This is probably the right hotel. (Note that it does not show up on the published page – but click the link to see it)
Hôtel Mittelhäuser Cöln.
Fernsprecher No 611
Cöln, den 14 August 1913
Am Haupbahnhof, Dom und Hauptpost
Dear Mummie & Daddie/
Just a line to help keep my English in form. Thought I must admit that up to the present my German seems limited to enquiring for the way and for grub.
However grub seems to be the one and and object of existence over here; no wonder the Germans are so fat.
You will see I have arrived at Cologne where the "Eau de" comes from. This is really the start of my campaign for a job. Horrid thought !
I got your card just before I left London - fancy troubling when in the grip of Sciatica. I'm so sorry, because I know it must be pretty bad, for you to ?strike.
You really must try my infernal machine !
No more 60 mile cycle rides, unless you take at least 2 days over it. If I cycled 60 miles in one day I should have all the -aticas under the sun.
When at Hamburg I paid a visit to Hagenbecks Zoo. The kiddies would have loved it. The animals are more or less in natural surroundings and are kept from devouring the spectators by trenches or parapets. One of these days a specially expert bear will give an extra long leap & set up a record.
In one place there were dogs, wolves, teddy bears and lion cubs and a hyaena all living in perfect bliss. The teddy bears were the cheekiest though, and seemed to rule the roost. The hyaena was a surly beggar.
It is funny here to see dogs helping to pull carts in the streets; everyone seems to work and the women hardest of all. But I suspect the Manager at 3 Abbey Gardens, could give them points. Everyone seems to be in an official position here, and really you could mistake the policeman for field-marshals. They are all very good tempered however and I am no longer frightened of them. By the by, I have seen hundreds of our old friends the British-Holsteins over here. Apparently it is their native place.
I have been getting lovely peaches for about 6d a pound off the street merchants, but in the shops as soon as they see you’re an Englishman they try & do you. Will I'm rather tired after tramping all day, and being by oneself seems to tire more quickly - so I'll get me to bed - the latter are very comic and consist of a series of different sized pillows & bolsters. Love to all Chief.
Also – diagonally at the top left is written
So sorry to hear abt. Uncle Willie. I never had the pleasure of meeting him byt I am sure he must have been very sweet from what you've told me
3, Abbey Gardens, Keynsham, near Bristol was, presumably, the home of the Stevens family at the time. It does not appear to exist today, probably its location was under the A4 Keynsham Bypass, close to the site of Keynsham Abbey.
My Grandparents moved into Grove Farm, at Box in Wiltshire some time after the First World War. As they married on 19th August 1922, and Grandpa was discharged from the army on 8th April 1919, it is quite likely that he moved to the farm before 1922.
Grove Farm is a Grade II Listed Building, (or more accurately two terraced houses on the farm are).
Grove Farm, Box Hill, is quite an isolated area which grew up very quickly with stone quarrying after Box Tunnel was built in 1841. The farm was owned by the Northey family, lords of the manor 1726 – 1919, then put up for auction on 24 May 1923, possibly selling (with sitting tenant) to Fred Neate, who owned a considerable amount of land in the area.
It’s called Grove House on the auction Sale Particulars map above where the area farmed by GE Lines is shown pink, comprising 43 acres, 3 roods, 14 perches, described as Valuable Dairy Farm. The farm house was on 3 floors with gas and water supplied which appear to have been installed by the tenant (possibly my Grandfather). The dairy appears to have been a 6-tie cow-stall.
It is on the fringe of Box Hill Common, which was bought by the council for public access after a huge argument in 1970s about developing it.
He was probably farming there by 1922, as according to page 74 of “From G&J to Tri-ang” – written by Peggy Lines and privately published – the origin of the name Pedigree came via a visit to the farm:
Then, in 1922, the problem was solved in a somewhat unlikely manner when Will and Walter visited their brother George at his farm in Gloucestershire where he was trying to raise a heard of pedigree pigs. There and then, amidst all the mud and muck which those animals create, the brothers agreed that Pedigree was just the name they had been looking for to describe their beautiful new prams!
I suspect this should be Wiltshire.
While at the farm he sold eggs and chickens
Mr Lines selling Pure, Fertile Eggs at 4s per dozen at the farm plus a variety of cockerels, ducks and specialist hens.
from The Bath Chronicle, 27 January 1923
Mr Lines selling Light Sussex, White Leghorn, Barneveld, Pekin (sic) Drake, White Runners... Inspection Invited
My Grandmother used to deliver eggs, riding a motorbike with sidecar. This may have been the same motorbike and sidecar which was later used by my uncle Michael and aunt Fanny on their many visits to the Coastguard Cottage at Birling Gap.
Leaving the farm
According to “From G&J to Triang” – page 106
George joined his father in 1923
However I suspect it was later than this as my Uncle Michael, born 16th March 1924, had his birth registered in the Chippenham registration district, whereas my father, Roger, born 12th May 1926, was born in Southgate.
The farm, along with the whole village of Box, struggled in the Great Depression after the war, as chronicled in http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/after-the-war.html and this surely was a major factor in my Grandfather giving up the farming he loved to go and help his father in the G&J Lines toy business. It is also probable that the death of his mother, Jane, on 7th June 1925 influenced the decision.
It is possible that one of the things which attracted my Grandfather, as an Engineer by training, to the area was Brunel‘s famous Box Tunnel, which allows the Great Western Railway to pass through the hill on its way from London to Bristol.
Coincidentally Pendon Museum, which is has a large model of the Vale of the White Horse, where I used to live and work, incorporates the Box Tunnel into its scene (there being no suitable tunnel in the Vale to suit the layout).
When he moved away from Grove Farm my Grandfather called the house he rented in Cheam “Pickwick”, and then the house he had built in Kingswood was also named “Pickwick”.
Pickwick is a now part of Corsham, but was probably still a separate hamlet when my Grandfather lived in the area. A baby boy was found in this area around 1748, and was named Moses Pickwick. His grandson, Eleneazer Pickwick, became a successful businessman, running a coaching business, and it believed that Charles Dickens named his main character in The Pickwick Papers, after the name he saw on coaches on the Bristol to Bath route. My uncle and father then named their family newspaper “The Pickwick Paper“, after the novel by Dickens.
George Edward Lines was my Grandfather. He was the son of Joseph Lines and Jane (née Fitzhenry).
A poetic summary of his life can be found in ‘Ode to a Nonagenarian‘
He was a prolific letter writer, and I have inherited some of the ones he wrote, which I have used to piece together some of his life story.
In the following OSM links are to OpenStreetmap maps.
He was born in Islington (OSM) on 28th January 1888.
Before the war he went to Germany looking for work there.
He was a Royal Engineers Volunteer from 1904 (when he would have been 16) to 1907
He married Doris Joan Stevens, my Grandmother, on the 19th August 1922.
After the war he farmed at Grove Farm, Box (OSM) for a while, until the Depression and his father’s need for his help with the family business sent him back to London.
After the death of his father he worked for Lines Brothers, the toy company founded by his brothers, until he retired.
They were living on Anne Boleyns Walk, Cheam, Surrey (OSM) in 1932, when Tim was born.
55, Anne Boleyn's Walk,
Tel. Sutton 3081
They moved into Pickwick, Warren Drive, Kingswood, Surrey (OSM) in 1935 – they had it built – and were still living there in1957.
Joseph Lines was my Great Grandfather. He formed the company G&J Lines with his brother George. They primarily made rocking horses.
He attended St Andrews School, Camden, starting, aged 7, on October 1855. His Disposition and Attitude was shown, when admitted as ‘Can read a little’. He was admitted into the 5th class.. At the time of quitting school, in August 1861 he was in the 1st class. His parents, Abel and Jane Lines, were living at 91, Saffron Hall. Abel’s occupation was Skin Dresser, and there were 7 children in the family. The cause of leaving was ‘Gone to work’ and his character was ‘Very Good’. In those days teachers did not hide their opinions, one of his fellow pupils is described as ‘a tiresome boy’
He had eight children,
Lines Joseph of 141 Lordship Road Stoke Newington Middlesex
died 31 December 1931 Probate London 4 March to George
Edward Lines manufacturer and Leonard Herbert Graves
incorporated accountant. Effects £33543 9s 7d
(this post is a bit of a place holder – I will add more information later)
My Grandfather, George Lines is in the centre, possibly with his father Joseph behind to the right, and his possibly his uncle George to the left
My Grandfather on the right again, with my Grandmother on the left.
My Grandfather and Great Grandfather.
This is a letter from my Grandfather, George Edward Lines, written on the 11th of February 1915. I am gradually scanning and transcribing his letters, and will add notes as I find more information. For context you can see his Official War Record. This will come between his being commissioned in December 1914 and his going to France.
At last I've got a moment to write to you as I've been inoculated today & so have to lie down for a bit. I believe I told you I was going to Wendover, but my Company & station were altered at the last moment, and I am now in the 98th Company at Chesham for about a month when we go to Henley for pontooning and afterwards to Wendover where my own permanent camp will be in huts.
We are in billets here, officers & men alike, and the billet where the officers of my Co. are is the above address. There are Major Coffin our O.C.Company, four other subalterns besides myself the Adjutant, Medical Officer and of course our Host and Hostess Squire and Mrs Lowndes.It is a most priceless place with abt. 230 acres of grounds, so I seem to be rather lucky in my billets, don't I ?. There are two little kiddies, girls abt. 7 and 10, who seem to regard us subalterns as big brothers for playing with, with the result that our behavior at times is hardly as dignified as one would expect from Officers of the British Army. There are two other children; the son & heir about 17 at Eton and another girl about 14. I suspect the boy is a ??reglar ??nut.
The youngest kiddie is Joane and the other Cicelie. They are awfully nice people but everything is done in such style that one doesn't feel always exactly at home. Perhaps it is because I've been away from civilisation too long.
Mrs Lowndes showed me their genealogical tree last Sunday. It is a most enormous scroll of parchment and goes right back to William the Conqueror through all sorts of royalty, so I suppose we ought to be frightfully impressed. It was a very interesting example of Heraldic art. At present being the 5th Subaltern in our Coy. I'm acting as Supernumerary but the Major tells me he wants me to look after the horses and drivers when we get them. I think there are about 70 horses in a Field Coy. so there are exciting times ahead teaching people to ride and breaking horses in etc., to say nothing of being a sort of rest. I shall have to cultivate a horsey expression. Have you any suggestions ?
In addition to this I am supposed to know all the Infantry work, and of course building, trenching, so if I don't get swelled head I ought to. The worst of it is I get so little time to write of you and Mouse, but I know you'll forgive me. Now I've really got to my Coy. I shall have to stick to it like the dickens or I shall be getting ticked off.
We were inspected by the General Commanding ??our Division [section eaten]. It was most awful - we stood stock still for an hour while he came round. The General and his staff came to our place for lunch, but owning to the limitations of table room four of us junior subalterns had to partake of grub in the sitting room with the kiddies for which we were very thankful. It was much nicer.
Isn't it promising being under an O.C. of the name of Coffin & then to be billeted in The "Bury". He's an awfully decent sort, rather quiet, but very sound I think. I expect I shall feel pretty rotten tomorrow, but of course have a have a day off. I'm going to write mousie a nice long letter having neglected her for so long. I feel an awful brute but blame it on Kaiser Bill.
Write to me as soon as you can & tell me how you're going on in the new house.
Heaps of love to all
It seems the inoculation referred to was for Typhoid – this was relatively recently widely available, as there had been opposition to introducing it as a compulsory vaccination for soldiers due to a campaign promoting personal choice.
The Official War Record shows Grandpa was assigned to the 126th Field Company, but he from this letter he was with the 98th for a while.
According to The Wartime Memories Project
98th Field Company, The Royal Engineers was raised as part of 21st Division. 21st Division was established in September 1914, as part Kitchener's Third New Army. The Division concentrated in the Tring area, training at Halton Park before winter necessitated a move into local billets in Chesham In May 1915 they moved to Wendover. On the 9th of August they moved to Witley Camp for final training. They proceeded to France during the first week of September and marched across France to going into the reserve for the British assault at Loos on the 26th of September suffering heavy casualties....
126th Field Company, The Royal Engineers joined 21st Division in March 1915 at Chesham. In May 1915 they moved to Wendover. On the 9th of August they moved to Witley Camp for final training. They proceeded to France during the first week of September and marched across France to going into the reserve for the British assault at Loos on the 26th of September suffering heavy casualties. ...
It is possible that this is Clifford Coffin – who received a Victoria Cross in July 1917, at which time he was a temporary brigadier general, which can be a temporary promotion from a Lieutenant-Colonel. http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/bbcoffin.htm shows that Clifford Coffin was a Lieutenant-Colonel in January 1917 and this is one step up from Major, which is the rank an Officer Commanding (O.C.) a Company would have held.
It appears from the South Africa Medal records that Captain Clifford Coffin was attached to the 17th Field Company in 1901, and to the 20th Field Company in 1903, so it would be quite feasible for him to be a Major, commanding the 98th Field Company in 1914.
His listing in Hart’s Annual Army List 1908 shows that he was a 2nd Lieut. on 17th February 1888, a Lieut. on 17th February 1891, a Captain on 17th February 1899, and a Major on 18th January 1907.
Training at Lowndes Park
During the First World War Lowndes Park was used as a military training ground. Contingents of the Royal Engineers were given practical instructions in bridge building across the shallow waters in the lake (Skottowe’s Pond).
I have been writing HTML, by hand – as that was the only way you could write when it first came out, ever since it was invented. Before that I had been using the DEC format program and IBM GML for some time, so the concept of a markup language was familiar.
As my previous web site was hosted on Demon’s homepage service, it was written in vanilla HTML. Since I read HTML manuals and used it to experiment, there were features I missed – many of which have been around since the early days of the web – which are not directly available in the excellent WordPress visual editor.
My grandfather, George Lines, was an Army reservist, so was called up on the outbreak of war. He was in the Royal Engineers. From his Medal Record he was in the 126th Field Company, although from his London Gazette entry he was attached to the 497th (Kent) Field Company.
Royal Engineers Volunteers
I don’t have any direct record of his time in the Royal Engineers Volunteers, but his application for his Commission states that he served in the Electrical Engineers, of the Royal Engineers Volunteers from 1904 to 1907 (when he would have been aged 16 to 19). This would presumably have been the Volunteer Force, and possibly the London Electrical Engineers.
He was enlisted – as Private , into the Royal Fusiliers, on 15th September 1914. This document also shows that he did a 4 Year Apprenticeship at Clayton & Shuttleworth in Lincoln, which ended in December 1911, and that he had been in the “E.E.R.E.V.” (I think this is the Electrical Engineers, Royal Engineers, Volunteers) for 3 years. Here is his medical form on enlistment (amended on 8th December 1914 to show “discharge on receiving commission”
His Description on Enlistment shows his Religious Denomination as “Church of England”, the other choices being “Presbyterian”, “Wesleyan”,”Baptist or Congregationalist”,”Other Protestants (Denomination to be stated)”, “Roman Catholic” or “Jewish”. There was no “Other” or “None” option.
He applied for a temporary commission in the Army on the 1st November 1914, at which time he was already serving in the 1st Battalion Fusiliers since 18th September 1914. This form (page 1) also shows that he served in the Electrical Engineers, of the Royal Engineers Volunteers from 1904 to 1907 as above. He was signed off as fit at Hounslow on 1st November 1914. His medical certificate shows his height at 5’7″ and his weight at 140lbs
He was appointed a temporary Second Lieutenant on 8th December 1914, Which generated a whole flurry of paperwork, showing his regimental number for the 18th R. Batt Royal Fusiliers as 1750 on the Statement of Services.
He was wounded at Armentières on 9th February 1916, with gunshot wounds to his right foot and right thigh, which rendered him unfit for general service for 3 months, and for any service at home for 2 months. and returned to service in August – by which time he was promoted to Lieutenant. Note that this document relates to the 126th Field Company.
This document, dated 13th March 1916 shows that he traveled from Boulogne to Dover on the 18th of February.
The Medical Board on the 13th March 1916 found him unfit for service at home for 2 months.
On 17th March he was signed off until 12th May, with orders to report in writing ten days before the leave expired to be re-examined
On 1st May he reports, as ordered, giving his address, so he can be re-examined.
On the 8th May the war office write to him, asking for his address, so he can be re-examined (I wonder which address this was sent to ?_
On 11th May the War Office write to him, and to the people who set up a medical board, telling them to arrange one. The Medical Board meets on 18th May, and finds his condition considerably improved, and that he is fit for light duty at home, with no route marches.
On 24th May he is ordered to report to Ripon for light duty. At this point he is a 2nd Lieutenant.
The Wartime Memories Project has a description of The Great War Hospitals
The Long Long Trail site has pages about The evacuation chain, describing the process he would have gone through, and Command Depots, such as Ripon, describing life there. On 26th June he writes from R.A.&R.E. Convalescent Depot, Ripon to the Secretary at the War Office asking if he is entitled to wound gratuity. The letter is signed G.E.Lines Lt. RE. so he has been promoted by now.
On 11th July he is ordered to be re-examined to see if he is fit for general service. On 26th July the War Office write to ask if he is ready for general service yet.
This sheet shows that the Medical Board held at Ripon on 31st July found him fit for general service, and on the 10th August he was ordered to Newark from Ripon.
He was wounded 3 times in all – though I do not have the details for all of these injuries.
T./Lt. (A./Capt.) George Edward Lines,
R.E., attd. 497th (Kent) Fd. Coy., R.E.,
For great gallantry and determination dur-
ing operations which led up to the establish-
ment of our line across the Lys on night of
19/20th Oct. 1918. He personally super-
vised the building of infantry bridges across
the river under heavy fire, and it was due
to his .example that the operation was car-
ried to a successful issue.
George Edward Lines Medal Card. Note that this shows his corps as 126th Company Royal Engineers, but his Medal citation shows that at the time of 19th/20th October 1918 he was attached (attd.) to the 497th Field Company. That also shows that he was an acting captain, so was probably second in command of the Company, with a Major in charge.
The back of the card shows that his forwarding address was Grove Farm, Box, Wilts.
He was discharged on on 4th April 1919. His discharge papers show that he was eligible for the rank of Captain on relinquishment.
The Protection Certificate shows he was attached to the 497th Field Company when he was discharged, from Dispersal Area 10A and the Dispersal Unit was Crystal Palace. This link has more information on the demobilisation process.
This was written from my Grandfather to my Grandmother, some time during the First World War. The letters are undated, but I hope to be able to work out a sequence, and some approximate dates. Note that this is a transcription, and some bits are a guess, and some bits of interest only to the family are omitted.
Here we are again in Armentières, billeted in a more or less empty house (there is a caretaker) and I have a bedroom to myself ! It is quite a luxury after the loft - but the mice are still with me. However neither the mice nor artillery disturb my slumbers nowadays. This is a fairly large town and has about 30,000 inhabs in peace time, but only about 6000 have remained behind, as it has been heavily shelled in the past, and there is scarcely a building without some damage to it. The Boches send an occasional "hate" into the town, but chiefly shell Houplines the eastern suburb.
At present I am working with my section on some breastworks about 800 yards behind our front line and work from 8am to 5pm. Of course some of the work will have to be done at night because it is rather more exposed, but I have not been out yet. I have some canvas screens to put out at night when I've been told where to put them. I expect it will be rather exciting. I believe if they hear anyone working & they usually can - especially the knocking in of pickets, - they may shoot a magnesium light into the air, and then of course one lies doggo until all is dark again.
This part of the front is pretty quiet. There is always some sniping going on, also from time to time the rattle of machine guns, and the gunners on both sides keep up a certain about of hate just to show there's no ill feeling I suppose. We are working in front of some guns & the noise fairly makes one jump when not prepared for it. Of course the Boche know where we are working , but shell it, no doubt out of consideration, when we are not there. This morning I found a lovely shell hole in a ????, and several lovely little souvenirs and shrapnel shot had peppered the trench. It is usually so misty and damp this time of year that it is impossible to see the enemy lines for the (earlier ??) part of the day but as soon as it clears the 'planes come out & we very often see a fight in the air, but so far as I can see it all looks pretty safe up there and usually ends in a draw.
It is awfully pretty to see the little white puffs of the shrapnel bursting near the aeroplane especially against a blue sky.
You would be surprised to see the civilians still living & working quite near the line and little children & women seem to take no more notice of the noise of guns or shells than they would of a fly.
I do hope all this tarramadiddle hasn't over bored you, but there's absolutely nothing else to write about. I'm now going to my valise bed and will try & dream of the good old times.
On the occasion of my Grandfathers 90th birthday my mother , Jane Lines, wrote the following poem – dated 28/1/78
Sonnet1 to a Nonagenarian
Young George2 goes trotting off to school
To Owen's3 - for he is no fool !
There he gathers lots of prizes,
Gilt-edged books, all shapes and sizes.
To be an engineer is his ambition,
So breaking with family tradition,
His brothers, making rocking horses4
Do joinery and other courses,
But working in a steel foundry
Is not as easy as making tea5 !
An unpronounceable Swiss firm6 -
What a lot there is to learn !
Suddenly all has to halt7;
The Kaiser's out to take our salt.
"Now form up all you soldier lads, for you are off to fight.
Left, right, left, right, down the street. It's here you'll stay the night."
"I don't like this - not up to much - what do you think men ?
Down the stairs - we'll try our luck and join the queue again !"8
Then a young soldier, off to France,
To lead the Germans a pretty dance.
There awarded the M.C.9
For some secret gallantry10.
Back home to try a different life,
Accompanied by a pretty young wife11,
To the beautiful peaceful countryside
To farm at Box12 and there reside.
Meanwhile Arthur13, Bill14 and Walter15
Have ideas - their Dad16 won't alter -
So boldly the brothers three
Form a brand new company17.
Famous throughout the land for toys
Here we come - the Triang18 boys !
"Before you lose all you put your shirt on19
You'd better come and help at Merton20."
And now he's an engineer again.
(The scale is different from a toy train21 !)
Doll's houses22, trikes23 and prams24 you see
With the well-known name of "Pedigree"25.
His own family increases -
Along with nephews26 and some nieces27.
Lovely hols at Gorran Haven28,
Always sunny, never rainin',
Michael29, Roger30, in the sea
Here comes Jennifer Mary.31
Jeremy's32 busy with a spade
Tim's33 shorts on rocks will soon be frayed !
Alas ! Another war34 we see
And Triang make things military35.
(About the shade of yonder windmill36 -
Does Grandpa's army lurk there still ? )37
The family at Pickwick38 are,
with Sam39 and chicks40 and motor car.41
But eventually persuaded to retire
They've gone to the heights of Hampshire.42
There though armed with fork, spade and barrow
The house was inaptly43 named Rest Harrow44.
No other such super veg45 can grow !
No wonder he's first in the Bentworth Show46 !
The latest venture's to plant some vines -
And next twill be sampling home made wines.
Down to France47 and the lovely sun -
to stay in the flat48 - it is such fun !
Then after having B on B49
They'll have a quick splash in the sea.
Now for the family photograph50. "Line up everyone.
Jonathan51, Chris52 and Jennifer Ruth53, Peter54, Elizabeth55, Ian56,
Robert57, Julie58 and Nicola59 - come all you grandchildren !"
Now everybody, give a loud cheer !
For now its Grandpa's 90th year !!
Some of the links to the notes are not yet active. I hope to get them all done when I get time.
Some of the information I do not have, and would be grateful if any family members can fill bits in, or correct what is here.
Grandpa was an Army reservist, so was called up at the start of World War 1.
Jennifer told Jeremy that when Grandpa joined up in 1914, aged 26, they were billeted in Epsom and when he was shown his house he went upstairs and was not impressed so he came down, walked out of the back door and joined the back of the column and finally ended up in super ‘digs’ but his good landlady had the memorable name Mrs Coffin!
He did not speak much about his wartime experiences, but I think it may have been “For great gallantry and determination during operations which led up to the establishment of our line across the Lys on the night of 19/20th Oct. 1918. He personally supervised the building of infantry bridges across the river under heavy fire, and it was due to his example that the operation was carried to a successful issue.” From The London Gazette. There is more about his war record at my George Edward Lines Official War Record posting.
After the war Grandpa switched from engineering to farming. More information about the farm would be interesting.
The farm ran into financial difficulties during the Depression and Grandpa went to work for Lines Brothers
The Triang factory at Merton. From http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/toy-manufacturers/lines-bros-ltd/ “Even though the Old Kent Road factory had only been operational for a little over a year, by the end of 1923 it had become apparent that Lines Bros. was growing at a rate that required even bigger premises. In December, a contract was placed for a new purpose-built factory in Morden Road, Merton, South London, on a 27 acre site.”