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Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: January 12,2019


The impetus for this article was the recent discovery of a silver plated teapot advertised for sale on ebay inscribed to “T.F. Deakin from his colleagues at Tunbridge Wells Post Office March 1900”.

The Courier of March 16,1900 reported on the event, details of which are given later but noted that the presentation was made by Mr E.W.J. Arman the postmaster of the head post office in the town (Vale Road) on behalf of the management and staff to Mr. Thomas Frederick Deakin (1871-1918) an official of the post office who had come to Tunbridge Wells in 1896 but was leaving to take the position of sub-postmaster at Westerham.


Thomas Frederick Deakin was born in the 1st qtr of 1871 at Lichfield, Staffordshire. He was baptised there at Christ Church on March 15,1871, the son of Charles Deakin (1833-1913)  and Emma Deakin,nee Gee (1837-1905). An image of Christ Church is shown opposite.

Thomas came from a working class family. His father Charles worked for most of his life as a labourer, gardener and farmer in Lichfield. Charles had been born in Lichfield in 1833  and died January 20,1913 at Burton-upon- Trent ,Staffordshire.

Charles Deakin had married Emma Gee in 1857 in Lichfield. Emma was born in Lichfield in 1837 and with her had by 1881 had at least eight children (including Thomas)  born between 1858 and 1876 in Lichfield. Emma Died in Staffordshire in 1913.

The 1871 census, taken at Old Sandford Street in Lichfield gave Charles Deakin as a labourer. With him was his wife Emma and six children, including Thomas who was the youngest child at that time in the family.

The 1881 census, taken at Sandford Street in Lichfield gave Charles Deakin as a gardener. With him was his wife Emma and five of their children, including Thomas who was attending school. Thomas received only a basic education at a local school in Lichfield. Thomas was still living with his parents at this address at the time of the 1891 census.

On November 19,1896 Thomas married Kate Waller (1869-1951) at St James Church, Handsworth, Staffordshire (image above). Marriage records gave Charles Deakin as Thomas’s father with the occupation of “farmer”. Kates father was given as James Waller, a wool merchant.

Kate Waller was born April 25,1869 at Bradford, Yorkshire and baptised July 25,1869 at Bradford St Peter (Bradford Cathedral), Yorkshire (image opposite) and given as the daughter of James and Mary Parker Waller.

The 1881 census taken at Rose Cottage in Lichfield, Staffordshire gave Kate Waller attending school and living as the niece of George Cheetham (age 65) an alderman and supervisor of Inland Revenue and a farmer of 11 acres employing two farm labourers. Georges wife Jane (age 71), one boarder and one servant were also there.

The 1891 census taken at 57 Benton Road in Lichfield gave Kate living as the niece of George Cheetham (age 75) and his wife Jane (age 81). George was a retired supervisor of the Inland Revenue and Kate was working at that time as a postal telephone clerk (civil servant). Kate came to know Thomas Frederick Deakin before the marriage, when both of them worked for the post office in Lichfield.

After the marriage of Thomas Frederick Deakin to Kate Waller in 1896 the couple took up residence in Tunbridge Wells where Thomas secured a position as an official at the towns head post office on Vale Road.  Their arrival in the town in 1896 is confirmed by the Courier article of March 16,1900.


When Thomas and his wife arrived in Tunbridge Wells the end of 1896 they took up residence in one of the fine lodging houses on London Road so that Thomas could be close to his work at the Vale Road Post Office. The lodging houses on London Road, of which there were several, afforded the residents with a lovely scenic view of the commons. Shown opposite, from a family album, is an undated  photograph of Thomas and Kate Deakin.

Shown opposite is a postcard view of the Vale Road Post Office by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.


Shown opposite is a photograph of a group of postal workers (outdoor staff) standing in front of a residence on London Road, looking north towards the post office. The Vale Road Post Office was built in 1896 and became the town’s head post office. Formerly the head post office was at the Pantiles and in 1896 there were several sub-post offices scattered about the town. No doubt Thomas Frederick Deakin’s employment with the post office coincided with the official opening of the Vale Road Post Office ,at 2 Vale Road, by the Mayor on November 27,1896. At the time of the opening the postmaster was a Mr. Douglas. Details about the history of the post office was given in my article ‘ The Post Office on Vale Road’ dated December 15,2014.

All of the incoming and outgoing mail in the town was sorted at the Vale Road Post Office and Thomas took a supervisory position in the mail sorting department.

Thomas and his wife Kate had a daughter Eveline who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1897, and was the only child born to the couple. On August 6, 1921 Eveline was a spinster of Courtney Road when on that date she married Frank Sturton, a bachelor of Courtney Road who was a servant. The marriage took place at Croydon St James Church, Surrey. Eveline’s father was given as Thomas Frederick Deakin (deceased) civil servant post office. Frank was given as the son of William Sturton, a tailor. Kate Deakin, Thomas’s widow was one of the witnesses to the marriage.

Thomas continued to work at the post office in Tunbridge Wells until March 1900. His service with the post office and his departure were noted by the following article from the Courier of March 16,1900.

“ Presentation at the Tunbridge Wells Head Post Office yesterday afternoon, Mr E.W. J. Arman, postmaster, presented Mr. T.F. Deakin, who has been appointed sub-postmaster of Westerham, with a silver plated tea service suitable inscribed (supplied by Mr A. Taylor) as a token of the sincere good will and affection of his colleagues. Amongst those present were Messrs Garner, Rofe and Richardson, supervisiors, and the whole of the interior staff, whose duties permitted. Mr Arman in handing the present to Mr Deakin remarked that it was with great regret that he saw Mr Deakin leave them. It was known that Mr Deakin had come to Tunbridge Wells some 4 years ago from the Pottery District, in the hope that his health would benefit by the change. Mr Deakin’s good work as an official was well known to them all, and made him (the postmaster) very sorry to lose him. Mr Deakin who appeared overcome with emotion, said the kindness shown to him by his colleagues would never be forgotten. He had experienced much consideration from those working with him during the time he had been there. He thanked the postmaster and the staff for their kind gift and the good wishes that accompanied it”.

The gift presented to Mr Deakin was described above as a tea service, which service would have included a tea pot, tray, sugar bowl and milk jug. A recent listing on ebay was for the tea pot only inscribed to T.F. Deakin. Obviously the tea service got split up over the years and it appears that the inscription to Mr Deakin appeared only on the teapot.

Shown above are some images of the teapot. On one side is inscribed “ T.F. Deakin” and on the other side is the inscription “ From his colleagues at Tunbridge Wells Post Office March 1900”. The hallmarks on the teapot, according to the seller, indicate that it was made by Atkin Bros.

A review of local newspapers noted that in the Courier of October 25 and 27 there was reference to a T.F. Deakin being nominated in the local ward elections and the Courier of October 7,1898 referred to a picture book being donated to the Children’s Ward of the General Hospital by Mrs Deakin.


In March 1900 Thomas and his wife and daughter left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Westerham, Kent where Thomas took the position of sub-postmaster. Shown opposite is a photograph of the post office taken in the 1920s

The 1901 census, taken at the Westerham post office gave Thomas as a “postmaster civil servant”. With him was his wife Kate; their daughter Eveline and two boarders. Postal records gave Thomas as being appointed postmaster at Westerham in 1900.

Directories of  1902 to 1914 gave Thomas as the postmaster of the Belvedere post office on Station Road, Erith, Kent.Shown opposite is a 1905 postcard view of this post office which is the building in the foreground on the left. The sign on the building reads “ Belvedere Station Post Office”.

The 1911 census, taken at the post office, Belvedere, Erith,Kent, Station Road, gave Thomas as a sub-postmaster post office civil service. With him was his wife Kate with the occupation of “assistant post office civil servant”. Also there was their daughter Eveline and one visitor. The census recorded that they were living in premises of 5 rooms; that they had been married in 1895 and that they had just the one child. Eveline at that time was attending school.

Thomas Fredrick Deakin died at only age 47 in September 1918 at Croydon. He had been in poor health for many years and as noted above he had come to Tunbridge Wells hoping that a change of air would be beneficial to his health. Thomas was buried in the Erith Cemetery (image opposite) in Erith Kent September 27,1918. His wife Kate died June 24,1951, age 82. She had died at 60 Avenue road in Belmond. She was buried in the Erith Cemetery on Brook Street June 27,1951 in grave 227. It was not established in what grave Thomas was buried in but most likely both were buried in the same grave or at least side by side.




Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: January 14,2019


Philip Hanmer was born 1845 at Shrewsbury, Shropshire. He was one of at least three children born to Charles J. Hanmer (born 1807)  and Ann Hanmer, nee Pearce, born 1811. Shown opposite is a photograph of Philip taken in 1901.

The 1851 census, taken at Wyle Cottage in Shrewsbury gave Henry Pearce as the head of the home and working as a shoemaker. With him was his brother in law Charles J. Hanmer , a shoemaker, and Charles wife Ann and their three children Philip, John and Elizabeth. Also there was one house servant.

The 1861 census, taken in the town of Oakengates, Shropshire gave Philip and his brother John living as nephews to John Shephard(age 56) a maltser and farmer of a 120 acre hops farm.

The 1871 census, taken at Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire gave Philip Hanmer living as a lodger in the home of Emily Compton and working as a solicitors clerk.

Philip never married and by 1880 he moved to Tunbridge Wells  and took up residence on Beulah Road where he lived all his life. After his initial employment as clerk to the Tunbridge Wells Social Board he was employed as a Clerk with the Southborough District Urban Council a positon he held up to the time of his retirement in the mid 1920’s.

The 1881 census, taken at 18 Beulah Road gave Philip as a lodger living with the Thomas Wood family and working as a clerk to the Tunbridge Wells Social Board.

Directories of 1882 to 1927 record Philip living at 20 Beulah Road, Tunbridge Wells. In 1887 he was admitted to the Pantiles Lodge of the Freemasons in Tunbridge Wells. In 1887 he was appointed Town Clerk at a salary of 100 pounds a year.

The 1891 census, taken at 20 Beuhah Road gave Philip as a clerk, Southborough Council and apart from one house servant was living on his own.  A directory of 1891 gave two listings namely (1) Philip Hanmer, clerk, 123 London Road, Southborough (2) Philip Hanmer, 20 Beulah Road, Tunbridge Wells. Shown opposite is a photo with text showing members of the Urban District in which Philip Hanmer can be seen as the short man third from the right in the front row.

The publication ‘Surveyor’ of 1897 listed Philip Harmer as a clerk of Southborough in connection with four tender calls for work in Southborough relating to the laying of gas mains, water mains and other work.

The Salomons family archives noted in the collection a letter from Philip Hanmer, clerk of Southborough, dated December 27,1899 to Sir David Lionel Salomons “conveying the sympathy of the Council to his family on the death of Salomons second daughter”. A directory of 1899 gave the listing “ Philip Hanmer 137 London Road, Southborough, clerk to the Urban District Council and to the Burial Board.

The 1901 census, taken at 20 Beulah Road gave Philip as a “clerk to the Urban Council, local council Southborough” and was living in the home on his own.

The 1911 census, taken at 20 Beulah Road gave Philip as a clerk to the Urban District Council. With him in premises of 6 rooms was one housekeeper.

Local directories for 1913 to 1922 gave the listing “ Philip Hanmer, clerk to the Urban District Council and to the Burial Board and to the Southborough Sub-Committee of Kent Local Pension Committee, Council Offices, London Road, Southborough”

Probate records gave Philip Hanmer of 20 Beulah Road, Tunbridge Wells when he died March 29,1927. The executor of his 2,620 pound estate was William Neville Wood, clerk to the Council. Philip was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on April 2,1927.

20 BEULAH ROAD  (see file for list of images)

This home is a 2 sty semi- detached residence located on the north side of Beulah Road just west of Granville Road. Shown in this section from top to bottom are four images namely (1) view of Beulah Road circa 1910 (2) view of Beulah Road looking towards Camden Road circa 1890 (3) modern view of 20 Beulah Road on the right and No. 22 on the left (4) Set of floor plans for 20 Beulah Road from an estate agents listing.

The best description of this residence is one from a recent estate agents brochure. Listed as about 850,000 pounds it was described as a 4 bedroom semi-detached home “ an extremely well appointed Victorian villa believed to have been built during 1885 and later benefitting from a 2 story rear extension as well as a superb office/workshop constructed within the rear garden.” The home contains many period features including attractive fire places, decorative cornice to the ceilings, stripped pine doors and architraves and sash windows. The accommodation is arranged over three levels. Details of the room layout are given in the floorplans shown in this section of the article. Further details about the home and views of the interior and grounds can be found on the internet.

As can be seen from the records of the Planning Authority this home has had many occupants over the years and a number of applications seeking approval to proceed with renovations and additions to the home were made ,details of which can be found online



Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada

Date: January 10,2019


The name “Cork Club” refers to the tradition of members of working men’s clubs identifying themselves to fellow members by carrying and presenting a cork from their pocket. Shown opposite is a postcard by Stickells & Son of Tunbridge Wells showing a view dated June 30,1929 of The White Horse Hotel Cork Club posing in front of an omnibus no doubt on the occasion of their annual outing.

These clubs spread nationally, were large in number and established in the late Victorian Era (circa 1894)and became known as a working men’s freemasonry as upposed to business men, higher up the social ladder, who belonged to the Freemasons.

Members of these clubs met at a local pub where there was music and entertainment and plenty of drinking and often swearing. Those found to be behaving badly had to pay a fine, which money was raised for charity. Their meetings were boisterous events and the men had a good time. Women of course were not allowed to be members and frowned upon their men belonging to such clubs.

These clubs were still going strong in the 1920’s and 1930’s but WWII seems to have been blamed for them largely disappearing. Another reason for their decline is that women began to frown on these all male activities and the Temperance Movement took its toll. The main reason, however, were the benefits brought in by the 1945 Attlee government for people down on their luck.

Although few in number Nick Hamzis reported in 2012 that a Cork Club still existed at the Cider Bar in Newton Abbott, Devon and no doubt there are others still around.

Today the name Cork Club refers to a more sophisticated group of wine connoisseurs who get together to sample wine.

In this article I present in the next section an excellent account about Cork Clubs found on the Rushden Research website, which is followed by information about Cork Clubs in Southborough and Tunbridge Wells.  This article serves as an introduction to the topic as exhaustive search for all Cork Clubs in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area was not made.

Shown above is a photograph of Cork Club members at an unidentified place and date.


The following article is from the Eric Fowell Collection as transcribed by Jacky Lawrence in 2007. It provides good background information about Cork Clubs in general and more specifically about the Cork Club in Rushden.

It is not known where and when Cork Clubs began as there were no central administration points. Rules and procedures were handed down from club to club.  It is assumed that these clubs of mainly working men were nationally spread, large in number and late Victorian in origin. They had their critics due to the short initiation ceremony and became known as the working man’s freemasonry. The only event of any note, however, was placing your hand on the emblem, a brass bound cork, and swearing to be truthful in dealing with club affairs. Their aims were beer drinking activities but equally a very much under publicised, local charity element. When joining it was explained that membership was virtually free but that the charitable aspect would cost them money. So, they appear unsensational but what was unique about the set up was the harnessing of the harmless, boisterous swearing which took place at the time on the factory floor etc.

In Rushden the Compasses was a venue but there are no dates known and the last one to be formed in the town was at the Railway Inn in 1935 and was the brainchild of Bill ‘Slippy’ Johnson. He became the chairman and was supported by a secretary, treasurer and two club seniors. The  Inn  , under new management, introduced a piano, two singalong nights and the first dart board in the town centre. With these facilities the Railway soon became the  Mecca   of the youthful tipplers of the town.

On initiation you were presented with a brass bound cork with instructions to carry it at all times. When meeting a fellow member outside the club you had to challenge him in precise words ‘May I see your cork brother’. If he failed to produce it you would report him at the next meeting and he would be fined one penny, if he said you were a bloody nuisance that would cost another. Time, date and place of these challenges had to be stated. If the challenge was presented correctly there was no appeal.

The first part of each meeting was quite ordinary. Financial matters were dealt with such as grants for members who had been ill, when the sick pay had run out and occasional grants were made to users of the pub. At the movement of any other business the meetings became quite hilarious and boisterous. The chairman introduced provocative subjects which were debated with a good deal of profanity and the secretary and his two aides recorded each individual’s misuse of the English language. There was a ten minute pause at the finish, the result of the raffle was announced and the transgressors had to pay their fines for their lapses, this generally consisted of the whole assembly, usually around thirty.

The Railway belonged to Praeds, the Wellingborough brewers who were situated in Dulley’s Yard where the Swansgate centre now stands. Free yearly club outings were held and some of these were to the brewery. The sampling of the product was well received and the ploughman’s lunch at the Horseshoe opposite completed a good half day out.

Today the method of collecting money may seem odd, at the time it was described as blasphemous but it was done behind closed doors and really foul language was not tolerated. Contributions of pennies also seem petty but a penny was six and a half percent of the hourly rate of a boot and shoe male worker, £2.70 in today’s money for a forty six and a half hour week. Around £30 to £40 was collected and distributed yearly which makes the much under publicised total £2500 to £3000.

So what happened? The second war must take some of the blame and women began to frown on these all male activities. The real reason, however, were the benefits brought in by the 1945 Attlee government for people down on their luck.


The Bell Inn in Southborough was a popular pub and operated for many years until the building was demolished in March 2000.

The Bell Inn, London Road, was run by B. Baker of Tonbridge, before it was leased to F. Leney & Son of Waterinbury for 120 pounds per annum in 1892. One landlord was fined 5s in 1897 for selling adulterated gin. Frederick Tanner came to the Bell in 1911` after running the Junction at Groombridge. He was an avid football fan and did a lot for the local teams, especially helping to introduce the game to youngsters. He died after falling into a diabetic coma in January 1924, age 49.

Shown above is a postcard entitled ‘ The Bell Inn Cork Club July 1926’. The large man seated in the middle of the front row is the landlord Percy John Buckland and on his right is William Buckland. Of the others, left to right, standing at the back: Hodge, Diplock, ?, Rodwell (the town’s lamplighter), ?, Chatfield, ?.?,John (a German working at the Bell Inn). The only other known persons” in the next row standing third from the left is Claud Bending and the sailor sitting at the front on the left is Morley. The darker of the two dogs at the front on the left was called Bromley.

Shown opposite is a photo of the annual outing of the Bell Inn Cork Club in 1927. The pub had a reputation as a ‘widow maker’-the wives of four publicans took over the tenancy (albeit briefly) after their husbands’ deaths while ‘on duty’. As one can see from this photo the Cork Club had a large membership and with no tops on the omnibuses one had to pray for good weather.

References to the Bell Inn Cork Club were found in the Courier up to an including 1938.  The Courier of


The Crown Inn was one of the busiest pubs during WW2 as it was used by soldiers who were based at Great Bounds where Nissen huts had been built to house them. Clarence Tingley took over the Crown Inn on London Road in 1935 was still the landlord when he died of cancer in August 1963. His wife Leonora carried on until October 1964.

Working men who frequented this pub formed a Cork Club and met their regularly. During the war the pub became a black market centre for the people of Southborough. One could always get butter, sugar, meat and petrol from the soldiers.

Shown in the photograph opposite is a view of the Crown Inn Cork Club outing in 1939. The landlord, Clarence Tinbley, and his daughter Barbara are shown kneeling in the front row. The Cork Club outing usually went to Southend or to see Chartlton play football. They always used to play ‘penny on the wheel’-making a charlk mark and writing your initials. When the coach came to a stop, the one whose mark was nearest the top would win the money.


A Cork Club at the Imperial Hotel was found in newspaper articles from July 16,1926 to March 13,1936 but may have existed beyond these dates. Details about the history of this hotel were given in my article ' The Imperial Hotel In Southborough' dated September 29,2017. An image of the hotel from that article by the Tunbridge Wells firm of E.A. Sweetman & Son is shown opposite.

The Courier of July 16,1926 reported “ Outing-The members of the Imperial Hotel Cork Club had their outing on Sunday top Worthing and Brighton, the arrangements being made by Mr Valenitine (secretary).” An article in the Courier of March 13, 1936 reported on another similar outing.


The Courier of June 30,1930 reported “Southborough-Cork Club Outing-The Bull Hotel Cork Club went for their annual outing on Sunday. The party travelled by Redcard to Chatham, from whence they took….”


The Courier of December 3,1926 reported “ Cork Club Presentations- At the Grove Tavern on Friday, Mr S. Clark on behalf of members of the Grove Tavern Cork Club, presented Mr A.J. Hook with a silver cake basket in recognition…….” A modern photo of the Grove Tavern is shown opposite.


The Courier of January 17,1930 reported “ The annual dinner of the White Horse Hotel Cork Club took place on Wednesday when Mr E.W. Empson of Tunbridge Wells presided. The toast of success to the Cork Club was given by the chairman…”

The Courier of July 1,1932 reported “ Cork Club Outing- Nearly 40 members of the White Horse Hotel Cork Club with the host George Finch went on a circular tour of Hastings, Brighton and Tunbridge Wells”.

A photograph of the hotel is given above in the 'Introduction'.



Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: December 18,2018


The story about the sinking of the RMS TITANIC has been well documented and reported on in countless articles, books, films, musicals etc and for that reason this article does not report on the ship or the events surrounding its sinking after hitting an ice burg on its way to New York from Southampton on April 15,1912. What this article reports on are those on the ship with a connection to Tunbridge Wells who were either saved or who died as a result of the sinking of the ship. Shown opposite is a photo with text regarding a fund raising event in Tunbridge Wells for the relief of relatives and dependants of casualties of the sinking of the Titanic.

The source document which prompted my research was an article that appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier of April 19,1912 in which the names of four people were listed with a connection to Tunbridge Wells who were on the ship at the time it sank. Eight days after the Titanic sank the Gazette was able to record that the ill-fated vessel had at least twelve passengers and three members of the crew from Kent, although early reports tended to be understandably inaccurate, and given that there were an estimated 2,224 passengers and crew of which about 1,500 were lost it would be nearly impossible to research everyone on the ship to come up with a comprehensive list of those on the vessel with some form of connection to Tunbridge Wells. As a result those listed in the Courier article of April 19,1912 forms the basis for those on the ship for whom information is provided in this article.

Shown here is a photo of the TITANIC on and left and the CARPATHIA on the right.

The four names given in the aforementioned article were two crew members namely Frank W. Prentice (survivor) and Herbert Haines (lost) and two passengers Mrs Helen Twoomey , who’s actual name was Miss Ellen Mary Toomey, and who survived,and Mr John Simmons who also survived. Also found but not listed in the article was Elsie Bowerman a lawyer and suffragette who survived  along with her mother Edith. They were travelling first class and saved on Lifeboat 6.  Others were Albert Ernest Fryer, a trimmer in the engine room who survived on Lifeboat 13 and who’s mother Mary Ann Watts was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1851,  and Elisabeth Walton Allen who was saved in Lifeboat 2. She died in Tunbridge Wells in 1967.

This tragic event changed the lives of all who sailed on the TITANIC and their relatives and many were traumatized by the experience.

Over the years various memorial events and exhibitions have been held including an exhibition held at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells in the summer of 2016 where the Mayor layed a wreath on behalf of the people of Tunbridge Wells. This exhibition attracted some 148,000 visitors and included the display of 130 artifacts. This exhibition opened July 23,2016 and ran for a month and it was so well received that it won an award.


“Local Men On The Titanic’ the heading read, following which the following was given. “ Several persons from Tunbridge Wells and district are known to have been on board the “Titanic” when she sailed on her ill-fated maiden voyage. Mr Frank W. Prentice,aged 22, son of Mrs Prentice, of 14 York Road, Tunbridge Wells formed one of the great liner’s crew. He had been connected with the mercantile marine since he was fourteen years of age, and had held appointments on the “Adriatic”, “Celtic”, “Oceanic”, and other big liners. It is hoped that he may prove to be among the survivors and much sympathy will be felt with his relatives in their distressing anxiety. Another Tunbridge Wells man who was one of the “Titanic’s “ complement was Mr Herbert Haines, son of Mr Haines,and brother of Mr. C. Haines, of 117 Queen’s Road, Tunbridge Wells. His age is 29 years, and he has been at sea since he was a boy. His earliest experiences were on the “Warspite”, training ship, which he joined when 14 years of age, and after leaving that vessel he joined the Navy as a first-class boy. He served at various stations, including the West Indies, and was attached to the “Royal Sovereign”, the “Tribune”, and other men-of-war. He was invalided from the Navy in consequences of blood poisoning caused by the broken wire of a hawser scratching his leg. He spent a year with his brother in Queen’s Road, and then recovering his health, went to Southampton and joined the mercantile marine as an A.B., and served on several ships of the White Star Line. He rose to the position of Quatermaster on the “Olympic”, and was on her in that capacity when the collision with the “Hawke” occurred. He transferred to the “Titanic” when Captain Smith took over the new vessel, and his appointment was that of Bosnn’s Mate. He was last in Tunbridge Wells on a holiday in September, and his friends are anxiously awaiting news in the hope that he may be one of the crew saved in the boats. Mrs Helen Twoomey, who was on her way out to take up her duties as housekeeper to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Indianopolis, was on board the “Titanic”. She was formerly in the service of the Rev. Father Walsh, of Tonbridge, during his ministry at Shoreham, Sussex.  A steerage passenger was Mr John Simmons, a native of Leigh, and son of Mr George Simmons, who resides on the Green, near the Old Oak Tree. He was formerly in the employ of Messrs. Duke and Sons and was leaving home to join his uncle, a well-to-do farmer in the United States. Much sympathy is felt with his parents in their anziety. Mr Simmons is a cousin of Mr F. Simmons, of 28 Western Road,Tunbridge Wells, who visited him a day or two before he sailed, to bid him farewell. It was rumoured that another Tunbridge Wells man named Wm. Waghorn, step-brother of Mrs Skinner, of Culverden-square, was aboard the “Titanic”, but he sailed on the “Oceanic” on the following day”.

The names of the above people from the official passenger/crew lists of the Titanic were given as [1] Miss Ellen Mary Toomey,age 48, a second class passenger and a survivor who was in Lifeboat 9 [2] John Simmons, aka Jack Simmons, a steerage passenger who did not survive  [3] Frank W. Prentice,age 22, crew member –an assistant storekeeper, a survivor who was picked up after jumping into the water by Lifeboat 4 [4] Albert  Haines, boatswain’s mate, in charge of Lifeboat 9, a survivor ( referred to in the courier as Herbert Haines).


John Simmons as noted in the Courier was a steerage passenger, a native of Leigh, and son of Mr George Simmons, who resides on the Green, near the Old Oak Tree. He was formerly an employee of Messrs. Duke and Sons and was leaving home to join his uncle, a well-to-do farmer in the United States. He was a cousin of Mr F. Simmons, of 28 Western Road, Tunbridge Wells, who visited him a day or two before he sailed on the TITANIC, to bid him farewell”. Concerns about him were well founded as he drowned when the ship sank and his body was never recovered.

The website of the Leigh & District Historical Society has an article entitled “ Jack Simmons and the Titanic’ which in part gave the following. “ John Simmons (aka Jack) was born about 1872 in Leigh, Kent. His parents were George (born 1835 Kent) and Mary Ann Simmons,nee Efvans (born 1833 Surrey) who had married in 1857. When George moved to Oak Cottage, he was in his mid-forties and his wife, Mary, was slightly older. They had eight children of whom seven survived according to the 1911 census, but by the time they got to Oak Cottage  in 1881 only four were still living with their parents, including John who presumably was at the Village School for boys. By 1891 John was still living with his parents (his father was a cricket ball maker and so was John). At the time of the 1901 census John was still employed as a cricket ball maker and living with his parents. By the time the 1911 census was taken John was working as a cricket ball maker for Messrs Dke & Son of Penshurst and still living with his parents and still single. Jack (John) was seemingly not one of the world’s greatest achievers but about 1911 he decided to start a new life in America and booked himself a berth on the TITANIC giving his destination as New York, and embarked on the ship at Southampton” The article goes on to state that a resident of Leigh claimed that John Simmons was heading to America on his honeymoon with TITANIC passenger “Helen Twomey” but in actual fact there was not connection between them at all.

The records of the TITANIC gave “ Mr John Simmons, age 30, 3rd class passenger, boarded at Southampton, Ticket number 392082 price 8 pounds 1 shilling, single, general labourer”.

In the churchyard at Leigh Kent is a headstone on which is inscribed “ In loving memory of George Simmons died 31st October 1920 aged 87. Also Mary Ann Simmons died 7th March 1921 aged 88. Also Jack, son of above, deceased on the Titanic”.

John’s cousin Mr F. Simmons of 28 Western Road, Tunbridge Wells  was Frederick Joseph Simmons the son of Alfred Simmons (1848-1873) and Sophia Simmons, nee Adams (1851-1926). The 1911 census, taken at 28 Western Road, Tunbridge Wells, premises of 5 rooms, gave Frederick as born 1877 in Tunbridge Wells with the occupation of house painter. With him was his wife Susan Simmons, nee Norman (1875-1936) with whom he had four children between 1895 and 1912.


Ellen’s name was mistakenly given in the Courier article of 1912 at Mrs Helen Twoomey. Ellen was a second class passenger on the TITANIC and given as age 48 when she boarded the ship at Southampton. She survived the sinking when she boarded Lifeboat 9 which was launched at 1:20 am from the starboard , which lifeboat was picked up by the CARPATHIA (image below). An image of Ellen from a 1912 newspaper is shown opposite.  She and other passengers saved by the CARPATHIA arrived at New York on April 18,1912 . She boarded a train in New York and arrived at Indianapolis April 23rd.  Records of the TITANIC noted that she sailed on ticket number 13531; that she was a citizen of the USA and that the country of her last permanent address was England.

Ellen had been born February 2,1864 at Kilcornan,in Limerick, Ireland  and never married. Several members of her family lived in Indianapolis and it was there that she was headed when she boarded the TITANIC.  She was one of at least five children born to John Toomey (died in Ireland 1888) and Mary Toomey,nee Brandon.  A passenger list  for the ship BALTIC gave her arriving at New York November 23,1911 from England and at that time her occupation was given as “domestic servant”.

The 1911 USA census , taken at 511 Bates Street in Indianapolis gave Ellen living with her sister Bridget  (1867-1822) indicating that she had sailed from New York to England not long after the census was taken.  On May 3,1912 Ellen was living at 911 Bates Street in Indianapolis with her sister Bridget.

The Star Press of April 21,1912 reported “ Indianapolis Women Saved’Miss Ellen Toomey boarded the Titanic after a visit to Ireland. Mrs Bridget Haney, 911 Bates Street and Mrs Michael Delaney, 424 West Morris Street received a telegram yesterday afternoon from their sister, Miss Ellen Toomey, saying she had been saved from the TITANIC and expects to arrive here sometime today. The sisters were much alarmed from the time they heard of the TITANIC disaster and became concerned when they received news that Miss Toomey was unacounted for among the survivors. Miss Toomey lived in Indianapolis for many years. She went to Ireland for a visit to her old home last November and later she went to London, from which city she sent a postcard to Indianapolis saying she intended to sail on the TITANIC. “

The Indianapolis Star of April 22,1912 reported “ Miss Toomey is expected to arrive her tomorrow”, information they received by telegram. The article stated that “Miss Toomey has two sisters residing in Indianapolis, Mrs Michael Delaney, 432 West Merrill Street, and Mrs William Haney, 911 Bates Street. The relatives met all New York trains arriving at the Union Station from early in the morning until midnight and awaited her arrival anxiously”.

Regarding the Couriers claim that she had been employed as a housekeeper for the Rev Father Walsh of Tonbridge,  the 1901 census, taken at 29 Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells gave James Walsh as born 1862 in Ireland and was a catholic priest. He was living at that time as a visitor to Rev. C.M. Stapley who was born 1854 in Bexhill, Sussex. Two other visitors and three servants were also there. The 1911 census, taken at The Precatey Lyons Cresent in Tonbridge gave Rev. James Walsh as a catholic priest. With him in premises of six rooms was Margaret McMahon, his housekeeper.

She died December 23,,1933 in Indianapolis.  Her death certificate gave her of 520 East Vermont, Indiana with the occupation of retired housekeeper and that she died of heart trouble. The names of her parents were the same as those I gave above.


Alfred was a member of the crew of the TITANIC and employed on the ship as a trimmer in the engine room. He had been born 1886 in Southampton and was one of several children born to Mary Ann Fryer,nee Watts who was born 1851 in Tunbridge Wells and George Fryer. a mariner, who died in 1862. Aflred’s mother then married Ernest Hickman (born 1853)  December 15,1877.  Shown opposite is a photo of Alfred taken in 1912.

Like his father Alfred took to the sea and by 1911 was a fireman on a ship. In 1906 he married Louise Jessie Pearce (born 1886 in Southampton) and with her had 13 children.

He signed on to the TITANIC April 6,1912 and worked as a trimmer in the engine room. He managed to survive the sinking by getting on Lifeboat 13. Lifeboat 13 was crowded with 65 people on board, far more than it was intended to take, Most of them on this lifeboat were women and children travelling 2nd and 3rd class.

He was taken to New York on the CARPATHIA and then returned to England where he signed on to the OCEANIC but failed to board the ship before it left port. His relatives reported that since the TITANIC  disaster he was traumatised and got angry anytime the sinking was mentioned. He did however go to sea again with the merchant marine in 1914 and remained at sear until discharge May 1912.

He died in the Royal South Hampshire Hospital November 15,1944 and was buried at St Mary’s Extra Cemetery. His wife died in September 1955.


Elsie (image opposite) was not referred to in the Courier article of 1912 but she and her mother were both on the TITANIC  as 1st class passengers when it sank. Both were saved when they got on Lifeboat 6.

Although I have written about Elsie before given her is an account about her from Wikepedia. “ Elsie (18 December 1889 – 18 October 1973) was a British lawyer, suffragette and RMS Titanic survivor. Elsie Edith Bowerman was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the daughter of William Bowerman and his wife Edith Martha Barber. Her father died when she was 5 years old. She went to Wycombe Abbey at the age of 11 in 1901 where she came under the influence of Frances Dove, whose biography she wrote. She left in 1907 spending time in Paris before going to Girton College Cambridge. She and her mother became active members of Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) which campaigned vigorously for the extension of the franchise.”

“On 10 April 1912 Elsie Bowerman and her mother Edith boarded RMS Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers in cabin 33 on deck E, for a trip to America and Canada to see her father's relations in North America. They were both rescued on lifeboat 6.”

“After the Titanic disaster, they reached America and carried on with their plans to visit British Columbia, Klondyke and Alaska.”

“During World War I Bowerman worked with the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service in Romania and in March 1917 had had to retreat to St Petersburg where she witnessed the Russian Revolution at first hand. Back in England in 1917 she carried on with her suffragist work and supported the Pankhursts in organising mass meetings to encourage men to join the Forces and women to volunteer for war work.”

“After the war, Bowerman studied law and was admitted to the Bar in 1924. She was the first woman barrister at the Old Bailey and practised until 1938. During World War II she worked for two years with Women's Voluntary Services, and after a time at the Ministry of Information spent three years with the Overseas Services of the BBC. In 1947 she went to the United States to help set up the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On her return she lived near her mother at St Leonards-on-Sea, and then moved to a country house near Hailsham. She ended her days at the Princess Alice Hospital in Eastbourne  where she died after a stroke.”

Much more information can be read about her on various websites.


Miss Elisabeth Walton Allen was saved when the TITANIC sank. She had been in cabin B5 and managed to get on Lifeboat 2. Her home address was given as Tunbridge Wells. She was the niece of Mrs E.S. Roberts and a cousin of Miss Georgette Madill.

Miss Elisabeth Walton Allen of St Louis was one of the first women passengers to leave the Carpathia. She was accompanied by Mrs Edward Roberts and Miss E.A. Mardell, also of St Louis. Miss Allen, about age 25,said when interviewed that she was awake  at the time of the crash. She had been born in St Louis,Missouri  October 1,1882 and was the daughter of George W. Allen (1853-1917), a St Louis judge, and Lydia Allen, nee McMillan. She was returning to her home in St Louis on the TITANIC.

She was engaged in 1912 to a British physican, Dr James B. Mennell and was going home to St Louis to collect her belongings in preparation for moving to England. The three women all travelled under ticket 24160 with passage costing 221 pounds. She escaped with her two companions on Lifeboat 2, one of the last boats to leave the TITANIC.

Following the disaster she returned to England on the BALTIC  in June 1912 and married Dr. Mennell July 1912. She and her sister were married in a double ceremony. Dr Mennell was a well-known physican having pioneered in the field. He was the leading Physiotherapist at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

After the sinking she filed a $2,427.80 claim against the White Star Line for the loss of personal property.

Elisabeth remained in England and towards the end of her life resided in Tunbridge Wells where she died age 85 on December 15,1967. She was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium December 20th.

A copy of an interview with her can be found on the internet in which she gives details of the sinking and her rescue.


Frank was a member of crew on the TITANIC  when it sank. As the ship was going down he went to the stern of the ship and jumped overboard, narrowly missing the churning propellers.   With a lifejacket and other flotation devices he managed to stay afloat until he was picked up by Lifeboat  4 which was launched at 1:55 am.  This lifeboat was tied up with four other lifeboats and those on board Lifeboat 4 managed to pull a number of crewmembers out of the water, including Frank.

Frank had been born February 17,1889 and was the son of Mrs Elizabeth Prentice of 14 York Road, Tunbridge Wells.  He had been baptised March 20,1889 at Downham, Norfolk and given as the son of Henry Frank Warner Prentice and Elizabeth.

The 1891 census, taken at Bexwell Road in Downham, Norfolk gave Frank living with his parents and his brother. His father at that time was a postman.  Frank’s mother Elizabeth Prentice, nee Sherwood had been born in 1867. She had married Henry Frank Warner Prentice October 20,1886 at St Marylebone, Westminster, London. Henry was an assistant hotel manager and she was a spinster. At the time of the marriage both of them were living at 70 Seymour Terrace. He father was William Sherwood, a farmer.

The 1901 census, taken at Wirmold House in Bexhill, Sussex gave Frank and several siblings living with their grandmother Annie Prentice born 1841 who was a boarding house keeper.

The 1911 census, taken at 14 York Road, Tunbridge Wells gave Elizabeth Prentice as married and born 1870 in Downham, Norfolk with the occupation of apartment house keeper on own account at home. With her were two of her daughters, one servant and three lodgers in premises of 9 rooms. The census recorded that she had been married 24 years and that all four of her children were still living.

In 1912 he was living at 71 Denzil Avenue, Nichilstown, Southampton.  The 1911 census taken at 71 Denzil Avenue gave Frank as age 21, single, and working as a store keeper. In that census his birth was given as 1890 at Downham, Norfolk and that he was living as a boarder with several others in premises of seven rooms. A photograph of Frank taken later in life at an interview he gave about his experiences on the TITANIC is shown above.

On May 30,1982 Frank died at Bournemouth and was cremated. Just before his death he was interviewed by the BBC for a program entitled ‘ Titanic-A Question of Murder’.  His mother Elizabeth died in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1944. In 1939 Elizabeth was living at 81 Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells with a date of birth given as February 27,1867 and working at that time for the Guy B. Rush family as a domestic. Mr Rush was an automobile engine master.

On youtube you can watch two interviews by the BBC  of Frank and his experiences on the TITANIC and several websites provide information about him.


Herbert  was given as the son of Mr Haines and the brother of Mr C. Haines of 117 Queens Road, Tunbridge Wells.  His name was given incorrectly in the courier of 1912 as Herbert. His actual name was Albert  Haines born May 5,1880 at Sandhurst, Tunbridge Wells and who died June 6,1933 in an ambulance going from Highfield Road to the hospital in Southampton.  He was one of 12 children born to Emmanuel Haines (1839-1914) and Mary Ann Haines, nee Hallett (1843-1929). Shown opposite is a photograph of Albert taken August 21,1920.

At the time the 1881 census was taken at 110 St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, Albert was living with his parents and siblings.

The 1891 census, taken at 74  Queens Road, Tunbridge Wells gave Emmanuel Haines as a labourer born 1853 at Sandhurst, Kent. With him was his wife Mary,age 44 and six of their children including Albert and his brother Charles.

On July 2,1896 Albert joined the Royal Navy and served on a number of ships until October 27,1903 when he was invalided out of the Navy due to blood poisoning caused by a broken wire of a hawser scratching his leg.

The 1901 census, taken at 76 Queens Road,Tunbridge Wells gave Emmanuel Haines as a brewers labourer. With him was his wife and two sons, but Albert had left home by then. His brother Charles was still living with his parents.

The 1911 census, taken at 117 Queens Road, a residence of 6 rooms, gave Arthur’s brother Charles Henry Haines, born 1868 in Speldhurst, with the occupation of “off license holder general house”. With him was his wife Ann,age 40 who was assisting in the business and two of their children. Also there was one sister and his father. The census recorded that Charles and his wife had been married 18 years and that of their four children three were still living.

The 1911 census, taken at 52 Grove Street in Southampotn gave Albert as single with the occupation of “Seaman Steamship”.  Albert rose to the positon of Quartermaster on the steamship OLYMPIC  and was on this ship when it collided September 20,1911 with the Hawke.

He was on board the TITANIC when she left Belfast for her delivery trip to Southampton and his position on the ship was that of Boaswain’s Mate at a monthly wage of 5 pounds 10 shillings.

When the TITANIC sank Albert commanded Lifeboat 9 with ab out 60 people in it. He had to testify at the American Inquiry before coming back to England and upon his return April 30,1912 was living in Southampton.

On April 11,1914 he married Florence Elsie Southwell (1890-1975) at the Southampton registry office. His father died November 15,1914 at 86 Lucas Road,Tunbridge Wells and his mother died in Tunbridge Wells in the first qtr of 1929. Albert and his wife had a son Ronald Jesse Haines (1917-1995) who appears to have been their only child.

On September 25,1920 Albert and his wife Florence and their son Ronald sailed on the MAURITANIA arriving at New York.  From about 1928 to 1932 they were living in Florida, USA, at East 6th Street, Hialeach, Dade, Florida.

On August 26,1932 he returned to England , arriving at Southampton. He died June 6,1933 in an ambulance going from Highfield Road to the hospital in Southampton. At the time of his death he was a construction engineer living at 29 Grosvenor Road, Southampton. Probate records noted that his wife Florence was the executor of his 288 pound estate.


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