Grandfather. Born in Hoxton, East London in 1929 being named after the hospital he was born in, St Leonards. He was evacuated during WW2 to a farm in Leighton Buzzard, eventually finding his way back to his family after the war who had relocated out to Luton, Bedfordshire. Being the centre of the hat making industry in the UK and with his education cut short with very little choice of job he found himself working as a hat blocker until the decline of the industry finally forced him out.


Great-grandfather. Arthur grew up in Hoxton, East London, attending Napier St. School and married his wife Alice in the Church of Saint Anne, Hoxton in 1921. At the time he was working as a ‘hat turner’. He served in Italy and Africa during WW2 receiving the Africa Star Ribbon. After the war the family moved out to Luton where he continued working in the hat trade until into his seventies.


Great-grandfather. Charlie was born in Stratford, East London in 1905. He was a glazier at the start of his working life and after falling off a roof and causing a really bad break to his ankle he lost his job and ventured into the world of greyhound racing where he became a well known figure, at one point being a bookmaker at the old West Ham track. He was known to all as “Flat Nose Charlie”. Tattooed on his arm was the name of his elder brother George, killed in action during WW1 in March 1915 in Flanders, aged 19.

“Samuel” (Sammy)

4th great-grandfather. Born in Amsterdam in 1818 he arrived alone in London aged 29. He was a Confectioner by trade and lived for a time in the now famous Carnaby Street where his eldest son was born, one of 10 children. He had a confectionery shop in Westminster for many years. Sadly he suffered a stroke, was unable to keep his shop running and ended up in the Lambeth Workhouse where he committed suicide by jumping out of a window. He was 59.

“William” (Billy)

3rd great-grandfather. Born in 1848 in Blackfriars, he married his wife Elizabeth, when he was aged 24 and had five children as best I know. In 1881 he was living in Old Street and was a Dairyman. He opened a diary shop when he moved into Brick Lane around 1900 and the family stayed there for the next 60 years with the premises evolving into a newspaper shop. Sadly it no longer exists today.

And there are many more like them including all the women in my family that are not forgotten and also need to be celebrated………probably more than the men!