Monday, 5 September 2016

The Woman with the Pram

Original post:

Very early on in the life of the estate a series of photos were taken, perhaps as a public record of the Government Estate at Well Hall. Many of the photos show groups of adults and/or children, but on only one of them is it possible to link people to one of the houses. A photo of Well Hall Road shows a woman with a pram entering what I believe is No 133, a Class 2 house. Just inside the doorway is another figure.

I really wanted to find out whose these people were as I have very few other identified photos of people from the estate at this time. With the help of the baptism records of St John the Baptist Church (available at the London Metropolitan Archives), Eltham, and the family history websites ‘Ancestry’ and‘Find My Past’ I believe I have identified the woman as Alice Beckett with her baby son Ronald Beckett, who was baptised on 18th June 1916, having been born in September the previous year. It seems that after the war the family owned a motorcycle repair business in Eltham.

Alice Miriam Swan married her husband, Gilbert Tavernier Beckett in Tunbridge in 1902. He was a motor and cycle engraver who had also worked with guns. As an engineer he had skills that would have led to employment at the Arsenal. The female figure inside the door might be that of Alice’s eldest daughter, Violet, who would be about thirteen assuming that the photo, dated 1915 but clearly taken in the summer when the estate was properly finished, was taken in 1916.

In 1939 Ronald, apparently known as Mick to his family, was still living in Well Hall but he married during the war and he and his wife Ivy were living the Shooters Hill area in the post war period. I don’t know when and where he died. Alice his mother might have died in 1952. In the photo her face is turned towards the photographer and the daughter is peering out of the door so they were aware the photo was being taken. I wonder if they ever saw a copy of it?

With thanks for some additional comments to family descendants who I have been able to contact.

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