National Shooting Centre in Bisley, Surrey, from 1904 until at least
1909. He competed for the King's Prize which is the premier award for the rifleman. The
King's Prize is competed for in three stages. The first stage is open to any eligible
Volunteer, the top 300 shooters going through to compete in the second stage. The top 100
of the second stage are known as "HM The Sovereign's 100", and go on to shoot in
the final. The Berrows article below states that Bert was a competitor at Bisley six
times, and on each occasion had been in the King's 300 - it is thought the King's 300
refers to the second stage of the H.M. The Sovereign's Prize. Bert never shot in the 100
and only three mentions of him in the second stage have been found: 1903 (281st), 1904
(236th) and 1907 (284th). In 1908 he was listed as 327th.
One of the many Beauchamp Cups
The Chantry School, Martley
In 1909 Bert and Annie moved to Martley, Worcestershire where they were to remain for the remainder of their lives. Initially they lived at Highfields, then at Tomkins Cottage. In 1913 a new school called The Chantry was built in Martley, a handcraft school built with money from a chantry founded in 1315, it consisted of a caretakers cottage, a large craft room for the boys, and a kitchen where the girls were taught cookery and laundry. Bert took up the job of caretaker at the school.
The Chantry School was designed by the London architects Sir Charles A. Nicholson and Hubert C. Corlette who had been engaged in restoration work on the Martley Church in 1909. They were noted for producing paintings of their work and produced a beautiful painted plan and picture of the Chantry.
Part of the plan and drawing of the Chantry by the architects Nicholson and Corlette c1913.
Around 1910/11 Bert had retired from the Volunteers. During the First World War the War Office took over the Chantry School, and soldiers, whose job was to guard the German PoWs working the fields, camped in the large craft room. From 1916 Bert Gummery is described in directories as the "Caretaker of Chantry School and Sergeant-Instructor". At 45 years of age Bert was most likely too old for active service overseas, but as Sergeant-Instructor took on some sort of physical training/supervisory role of the soldiers who were guarding the PoWs. Bert served as sergeant-instructor until 1921, after which time he retained the job of caretaker, living in the caretakers cottage until his death in 1947. He also did some teaching, and taught some of the boys to garden.
Annie Maria Gummery (née Blackham) of The Chantry, Martley, died on 30 April 1923 at the County and City Lunatic Asylum at Powick aged 68, of "valvular disease of the heart, years duration".
Photo of the Chantry taken by Bert Gummery c1920, originally on glass slide.
The Caretakers Cottage, part of the Old Chantry, Martley - as it is today.
Martley Air Rifle Club and the Lord Ednam Challenge CupFrom his arrival in Martley in 1909 Bert Gummery was an important member of the Martley Air Rifle Club.
It had been observed during the Boer War that the Afrikaaner farmers were very good shots. At that time in Britain the only people to have regular contact with guns, aside from the military, were the landed gentry who hunted. In 1909 Lord Ednam, who resided at Witley Court and was the eldest son of the Earl of Dudley, donated a trophy, the Lord Ednam Challenge Cup, to be competed for by air rifle teams from villages surrounding Great Witley - initially Great Witley, Abberley, Stanford-on-Teme, Martley and Shrawley, though later more teams were added. He thought this would be a good way to allow local men to become more familiar with firearms. The Lord Ednam Challenge Cup was first competed for in a knockout competition held between 20th March and 5th April 1909, and was won by Stanford with Martley as runner up. The subsequent competitions were league competitions shot over the winter months between November and March. BSA .177 air rifles were used, a standing shot, six shots per man, the first shot being a sighter, over a distance of 18 feet at a metal faced target known as a Bell target. The bell target has a 6 inch square metal face, marked off in rings. There is a small hole in the middle and if the shot goes through the hole a bell rings. The metal plate is painted white, so the shot leaves an obvious mark which is then counted. A shot to the outer ring is worth 2, then 3 and 4 and a bull is worth 5, giving a "possible" of 25 points.
Bert must have moved to Martley during 1909 as he competed in the 1909-10 Lord Ednam Challenge Cup competitions, shooting for their Air Rifle Club as last man. This year Martley won the cup in an exciting final against Great Witley held at the Witley Institute on Monday evening, 14 March 1910. There was great interest in the match as up till that time Witley had won 8 matches in the competition (including a victory over Martley at Martley by 6 points) and Martley had won 7 matches. After the first man from each team had shot Witley were up 24 to 18. Halfway through Martley had evened the score, only for Witley to go ahead again. By the time it came for the last man from each team to shoot the scores were again even - 229 all. There was tension in the room. The last man for Witley shot and scored a good 20 points, leaving the Martley last man to get 21 to win. In his first four shots the Martley man scored 18, and amidst uproar scored a bull with his last shot, Martley winning the memorable match by three points - 252 to 249. Martley and Witley were now equal having won 8 matches each, but Martleys aggregate score over the whole season was higher so they won the cup.
As mentioned Bert Gummery shot for Martley as last man. The position of last man is special within the team, and not all men are capable of holding it. It requires one to not only be a very good shot but to be able to withstand the tension and pressure of shooting last, when expectations are high and the possibility of letting the team down very real. The last man knows exactly how many points he must get in order for the team to win and must perform with the full attention of a room-full of expectant and excited men. It is said that Bert had his own special way of coping with the pressure. Aside from being a very good marksman, Bert was also a very good drinker, and during competitions had to wait quite a while for his turn to shoot. When it came he would have a man standing either side of him to hold him upright, and, knowing how many points were needed to win, he would shoot the exact required score. This modus operandi can only have added to the tension and excitement of the competition.
The photo shows the Martley Air Rifle Club team who won the Lord Ednam Challenge Cup in
March 1910, and was taken at The Berrow, Martley. Not all the men in the photo have been
definitely identified but most are known.
The Winning of the Mackie Cup
The 1909-1910 season was an exceptionally good one for the Martley club. As well as winning the Lord Ednam Challenge Cup they also won another major competition, that of the Mackie Cup. This had been presented by Mackie & Co. of Glasgow, the distillers of White Horse Whisky and had a horse on the lid, commonly known as the White Horse Whisky Cup. It was a handsome silver trophy and was valued at 50 guineas in 1910. This was a knockout competition held annually for air rifle teams within a 15 mile radius of Worcester. In 1910 Martley entered two teams in the competition, with both getting through to the final. Here's how the Berrows Journal reported the event:-
The final of the Mackie Cup between the two Martley teams was never shot and the two teams shared the trophy for the year. The photo below, taken in June 1910 at The Berrow, Martley, shows the Martley Air Rifle Club members with their years winnings. The photo comes from the Martley Air Rifle Clubrooms, and was donated by the wife of Will Nott after his death. Embossed in the right hand bottom corner of the photo is "A. H. Gummery, Martley" but again it seems likely that his father, Henry Gummery, actually took the photo. At some stage after this the Mackie Cup disappeared and has never been recovered.
Back row standing, left to right: William Holloway, William Adams, Philip Webb, William
Brown (Club President), Walter Summers, Harry Lane, Albert Gummery.
The Gummery Cup
In 1921 a cup was presented to the Martley Air Rifle Club by S.R. Hare who lived at Kingswood, Martley. It was to become the property of the club member who won it three times. Bert Gummery won the cup three times so it became his. After Bert's death in 1947, Christopher Rimmell, who boarded with Bert for many years, gave the cup back to the club and it became known as the Gummery Cup. The competition for the Gummery Cup is a knockout, shot over one evening between members of the Martley Air Rifle Club and awarded to the winner at the end of the shoot. The Gummery Cup was first competed for in 1948 and is still competed for annually to this day.
!! photo of the Gummery Cup to come !!
Involvement in Village Life
Aside from shooting, Bert's other main interest was, of course, photography. He would regularly give magic lantern slide shows in the village and these were always very popular and well attended. Glass slides were placed in the "magic lantern", then using light and a lens the photo was projected onto a screen. The slides were, typically, 3¼ inch squares of glass and could be either hand-painted pictures, or transfer printed pictures, or black and white or colour-tinted photographs. The magic lantern was the predecessor of todays projector. Bert would photograph interesting events and places around the village, then produce a magic lantern show for public display at the Martley Memorial Hall.
Bert was one of the first trustees of the Martley Village Memorial Hall. The hall was originally an ex-army hut from Shrewsbury Barracks which was transported to Martley in 1921. Affectionately known as "The Hut", it consisted of two rooms, one for functions and the other housed two billiard tables. It would seem Bert made good use of the billiard tables as he was reputed to have been a "red-hot" billiards player.
Albert Harry Gummery, school caretaker, died on
There is an excellent website dedicated to Martley village,
Worcestershire, England. Visit www.martley.org.uk
If you would like to know more, or have some comment to make, please email me .
Sources & references:-