Violet May

Violet May Abram was the youngest child of my great great grandparents Charles and Emily. She was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire in 1907. Emily lived into her nineties and daughter Violet lived to celebrate her 100th birthday in 2006.

Violet May Abram.

After the war, my great grandfather Charlie and his wife Milly May settled in England but other family members went to Australia.  Aged 18, Violet went too, leaving from London on 31 December 1924 and arriving in Melbourne, Australia on 9 February 1925.  They sailed aboard the Ship Esperance Bay on it’s maiden voyage, with 268 others. The ship was later turned into a battle ship in the Second World War and sunk. 

Passenger list.

Five years later, in 1930, Violet married Hugh Smith Wilson in Victoria, Australia. 

Violet & Hugh

Abram’s Garage (Earls Barton Motors)

In the early 1930’s my great grandfather Joseph Charles Abram ran Earls Barton Motors (known locally as Abram’s garage), from which he sold vehicles and ran a bus service.

Joseph Abram and bus

On Friday 20 November 1931 the Northamptonshire Mercury reported that ‘an application had been made by J C Abram of Earls Barton to run his buses between Wellingborough and that place’ and further newspaper articles from the time show that as an Omnibus Proprietor of a small bus company he took on the United Counties bus company on the road, in the press and in the courtroom.

In a letter to the editor of the Northampton Mercury, he wrote ‘I have been running my two buses (trying merely to get a living) for some few years now between Earls Barton and Wellingborough and was the first to commence early morning journeys for workmen between those places. ‘ United Counties responded saying that ‘the authorities concerned should think seriously about granting a ‘small man’ a licence’. 

The document below, produced by The Omnibus Society, records Joseph’s life in detail from September 1924 when Joseph purchased his first bus, to May 1932 when he sold his business to United Counties.

Joseph is also mentioned in the book United Counties Buses: A Fleet History, 1921 – 2014.

World war two

During the war the garage (which is pictured in the document above) was used for repairing aircraft parts for Sywell aerodrome. A document from the Harrington Museum states:

‘The number or aircraft needing repair increased rapidly during 1940 and the accommodation at the main centre at Sywell was found to be inadequate. This
together with the policy of dispersal and the benefit of taking work to the people
instead of the reverse with consequent saving in travelling, led to premises
being requisitioned including Abram’s Garage, Earls Barton – used for
undercarriage and bomb beams .’

The full document can be viewed below.

On 31 March 1943 the garage was recorded as sustaining a broken window when, during a practice air raid, two B17 flying fortresses, Ooold Soljer and Two Beauts, collided, shedding bombs and spreading wreckage in Mears Ashby and Earls Barton – an information board now stands in Mears Ashby which advises visitors about the crash.

Aubrey Leighton

Joseph went on to sell the garage to Aubrey Leighton, one of the pioneers of F1 stock car racing. Aubrey began racing in 1955 when the sport was about a year old. He went on to win 48 Finals, plus the National Points Championship in 1963. In only his third season of racing, Aubrey won the 1957 World Championship, staged at Belle Vue.

abran-garage-stock-car-4

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abran-garage-stock-car-2

 More photos

Shoemaker or veteran

The photo on this page was given to me by my relative Keith Shortland. The man and woman make a striking couple but neither of us know who they are, the only clue is the name and address of the photographer which appears in the bottom right of the photo – B G Brock, 23 Wellingboro Road, Northampton.

The sheriff of Northampton

Northampton is known for shoe making and I know some of my ancestors were shoe makers in Northamptonshire (one is recorded as being a journeyman shoemaker meaning he traveled around the country to work).

A search of the National Archives has found two entries which reference the photographer.

In February 2018, Paul Boniface who was researching Victorian and Edwardian photographers in Northamptonshire got in touch and advised:

Benjamin George Brock ran a studio at 237 Wellingborough Road, Northampton between 1903 and 1907. In 1901 the census shows him as a lodger at 235 Wellingborough Road – occupation photographer and on 1 March 1903 he married Ida Blanche Allen. The 1911 census shows him living at 25 Beaconsfield Terrace, Northampton – occupation Foreign Correspondent.

The photo is a studio photo and the style of dress is in keeping with early Edwardian attire. Paul thought the emblem on the gentleman’s jacket was a flower (maybe a dahlia) and advised that a journeyman is the stage after an apprenticeship –  there was five to seven years worked as an apprentice and then three years as a journeyman.

If you check the size of the photo it will also give you an indication of the date. 2.5″ x 4″ (CdV) would point to the early years of Benjamin and 4″ x 6.5″ would be the latter say 1905-7.

Shoemaker or veteran, I don’t have the answers right now – whether I can learn more about the people on the photograph remains to be seen but I intend to try.