Sarah Jane Espley

A Right Royal Occasion – Florence Neale (nee Neville)

Florence Neville is my wife’s 3rd cousin 1x removed. Her parents are Charles Neville and Sarah Jane Espley. Their common ancestors are James Espley and Martha Silvester – my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Florence was born on 26 October 1905 in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

In the 1911 census Florence is living at 126 Sandford Street, Lichfield. She married Philip James Neale sometime in the September quarter of 1931.

When the 1939 Register was taken, at the outbreak of WW2, Florence and Philip are living at 165 Lower Sandford Street. About sixteen years later they took over running the Queens Head pub also on Sandford Street.

During all this time Florence was a true Royalist – and very proud of it. So much so that her devotion to the Royal Family was reported in the local newspapers a couple of times.

The Lichfield Mercury of Friday 20 August 1982 recalls the visit by the Queen Mother to Lichfield in July 1942 (images from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

Florence Neale (nee Neville) - Lichfield Mercury 20 August 1982.png

Forty years on – but Florence remembers

ROYALIST and proud of it – that’s Florence Neale, landlady of the Queen’s Head pub in Lichfield.
And Florence has proof of her devotion hanging in the lounge bar of the pub – a photograph of herself and her 15-month-old daughter Linda taken with the Queen Mother 40 years ago.
Florence, now 76, waited with the crowds outside Lichfield Cathedral during a Royal visit in 1942.
And now a grown-up Linda and her mum give the photograph pride of place beside other portraits of the Queen.

SPEAKING

‘I can remember leaving Linda’s pram near Stowe Pool and walking the rest of the way. We didn’t have to wait long to see her and the next thing I knew she was speaking to us!”

“She was beautiful,” Mrs. Neale added. “The photograph was taken by the Mercury, where I ordered my copy. But this framed picture was bequested to me in a friend’s will.”

Seven years later on Friday 21 April 1989 the Lichfield Mercury reported on the latest visit of the Queen Mother to the city – incidentally 21 April is the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

Florence Neale (nee Neville) - Licfield Mercury 21 April 1989.png

Family Favourite

A Lichfield family that first met the Queen Mother 47 years ago was given VIP treatment for the Royal visit.
Florence Neale, her daughter and son-in-law Linda and Richard MacCormack, other daughter Cynthia McDonald and sister Susan James were all allocated special tickets for the Cathedral service so that they could be presented to the Queen Mother.
The meeting was arranged after Mr. MacCormack wrote to Clarence House telling how his wife, then just 15 months old, and her family had been singled out from the crowd by the Queen Mother during her first visit to the city in 1942. Accompanying King George VI, the then Queen Elizabeth had approached Mrs. Neale outside the Cathedral to comment on her beautiful curly haired baby daughter.
The moment was captured by a Mercury photographer and Mr. MacCormack, landlord of the Queen’s Head pub, in Lichfield, enclosed the old press cuttings with his letter to London asking if the family could meet the Queen Mother again.
“We wondered if we would even get a reply and we never thought she would stop to speak to us.” said Mr. MacCormack afterwards.
But at the start of the Cathedral service, the family was ushered to one side to be presented to the Queen Mother. And Mr. MaCormack was able to show the Royal visitor the treasured framed photograph of the first meeting, which now hangs proudly in the lounge of the pub, pointing out the family.
“It was wonderful, I was filled with emotion.” said Mrs. Neale, who gave the Queen Mother a posy of roses and spring flowers. “She thanked me and said what lovely memories she had of Lichfield.”
After the meeting the Queen Mother’s Private Secretary Sir Martin Gilliat came over to the family to reveal that Her Majesty had recalled the wartime visit while looking at the Mercury cuttings during her helicopter flight to the city.

What a smashing story and lovely memories for the family.

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Workday Wednesday – Warren John Bruce (1880-1964)

Warren John Bruce is the husband of my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed, Sarah Jane Espley. My wife and Sarah Jane share common ancestors in James Espley and Martha Silvester (my wife’s 3x great grandparents).

Warren was born on 5 February 1880 in Stockport, Cheshire. He started working for the Manchester Ship Canal company at the age of 14 in 1894. In the 1911 census his occupation is “chief clerk Manchester docks”.

In November 1938 Warren was promoted to Docks Manager from his position as Deputy Dock Manager. He remained in post until 1945 when he retired after 51 years service. His retirement was mentioned in the Manchester Evening News of 18 December 1945 (image from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

Warren John Bruce - Manchester Evening News 18 December 1945.png

Manchester Evening News – British Newspaper Archives

Canal Docks Manager is Retiring

After 51 years’ service with the Manchester Ship Canal Mr. Warren J Bruce is retiring as docks manager. His service with the company began in 1894 – when the Canal was opened for through traffic to Manchester. He had been docks manager since November, 1938.

His successor, Mr H Oakley Smith, who was educated at Argyle House School, Sunderland, and HMS Worcester, served with the P and O Company until 1924, when he joined Lever Brothers Traffic Dept., and went to West Africa, ultimately becoming assistant to the Nigerian Traffic Manager.

Mr. Oakley Smith, who is a member of the Institute of Transport, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and an Associate of the Institute of Naval Architecture, was appointed assistant docks manager with the Manchester Ship Canal in 1940.

I also know from a report in the Lancashire Evening News of 26 October 1938 that Warren’s predecessor as Docks Manager, Mr F W Way, had been with the Manchester Ship Canal company for almost 50 years.

Clearly a company at that time which inspired people to stay with them for a long time.

Black Sheep Sunday – Warren Espley Bruce (1911-1982)

Warren Espley Bruce is my wife’s 3rd cousin 1x removed. He was born in Stockport, Cheshire on 19 June 1911 to parents Warren John Bruce and Sarah Jane Espley. Their common ancestors are James Espley and Martha Silvester, my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Sometime in the September quarter of 1934 Warren married Mary Kitchen – the marriage is registered at Penrith, Cumberland.

In the 1939 Register Warren is shown as licensee at the Two Lions Hotel, Great Dockray, Penrith, Cumberland. It seems he remained there for a good number of years.

Unfortunately Warren was arrested for drunk driving in 1955 and the following report is from the Penrith Observer on 26 July 1955.

Warren Espley Bruce - Penrith Observer 26 July 1955.png

Penrith Observer from the British Newspaper Archive

Drove under influence – fined £50

A Penrith publican, Warren Espley Bruce (44), address given as the Two Lions Hotel, Great Dockray, was fined £50 and disqualified from driving for a year by Penrith Magistrates last week.

Bruce was charged with driving a car between Frenchfield Hill, Carleton and Great Dockray when under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle at 7.50pm on Thursday, June 30. He pleaded guilty.

Constable Peel said he saw a car coming towards him at a very fast speed up Frenchfield Hill. He turned round and followed it to the junction of Roper Street with Victoria Road where there was a halt sign. He saw Bruce, who was the driver had a flushed face, and smelt strongly of intoxicating liquor. His speech was slurred and he refused to get out of the car, and kept switching the engine on and off.

He then shot forward over the junction, causing a lorry to stop suddenly.

Constable Peel said he followed the car into Corn Market – where Bruce slowed up as though he did know which way to turn – and into Great Dockray, where he turned into the entrance of the Two Lions Hotel.

Bruce was unsteady on his feet and caught hold of the car for support, and when asked why he had driven away replied: “I got here all right didn’t I?”

CALL FOR ASSISTANCE

Told he would be arrested, Bruce said he would not, and made as though to get into the hotel. Constable Peel said he was obliged to restrain him and take him by the arm.

Bruce was put into the police car, but got out and made back into the hotel, but witness brought him back and wirelessed for assistance. “He was not violent, but just awkward,” said Constable Peel.

Bruce refused to be examined by a doctor at the police station, and said: “The car is in the yard. I have not killed anybody, have I?”

He called the police “Gestapo” and said “I will get you for this,” witness said.

For the defence, Mr C E Arnison, Penrith, said that Bruce’s car was 6ft 4in wide and that the entrance to the Two Lions yard was only 8ft wide. That left a total of only 21 inches, 10 and half on each side. A man could drive a vehicle through a narrow entrance like that had a good measure of control. What happened afterwards was another matter.

Bruce had the right to go for trial by jury at the next Cumberland Quarter Sessions if he wished, said Mr Arnison.

The opportunity was open to Bruce, but after giving careful consideration to the matter, he had decided to take his punishment that day.

MET R.A.F. COLLEAGUE

Mr Arnison referred to “a queer set of coincidences” that came into being during the afternoon of that day. Bruce had set off to visit his father at Hawes for a few days’ holiday, and when going through Warcop saw an old R.A.F. acquaintance he had not seen for three to four years.

He filled up with petrol at Warcop where the garage was part of the Chamley Arms, and then they had a lot to drink. There was no denying that, but Bruce was “not in bad clip afterwards.”

He realised he was under the influence of drink, and instead of driving the 26 miles to Hawes, he travelled the 16 miles back to Penrith, with the result that someone must have reported him for bad driving.

“EMOTIONALLY UPSET”

Bruce, said Mr Arnison, had got worked up into an excited state, and was more emotionally upset than alcoholically upset. He had been driving for 28 years, and had had no such charges against him before.

Joseph Hall, Beckside, Warcop, said Bruce had been in the R.A.F. with him. He saw him by accident in Warcop, and they went to have a drink. He had a bottle of beer and three rums, and Bruce drank whisky. He did not think Bruce was drunk at the time.

However it seems that Warren did not want to wait for his disqualification to run its course.

According to the Penrith Observer of 31 January 1956 Warren “made a successful application to have his licence restored”.

At the hearing Magistrates were told by Mr Arnison that:

He now applied for the removal of the disqualification. His father lived alone in Nicholson Lane, and in the last few years his health had deteriorated. It would be to his advantage if his son could take him up and down in his car.

Mr Arnison said Bruce’s only hobby was golf, and if he had to rely on public transport he could hardly get up to the golf course to have a game during the day. he also had business commitments up and down the country for which a car was most useful.

The police opposed the application with Superintendent H Graham saying “Bruce was quite unfit to be in charge of a car at the time of the offence. Suspension was the most serious part of the conviction”.

So a victory of sorts for Warren in the end – but not one I would be proud to boast about.