George Lines Letter – Rats and Shells

Here is another letter, written by my Grandfather, George Lines, from the trenches during World War One.

Dear Mummie/
How like you to write me that jolly letter from Bath station after seeing Mouse off. Not a moment wasted ! Wish I could say the same of my miserable existence.
It arrived too on my birthday and helped to soften the sting of advancing years ! I celebrated the occasion in the old dugout, where we have been doing another spell, but are shortly going back for a good rest, or rather change.
My batman Jenning is apparently an artist on the melodeon having dug one up from somewhere & is now making our cave resound with all the latest. It sounds quite cheery after the trench chillness, disturbed only by the gnawing and squealing of rats, some of which must be huge, judging from the crunching of their teeth on the wooden frames.
Wouldn't old Taff be in his element ? I'm re-reading the "Blue Bird" which dear old Mouse sent me from Bournemouth and think the portrayal of Tylo the dog is delightful. If Taff could only speak, I'm sure he'd like that.
I gave one of Mouse's pairs of mittens away to a Tommy the other day & like a silly ass chose to do so at a corner (known as Dead Male Corner) which has an evil reputation for being shelled. I thought the recipient might as well write & thank Mouse for them so took out my note-book to write down the address and had scarcely started when bang, bang, bang, bang - 4 shells (what we call whizz-bangs because of their high velocity) burst about 30 yards behind. You may guess we hared off pretty quickly. That's what I call luck, but of course it happens so often that I've no longer any doubt that I owe it all to your lucky heather and my other treasures and your kind thoughts. Anyhow I hope the chap writes to Mouse to thank her. I haven't given Graces?? pair yet, but will give her address as well.
I'll now stamp about to restore the circulation in my feet.
	Heaps of love & heaps and heaps to Mouse when you write

This was probably written shortly in late January, or early February 1918,  as my Grandfathers birthday was January 28th, and as he has a batman he was presumably an acting Captain, which I don’t think he was in 1917. I have not been able to find all his promotion dates for his official war record.
I am not sure who Grace was, except that she too was knitting mittens for soldiers at the front.

The Bell of the Kishon

My brother inherited, from our Grandmother on the Box side, a ship’s bell, inscribed “Kishon” 1872 Amble. It used to sit on a window ledge in the hall at Little Cucknells, looking out over the drive.
He has done some research into the ship, which I have supplemented.

Inscription on Kishon Bell
Kishon was presumably named after the river in Israel, where the prophets of Baal were executed, and the Canaanite army was washed away. Fortunately this is a rare name for a ship, which has made it easier to find references in the internet.

The Kishon, built in Amble in 1872

Amble, a small town on the coast of Northumberland, did have a small shipbuilders – the Amble Shipbuilding Company, but according to the information I can find on them they were taken over by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company Limited of Jarrow during WW1 and, according to another source, were incorporated in 1918, and dissolved in 1948. Alternatively it may be that the ship was built in Sunderland, for an owner in Amble.
According to


    Shipbuilding in a small way was at one time carried on at Amble, and a small fleet of useful merchant ships was built and owned by people in Amble and district in the early ‘Fifties. The rapid progress of steamships in the middle of the last century, however, nipped in the bud this infant industry.
The first ship recorded to have been built at Amble dates back to the end of the eighteenth century. About this time enormous quantities of oak trees were cut down in Chevington Wood, with the evident intention of replanting, which was never done, and from this timber a vessel was constructed on the Coquet banks near the old ” granary ” on the Warkworth road, and was named the Chevington Oak.
After the passing of the Harbour Act, 1837, shipbuilding was commenced on the Braid by a Mr Douglas of Sunderland. The first vessels built were the Breeze, Aid and Landscape.
With Mr Douglas came the late respected postmaster, Mr Thomas Leighton, and, in 1851, Messrs Leighton & Sanderson commenced shipbuilding on the river-bank, now occupied by the brickworks. In all this firm built seven ships, i.e. the Perseverence, Providence, Isabella and Mary, Sunrise, Amble, Glorianna and the Agenora, the last named being built in 1861. In 1868, another ship was built on the north side of the Coquet. A floating dock, which was of no practical use, was also built, and it ultimately went to pieces on the Braid.
The following is a list of ships which were owned by residents, some of which were regular traders to Amble till about twenty-five years ago….MESSRS RICHARDSON BROS.—
   Cedar, Green Olive, Galilee, Kishon, Kedron, Radiant, Landscape, Star of Peace, Jane Brown, Chatteranga, Savannah-le-mer, Serepta.

According to “The Sunderland Site“, page 125, for ships built in Sunderland in 1872,   Kishon is number 65 on his list and this reference now contains plenty of information and is well worth a read.

# Name



Built for

Official No.

65 Kishon


J. Gardner

A. Richardson & Co.


However there were a limited number of Surveying Ports, although it may also be that the above site has a Sunderland focus, as according to the website of the Mariners mailing list

Off. No. Name Current Date Adopted Port of Registry GRT NRT
65446 KISHON 1872 North Shields   473

Kishon was Registered at North Shields.
For comparison, the Cutty Sark, was probably 971 NRT, about double the capacity, but a visit to her gives a good impression of life aboard a sailing vessel of about this era.

The owner – A. Richardson & Co.

The owner was possibly Andrew Richardson – merchant and shipowner of Amble, who – together with  Robert and George Richardson, also shipowners of Amble, and some others – founded Warkworth Baptist Church on 21st September 1866. (It only lasted until 1888 !). The company still owned the Kishon until it was wrecked in 1890, although it looks as if he may have sold a part share to T.S. Howett of Reading shortly before the wreck. This was probably T.S. Howitt – the captain of the ship for most of its history.
Andrew Richardson’s address, on the Crew List of 1881, is given as Castle Crescent, Reading (OSM), so he may have lived there, but still retained an Amble connection. 

The builder – James Gardner.

There is not very much information about him on the internet. The best reference I have found is the Sunderland Site. From Sunderland Ships it appears that he built the similar barque, the Helen S. at North Hylton in 1872, as well as other ships. The South Hylton Local History Society, which also covers North Hylton has a page about shipbuilding in the area.

Voyages of the Kishon

A voyage from Britain to Australia could take four months, and sailors must have been hardy. Presumably recipients would know the ship was on her way as the Electric Telegraph connected Australia in October 1877, but there would be no way to communicate from the ship.

October 1873 – From Liverpool to Brisbane

 This map shows the first known major voyage of the Kishon. (The Telegraph, Brisbane 19th November 1873)

Kishon, from Liverpool, for Brisbane, to sail
first week in October. Bright Brothers and
Co. Agents

This is the first mention I can find of Kishon on the Trove website. There are then several other references which add no extra information, although one has the destination as Maryborough. Another has the departure date as September 4th.
On 7th January 1874 as the Brisbane Courier has an advertisement for

Per Kishon -
   6 Hogsheads Holloware

There is a more complete list of the cargo from Friday 23rd January 1874

Kishon, barque, 472 tons, cleared at Liver-
pool, for Brisbane, November 1, with blankets
and flannels, £72 j cotton goods, £126; gene-
ral drapery, £93; haberdashery and hosiery,
£20; canvas, £450; sacks, No. 5100; paints
and varnish, £170 ; brushware, £30 ; hardware
and ironmongery, £610; machinery, £100;
oilman's stores and provisions, £70; corks,
2910 lbs ; salt, 480 tons ; chemicals,* £200 ;
beer, in bulk, 71 barrels ; beer, in glass, 342
barrels ; brandy, 34 gallons ; British spirits, 309
gallons; red and white wine, 241 gallons;
galvanised iron, 11 tons ; steel, 2 tons,

Apparently, despite being due to depart in the first week in October, and being cleared on November 1st, she actually sailed on November 3rd. About January 29th reports start being printed that the Kishon has been spoken to 51 days out, and that all is well. Presumably she encountered a ship bound for England around December 24th, and when that ship docked, a month later, a telegram was sent.
Finally, at midnight on February 14th 1874 she arrives at Cape Moreton and on February 15th is anchored at the bar at Lytton. On the 16th she is towed by the Francis Cadell to the wharf of Messrs. Bright Brothers.
The Francis Cadell was a tug boat, commanded by Captain Davies, and owned by Bright Brothers. (Possibly named after the Scottish Colourist)
The Brisbane Telegraph of 17th February has a more complete list of the cargo.

Kishon, barque, from Liverpool: 1 cask, P.
Barnett; 15 bales canvas, 16 bales corks, 150
cases beer, 10 hogsheads stout, 18 casks paint,
2 cases copper tubes, 1 keg rivets, 8 sheets
copper, .5 sheets brass, 200 cases beer, Order ; '
100 cases bottled ale, 100 cases stout, XL; 20
drums caustic soda, 125 drums oil, -8 barrels
paint, 20 barrels resin, 20 bales sacks, 8 boxes,
30 cases, 20 half-barrels fish, HW&Co B ; 12
drums caustic, 1,089 cases, PCB ; 3 cases 3
casks hardware, 5 cases, 3 bundles steel, Warde
Brothers; 100 cases 5 quarter-casks whisky,
50 boxes bath bricks, 50 boxes salt, 20 cases
galvanised iron; 19 barrels ink , 10 cases
blacking, 1 case haberdashery, 1 case tools,
4 cuses safes, 2,200 bags salt, Z 20 barrels
whiting, Bright Brothers and Co.- ; 2 dogs,
1 kennel, 20 tons rock salt, Order ; 1 ease,
Berkley and Taylor; 1 p. sugar machinery,
RNS&Co. ; 150 cases beer, M&GoL ; .550 sacks
flour, BC; 200 sacks flour, BT; 4 quarter
casks wine, 20 cases brandy, 550 sacks salt,- 5
quarter-casks wine, W. and A. B. Webster and
Co. ; 6 casks holloware, G. Love an d Co. ;
6 casks holloware, Perry Brothers; 350
barrels 150 cases beer, 4 boxes, 5 bales blankets,
2 boxes D. L. Brown and Co. ; 2 cases, R. R.
Smellie and Co. ; - 50 barrels stout, 'G. H.
Wilson and Co. ; 1 p. 1 case machinery, .Birley
Brothers; 250 cases beer, J. and G. Harris; 1
case cloth, Cribb and Foote ; 30 hogsheads bulk
ale, ,G. Raff and Co. ; 750 bags salt, 20 tons
rock salt, Barker and Co. ; 141 barrels 35 cases
ale, 59 cases stout, Clarke, Hodgson, and. Co.;
1,089 .sacks salt, 20 eases ling fish, 30 casks
herrings, 10 bales sacks, 10 bales woolpacks,
20 drums caustic soda, 100 drums oil, 25
drums turpentine, 4 tons white lead, 8 casks
varnish, 20 barrels resin, Hutching, Weedon,
and Co.

On 18th February 1874 Bright Brothers advertise their cargo in the Brisbane Courier.

     From Liverpool
This Vessel having REPORTED
at the Customs, Consignees are re-
quested to Pass Entries, Present Bills of Lading,
and Pay Freight to the undersigned.
1930 _ Agents.

The Queenland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser carries an account if the voyage on 19th February

Captain Howitt reports that the barque Kishon left
Liverpool on the 3rd November, and had variable
winds and weather, often calm and southerly, until
reaching 18 degrees N. latitude, when light trades
were met with, lasting to the Equator, which was
crossed in 26 degrees W., on the 6th December; light
S.E. trades and variables succeeded to 80 degrees E.,
48 degrees S. The easting was run down chiefly in
47 degrees S., with moderate N.W. winds; on reach-
ing 140 degrees east met with a heavy gale from
W.N.W., veering to the southward ; rounded Tas
mania on January 29, and from thence to Cape More
ton encountered N.N.E. winds and chopping sea;
rounded Cape Moretonn at 10 p.m. on the 13th instant,
and came to anchor at the bar the following day at 9
p.m. On February 13,at 2 p.m., Moreton light-house
bearing N.W. thirty miles, Benjamin Spencer, appren
tice, aged nineteen years, fell overboard while drawing
water, but was not missed until 4.30 p.m., when he
could not to found, but two pieces of a bucket at
tached to a line-end were towing overboard. It is
supposed he had slipped over the side-ship going
nine knots at the time.

Note that Captain Howitt appears to still be the captain in 1886.
On the 24th February an advertisement was placed in the Telegraph (Brisbane)

The undersigned will Dispatch
the following Vessels for
Cooktown as Under : —
The Clipper Brig MINORA, 450 .'
tons, on or about March 2. .
The A1 New Clipper Barque KISHON, 800- '
tons, on or about March 10,
The Favourite Clipper Schooner LUCY and
ADELAIDE, 150 tons, on or about March 10.
Intending Passengers are requested to IN-
SPECT the above Vessels.
Substantial Stalls will be fitted up, and every
attention paid to ensure the safety of Passen
gers' horses. -
Passengers will go in order of booking.
For Freight or Passage apply to - ,
... . Agents.

Notice that the Kishon is now 800 tons ! In some advertisements it is 700, and sometimes 500 tons.
This explains why the next trip was to Cooktown – and why 150 people wanted to join the Palmer River Gold Rush. By the 13th March it was due to sail on the 20th March, and had room for passengers without horses, and space for Cargo.

March 1874 – From Brisbane to Cooktown

From (The Telegraph, Brisbane March 20th)

March 20.— Kishon, barque, 472 tons, for
Cooktown. Passengers: Mrs. Ishman, Messrs.
McKinley, Loewe, and 130 in the steerage, also
90 horses.

It must have been extremely crowded in steerage, especially sharing with 90 horses. Cooktown is about 2000 kilometres north of Brisbane. She also took the piles for the wharves about to be erected at Cooktown. Note that the African and the Boomerang also sailed on March 20th, with a total of 350 passengers and 150 horses – a real gold rush !

May 1875 – From Glasgow to Brisbane

From (Brisbane Courier May 18th)

Ex Kishon, barque, from Glasgow : 13 bales
flannel, 1 bale scarlet flannel, 1 bale navy can-
vas, 1. bale hessian, 9 cases towels, 1 case glass
cloth, 3 cases cotton ticks, 1 case linen ticks, 1
Case loom huckaback, 1 case toilet covers, 2
cases quilts, 1 case colored wool damask, 1 case
Victoria table covers, 1 case velvet pile table
covers, 1 case damask tabling, 1 ease damask
tablecloths and napkins, 1 case linen diapers, 2
cases fronting linens, 4 bales bordered brush
mats, 1 bale hearthrugs, 1 bale colored sheep-
skin mats, 2 cases shirtings and domestics,
4 cases white sheetings, 1 case white and
buff window holland, 1 case plain green
and venetian window holland, 1 bale printed
felt squares, 5 bales paper, 1 bale twine, 1
case regatta and Oxford shirting, 2 cases wove
Crimean shirting, 8 cases white shirts, 2 cases
regatta shirts, 13 cases wove Crimean shirts, 3
cases white ground printed shirts;? 10 cases
Oxford, zephyr, Madras, and Cambridge shirts,
2 cases twist regatta shirts, 1 bale blue serge
trousers, 5 cases West of England and Scotch
tweeds, 3 cases coatings, 16 cases winceys, 1
case Derry, 1 case fancy dress stuff, 1 case cos-
tume tweeds, 1 case Cheviot tweeds, 1 case
wincey skirting, 2 cases wool plaids, 1 case
madder handkerchiefs, 1 case cambric handker-
chiefs, 8 cases hosiery, 2 cases children's striped
socks, 1 case portmanteaus, 1 case shawls and
longs, 2 cases underclothing-, 2 cases stays
total 154 packages, Scott, Dawson, and Stewart.
Ex Kishon, barque, from Glasgow : 409
packages gunpowder, 1 box samples, 2 boxes
galvanised nails, 10 casks limejuice, 25 cases
limejuice, 40 cases preserved juice, 1 case
strychnine, 1 box cutlery, 1 cask shot, Messrs.
B. D. Morehead and Co.
Ex Kishon, barque, from Glasgow : 286 boxes
tobacco pipes ; W. S. Mackie.

Huckaback is “a strong linen or cotton fabric with a rough surface, used for towelling and glass cloths.”
Winceys are “A strong, lightweight twilled fabric, typically made of a mixture of wool with cotton or linen.
From (Brisbane Courier May 22nd)

Ex Kishon, barque, from Glasgow 286 boxes tobacco pipes (clay) ), W. S Mackie
Ex Kishon barque, from Glasgow 50 boxes clay pipes, S Hoffnung and Co

September 1875 – from Samarang to Sydney



Surname Given name Station Age Of what Nation Status Comments

October 1875 – from Sydney to Newcastle

From (Sydney Morning Herald October 7th)

Departures - October 6th
Kishon, for Newcastle

October 1877 – From Mauritius to Hobart

The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania) of  7th November 1877 carries the information that the Kishon, described as a very smart looking barque, having departed Mauritius on October 1st arrived in Hobart on 6th November.  The cargo being imported included 6,148 bags sugar and 5,000 gunny bags. The two passengers were Mr and Mrs Kesh. Captain McDonald gave the following particulars of the voyage

The Kishon left Mauritius on October 1, at 4 p.m., and had light variable winds to 35º S, then the usual westerly winds till November 1, when, in lat. 43.51S, long. 133.37E, the barometer fell to 28.52, and in increasing breeze from the N.W. set in, terminating in a terrific gale; at 4 p.m. rounded to and prepared for the worst, and until 2 o’clock on the morning of the 2nd inst. it blew a perfect hurricane from the W.S.W. during which the ship lay with her lee rail under water, and scarcely moving otherwise; at 6 a.m. on the following day the gale abated, and the ship was wore round and sail made. Up to November 5 it was a continuation of hard gales with snow and sleet. Sighted South Cape N.N.E. five miles on the 5th inst. at noon and took the pilot on board at 8 p.m. the same night, arriving in the Cove at 11 o’clock on the 6th inst. The barque has come into port in excellent order, and looking none the worse for the very stormy weather which she has encountered.

The Mercury article continues

The passengers speak in the highest terms of the captain, and desire us to express their thanks for his kindness towards them during the voyage.

December 1877 to January 1878Newcastle, NSW to Adelaide

The captain was James McDonald, departing from Newcastle on December 20th, and arriving on January 2nd.

July 1879 – Mauritius to Freemantle

From the Western Australian Times, of 8th July 1879

July 3 KISHON, barque, McDonald, from Mauritius. Passengers – Louis Asa and Louis Danton


1879 – Carrying horses from Freemantle to Mauritius


1879 20 on the Kishon + 64 on Bessie + 20 on Iris all from Fremantle.

i.e. carrying 20 horses.

February 1879 –Mauritius and Bourbon to Australia

From (Health Officer : report for the year ending 31st December 1879)

Return of vessels from Mauritius and Bourbon
Name of vessel  Class  Tonnage   Duration of Voyage    Number of Crew
  Kishon        Barque   472         31 Days               13

It also shows that there were no passengers on this voyage and no deaths amongst passengers or crew.

December 1879 – Stabbing in Lyttelton

The Kishon arrived in Lyttelton, probably on 5th December 1879.
From (The Press, 6th December 1879)

Per Kishon - 9720 bags sugar. Consignees -
Dalgetty and Co.

From (The Press, 12th December 1879)

STABBING - Peter B. Hanson, a sailor on
board the barque Kishon, was summoned for
stabbing John Soder, another seaman on
board the vessel. The summons was served
on the previous day, but accused had deserted
from the vessel since. A warrant was issued
for his apprehension.

From (The Press, 15th December 1879)

Friday, December 12,
STABBING - Peter Bernard Hansen, for
stabbing Thomas Soder, on board the barque
Kishon, was called. Mr Nalder appeared for
prosecutor. The accused did not appear, and
a warrant was issued.

From (The Press, 18th December 1879)

The Kishon was towed into the stream yesterday.
Her destination is Adelaide.

From (The press, 19th December 1879)

  CLEARED - December 18
Kishon, barque 473 tons, McDonald, for Adelaide.
Royse, Stead and Co. agents.

So the Kishon left for Adelaide, presumably without Peter Hansen on board.
From (The Press, 1st April 1890)

There was also in the Lyttelton lock-up last
night a man named Peter Bernard Hansen,
charged with stabbing his mate on board the
barque Kishon. The prisoner failed to appear
when the vessel was in port, and the prose -
cutor having left he will probably be charged
with disobeying a summons.

It looks as if justice finally caught up with him – presumably he had been hiding in Lyttelton all this time
It is interesting to note that the newspapers reported the routine arrival and departure of the Kishon, and that this appears to have been the first, and last, visit of the Kishon to New Zealand.
The Adelaide Evening Journal records the arrival of the Kishon, with Master J. McDonald on Friday January 16th 1890, with  departure from Lyttleton on December 24th.
This journey also shows up on the Passsengers in History web site run by the South Australia Maritime Museum.

September 1881 – New York to Dublin

From Dublin Daily Express of 23rd September 1881

SAMUEL BOYD is now landing ex Barque Kishon,
from New York, 2,750 Barrels Royal Daylight Petroleum.
Also a quantity of Deodorised Naptha or Benzonline,
which he offers to the trade on reasonable terms.
      Dublin: 46 Mary Street.

In those days petroleum was used as lamp oil. The Anglo-American Oil Company later became Esso.
The Maritime History Archive has a crew list for the Kishon, but only the lists for 1881 are available. They show an amazing amount of detail about each crew member, such as where they embarked, how much they were paid and a report of their character !  From these lists it looks as if the voyage was probably from New York to Cardiff, or Penarth, and then on to Dublin.

April 1882 – Melbourne to Sydney

This gives the crew – as of  30th April 1882.

Surname Given name Station Age Of what Nation Status Comments

April 1886 – Port of New York to Sydney

This gives the crew as of 25th April 1886

Surname Given name Station Age Of what Nation Status Comments

February 1889 – Mauritius to Sydney, New South Wales

This gives the crew as of 19th February 1889

Surname Given name Station Age Of what Nation Status Comments

Note that the captain is now John May, but he is unlike to be part of the May family I am related to.

July 1889 – Mauritius to New York – Storm damaged

From the Shields Daily Gazette, Tyne and Wear, 28th July 1889

The British barque Kishon, Mauritius for New
York, has put into Port Elizabeth with loss of
some sails and boats, and damage to bulwarks.


Wrecked in Cornwall in November 1890


On 6th-7th November 1890:

 The barque parted her tow off Trevose Head from the steam tug Australia, and was driven ashore near Bude breakwater. Her crew of eight was saved by the rocket lifesaving crew.

According to the Bideford Gazette of 11th November 1890 (from


card details



The smack “KISHON” on its way from London to Appledore for repairs came adrift. It was wrecked at BUDE – the crew were saved.


Note that although they refer to it as a smack, all other references would suggest it was a barque.

Wreck of the Kisson from, clearly showing it as a barque.


photo of Kishon of North Shields, 7.11.1890 - Bude Breakwater. Note windmill on deck - fitted according to Scandanavian law to pump water out of holds when carrying loose timber.
photo of Kishon of North Shields, 7.11.1890 – Bude Breakwater. Note windmill on deck – fitted according to Scandanavian law to pump water out of holds when carrying loose timber. “Onker” barque after “onk” of windmill


Kishon at Middle Beach in 1890
Kishon at Middle Beach in 1890 – from

Appledore would be a sensible destination as it was “For centuries an important shipbuilding centre“, even before the setup of Appledore Shipbuilders in 1855.
One of the most dramatic, and complete descriptions of the wreck comes from the Otago Daily Times of 3rd January 1891.
The overall article is about the gale of 6th November 1880.

The barque Kishon, bound
from London to Appledore, became parted from
her tug through the breaking of a hawser off
Lundy, and was driven share at Bude Break-
water at 7 in the morning. All hands were
saved by the rocket apparatus. The cap-
tains dog jumped overboard and was saved
by one of the men. The vessel became a
total wreck in a few hours. A sailor named
John Harris, of Brixham, in a freak attempted
to reach the wreck, not withstanding the endea-
vour made by a few bystanders to restrain him.
He succeeded in breaking away from them, ran
down the slopes of the breakwater, and perished
in the sea. He was one of those actively
engaged in the early morning in helping to  save
the crew of the Kishon.

The article then continues to describe other wrecks of that storm.
From North Devon Gazette of 11th November 1890

For the last fortnight we have had a contua-
tioh of gales and scarce a single vessel has dared
cross the Bar.On Thursday evening, after a lull,
the wind freshened and at ten o'clock it was blow
-ing a perfect hurricane. During the day several
of the little vessels, tempted by a fair wind and a
brighter appearance of the weather, got under
weigh, with the result that they were out in the whole
gale, and a fearful night the poor fellows must
have experienced. Grave fears were entertained
of their safety, and the place was in a state of
utmost excitement and suspense. As soon as
telegraphic communication was opened on Friday
morning the excitement became more intense.
The first news was that of the barque Kishon, of
Amble, from London bound to Appledore for
repairs at Mr Robert Cock's Richmond Dry Dock,
Appledore.Men had been sent from London by Mr
Cock to bring the vessel round to Appledore,
therefore the whole crew, except the captain, con-
sisted of Appledore men. Although experiencing
bad weather all went with the Kishon until she
rounded Land's End, whe she had to stand the
full fury of the hurricane. She was in tow of a
powerful tug boat, but nothing could keep her
from drifting towards a lee-shore. When off Bude
the tow rope parted, and the Kishon was left to
battle with the hurricane as best she could, her
crew know only too well nothing could save her
from going on shore. Fortunately being on a
neighbouring, but rock-bound coast, they knew
the best place to let the vessel drift, in order to
get a better chance of saving their lives. This
they succeeded in doing, and all were saved by the
life-saving apparatus. This was indeed good news
for many a poor anxious wife and mother, but up
to one o'clock nothing had been heard of our own
little vessels.

From the Historic England website

Vessel was first sighted labouring in the bay off Bude, but such was
the force of the wind that it was impossible for any craft to remain
offshore, and she drove ashore on the ridge of rocks reaching out
from the end of Bude breakwater. Distress rockets were fired and
after the rocket lifesaving crew had mustered and collected their
equipment, the apparatus was used to save all the crew. Her captain
advised those onshore that they had been in tow of the steam tug
AUSTRALIA, but that off Trevose Head the hawser had parted leaving
the KISHON to the mercy of the NW gale. ‘Never was there a more
complete wreck which has gone all to pieces, her timbers and spars
being all mixed up in inextricable confusion from one end of the
breakwater to the other. The masts went overboard soon after noon on
Friday, and complete destruction followed. On Monday the wreckage was
sold and realised about 100.’

(2) gives owners as T S Howett of Reading and the master as Duthie.
Year Built: 1862
Builder: J Gardner
Where Built: Sunderland
Owner: A Richardson and Son
Master: J Duthrie
Crew: 8
Date of Loss Qualifier: A

I assume the 100′ was 100 pounds, which would be £11,200 in today’s money.

Sale of the Wreck

There was a sale by auction, by Mr Crutchett, on Monday 17th November, of about 100 lots of broken firewood, as well as the beams, spars etc listed below.
There was an auction, by Mr Crutchett, on Thursday 18th December 1890 of the wreck. Consisting of pitchpine masts and bowsprits, oak, pitchpine and elm beans and plankings of great length, oak floors, fitted for shed and gate posts, various other useful building material, iron pillars, several tons of knees, and various old iron, large quantity of metal bolts and sheathing, wire rigging, coils of new wire, sails, bolts of new canvas, ropes, blocks, paints in airtight tins, junk lumber &c. Also the ships anchor and chains, which are nearly new.
It looks as if there were some items left, and probably some extra salvaging, as there was another auction, on Monday May 18th (presumably 1891), of wreckage material recovered from the DEEP BLUE SEA, consisting of 1,000 feet runs of Oak, Pitch Pine, and Elm planking 9 to 12 inches broad by 4 inches thick; 30 squared Oak Posts; long new Hemp Rope; Wire Rigging; Chains; Blocks; Bolts of New Canvas; Wrought and Cast Iron; Junk, &c.

Another Box auction

The same auctioneer sold Meadow Farm, which had been owned by Mr John Box, in 1901, about ten years after the Kishon auction.

This is from the Cornish and Devon Post, 28th September 1901. This John Box was born in 1823 in South Petherwin.

Who bought the bell ?

It seems likely that the connection between the Box family and the bell is that it was bought after the wreck was salvaged, by some member of the family who was living in the area in 1890. It is unlikely to be William Braund Box, as he was living in Clerkenwell, and died in 1891, however his son, Arthur Williams Box – my Great Great Uncle, had returned from London to run the Iron Foundry at Marhamchurch around 1886. His wife, Elwina (nee Joyce) predeceased him and they did not have children of their own. His nephew, Leonard Arthur Box (my Grandfather), was one of his inheritors, which is probably how the bell ended up at Little Cucknells.


Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Although John Masefield wrote Cargoes (published 1903)  some time after the Kishon sailed the job she did was similar, carrying anything which needed to be moved, mostly from Britain, then a key manufacturing nation, to the rapidly growing, but not yet industrialised antipodes.

I am not quite sure why the Vital Spark comes to mind, except that the stories of a small steam puffer (again considerably later) were favourite reading when I was young, with the crew taking all manner of cargoes  (and getting in and out of trouble) around an area I knew quite well, and we once saw The Vital Spark in Tarbert.


From Glasgow and Liverpool the Kishon cargo included bales of raw cloth of all sorts, as well as sacks and haberdashery and finished dresses.


Passengers from Britain to Australia would have travelled in the larger vessels which were being built around this time, although the journey, would not have been pleasant, particularly in steerage.


The Kishon took 90 horses from Brisbane to Cooktown, as the gold mines were some distance from the town and potential gold seekers were advised not to join in the gold rush without a horse.


While the Captain seems to have stayed the same over many voyages the crew were probably paid per voyage, and might sign on again, or join another ship if they had a better offer. Where lists of the crew members exist they seem to have come from many nations.

Thomas Howitt, Captain from 1873

He would also appear to have become, at least a part, owner by 1890.

James McDonald, Captain from 1876 to 1880

James McDonald was born in Orkney, about 1850 and the Kishon was his first command,having been Mate in 1875 under Thomas Howitt. He later settled in Melbourne, Australia and had his own shipping company. He returned to Orkney to live with his family in the 1890’s
One of his sons, George, born in Orkney after the family returned, also went to sea and gained his masters ticket in the Australian and African coastal shipping industry.

John May, Captain in 1889


John Duthie, Captain in 1890


Summer 1939 – by Jane Box

It was a long fine summer. Of course it was ! Weren’t all the summers fine and hot when you were a child ? We went to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, where we’d been before, stayed in a bed & breakfast and hired a hut right on the beach. We made this into a second home, my mother, sister & myself. My father didn’t come. He didn’t like the seaside and hated sand ! My grand parents with Aunt Nell and her grown up* daughter Dorrie were there too, and this year Aunt May, whose relationship I never fathomed, came too, with her teenage son Phil & his friend Timmy. Sue & I greatly despised them. They teased us and easily escaped, leaping when chased. I’ve still not forgotten sitting on the hut steps with my eye in a cup of water to get out the sand Phil had thrown. It was amazing to hear a few years later that Phil was a fighter pilot & Timmy was decorated for his part in the Dieppe raid.
Granny & her sister, Aunt Nell would sometimes leave their deck chairs & newspapers, to go, greatly daring, for a paddle. Shoes and stockings discarded & skirts held high enough to display voluminous bloomers, they would stand bravely in the little ripples of sea. A larger wave over their ankles would be greeted with shrieks of surprise. Sometimes Grandpa would join them, trousers rolled up & there’d be back chat & laughter.
Sue & I were constantly in and out of the sea, running on the warm firm sand. We made large sand castles with turreted towers, arches and moats, using metal spades with wooden handles, or turning out sand pies from tin pails. When the tide came in we would frantically try to defend our castle from the encroaching waves, piling yet more sand on the crumbling walls, till the sea swept in on all sides. Then surely it was time for lunch ? My mother and Dorrie would concoct all sorts of lovely meals on a little primus – but the only detail I remember was a little kettle with a folding handle. To go to the small shack by the steps was  a great treat – to get ice creams. Sometimes we would hear a cycle bell & a hoarse shout of  “Stop me & buy one” from the Walls ice cream man. This was something we never saw at home so we would hope eagerly that someone, probably Grandpa, would send us to get cones for everyone.
Another treat was to go to the rocks at the end of the bay, to clamber about & gaze fascinated into the rock pools. Tiny fish, shrimp and scuttling crabs inhabited this other world. Red beadlet anemones waved their tentacles for prey but withdrew with lightning speed to become a jelly like lump if gently touched by a human finger. Winkles and whelks wandered under the water, & limpets clung to their rocks, never to be prised off. Seaweeds, so dull and limpish on the beach were transformed under water, beautiful fronds of brown, green & red floating gently.
In the evening after a high tea we might go along the pier, enjoying the adventure of being out strolling in the warm air amongst all the other holiday makers. For country children to be in such a crowd was another excitement. One evening we went to Community singing in the Chine to join in old folk songs under the trees strung with fairy lights. I was much affected by the song “Poor Old Joe” & clearly recall weeping in the dark for the old negro.
One night for a tremendous treat we went to the pictures to see what my mother thought was a cowboy & indian film. Too late she recognised the title “The Four Feathers“. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards ! It didn’t help to come out to unlit & unfamiliar streets & walk a subdued return to the B & B.
By now the adults would have realised this would be the last such holiday for many years. The streets were unlit for a practice blackout & searchlight fingers beamed out to the stars. In the last few days groups of children labelled & each draped with a little brown box & holding small cases, huddled miserably at street corners. Evacuees. Now the sunny blue sky held strange little white puffs of cloud as distant ack ack guns were fired. But Hitler was not going to shorten our holiday.
On the last afternoon, Friday 1st September, clutching at belongings from the beach huts we all trooped up the road. Nearly every house had its windows open & the wireless on. We went silently, Sue & I oppressed by something we didn’t really understand & by the grim expressions of the adults, hearing the 6 o’clock news as we walked. Then I felt only anxiety when I heard Dorrie say firmly to Aunt Nell “Now Mother, if it’s war, please don’t faint here” though now the memory makes me smile.
Our return was chaotic, for trains were packed with people going home early. We stood crammed together in the Portsmouth train, lunchless, for the boys with the food were further down the train. My mother, Sue & I got out at Guildford (the rest went on to London). We were met by my father, triumphant. He had managed to get some tarred brown paper & had been putting up our blackout.
The lovely weather continued. Sunday 3rd of Sept. was a beautiful sunny day.

This is where my mothers account finishes. She would have been ten, almost eleven at the time. The description of the marine life shows her early interest in marine biology, which would in later years take her to Dale Fort Field Study Centre, where she would meet my father.

Cansdale and May Family Histories

My Grandmother on my mother’s side was born Lilian Gladys Cansdale on 13th February 1901. Her parents were James Cansdale and Elizabeth (née May). She had an elder brother, Jack.
I have inherited some information about members of the Cansdale and May families and have also done some research, and here are some notes about them.

Lilian Cansdale James Cansdale Elizabeth May George Cansdale Jack Cansdale Harold Cansdale George Soper Cansdale

Lilian Cansdale

Born 13th of February 1901 and Baptised on 28 April 1901 at St Mary’s, Stoke Newington.
She worked for the Bank of England, and there is or was a picture in the Bank of England staff magazine titled “The Unbeaten Relay Team” and Grannie is one of them. She was a good runner. There should be a copy of the picture somewhere.
I don’t know if this is how she met my Grandfather, Leonard Box, as he would have been working as a solicitor in the City.

James Cansdale (1866-1947)

James Cansdale was born in 1866 in Fordham, Essex. The son of George Cansdale (1838- ) and Elizabeth Maria Watts.
In the 1891 Census he is, aged 23, a Hotel Superintendent, living in a Hotel beginning with A. (This was probably Anderton’s Hotel, 162-165 Fleet Street, St Dunstan in West, City of London).

Anderton's Hotel - from Archiseek
Anderston’s Hotel (from Archiseek) – click on image for more information.

There was a pub on this site from 1385.  According to an article in The Spectator it had “a great reputation among men from the Cornish tin mines, who would usually stay at Anderton’s when in London. and who used it, indeed, as a kind of bourse.”
In the 1901 Census  he does not show up, but Elizabeth Cansdale, age 36, is shown as Widowed, and living at 43, Prince George Road, Stoke Newington (OSM) with son Harold, aged 7 and daughter Lilian aged 2 months. Also living at that address are her father, Joseph May, aged 75, and Elizabeth May aged 74, and her sisters Matilda, aged 40 and Eleanor aged 26. My guess is that he was working away somewhere and the Census taker assumed that a woman acting as the head of the household must be a widow. This was on the 31st March.
By the 28th April the Baptism record for Lilian Cansdale shows James resurrected and living with Elizabeth at Prince George Road.
By the 1911 Census James, Elizabeth and Lilian are living at 61 Bradbourne Street, New Kings Road, Fulham (OSM). His profession is shown as Caterer (own account, i.e. Self employed). Harold, who would now be 17, is no longer living with them.
At the time of his death on 13th February 1947 his address was 20, Chipstead Street,Fulham, (OSM) (just down the road from Bradbourne Street), but he actually died at Little Cucknels. He left £1641 12s 7d. to Harold Cansdale, chief steward, who is referred to here as Jack.

Elizabeth May (1865- 1942)

The 9th child of Joseph and Elizabeth May, she was born in Stoke Newington in 1865.  In the 1871 Census she is shown as being aged 7 and living with her parents, her older brother Samuel (aged 14) and her older sister Matilda (aged 11). They are living at 11, Union Street, Hackney (which does not seem to exist any longer).
She married James Cansdale in June 1893 in Hackney.  Jack is born in 1893 and Lilian in 1901.
She died in 1942.

George Cansdale (1838-?)

James Cansdale’s father, George, was born in CopfordP, Essex about 1838.  He was the son of William Cansdale, born about 1814, in Aldham.  In the 1851 Census William’s occupation is shown as Railway Labourer.  George was the eldest of seven children. In the 1851 Census, aged 13, his occupation is given as Agricultural Labourer.  His younger brother, William, aged 9, was a Rook Scarer. They lived at 33, Turkey Cock Lane, Copford. (OSM).
He married Elizabeth Maria Watts (a flower maker according to her marriage certificate) on 24th June 1860 at St Jude, Bethnal Green. (OSM). The church was bombed in 1941 and the site is now Pythology Nature Reserve.

Jack Cansdale (1893-1953)

My Grandmother’s older brother, he was christened Harold James Candale, like his father, and was the civilian in charge of the Officers Mess at Catterick Camp in Yorkshire.
He was in the Merchant Navy during the First World War, and according to my mother was a Petty Officer, or probably Ship Steward, which was an equivalent rank, and was his occupation given on his marriage certificate.
On 28th July 1918 he married Violet Lilian Palmer (1894-1983) at St Dionis, Parsons Green, Hammersmith and Fulham. They had one son, Harold Edward Cansdale.
I believe Jack was a ARP Warden during the Second World War.
He died on the 14th of February 1953 at Ivydene, Thorpe Road, Kirby Cross (OSM), which I suspect was a care home, possibly the one which is now The Firs. His house was called Chatworth, also on Thorpe Road.

Harold Cansdale (1927-1948)

My mothers cousin, he was known in the family as “The Boy”. He played with my mother, Jane, and Aunt Sue at Little Cucknells, but was sent with white shirts and other unsuitable clothes.
According to my mother he was in the Green Howards, although according to the Suez Roll of Honour he was in the Royal Corps of Signals.




Date of Birth



Date of Death


National Roll of Honour

Armed Forces MEMORIAL

CANSDALE, Harold Edward





3rd GHQ Sig. Regt


Fayid War Cemetery



He could have joined the Green Howards, and then moved across to Signals, or been attached to them as a Signalman.

George Soper Cansdale (1909-1993)

The son of George William Cansdale (1871-1972, he lived to 101 !)  and Alice Louisa Soper (1871-1948), he is labeled “The zoo man” in my mothers copy of the family tree. The connection is via a dotted line which does not track the exact relationships, but his siblings are on the paper copy too.
His Wikipedia entry, and obituary in the Independent tell the fascinating story of his life.
His Grandfather, also called George Cansdale, was also born in Copford, Essex, around 1840, and seems to be been, by the 1881 Census living at 1 Vine Cottages, Stamford Hill, Hackney.

Joseph May

Born about 1828 in Bethnal Green, he was a plasterer – and in the 1881 Census a Journeyman Plasterer. He married Elizabeth Sadler (born 28th May 1828, in Stoke Newington), and they had ten children, one of them being my Great Grandmother, Elizabeth May. Of the children, all but two were girls, and one boy died young, so the girls mostly moved out into domestic service as soon as they could leave home.
He was living at 54, Pullens Place, in the parish of St John at Hackney in 1851. Pullens Place no longer exists.
He was living at Pullens Place in 1855, when Sophia is baptised.
I think he is living at 11, Union Street in 1871, and 1881.
In 1991 he is still a plasterer, aged 65, living with wife Elizabeth, and daughter Annie at 34, Sandford Terrace, Hackney St John.

Annie May

Born about 1848, in Stoke Newington.
In the 1881 Census she is living with her parents at 11, Union Street, and is a Cook (Domestic Servant). She would be 33, and is presumably working from there as a cook in some other house. In 1991 she is  Domestic Servant, living with her parents.
In the 1901 Census she is possibly a servant, aged 53, to the Fincham family at 4,Gloucester Terrace, Greenwich
In the 1911 Census she is living at 4 Chipstead Street, Fulham (OSM), as a Lodging House Keeper, along with her sisters Sophia and Emma.

Harriet May

Born about 1851 in Stoke Newingon
Some time before 1881 she married Peter Findlay, as in the 1881 Census they are living at 79, Rotherfield Street, Islington (OSM), probably as tenants of Jane Green (widow aged 50) and her son and daughter.
Peter Findlay was born about 1851, in Tealing, Forfar, Scotland. By 1851 he was a single soldier, living at the Royal Horse Guards Barracks, St Pancras. By the 1881 Census he is a Police Constable, which he remains until the 1911 Census, when he is a Police Pensioner.
By 1891 they are living at 5, St Dunstan Street (it looks like) in East Ham. Their daughter, Maud, aged 9, is now living with them.
In the 1911 Census they are living at 6, Wentworth Road, Manor Park (OSM) and Maud, now aged 29, is a Clerk

Emma May

Born about 1851, in West Hackney.
She became a housekeeper for Queen Mary at York Cottage. Aunt Sue inherited a blue and white vase from her. My mother inherited a water stained table, possibly from the nursery of George VI.
emma-may-tableWe think this pie crust table may be the one she is referring to. It certainly is water stained, but does not appear to have a “Maple & Co” stamp, as York Cottage was furnished from them.
By the 1911 Census Emma is living at 4 Chipstead Street, Fulham with Annie and Sophia.

Sophia May

She was baptised in Hackney on 2nd December 1844, when her parents were living at Pullens Place.
She ran a boarding house for Clergymen at 4, Chipstead Street, Fulham. She had a Dutch lodger called Van Linshooter who was thought to be in German pay and committed suicide. Joseph May formally identified the body.
By 1911 Annie and Emma were living there too.
Dorrie inherited the house.

Henrietta-Marie May

Died young – I don’t have a year of birth, or any other details

Samuel May

Born about 1857, he was a plasterer, like his father. He married Harriet Gibson, and by 1901 they were living at 59 Sandbrook Road, Stoke Newington with 6 children. He had 7 children in total, but the youngest was born in 1903.

Matilda May

Born about 1861  – according to my mothers notes she was paralysed at birth, but this seems unlikely as by 1881 she is, possibly, a Servant, Domestic at 22 Middleton Rd, Hackney, for the Oatley Family. By 1891  – possibly a Servant for the Forsaith/Machell Family at 3, (something) Stoke Newington
By 1901 she is, aged 40, living at 43, Prince George Road, Stoke Newington, with Joseph, Elizabeth – and Elizabeth, Harold and Lilian Cansdale.

Alfred May

My mothers notes simply say “died young”.
In the 1881 Census there is, living at 11, Union Street with Joseph and Elizabeth, a one year old Grandson called Alfred F May. He could be an illegitimate son of Annie, who is also living with them.

Elizabeth May

My great grandmother, as noted above.

Eleanor May

Born about 1872, and known in the family as Nell. She married George Richmond (Alfred George Richmond), on 13th July 1901 at St Mary, Stoke Newington.
He was a Hotel Clerk in 1901, and a Hotel Wine and Cigar Salesman by the 1911 Census.
They both lived at 59, Sandbrook Road at the time of their marriage in 1901.
They lived at 31 Chipstead Street, Parsons Green, Fulham S W at the time of the 1911 Census.
They had a daughter, Dorrie, born in 1904.
They lived in an Edwardian Semi Detached house in East Sheen, in Richmond, which I think was where Dorrie and Sid lived, even though Dorrie had inherited 4, Chipstead Street.


Copford, Essex

Birthplace of both George Cansdales, it is a village in Essex, quite a distance from the Bethnal Green/Hackney area where they both moved to.

Fordham, Essex

Birthplace of James Cansdale, it is a small rural hamlet, about 5km from Copford.

Little Cucknells and Shamley Green

The house my mother was brought up in was called Little Cucknells, and is in the village of Shamley Green in Surrey.

Buying and building

On 6th December 1926 a consortium of buyers bought Reel Hall, Pasture Wood and Little Cucknells, which had been part of the Woodhall Estate.
The buyers were (from a note from my mother, although the main buyers were Leonard Box and Sydney Curtis, in most of the transactions):

The record of the registration of Freehold land and buildings known as Reelhall Farm, Wonersh, Surrey – to Sydney Curtis of Stockhouse Farm, Albury, Surrey and Leonard Arthur Box of St James Street can be found in The London Gazette of 28th December 1926.
The record of the registration of Carthouse Meadow, Wonersh, Surrey – to Sydney Curtis of Reel Hall Farm, Wonersh, Surrey and Leonard Arthur Box of 28, Great James Street, Bedford Row, W.C. 1 can be found in The London Gazette of 15th November 1927
Note that Sydney Curtis is now living at Reel Hall Farm.
Note that there may be other records which I have not found, also Sydney Curtis married Margaret Box, my Great Aunt and sister of Leonard Box, in the first quarter of 1924 at St. Martin, London. They went on honeymoon, but they did not get on, and she went back to being Margaret Box.
Apparently the house (Little Cucknells) was build in 1927 (although this may have been when building started, and well analysis was done in November 1927.
On 15th January 1929 Little Cucknells land transferred from joint ownership to ownership by Leonard Arthur Box.
Also on 15th January 1929 was the sale to Rooper  of West Carthouse Meadow. The signature was witnessed by Beatrice Williams, housekeeper at Reel Hall.  The Rooper address was Wyburn, Gerrards Cross, Bucks.

Neighbours and local characters

Some of the people who came up in conversations with my mother in relation to her life at Little Cucknells – I am sure there were many more who do not occur in my notes or memories.

The Roopers

The Roopers – pronounced Ropers, bought Reel Hall – pronounced Rill Hall, from my Grandfather and his associates.
Reel Hall was converted from a barn and sheds into a house. It had been a Saxon house.
Mr Rooper was a director of the Port Line shipping line.  (There was also a P&O family in the village). There is a picture in the Belfast Newsletter from 1961 showing Mrs D.R. Rooper (She would probably be the wife of David, the youngest son) at the launch of of the 9,650-ton motor vessel Port St Lawrence for the Port Line Ltd.

Mrs D R Rooper, who performed the ceremony at the launching of the new Port Line cargo vessel with Dr Denis Rebbeck, deputy managing director of Harland & Wolff Ltd in June 1961.
Mrs D R Rooper, who performed the ceremony at the launching of the new Port Line cargo vessel with Dr Denis Rebbeck, deputy managing director of Harland & Wolff Ltd in June 1961.

Dr Dennis Rebbeck was the son of Sir Frederick Rebbeck. They were chief Executives of Harland and Woolf. They are remembered by Peter Rebbeck, son of Dr Dennis, and others. I do not think there is a connection between these Rebbecks and Eddie Rebbeck, mentioned in Pickwick Paper No. 9, but as a Rear Admiral and later a senior executive at Vickers, it would be an interesting co-incidence.
The Roopers had 3 sons, Anthony , Ralph and David. They were each given a Humber Super Snipe when they reached 21. Mummy remembers the youngest one.
One of the cottages at Reel Hall was occupied by Mr and Mrs Sid Killick (no relation to Frank Killick) – and he was gardener to the Rooper family. He was actually Sydney Killick  (Born 15th December 1899, Albury; Died about September 1983, Surrey Mid East) – From Terry Smith’s family tree site – thanks to Terry for the further information on him, and Frank Killick below.

The Blackers

Doctor Blacker lived at Pasturewood Cottage. The Blackers had two daughters, Carmen (not sure when she was born, I think she was the elder) and Thetis (born 1927) and so my mother and aunt were girls of a similar age.
Carmen writes about being visited by Phiroz Mehta at their house in Shamley Green. Like her father she became a doctor.
Thetis was an artist and singer. There is a picture of one of her works on the blog of Nicholas Colloff, Director of Innovation at Oxfam GB.
Doctor Carlos Patton Blacker is buried at Shamley Green, Christ Church Churchyard (as well as Tony Hart and the ashes of Sir Harry Secombe)

Domestic Help at Little Cucknells

Granny Box had two girls, when my mother was very young. One was called Nanny (though she was not a real nanny), and was 14 or 15. The other was called Mary. They came from somewhere like Doncaster. Nanny met a young man, married and moved away. By that time my mother and aunt were going to school. Mary went on working at the house. She met and married Mr Blackman – he was “a right so and so” and turned into an unpleasant character later. They had a son Louis (or it might be Lewis) Blackman, who had a beautiful voice; when the village choir were on the radio he was in it, and he went on to sing professionally.  His mother, Mary, would have helped him get on – they used to see Mary quite often through the years – she would pop in to see Granny Box and tell her woes.
They eventually had Mrs Bullen. Granny said to Mummy in later years ‘

Go and dust – and not like Mrs Bullen’ – meaning moving the dust in the air – she became quite ancient and arthritic.

Mr Bullen was a roadman – worked all over the place. She made dandelion wine – Mummy remembers her and Sue picking dandelions to make wine.

Frank Killick

Frank Killick was the gardener – he was an orphan – had been at an orphanage – was probably only 14 or 15 when he started (but to infant Mummy and Sue a grown man).

He brought in firewood, and did various gardening jobs. They had a little cart as well as the pony trap – and they would take Harry (the pony) and cart into the woods.

Tins were put into a little pit in the woods. Most bottles were returnable. Medicine bottles – generally blue in those days – were put in the pit too. Killick would put things in the pit.
He didn’t like the bees and the bees didn’t like him. He could not scythe up near the bees.

He was called up – went off, but was turned down as he had flat feet. He was put into a squad at Dunsfold aerodrome -which they were building. He would pop in and tell them the news (e.g. they had a squad, with one spade between them). There was a row of cottages there where they wanted to build the runway. They jacked them up onto log rollers and moved them.

Frank Killick married Beryl  (who was actually Sheila Beryl Trussler).  Sue and Mummy went to the wedding – wearing little hats and floral dresses. They used to come and child mind in the evenings sometimes. (I think this is the Killicks childminding Mummy and Sue). I think this is probably the Freebmd reference.

I suspect his son worked for Granny too, as although I don’t remember ever meeting him he was called “Young Killick”, and I understand he was responsible for the plantation of Christmas trees in Little Cucknells Wood, and the bins of corn for pheasants. We would hear a shotgun in the woods from time to time.

Shamley Green Miscellany

Shamley Green is mentioned (as Shamley) in Rudyark Kipling’s poem Merrow Down.

Miscellaneous memories from Jane Box

Nenny Flea - by Sue Simpson
Nenny Flea – by Sue Simpson

Their dog was called Nenny Flea. This picture was painted by my mothers sister, and was on the side of a wooden box.

My mother remembers the day they met the hunt, going down on the pony (Harry) and trap. Harry thought he should join the hunt and tried to follow them. Mummy was about 4. Sue was not at school then. This was going down to be put on the bus to school, in Bramley, where she was picked up by one of the Kindergarten teachers.

Mummy dimly remembers her parents having masonic dinner in town and staying at Miss Ball’s for the night.  (I am not sure who Miss Ball was). I am pretty sure Grandpa Box was a mason, and that Mummy taught at a Masonic School at some stage. It could even have been The Royal Masonic School)

Her family kept bees during the war, which meant an extra sugar ration, for the bees to keep them through the winter.

Given anaesthetic at the dentists, as a child – awoke from a dream about rowing a boat to find that she was attempting to row the dentists drill.

Her acting career “A Christmas rose”, she had to stand on stage and look sweet, The dormouse The Cheshire Cat , twice!!! Type cast? Puck – The mischievous wood sprite from Midsummers Night’s Dream. She also played  other roles in Guide plays.

Butterfly bomb

On the way to Guides, with Sue, on their bikes, she found a Butterfly Bomb on Farley Heath, and after a bit of prodding it, decided it was a dud and took it to the police station in the basket of her bicycle. The police were not delighted with this unexpected gift ! Apparently the unfortunate recipient of the bomb was the aptly name P.C. Cross !
My mother made a bit of a habit of this, as when clearing out Little Cucknells she found a rifle under my Granny’s bed, which she took back with her to Edinburgh. After a few phone calls, trying – unsuccessfully to find out what she should do with it she took it, on the bus, to the central Edinburgh police station and presented it to the desk sergeant !

My memories of Little Cucknells

The attic

There was a very large attic, with several rooms, and this was the main place we would play if it was too wet, or cold to be outside.
There was a train set, with clockwork engines, and a variety of wagons. I suspect it was O guage, and might have been Hornby. I remember a snowplough, and flat truck with cable drum as found at
There was an old wind-up gramophone, with records such as ‘Hush, Hush, Hush – here comes the Bogey Man’ and ‘The Laughing Policeman
There was wooden greengrocers shop with vegetables made from cloth.

The Kitchen

The kitchen had an Aga, and a gas powered fridge. There was an adjoining scullery, with a cream maker.


We spent Christmas itself with my fathers parents, and then came to Little Cucknells afterwards, and had a second Christmas dinner. There was a supply of silver sixpences, which – rather than being mixed in with the pudding – were distributed by sleight of hand when the pudding was served, for fairness.

Leaving the house, and woods.

Following the death of Lillian Box in 1972 Little Cucknells house and garden was sold.


Cucknells Wood was donated to The Surrey Naturalists Trust. The Ranger Notes tell of improvements to access, which was always pretty boggy – presumably one reason why they remained as woodland rather than being developed.

My Aunt Fanny and Aunt Jennifer have been as volunteers, and Fanny’s sister and brother-in-law came once and helped to tidy ground.


 In our house in Oxford we had a Yucca plant outside the front door, in a rather dangerous place, so it was removed and placed on the compost heap, where it thrived, and was replanted to the back garden. A friend of a friend, visiting our house, commented that he had not seen such a yucca “since Little Cucknells”. It turned out that his parents had bought Little Cucknells after my Grandmothers death!

Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Church Thanksgiving

This service sheet was in the papers my mother left me.  1897 was before my Grandmother was born, but it could have been her father, James Cansdale, who attended the service. The service celebrates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

It was used

In all the churches and chapels in England and Wales, and in the town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed


Sunday the Twentieth Day of June 1897

It is interesting to note the special case of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, which brings to mind the probably apocryphal state of war between Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Russia.
It is also interesting that Scotland and Ireland are not mentioned, but Wales is, as this was before the Welsh Church Act of 1914, so Victoria was still head of the Church in Wales.
There are some interesting pieces about the Jubilee at

Family Dramas

The Lines Family produced many plays, the programmes for some of them have survived and are produced here – I am not sure what order they should come in.

Performance at 5.30 p.m.
        Mr Lines


   By the Anne Boleyn Dramatic Club
Cinderella ....................Jennifer Lines
Prince Charming ...............Roger Lines
The Ugly Sisters ..............|  John Worker
                               |  Michael Lines
Godmother .................... Pamela Worker
Page ......................... Jeremy Lines
Scene I  - The kitchen of the Ugly Sisters' House
Scene II - The ballroom
Scene III - The kitchen
Costumes by Madame Worker
The Hall, kindly lent by Madame Lines

This must have been fairly early as Tim is not in the cast, and the family were presumably living at Anne Boleyn’s Walk, Cheam. (OSM)
This one was presumably performed on January 29th 1939.
Michael is not in this one, but Roger is not only the author, but plays two knights and a villager.

Salcombe Christmas Entertainment 1931

The school Christmas activities. Selective transcriptions follow.

      Avenue Road
Saturday 5th December 1931
   3 o'clock

Salcombe is still a school in Southgate, (OSM) founded in 1916, and prepares for entry to, amongst others, “the highly competitive Dame Alice Owen’s School,” which is where my Grandfather went. It had the same headmistress – Miss Ethel Deakin – from 1916 to 1975.

3  RECITATION   "Mr. Gardener and Mr.Sweep"
             MICHAEL LINES
10                 "Summer"

My Uncle Michael has a solo piece, and my father, Roger, has probably his first stage appearance, as a Butterfly.  Notable fellow butterflies were Ross and Norris McWhirter, twin founders of  The Guiness Book of Records.

   "Duke of the Christmas Daisies"
      Adapted from "The Little White Bird"
      by kind permission of Sir J.M. BARRIE

My father is not in this play, although a part as a tree would have been appropriate, given his later career in Forestry.

Letter from Roger to Jennifer 1939

This was written by my father, Roger Lines, to his sister Jennifer, who was – for some reason – not with the rest of the family in, I would guess 1939.

Dear Jennifer,
I have not gone back to school yet but all
the others have. Are you lonely yet? and
are you having nice suet puddings. Our air-
raid shelter is nearly finished, the men
have come everyday and the concrete has
just been put on the roof today and
on Saturday Daddy got some wood and
made it into a step ladder which I have
been creosoting today. We are staying up
late tonight as it is nearly 10.15 p.m. now.
Michael has got half the table covered with
his Meccano, Mummy is knitting and Daddy
is asleep, Rufus is biting his leg.
Jeremy is settling down to Chinthurst
and he had carpentry to-day in which
he learnt how to chisel and how to saw
and his headmaster gave him cider for
   Love from Roger

Jeremy remembers going to Chinthurst, but has no recollection of cider for lunch. He does remember that there were a lot of damson trees so they had damson this and damson that for weeks!

I also remember the swimming pool had been converted into an air-raid shelter by covering it with metre thick bales of horsehair so it was pretty awful in there so we took it in turns to get air at the entrance and I remember seeing one of Goerings special yellow nosed Messerschmidt 109’s being shot down and the pilot coming down by parachute.

Pickwick Paper No. 9

Presumably published at Pickwick, and containing family news, and articles by Lines family members. This (No. 9 – published on 8th February 1939) is the only edition that I have available.
The Pickwick Paper was printed using the Hectograph method, with a tray of ‘jelly’ from which you peeled the copies.
It was organised by Michael and Roger and sent to all the Aunts and Uncles, and was paid for, no doubt with Postal Orders and accounts were kept! Michael would have been 14 and Roger aged 12.
(thanks to Jeremy for the extra information about the Pickwick Paper)

                Pickwick Paper
Dear Sir,            The Editor, Pickwick Paper.
I hear from our old friend Kathleen Tucker of
Hartley, S.Rhodesia, that her husband is again
tobacco farming. Remembering her attachment to
your assistant Editor in his very tender youth, I
feel sure you will allow me to voice her appeal,
"Smoke Rhodesian Tobacco", in your hospitable
columns. Apart from the fact that I find this
Tobacco an excellent pipe-smoke, I feel that
we ought to give support to an Empire grown
I believe that many of your readers who
are already proud of the bridge building
achievements or your illustrious Uncle and Cousin
in Rhodesia will welcome this suggestion.
            Yours faithfully
Sub-Editor: What does this mean ? Familiar
father ?
   Our Chrostic = HALTAIWIN     Last issue's BROMES=SOMBRE
   Children's = LINK      Last issue's children's AYLED = DELAY


Hartley is now Chegutu
I am not sure who Kathleen Tucker was, but presumably she married into the Freemans, as they have connections with tobacco.

Page II  No. 9                        The Blasted Oak.
                                        Chipstead, Surrey.
Extract from letter redacted by Editor.. Jan 22. 1939
"Peter Robert Keeley wishes to state that he
highly approved of his          (no advertising)
Perambulator, (1939 model) in which he recently
took his first outing. He attained a speed
of 35 miles per hour on the flat. (is this
a record ?) and found even at this high
velocity - apart from hiccups - comfort
and snugginess were unimpaired.
   I am, Sirs, your appreciative and
  constant reader
      Eleneya Popplethwaite.
Dear Sir,                The Editor, Pickwick Paper.
Can any of your medical readers lend support
to the theory recently advanced by Jeremy
that the reason why you are able to
dispose of your meals with such rapidity
is probably due to the fact that Nature's
Throttle, your tonsular flaps, were removed.
        Yours faithfully,
Sayings of the week. Question: What's French for cow ?
Roger: La vâche. Question: And for bull ?
  Roger: Le vâche !

Peter Keeley – the son of my Grandmother’s sister, Susan – known to the family as Tudy – was born in 1938.

No. 9               Pickwick Paper                  8/2/39
We should like readers to know that 20 copies
of "Pickwick Paper" are printed for each issue.
If last issue's size was small, we must point
out that the specimen copy originally sent out
was the same size as that one, but we hope this
number will be longer.
Commander E. Rebbeck, R.N. sailed on Jan. 27th in
H.M.S. Vindictive, bound for the Barbadoes.
Mr G.E.Lines celebrated his birthday on the 28th of
January. Afterwards he and Mrs. Lines visited
"French without Tears".
It has just transpired that the young doctor
who kept a man alive by frequent blood
transfusions while conveying him in an ambulance
from Kettering to the Middlesex Hospital, and who
modestly refused to give his name to the Press,
is James Freeman of Graden, Finchley.
Domestic Item. At the time of going to press,
Mrs G.E.Lines has just completed 69 lbs. of marmalade
this season. We feel sure that this will
not be enough !

Commander E Rebbeck was Eddie Rebbeck, later to become Rear Admiral Rebbeck, and was the son of Edward Wise Rebbeck and Lillian Stevens, who was the sister of Charles Arragon Stevens, my Great Grandfather.
Jeremy remembers in 1947-48

going to have lunch with the Rebbecks when they lived in Bournemouth, I was in Poole, we always had chicken which was a real treat in those days. Their cook was Nora who will forever be remembered for her Chocolate Whip which was fantastic.

Jeremy did his Apprenticeship as a boatbuilder in Poole.

Page IV.
       The Outlaws of the Broads.    R. Lines.
      Part II
The outlaws have felt that Baron Philip de Brois was planning
an attack on their marsh surrounded stronghold,
so Big John, the leader and Ned the smith, go to the Baron's castle.
"And remember when we reach the Baron's Castle,
I am the sheriff of Norwich, and you are my servant,
Ned. Remember to let me do the talking" said Big John.
"But now we are at the Castle gate, so remember well".
"Ho! There! Guards! Let down the drawbridge, I am
the sheriff of Norwich." The drawbridge clattered down,
and they rode through into the courtyard where the
baron was standing. "Well met", cried the baron,
"I have a good piece of news for you, so come
into the hall while I tell you about it." "Well now,
what is this news, Baron." said Big John.
"It is about those troublesome outlaws. The question
is getting more outrageous every day and I have
planned to get my men across to the rascal's stronghold
on rafts at about 4 o'clock on Monday night".
"A good plan, my friend, I shall be there to
help you," said the 'Sheriff', "but now I must be
away to my wife, so I will take leave of you."
      To be continued.

What will happen next ? – unfortunately this is the only episode I have.
I do however have a note from a conversation with my mother, who told me that one issue contained the information that ‘Mr George Lines broke several ribs while skating’ – This was at Purley Ice Rink, where the family used to go skating quite a bit after the end of the war.  I do not know which issue, or exactly when, this would have been.

George Lines letter from Bellagio

This letter was written by my Grandfather. George Edward Lines, almost certainly in 1914, when he is working at Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik , and before July, as Arnold Freeman is as yet unmarried.
I have left out some of what Grandpa called “padding”.

I was sorry those few flowers I sent in the envelope turned up in an indistinguishable condition - I was amused at Mouse thinking one might have been a daisy ! - it must have been a mess. So I have sent you a tinfull from Bellagio i.e. if they arrive at all. There were hundreds of varieties and it would be interesting to know how many different kinds are actually in the tin - you can make a sporting event out of it & have guesses. Mrs Freeman & the Twins knew practically all the names but of course I have forgotten them. They told me that they would pick up if totally immersed in water. The blue ones were gentians. That's the only tricky name I can remember. Well, I will tell you something about our holiday. Mrs F & Co. having been to München to fetch Daisy & her friend Bessie, they came thro' Swtiz'd on their way to Italy, and I joined them in the train @ Winterthur1 on Saturday afternoon. There were Mrs F.2 Arnold, Daisy, Dolly & Bessie i.e. 6 of us. We went on to Luzern the same night and stayed there till Monday morning. The Sunday we made an excursion to the Rigi which we climbed (per train). Monday morning we took train through the famous  St Gotthard tunnel, with all sorts of curious spirals etc, to Lugano & then by steamer & train we eventually at Bellagio of which the cards will give you a paltry idea. It is very lovely. It would suit you two down to the ground when you have a Continental honeymoon, only you must go about now as later on it is rather too hot they say. It is quite Italian of course and it all adds to the fun having to try and understand the blighters. We bought books on Italian but did not become very expert and when we did get something simple off our chests like good morning for example, it must have appeared to the natives as tho' we were making a speech. I should very much like to be able to speak it as it has such a musical sound when spoken decently. The Italian names too, I think are very pretty, - Bellagio e.g. You might re-christen Pudding - Susan Bellagio Stevens and Peter, - Peter Stefano Stevens ! They'd be bound to make their mark with them. Well as we did absolutely nothing there's not much to tell. We systematically lazed, eat and slept. We had brekker abt. 8, before which the girls annoyed the other residents in the Hotel by singing German Volksongs. After that & brekker, we got our lunch from the hotel & sloped off with it from abt. 2 miles, sat down & read aloud in turns (Shaw's, Cashel Byron' Profession), eat lunch, more reading & then back to tea by the lakeside to the tune of a violin & mandoline orchestra & Italian songs. The whole effect being very agreeable. Most of the time as you (at least Mummie) may imagine the ladies did that incessant needlework which goes beyond my comprehension. I suppose it corresponds w/smoking & is certainly a greater evil. After tea the usual programme was a stroll to shake tea down & prepare a vacuum for dinner. The said stroll inevitably passed thro' the shops, whose owners we exasperated by looking but not buying, at any rate for the next few days when as you can guess those who had money (i.e. all except me) wasted it on all sorts of Italian oddities of unquestionable worthlessness for numerous grandchildren & other kith & kin. Then came dinner which was rather jolly owing to the homeliness of the hotel and the sense of humour possessed by the waiters & Arnold.
After dinner we usually retired to one of our bedrooms and read aloud and did needlework (i.e. the ladies). The Freemans are all very keen on reading and its certainly not a bad way of passing the time. In any case the taste for reading is useful when one is old & a nuisance to everybody else. Arnold had to return to England on the Thursday owing to his girl's mother begin very ill, so I had 4 ladies to chaperon which not being much of a cavalier, I'm afraid I'm not great shakes at. I wished you had all been with us it would have been like Stoke3 again. Perhaps we shall be able to have another holiday together one of these days. I much prefer the Stoke type of holiday. I'm absolutely fed up with hotels very quickly. I'm rather afraid I shan't get any more time off before Xmas as when I asked for the week they gave me to understand in a rather condescending fashion that no holidays are, properly speaking, allowed in the first 2 years !! but that if I had a week I must consider it as my holidays this year! However if I can manage Xmas I will. Thank goodness I've only got 17 more months here. I think I should go mad if I stayed longer, and I certainly shan't do the latter. I rather hope Dee & Win4 will pay me a visit during the summer. I could weekend w/them. By the bye I read an official lookg. document a few weeks back re the lost letter. It gave small consolation however. There was a lengthy statement to the effect that "There was no trace of same in the British Postal Administration". You can picture for yourself the whole of the G.P.O. turning out drawers etc, and telegraphing the whole world over, in a tireless search.


  1. Winterthur was the headquarters of SLM, where Grandpa was working
  2. Mrs F. – Edith Freeman, widow of George James Freeman, and mother-in-law of Grandpa’s sister, Mary Freeman (neé Lines).
  3. I think this says “Stoke”, but it could be something else, e.g. “Stope”  I think I have seen a reference to walks along the “famous daily climbs up the cliffs at Stoke” which Grandpa took with the Stevens family, so presumably near Bristol.
  4. Winifred Lines (1890-1983), Grandpa’s youngest sister. I assume Dee was a friend of hers, or possibly Edith Lines (1880-1957), Grandpa’s eldest sister.