31 January 2017

31st Jan 1948: lever-lifting fountain pen

31 Sat. Would have been mild but for the high wind; bright sunny morning; dull, rain in afternoon. Gave Gwennie an old lever-filling fountain pen: it works all right. To Merton in afternoon but no cats meat, so had to buy fish. Started building the port side of new 41 ins wing.

30 January 2017

30th Jan 1948: saddle broke

30 Fri. Would have been mild but for the very rough sou’wester: dull and cloudy with rain in the air. Got all the usual week-end provisions locally. To Merton on foot in afternoon to buy fish. Also bought a coil saddle spring for my bike, it broke under me when riding this morning: fitted same to saddle satisfactorily.

Fred's family photos XIX: by William Lacey

Three pairs of photos which are surely dated between 1860 and 1890. Update: 'Greyfox' has found that the photographer was at this address from 1887-1892.

These are all on the cards of William Lacey, 20 Blackfriars Road - 'Negatives kept. Copies may be had.' The usual elaborate decorations on the reverse come in pairs, so the top two, for instance, can be assumed to be within the same period, then the next pair, etc. We've also guessed and copied in what may be date order, the top being credited to 'Lacey,' the next to 'W Lacey', the bottom to 'William Lacey'. We are guessing that the name becomes that much more informal. 

29 January 2017

29th Jan 1948: a quiet day

29 Thur. Rather mild, cloudy, rain off and on throughout the day. Bought liver sausage for dinner. Bought fish at Morden. No visitors again to-day.

28 January 2017

28th Jan 1948: fixed fork

28 Wed. Less cold, bright sunny morning, dull, downpour later. Got the groceries including a tinned date pudding. Also metal polish & fish locally. To station in afternoon to buy a paper. Finished fitting new handle to garden fork and fixed it on.

Fred's family photos: more from the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, 1924-5

27 January 2017

27th Jan 1948: aircraft designer

27 Tues. Cold cloudy, bitter E wind. To Merton to buy fish in afternoon. Donald called morning and afternoon: brought a loaf the second time. Wrote letter to Jean Child thanking her for sending me the good things from her 21st birthday party. Fitted starboard wing to centre bay of new wing also setting the dihedral. Drew out design for the port wing.

26 January 2017

26th Jan 1948: fish and modelling

26 Mon. Cold, some sun in morning; dismal, rain later but a full moon at night: vicious SW wind. Cycled to Merton to buy fish in afternoon thence to station to buy a paper. Made half of the centre bay of the new 41 ins wing.

Fred's family photos XVII: British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, 1924-25

These photos almost certainly were taken by Albert French, Fred's brother

One of the official postage stamps celebrating the Exhibition

25 January 2017

25th Jan 1948: wound prop for kids

25 Sun. Cold, showers, and a small amount of sunshine. Showed the children the spar model; wound it up to let them see the propeller turning. Cousin Maud came to tea; Mrs. Akroyd came to supper.

24 January 2017

24th Jan 1948: "Oh, boy, it was scrumptious!"

24 Sat. Cold, dismal, rain all day. Gwennie brought a ration book to let us have some potatoes. Bought fire-wood, firelighters and fish locally. Gwennie called again in afternoon. We played table tennis and had a lovely time together. Councillor and Mrs. McSheahy called to see if we could let them have some jam, yes we could. They are Irish and most charming people. Mr. McSheahy’s face is the most pleasant and good-natured face I have ever seen. Ciss went to Jean Child’s 21st birthday party. Jean sent me some perfectly lovely goodies, which was very kind. I ate the trifle which was in a little card box and it was a heavenly mixture of sponge cake a jelly, a layer of fruit, a layer of blanc-mange, some whipped cream and a glacé cherry on top! Oh, boy, it was scrumptious!

Fred's family XVI: a message from Gran & kitsch card

It's a border of silk tassels. There's an equally pathetic verse on the back.

23 January 2017

Extra: telling people about this blog

Readers who have been following this blog for a few years may remember this report in the Wimbledon Guardian. Can you bring Fred's diaries to anyone else's attention? There's plenty to read! - Cheers and thanks! Tony French

Wimbledon Guardian excerpt, online.

23rd Jan 1948: smokey bedroom?

23 Fri. Slight frost; very dull, bitter E wind, rain setting in later. Got a nice piece of brisket at the butchers. Bought other provisions locally and a nice piece of smoked haddock fillet. To see Aunt Liza. More work on new 41 ins. wing. Stained and re-polished the kerb from my bedroom fire-place.

22 January 2017

22nd Jan 1948: let's hear it for the LIVER!

22 Thur. Sharp white morning frost but the bright sun soon thawed it. The morning was lovely but it was dull later. Got liver at the butchers; that is two weeks running (surprise and loud cheers). Bought fish at Merton in afternoon also this book at Woolworths in Wimbledon, price 5d. The three children called; Gwennie came with me to do some local shopping, buying paraffin and methylated spirits, also took accumulator. More work on new wing.

The opening page of Fred's new Notebook. It cost 5d. Isn't the writing lovely
 - and the punctuation is immaculate!

Fred's family stuff: Alb's 1919 War Badge

21 January 2017

21st Jan 1948: I want my Mummy!

21. Very cold, very dull, deluge later. Got the groceries including some ginger biscuits. Bought fish. Met Arthur Swift buying a paper at the station. Gwennie brought little Margaret but she would not stay, she wanted mummy. Donald also came; he is just out of hospital after having his tonsils out.

A few days ago, on the 17th (left, top) Fred records buying the 'Unique' fountain pen,
 made in Raynes Park. The writing gets clearer in the following days...
 and the start of the next notebook is immaculate.
 These are the final pages of this book.
 We'll see the title page of the next notebook tomorrow.

Fred's family XIV: Alb's in the army for 95 days

This photo may be nothing to do with brother Albert or Fred himself, we simply do not know. It was with the other family photos. With stripes on their sleeves, it was hardly Alb with a few days service and medically unfit. Can anyone identify the uniform? The photo is torn down the left-hand edge.

On 28th August 1916, Albert was medically examined and declared fit only for sedentary work.
The reverse refers to the ''Area in which registered': Wimbledon; 'Class': 7; 'No in Army Book 414': 29. (Confusingly, there's a date stamp at the top, front, for 22 Aug 1918.)

The story continues. On 16th June 1917, Albert Henry French was examined at Kingston-on-Thames. His age: 25. Height 5ft 9½in. Hair: brown.

Then, on 4th December 1917, we have the following Certificate of Discharge - at age 26 yr 5 months, a quarter-inch taller, with brown eyes and a mole on his back. Other documents include a Medical Card, Employment Card, Ration Paper issued by the Food Controller, and record of his registration under the National Registration Acts.

20 January 2017

20th Jan 1948: fish and a spade

20. Severe white frost, sunny morning which brought a thaw, very dull, drizzle later. Bought fish for dinner, got an air mail letter form, bought a spade handle to replace a broken one; it cost 5/6. Made a start on building a new 41 ins span wing.

Fred's family history XIII: brother was a good boy

Fred's younger brother's record of good attendance at Faunce Street, Kennington, Surrey.
The school is now Keyworth Primary, Faunce St, London SE17 3TR.
Our next documentary evidence relating to Albert is brief army service in 1914-18.
Below: the unlikely reverse of the above, a coloured painting of Stirling Castle - "to hold Stirling was to hold the key to Scotland" - near such stirring names as Bannockburn and the romantic Bridge of Allan.

19 January 2017

19th Jan 1948: aero-modelling supplies

19 Mon. White frost, bitterly cold day, piercing wind: cloudy. Bought fish. To Morton where I bought a new high-tension battery, also some lengths of balsa sections and balsa sheet and cement. Peter Child called in evening.

18 January 2017

18th Jan 1948: oh so cold!

18 Sun. Very cold, some wintry sunshine, clear. The usual children called; Gwennie was lovely: she does love me. Did not go out.

Fred's Family photos XII: bearded unknown

This one photo is similar to the  5½ x 4" in XI - reproduced here in
greyscale rather than its shades of gold. Aside from the present editor briefly sharing
 a family surname with this photographer, Joseph Stokes - an unlikely connection -
there's no way to identify this gentleman.
Below: the typically elaborate reverse.

17 January 2017

17th Jan 1948:

17 Sat. Cold, dismal, deluge all day. Laurie brought a letter from Gwennie telling me they were going to a pantomime: sent a phunny letter back. Did all the shopping on my bike in the rain. Bought a 21st birthday card for Jean Child also one for her brother John. Saw her lovely presents: she was excited. Bought fish, also a broom-head and a new “Unique” fountain pen at the post office, it was made in Raynes Park. Met Shirley Bridges. Bought new torch batteries and bulb for Ciss’ torch also a tube of liquid glue.

A 'Unique' fountain pen. Fascinating information about the pens and the Raynes Park manufacturer appear on this blog by Deborah Gibson at - and her website is at Our thanks to Deborah for permitting the reproduction of this photograph.

16 January 2017

Fred's family photo: 5½" x 4"

Austin & Son's studio, 142 Trinity St, Upper Tooting.
Pencil reference on plain reverse: 215

At this address 1894-1906 ('Greyfox')

16th Jan 1948: Dad's pocket watch

16 Fri. Cold, dull, less wind. Got a nice piece of beef also suet and a tin of liver paste at the butchers. Got a date pudding in a tin at Johnsons. Bought cats meat at Merton; came home via Morden; saw some nice new bikes in a shop. Dad’s watch which I inherited has not gone since I took it, but I looked at it to-day and found it had run down so it must have been going in my pocket: I wound it up & it seems to be all right now. Designed a new 41 ins wing for the large model.

15 January 2017

Fred's family photos X: dancing... and skipping in cloche hats

15th Jan 1948: food parcel promised from Australia

15 Thur. Cold, clear, some pale sun in afternoon; biting wind: foggy at night. To fish shop, also got liver at butchers. Small amount of preparation work in garden but the ground is almost like a quagmire. Letter from Uncle Tom. Letter from Capt. Marshall from Germany; he is having a food parcel sent from Australia to me. Joan has a baby – Michael.

14 January 2017

Fred's family photos IX: Sports on the green

14th Jan 1948 Salmon (hallelujah!) and tonsils

14 Wed. Cold, clearer, chilly wind. To get the groceries at Eyles’: bought a tin of salmon (loud cheers). The little girl Jean & her mother were in there: a sweet little 2 year old auburn haired girl who makes friends with everyone. Bought fish and a paper. Gwennie & Laurie called. Donald went into hospital to-day to have his tonsils out.

13 January 2017

13th Jan 19448: paid undertaker £37 5s

13 Tues. Mild for season, dismal, windy, rain all day. Took note to Mr. Petts. Posted parcel and letter to Uncle Tom. Received notice of the cheque for £30.17.10 from the Prudential; sent an acknowledgement of receipt. Bought steel wool. In afternoon bought fish at Merton also paid to Mr. Knox the undertaker the sum of £37.5.0.

12 January 2017

Fred's photos, Part VIII: family photos - mostly late 1880s.

Our reader 'Greyfox' has established dates for the photographs, based the photographers' addresses and the resources of - and our taking into account addresses, etc. on the back of the cards. Numbering from the top left, each row in turn. At the time of writing, that isn't pinning down the names of the sitters!
1. James Brown, 1886-88. (Also in Manchester, Leicester & Nottingham - and a different Camberwell Rd number in preceding years.)
2. Walter Bino Brock, 1887-1907. 76 Wandsworth Rd., 'near Vauxhall Railway Station'.
3. Henry Brown, 1888-89. Had numerous addresses in Bermondsey, Southwark & Lambeth, but an address on the card and the website narrows it down to these years.
4. Gilling & Co, 1875-80.  This seems to be an earlier photo than most. 158 Strand, London W.C. Francis Gilling; research shows an earlier photographic career, including time as manager of London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co - stereoscopic photos were very popular in the early decades of photography.
5. Edward Sharp ('patronised by the QUEEN') 1892-1914.  He had 3 addresses, 2 given on our carte de visite - the absence of the thrrd address leaves us with the date-range given here. 
6. William George Henry Wright, 1886-91. Several addresses; resarch shows must be in this period.
7. R Roberts Wilson - to be further rwesearched.
8. James Brown, 1886-88. With 3 London plus Manchester, Leicester and Nottingham addresses - the London address matching this short time-slot. 

12th Jan 1948: The cost of a funeral

12 Mon. Rather mild, very dull, drizzle all day, gusty SW wind. To Wimbledon by cycle bought fish, met Beryl Green, also Mr. Akhurst. To pay Slate Club. Wrote Uncle Tom. Mr. Bauchop the Prudential agent brought a cheque of £30.17.10 the insurance money to pay for Dad’s funeral.

11 January 2017

11th Jan 1948: a quiet, musical Sunday

11 Sun. Rather mild, very dull; drizzle all day. Showed the aero to the children. Did not go out. Played a Beethoven Sonata.

Note: this quiet Sunday with music seems a good excuse to link again to my poem about Uncle Fred - on my Poems Please Me website at

10 January 2017

Fred's family facts & photos, Part VII: Gran, baby, Grandad, a young soldier

No information available on these 5 images.

10th Jan 1948: fish and... woodwork

10 Sat. Becoming less cold, very dull, drizzle almost all day. To local fish shop. To post office; bought two very nice birthday cards @ 10½ each, also stamps. To station to buy a paper. Varnished all the wood work of the open aero, it is now almost finished. I imagine it should be a wonderful flyer.

9 January 2017

News: Albert's photo goes home - after 100 years

On 31st December we saw a photo taken by Fred's brother, Alb. It was one of the few, in an inherited collection, with a name on the back: simply 'Birchington'. Thanks to Jennie and her friends in the Birchington Heritage Trust, a copy of that photo is now, some 100 years later, with the present owner of the former smithy, and it is displayed in the hall of his neighbouring home. Here we see Alb's photo (top), another photo (from the archives of the Trust), and an aerial snapshot of the area in Birchington, Kent, from Google Earth.

Buddles Forge. Albert French's photo - probably 1920s

The smithy is the nearest building. There's a horse
 in the stable on the left, waiting to be shod.
The windmill has long gone

Birchington, Kent. The former smithy is the second building  in
from the foreground road, in front and to the left of the central white house

9th Jan 1948: a typical Friday

9 Fri. Cold, very dull; drizzle most of the day. Did all the week-end shopping in morning except buying fish & a paper in afternoon. Met Emily Garrod. Fixed landing wheels to small open model.

8 January 2017

Fred's family facts & photos, Part VI: Fred's Mum and Dad?

Most of these photos were in a studio - but as an older couple (top) they are against a plain background. One (seated, lower right) appears to be outdoors. We assume these are all of Fred's parents, and that the single baby is their first, Fred's 'Ciss', named Theresa, like her mother. Just as their oldest son bore the same names as his father, Frederick James.

We can now put some approximate dates on these thanks to research by reader 'Greyfox'. 
1. No printed information on card.
2, 3 & 4. Probably 1880-87.
5. Database of London photographers has many addresses for a Myles Garner, but none at the location on the card. His son, also William Myles Garner, was also a photographer. But none of the traced addresses matches the Notting Hill Gate shown on the photo. 
6. A Simmons, 1882-1888. (Before he opened a second studio.)
7. No information on card.

8th Jan 1948: coal cellar & clocks

8 Thur. Rather cold, dull, bitter NW wind. Donald called; he is very argumentative. Bought cod cutlet for dinner. Bought cats meat, haricot beans and dried peas at Merton. Cleared part of the coal cellar; a dirty dusty job. When Ciss was winding the parlour clock the ratchet slipped and prevented the clock from being wound. Was able to put it right in half-an-hour.

7 January 2017

7th Jan 1948: trickery

7 Wed. Becoming rather cold; very dismal at times, sporadic showers. To Eyles to get the groceries. Also bought a few things at Smaldon’s and Davis’. Had Cousin Doris, Gwennie, Laurie, Donald and baby Margaret to a New Year’s tea party. Amused them with tricks games, and competitions. Chas came to fetch them home; showed him the frying pan trick with playing cards.

6 January 2017

6th Jan 1948: building a cupboard

6 Tues. Rather cold, very dull, much drizzle. Did shopping with Gwennie in afternoon: bought fish and firewood, she bought groceries at Stammers. Did some sand-papering to wood for building sideboard cupboard. Received letter from Uncle Tom.

Fred's family facts & photos, Part V: Dear Mother, Grandmother and kids

We're on shaky ground here, extrapolating from likenesses, photographers' studios, paired photos clearly taken at the same time... and so on. These are believed to be Fred's grandmother (left) and mother - taken before 1900. The children may be about 1900-1910 - a very broad guess.

5 January 2017

5th Jan 1948: insurance and Dad's will

5 Mon. Cold, bitter wind, buy clear with some sun in afternoon. The Prudential agent called to see Dad’s will which will be forwarded to the head office. The landlord called; paid him 5 weeks rent. To fish shop and to buy a paper. Called in to see Aunt Liza. The three children called. Posted letter to Uncle Tom.

4 January 2017

4th Jan 1948: new flat visited in Chestnut Road

4 Sun. Very mild 57 degrees: dull, rain later: windy. Cycle ride along Coombe Lane and Robin Hood Way to Robin Hood Gate of Richmond Park. Wrote letter to Uncle Tom. Ciss went to Tolworth. Jim Wiltshire who was bombed out of 69 Chestnut Road is moving in to a new flat built on the same site. He showed me over the flat this morning and I liked it very much. There is only one fire which heats all the other rooms by hot air. There is a large well equipped all electric kitchen with a refrigerator as well as electric copper and cooker.

Fred's family facts & photos, Part IV: Lily, Fred's sister-in-law

The top photo is with a lodger, Mrs Grant (up on a step), at Lily's home, 98 Largewood Avenue, Tolworth. Both photos were taken around the late 1950s. Below: 'Always carry your Identity Card.' Here's Lily's WWII, 1943, Identity Card. (The dress on the right was a velvety material, deep green; the vase on the bookcase, Japanese, probably early C20th, crackled glaze, Satsuma ware.)

3 January 2017

3rd Jan 1948: one gold watch... Dad's will read

Photo: Fred's sister, Theresa, or 'Ciss' as everyone knew her. (Photo by Tony French)

3 Sat. Very mild for January: dull, windy; damp in the air. Gwennie & Laurie called in morning. Bought fish locally. Cycled to Tolworth in afternoon to hear Dad’s will read by Fred Fraine. Dad leaves everything to Ciss but almost all his savings have been spent: his last illness left merely a few pounds. He directed that I should have his gold watch, and that Alb should have his microscope in trust for Anthony.

Fred's family facts & photos, Part III contd: more postcards kept by Ciss

Here are the final three cards kept by Ciss from her time with Hayward Brothers. We'll see more of Ciss, both photos and other postcards, in later posts.

2 January 2017

Fred's family facts & photos, Part III contd: postcards kept by Ciss

2nd Jan 1948: new homes occupied in Chesnut Road

2 Fri. Very mild for Jan. 53 degs. cloudy, dull. Got the meat and other things locally. Gwennie called: gave her the blue scarf she left here yesterday. To buy a paper at station in afternoon in company with Leonard Conley. Had a look at the new bikes at Batemans. Riding back we changed machines; noticed how badly his cranks are bent. The first family moved into one of the newly built houses in this road.

1 January 2017

Fred's family facts & photos, Part III: 'Ciss'

Fred's sister, 'Ciss', at Tolworth,  probably in 1957.
Behind, at the top, is an awning, lowered from a fixture above the French windows.

Below: three 
postcards kept by Ciss (the first of nine to this address)  - she collected cards -
shown here in order of postmarks, dated 1906-07, orders sent (presumably by account holders) to Hayward Brothers, the manufacturers of Hayward's Pickle. Ciss worked there for a time.
The pictures are the same cards, same order. The remainder follow in separate posts.

Comments on people, places and products (in this case pickles!) always welcome.

1st Jan 1948: Ciss hasn't notice my efforts...

Cyclometer at the beginning of 1948 was 0091.5 miles.

1 Thur. Rather mild, dismal, rain most of the day. To buy smoked
cod fillet in morning. To Merton in the rain in afternoon to buy lights for cats. Finished patching the lino in the dining room. Ciss has been grumbling for years about it but she has not noticed it has been done yet although the part of it that shows was done last Monday: she is quick to notice things that are wrong but things that are right go unnoticed.