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Brentford Families - The Lockyers and Underhills

The following notes have been prepared by Maurice Lockyer and give a vivid description of the lives of two families, Underhill & Lockyer, who lived in Brentford in the early C20. He says 'Regarding my family memories, much is based on stories to myself related by my mother and aunt Beatrice which I accept as true but now have no way of authenticating.'

Maurice Lockyer - the author of the notes below

I was born 1931 in Chiswick at Oxford Gardens, long since demolished under a road improvement scheme. I lived in South Ealing until the age of 21 years when I commenced my National Service with the Royal Engineers.

A favourite Saturday night out during my teen years was in the gods at the Chiwick Empire where all the big stars appeared sooner or later including some of the old aged Edwardian music hall stars and young boy singers like Cliff Richard.

In 1946 I worked for a short period as an apprentice at Wilson & Kyle marine engineers at Catherine Way. Working on parts for a 75 foot surplus ex-navy motor torpedo boat that the boss had purchased for his own use.

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The Underhill Family

44 High Street and other addresses

At Brentford my maternal grandparents Harry Underhill [1868-1950] and Emily [nee Chelton 1873-1963] had 12 children plus almost one miscarriage between each child. They lived at 44,High Street in a two bedroom cottage house with a large coal cellar and only ever had gas lighting with mantles and an outside loo and a small rear garden with a brick wall at the rear which overlooked a river shore tiled roof shed with views across Lots Ait to Kew gardens, there was no front garden and access via two stone steps from the pavement.

They originally lived at 5, Sussex Place then next door at No 43. No 45 next door to the police station was a workshop housing engineering lathes which could be heard humming through the structure into the Dining room. When I stayed as a five year old, after a thunderstorm my job was to nip out when no one was about and bring in wood blocks from the road which had lifted when water got under them being impregnated with tar they burned well on the kitchen range.

Soldier Uncles

Most of my uncles were regular soldiers [ my mother said to escape from the permanent house full of children], the first time that she saw her eldest brother Harry was when she was five years old and he was 27, [he having falsified his age at 14 years and joined up as a band boy training at Knellor Hall] having returned from seven years service in India with 2nd Middlesex Regiment and on leave on his way to France where he was shot through both knees and captured by the Germans, he remained a soldier having served from 1904 and leaving the Home Guard in 1944.

His younger brother Walter during WWlwas awarded a Military Medal and a Groix de Guerre by the French and also had several mentioned in dispatches certificates.

A younger brother Jim was wounded in both hands and captured at Tobruk, he died when the Italian hospital ship SS Sicilian was sunk in 1942, his mother never accepted that he drowned as he was a strong swimmer who had been known to have dived off Kew Bridge and swam home along the river. His name is on the El Alameim memorial as Underwood [being a deserter he enlisted in 1939 under that name into the Royal Artilary.

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Jack Underhill, Hero

Another brother John James [Jack] of 62, Clayponds Avenue was in 1960 awarded the B.E.M, The Workers V.C by the Daily Herald newspaper, order of Industrial Heroism, Carnegie Award For Bravery following a fire incident at Richmond gas works when he saved a colleague in a fire and then closed off several valves, it was reported in the national press that he saved Richmond from a major explosion damage.

The national press at the time stated that around 2,000 people turned out to see his cortege pass through Brentford High Street. His illustrated story was even once shown in the Heroes section of the Eagle Comic. His BEM was received by post as he was too ill to attend Buckingham Palace to receive the medal from HM The Queen, his lungs having been damaged in the incident at the fire, he was refused early retirement by the Gas company and consigned to the stores depot with all the other sick and injured staff.

Grandmother was proud of her soldier sons and the sitting room walls were covered in "photos and certificates of various awards. Grandfather had also been a professional soldier, they met when his unit camped in a field behind the old laundry where she worked, while on a march from Lowestoft to London, she married aged sixteen years, her father was a strong man pugilist killed when run over by a coach and four.

Grandmother once recalled that when she was a small girl at weekends gangs of youths travelled in to Kew Bridge, from Isleworth, Hounslow and Chiswick to have drunken brawls with rival gangs, the Hounslow gang wearing striped blazers and straw boaters with a bone tied onto the back with a piece of string and used as a weapon on occasion.

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The Lockyer Family

400 High Street: Licensed Slaughterhouse

The Lockyer butchers premises at No 400, High Street had a rear yard of 1,000 square feet and was listed as a registered slaughterhouse and purveyor of home killed English and Scotch meat, the animals being driven along the road from market. The shop was adjacent to Lamb Passage, named after the Lamb public house.

My father worked after school as a young teenager from age 14 years as a slaughter man/cutter due to the shortage of manpower during and just after WW1.

Somerset origins

Great grandfather [1843-1897] Henry established the business pre-1892, the 1881 census shows him as a Somerset farmer of 115 acres. Incredibly apparently he moved to Brentford on medical advice in the belief that the fumes from the gas works would help his bronchitis, after his death from that ailment in 1897 his son John Tazewell Lockyer [1876-1932] also died of bronchitis aged 54 years, took over the business moving there from the Enfield Road shop, although my father Cyril Mark was born in April 1906 [he said] at a farm in Popes Lane, Ealing. The 1901 census shows that Fanny Avice Tazewell Lockyer, wife of Henry, ran the 400, High Street shop for many years after handing it over to John Tazewell Lockyer her eldest son.

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A tool of the trade - a captive bolt stun gun

My father Cyril Mark Lockyer [1906-1990] managed the Ealing shop at Leighton Road from about 1929/30 until closing in the early 1960s, his mother having gifted the shop to him in lieu of a share of her will in 1945, he also trained my younger sister Margaret as a butcher although not to slaughter as this was no longer permitted by a private butcher after the outbreak of WW11 when food rationing commenced, at that time his large humane captive bolt stun gun that had been mounted on display on the wall of the shop cashiers section was confiscated by the police. The home slaughter of animals was discontinued after closure of the Brentford shop.

The Lockyer - Underhill marriage in 1929

John Tazewell Lockyer's wife Jane Elizabeth [nee Richardson 1880-1960] was the daughter of a bailiff from Isleworth and they had ten children, J.T objected to my father Cyril Mark Lockyer courting a working class factory girl [my mother Bessie Underhill 1907-1967] worked at Osrams Lamp factory at Hammersmith], he even sent father away to work at Winchester for two years to try to part them.

Their marriage was at old St Pauls church in 1929, J.T stood at the back of the church only to hear the vows and then left, he had apparently expected a marriage into a business family to empire build.

He had a live in childrens nanny and at one time ran a six seat Sunbeam open tourer car so must assume that business was profitable before his death in 1932, I was three months old at that time so have no direct knowledge of him or of his mother Fanny Avis Pocock Lockyer [18481933 nee Tazewell known as F.A.P] who died when I was two years old.

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Published November 2008