100. Grandad Has Surgery

Grandad Was Very Unwell

During this period, grandad was very unwell. At times, grandma completed his diary (see Chapter 98) and he was much less able to do practical tasks than he had previously (see Chapter 109).

Waterworks” Trouble

From the start of this period, grandad was troubled with his “waterworks”, presumably due to an enlarged prostate. He often had to get up multiple times at night to pass urine. While he was initially treated with “some tablets”, in December 1970, his GP, Dr Gale, decided that he should be seen at the hospital. A week before Christmas, he was seen by a consultant urologist, Mr Ashken (see box) at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (see Chapter 88).

Grandad noted that they did blood and urine tests and x-rays of his chest and prostate. He was told that the results would be sent to Dr Gale. In January 1971, grandma called at Dr Gale’s. She was told that a letter had come from the hospital. The receptionist told her that it was “OK” and if grandad had pain he should call the doctor. I don’t know if this was all they were told. Perhaps, they were told more but they did not record it. I imagine that the doctors ruled out prostatic cancer and concluded that the enlargement of the prostate was benign. I am a little surprised they did not operate at this point given the symptoms grandad was having.

Michael Ralph Handley Ashken was born in 1931 and he died in 2016 aged 85. Mum was part-time secretary for his private practice from 1975 to 1980. He was a Consultant Urologist at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital from 1968 until he retired in 1996. He was also President of the British Association of Urological Surgeons from 1994 to 1996.

Persistent Symptoms

Between 1971 and 1973, grandad continued to have symptoms, particularly having to get up multiple times in the night to pass urine.  

Taking Tom’s Tablets

On 1 November 1971, grandad decided to take three of “Tom’s tablets the doctor gave him have a better night”. I have no idea what these tablets were and I suspect neither did grandad. They were going to Yarmouth but, after 20 minutes, they had to stop to allow grandad to pass water. On the main road from Acle, he wanted to go again but could not. He experienced very bad pain so they came home. He managed to pass urine on the way home but still went to see Dr Gale who gave him a bottle of medicine which grandad thought was helping.

The Symptoms Worsen

On 30 July 1973, grandad noted that he was going to the toilet every 30 minutes and, on 24 September 1973, he passed blood in his urine. In January 1974, Dr Gale came to see grandad. He explained that there had not been much change from 1970 and it might stay as it was for some time. It was up to grandad if he wished to be referred back to the hospital. Grandad noted that he hoped it would stay as it was as he really did not want to go to hospital.

Admitted for Prostate Surgery

However, on 24 January 1974, grandad became quite unwell. Dr Gale saw him and he was taken by ambulance to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Mum met him there. He had various tests and then, following a discussion between the urologist, anaesthetist and cardiologist, it was decided that an operation would be carried out. This was done on 30 January 1974. Grandad described this as a “scrape”. He was told that they could not remove his prostate as his heart was too “wonky”.

Description in grandad’s diary of his prostate surgery in January 1974

Visitors While in Hospital

While in hospital, grandad had quite a lot of visitors. Grandma and mum came to every visiting session. Grandad noted that grandma did this despite her feet being very bad. Other visitors included Tricia, me, Alan and Liz; Arthur and Rose Elsegood; Ken, Irene and Linda Bell; Mrs Ward[2]; Rev and Mrs Hayman[3]; Dr Leeming; Barbara Carpenter; Ron and Caroline Douglas; and Mrs Douglas.

I am not entirely sure who Mrs Ward was. The entry was made by grandma on 26 January 1974 and reads “Mrs Ward brought photos with Basil at the rotary.” I assume the reference to Basil is to grandad’s nephew, Basil Parkin. But, I am not sure who Mrs Ward was or how she knew Basil. She is not mentioned elsewhere in the diaries. The man in the next bed was called Mr Ward. Perhaps this was his wife and it turned out they had met Basil through the Rotary Club?

I wonder if Mrs Hayman, the Minister’s wife, was a nurse as grandad noted that she was working on Ward 7. Grandad noted that she had a chat with him several times.

Discharged Home

Grandad was discharged home on 5 February 1974. The decision was made on the 4th following a ward round. Grandad said they were not surprised by this. Mum had his suit in the car so she left it with him. The next morning mum picked him up. Grandad noted that she arrived at 10.05 and he was already dressed and waiting. When he got home, grandad was disappointed to find that he had to sit in the kitchen as they had decorators in the lounge. He noted that he had not been expecting that! But, the decorators quickly finished part of the lounge so that grandad could sit and watch television.

Recuperating and More Visitors

Over the next few days he recuperated and had quite a few visitors including Dr Leeming and Dr Sladden. Dr Sladden came when grandma called the doctor because grandad had sores on his lips. Apparently, Dr Sladden said this was from the antibiotics.

Other visitors included Mr Hodson and Arthur Elsegood and his son. Grandad was able to gradually do more. On 7 and 8 February 1974, he and grandma put things back in the lounge including grandad’s bookcase but he noted that this made him tired and shaky. On the 14th, grandad had a walk in the garden and, on the 20th, he walked to Irene Bell’s for the first time since the New Year. He went back to the hospital in March and was then discharged with instructions to drink plenty of water.

Recurring Symptoms

While the surgery did seem to have some effect, his symptoms recurred and, by the end of October 1974, he was getting up nine to ten times at night to pass urine.

Grandad Has a Stroke

In April 1974, grandad collapsed when getting out of bed. Grandma had to help him back into bed. Two days later, Dr Gale saw him and told him he had had a stroke. I do not recall this specifically. It is not clear to me what symptoms he had but I don’t recall him having classic stroke symptoms. I also don’t quite understand why the doctor did not see him for two days if a stroke was suspected but times were different then. Treatments that are available now were not available then.

Over the next few months, he gradually recovered from this but had good and bad days. Grandma took over writing his diary from 24 April to 27 August.

Grandad’s diary 14-30 April 1974. The handwriting changes from 24th as grandma took over. Grandad’s handwriting had got less clear and he made mistakes with dates

Grandad is Quite Confused

On 1 May 1974, grandma noted that grandad was quite confused and thought he was in Kirkby.

More Visitors

During this period, his GPs visited from time to time. For example, Dr Leeming visited unexpectedly on 7 May. He had various other visitors including neighbours and people grandma knew through the chapel. They included Rose and Arthur Elsegood; Miss Cooke; Barbara Carpenter; Irene Bell; Mrs Davis; Mrs LeFever; and Mr and Mrs Hodson.

Despite Setbacks Grandad Gradually Improved

On 17 May, grandad felt better and helped grandma a little to cut the lawns. But, on 3 June 1974, grandma wrote that “Gordon turned queer”. The doctor came at 8.30pm and again the following day. On the 15th, grandma noted that grandad dropped a cup of water. On the 18th, Dr Leeming called again. However, on the 19th, grandad felt better and cleaned both mowers. But, on the 20th, he turned “queer” again and grandma put him to bed. But, then again on the 21st, by dinner-time, he was feeling better.

Grandad Has Shingles

In August 1972, grandad had shingles. He noticed a rash on his back. Dr Gale called to see him in early September and told him the diagnosis. He gave him a prescription for some ointment. It took a long time to clear up. While it did gradually improve, it had not fully cleared by 14 October. Grandad was only able to resume wearing his body belt in March 1973.

Example of shingles rash © Fisle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Grandma Has Painful Feet

During this period, grandma was troubled with painful feet. Grandad noted, in January 1972, that grandma had a painful foot and could not walk very well. Arthur Elsegood lent her a lamp to try to improve her foot and, after a few days, grandad noted some improvement. In January 1974, grandma went by bus to see Dr Gale about her feet. Two days later, she could not walk very well even though her feet were a little better. Things were pretty much the same over the next two days but then her foot was a bit better and she went twice to chapel (see Chapter 107). Two days after that, she managed to walk to the hairdressers and, after a further two days, she went to Drayton Ladies’ Meeting.

However, in February 1974, grandad noted that grandma’s feet were not much better and there were days when they were very painful. On 11 February 1974, mum took grandma to see a specialist. He offered to operate if she wanted him to but she decided to leave it for a while. After a further two weeks, her feet were not too good and she got more tablets from the doctors. Grandma went to see a specialist again in May 1974. I do not know if this was the same specialist or even if this was for her feet but I presume it was.

Grandma Has Other Illnesses

Grandma also had other illnesses during this period. At the beginning of February 1972, grandma was unwell but grandad gave no specific details. But, at the end of that month, grandad got grandma a nasal spray from the doctor’s. At the end of March 1972, grandma woke up feeling sick and dizzy. The next day she felt a little better. But, a couple of days after that, she was not feeling so well. On 1 April 1972, she woke feeling very dizzy. Irene Bell phoned for the doctor who said her blood pressure was high. The doctor gave her some tablets. The next day, grandad thought she was better although there was still room for improvement. On 11 January 1974, grandma did not go out as she was not feeling too well.

Other Family Members Were Unwell

Grandad sometimes noted that other family members were ill without giving any details.

Alan Was Often Unwell

It seems this was particularly the case with Alan although I do not recall this specifically myself. I also don’t know the reason(s) for this nor if it was related to his coeliac disease. While I do recall that he followed a gluten-free diet and mum mainly used gluten-free flour in baking as a result, I do not recall us being as rigorous as might be expected now in terms of avoiding cross-contamination etc. Also gluten-free products were less available then than now. However, although grandad often noted that Alan was ill, he did not mention symptoms so it is not possible to know if this related to coeliac disease or something else, such as asthma.

One incident occurred in August 1973 when Alan and Liz were with dad at Butlin’s in Clacton (see Chapter 99). Alan was not well so mum picked him up and left me there with Liz and dad.

Mum Had Some Illnesses and Was in Hospital in November 1974

In February 1974, grandad noted that mum was not too well with “tummy trouble”. The next day, she was feeling better but did not go for tea at grandma and grandad’s as her car battery was flat. In November 1974, mum was admitted to West Norwich Hospital (see Chapter 78). Grandma and grandad visited and also came to ours “to look after the home”. The next day, we went with grandma to visit mum but the doctors were undecided what the problem was. Grandma visited again on the next two days. Mum was discharged the following day. I am not sure exactly what the problem was.

I Had Appendicitis

On 26 June 1973, I was admitted to West Norwich Hospital with abdominal pain. The next day, I had surgery to remove my appendix. On the 29th, grandma and her friend Florrie Booth visited me in hospital. On the 30th, grandad noted that I was improving. However, as far as I can see, he did not note when I was discharged from hospital.

My Recollections

I was 13 at the time and remember being in hospital relatively clearly. Of course, I still have the scar! I was on an adult surgical ward. Most of the other patients were older men, many of whom were very ill. I recall having a nasty allergic reaction to the plaster which was holding a drip in place. My whole hand swelled up and blistered. For many years after that I told people I was allergic to plasters but I have used them since without problems.


I think I had quite a number of visitors but the only one I recall clearly was Mrs Robinson, my form tutor.


I also remember that, when I was nearly ready to go home, I was sent for a few days recuperation to Wayland Hospital in Attleborough.

Wayland Hospital was known as Attleborough Infirmary from 1912 and then, during the second world war, as Attleborough Emergency Hospital for Services Casualties and Sick. Originally, it was a poor law infirmary serving as an overflow to the workhouse.  It joined the NHS and became known as the Wayland Hospital in 1948. The hospital closed in 2000. It was taken over in 2004 and the site is now occupied by St Luke’s Health Care which cares for adults and adolescents with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, mental illness and brain injuries. 

Entrance to St Luke’s Hospital, the former Wayland Hospital © Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Time in Hospital

I am not sure how long I was in hospital but I would guess 7-10 days which I imagine was much longer than would be the case now.

I Was Admitted to Hospital After a Fight at School

At the beginning of July 1974, I was admitted to hospital again following a fight at school. Grandma noted that I had been fighting with a boy and was in hospital all night. The next day, I came out of hospital. I do recall the incident and believe the fight was with a classmate, Timothy Fisher. However, I don’t recall what the fight was over nor do I recall any particular animosity between us during the time we were at school.

We were in the same class for a number of years and he features in a class photo from that time (see Chapter 103). I recall that he was a very good sprinter but a poor long-distance runner. He would set off too fast and then would have to stop to throw up and the rest of us would plod past. He was academically able. Based on the 1978 prize giving booklet, he went on to study Medicine at Leeds. Following that, he appears to have moved to the United States pursuing a career in research and industry.

I believe I was knocked unconscious which is why I was kept in hospital overnight. However, from memory, I think I recall being aware of what was happening, e.g. going to the hospital.

Coughs, Colds and Flu

As during other periods, there were a number of coughs, colds and flu. Grandma was unwell at the beginning of January 1970. Grandad noted that flu was very bad and that thousands had died since December 1969. He commented that the cold weather made it worse. This was the tail end of the Hong Kong flu pandemic (see Chapter 88).

Auntie Dolly visited grandma and grandad most Christmases and, in both 1970 and 1972, she arrived with a cold or a cough. In 1972, both grandma and grandad came down with coughs and colds after Christmas. Grandma had also been unwell at the start of December that year with a sore throat and losing her voice. On 30 December 1972, both grandma and grandad were unwell so Irene Bell came in to make them breakfast. Their ill-health dragged on into January 1973. Grandad got another cold at the end of January 1973 and grandma got one in February 1973. Grandma had a cold in April 1973 and they both had colds in January 1974.

At Christmas 1974, the Elsegoods were supposed to come for tea on Christmas Day but they cancelled as Arthur had flu.

A Cut Finger

In October 1973, grandad cut his finger on his circular saw. The next day, he felt his finger did not “seem too well” so he asked Irene to come and have a look at it. I don’t know if she was a nurse or first aider. She put some ointment and lint on it and grandad said it was much better.

Bitten on the Eyelid – Twice!

In June 1970, grandma got bitten by a gnat on her eyelid while working in the garden. The next day, she went to see Dr Gale about her eye as it had closed up. He gave her some ointment. A day later, grandad noted that her eye was much better and that it was continuing to improve the following day.

Perhaps oddly, grandma was stung on the eyelid again in October 1971 and she went to see Dr Gale. The next day, although her eye was still closed, it was slightly better. Within two days, she was able to open her eye and could see out of it.

I found these incidents somewhat odd as I don’t think I have ever been stung on my eyelid. So, for it to happen twice in less than two years seems pretty bad luck. I did recently get stung by a wasp at the base of my tongue and it felt like my whole mouth was on fire!

False Teeth

On 12 October 1973, grandma felt sick. She went to the bathroom to vomit and managed to lose her bottom teeth. I believe dad also managed to do this once! They tried to recover them but were not able to do so!

Three days later, grandma phoned the dentist and made an appointment for the next day. I am not sure why she waited three days.

On the 24th, she went to a dentist in Norwich to see about her bottom teeth. She had to go back on 16 November as the teeth needed a little bit off the blade.

On 29 August 1974, grandad broke his top plate of teeth. On 2 September, grandma took them to be repaired. She took them to N W Bird in Victoria Street. The repairs cost £1.50. In the 1960 Kelly’s Directory, Neville W Bird is a dental laboratory at 122 Queen’s Road. However, there is no entry in the 1967 Kelly’s Directory. I also could not find any entries in the Kelly’s Tradefinders for 1970-71 and 1971-2. From phone books, it appears that N W Bird was based at 122 Queen’s Road from at least 1954 to 1972 but from 1974 to 1981, it was located at 14 Victoria Street. This now appears to be a residential property.

Details of dental laboratories in the 1960 Kelly’s Directory


In February 1970, grandma had her eyes tested at Tilletts. No new glasses were needed. According to the 1960 Kelly’s Directory, there was a jewellers by the name of Thomas Tillett at 17 St Giles Street (see Chapter 92) but there was also an ophthalmic optician, L L Tillett at 87 St Giles Street. There are similar listings in the 1967 Kelly’s Directory. LL Tillett is also listed as an optician in Kelly’s Tradefinder for both 1970-71 and 1971-72. The building at 87 Upper St Giles Street is still occupied by an optician but this is now called Tillett Adams or Tillett Adams and Scrivens. There are some online listings of an optician called L L Tillett but located at 195 Plumstead Road. That building now seems to be occupied by Scrivens opticians.

The next year, in January 1971, mum took grandma into Norwich to have her glasses repaired. In March 1971, grandma went to the doctors for some tablets for her eyes. The next year, in January 1972, grandma had her eyes tested in Norwich. The optician told her that he wanted her to see Dr Gale. She saw him the next day but was told that there was nothing that could be done. For more detail of grandma’s vision problems – see Chapter 78. In March that year, grandma got new glasses from Tilletts. They cost £12.35. In May 1974, mum took grandma and grandad to Tilletts for new glasses.

Details of opticians in Norwich from 1960 Kelly’s Directory

Grandma Volunteered at the Hospital Canteen

Grandma continued to work on a voluntary basis at the canteen at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (see Chapter 88). She went on a Monday once or twice per month although she only went twice in 1972. Well, at least grandad only recorded her going twice. She could have gone more often without him noting this.

Fete and Gala 1971

In 12 June 1971, grandma attended the hospital fete and gala. According to an article in the Eastern Daily Press, this was held at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital by the Friends of the Norwich Hospitals.

I have not found details of this group but I have found details of the Friends of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital which was apparently established in 2009 but was removed as a charity in 2018. It is possible that one or more of these groups was replaced by the Norfolk & Norwich Hospitals Charity.

The gala and fete were expected to raise around £1,000 and more than 2,500 people were said to have attended.

The Coeliac Society

Both mum and grandma organised fundraising events for the Coeliac Society. The Coeliac Society was founded in 1968 by Elizabeth Segall and Peter Benenson. Elizabeth Segall was the wife of a doctor and the mother of a child with coeliac disease. Peter Benenson had the condition and also became a founder of Amnesty International. In 1971, the Coeliac Society had about 5,000 members and this rose to 12,000 by 1976, 23,000 in 1987, 49,000 in 2001 and over 76,000 by 2006. In 2001, the charity renamed itself Coeliac UK.

Mum and the Coeliac Society

According to mum’s CV, she was national vice-chairman of the Coeliac Society from 1975 to 1980. In 1973, she was secretary for the Norfolk and Norwich Groups of the Society. Mum had written to the Eastern Daily Press in December 1971 suggesting forming the group. The Coeliac Society was not in existence when Alan was first diagnosed (see Chapter 78).

Fundraising and Social Events

In March 1972, grandma went to an effort on behalf of the Coeliac Society at Drayton Methodist Church. This raised £10.40.

The next day, grandma helped mum with a coffee evening for “the coeliacs”. I think this might have been the second meeting of the Norfolk and Norwich Group of the Coeliac Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which was reported in the Eastern Daily Press on 20 March 1972. The meeting exchanged ideas and recipes. Plans were also made for a children’s party in June. Coffee and gluten-free cakes were served.

In May 1972, grandma and Phyllis Attwood came to ours to “help with coeliac visitors”.

In June 1972, grandma went to Park Lane Methodist Church to help mum run a party for children in Norfolk who had coeliac disease. There was a report of this party in the Eastern Daily Press. Mum was quoted as saying that she hoped it would become an annual event probably around Christmas.

She also helped mum with “coeliac visitors” in July 1972.

Ellen and David Rice Hospital

In October 1971, grandma collected a patient called Ellen from David Rice Hospital (see Chapter 88) in a wheelchair. She brought her to their house for the afternoon and for tea. It appears she was from Wymondham. Grandma visited her in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in January 1972.

Illnesses Among Family and Friends

During this period, grandad recorded illnesses among a number of friends and family.

Eva – Grandad’s Sister

In May 1970, Olive and Alf brought Eva for a holiday. Grandad commented that her condition was fair but she was unable to walk without assistance. She had had a stroke in 1969 (see Chapter 88). A few days later, mum got a wheelchair for Eva from the Red Cross (see Chapter 107) in Norwich. Grandad noted that it did not fold but he noted that it would be OK. At the end of May, grandma phoned Olive as Eva was not too well. Alf and Olive picked her up the following day on 1 June 1970. In July 1970, Olive sent grandma and grandad a letter saying that Eva was in hospital although I am not sure why.

Mrs Davis Broke Her Leg

In October 1970, grandma visited Mrs Davis in hospital in Norwich. She had fallen and broken her leg.

Mr and Mrs Davis Lived Next-Door-But-One to Drayton Methodist Chapel

Mrs Davis was a friend of grandma’s. The diaries note that she lived at number 85 but do not specify which road. However, the probate records for her husband confirm that it was Drayton High Road. This house is next door but one to the Methodist chapel. I thought her first name was Daphne(y) as grandma referred to helping “Daphney” clear out number 85 in 1974 but this could be referring to Mrs Davis’ sister, who is referred to in the diaries (but not by name), or it could be a reference to someone else, e.g. a friend or neighbour.

According to the 1939 Register, Harry B Davis was a gardener living on the High Road in Drayton. His wife was Rosa (or Rose) Bessie Davis and she had been born on 19 April 1888 and was baptised on 8 June 1888 in Lakenham. They married in 1929 and her maiden name was Howard. According to the 1911 census, Rosa Bessie Howard was one of nine siblings including six girls but none of them were called Daphne.

Free BMD has details of a Rosa Bessie Davis who died in East Dereham in Q1 1979. She had been born in 1888 but her birth date is given as 15 May which does not match entirely the 1939 Register although I suspect it is her. I found details of a notice of her death which notes that she died at Eckling Grange on 17 January 1979 and that her late husband had been called Harry. I also found details of their graves at the Rosary cemetery. Those list both their dates of death and Harry’s date of birth but Rosa’s date of birth is indicated as unknown.

Mr Davis in Hospital

In January 1972, grandma visited Mr Davis in hospital. He died that month – see below. According to FreeBMD, his name was Harry Broome Davis and he was born on 19 February 1898.

Mrs Davis Had Shingles

In May 1974, grandma and/or grandad visited Mrs Davis. She had shingles.

Mrs Davis Moved to Eckling Grange

On 14 August 1974, Mrs Davis had a fall at 2am. Her sister came to tell grandma and grandad. Grandma went there and found her on the floor. I don’t know why her sister had not helped her up. Following this, she moved to Eckling Grange a Christian care home in Dereham. It was officially opened in 1963 as a retirement home for missionaries and full-time Christian workers. On 15 August 1974, grandma and Auntie Dolly helped her to pack. She was due to go on the 19th but her nephew had an accident so it was brought forward a day. A week later, grandma and Auntie Dolly went to do more packing and found Mrs Davis and matron there. On 31 August, Barbara took grandma to see Mrs Davis in Dereham.

Residences within the complex of Eckling Grange circa 2005 © Carolyn Mansfield and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Tom Wilson

In June 1971, Tom and Amy had been due to visit but Amy phoned Irene Bell to say that they would not be coming as Tom was ill. Amy phoned Irene as grandma and grandad only had a telephone installed in February 1973 (see Chapter 111).

In June 1974, Amy phoned to say Tom was very ill. Grandma noted that they were “back to square one”. In September 1974, Amy visited grandma and grandad for the weekend but Tom was not well enough to come. In December 1974, grandad noted that Tom was not too well.

Linda Bell Was Involved in Two Car Accidents

In June 1972, while travelling to Colchester, Linda Bell’s car turned over. She was taken to hospital by ambulance but she only had “bruises and shock”. Grandad noted that she had been very lucky.

She was involved in another accident in October 1974 in Royston when coming from London. She was coming to Drayton with her friend Peter. Two days later, grandma went to see her and the doctor also called that day. Two days after that, grandad himself went to Irene’s and saw Linda. The next day, she was much better and she went to see grandad. But, a few days later, she had a pain in her back and was taken to hospital but she was not kept in. Two days after that, grandma sat with Linda to keep her company while Irene went shopping. She also sat with her in the morning a few days later. At the beginning of November 1974, Linda went back to London but she was not too well so she came home the next day about midnight.

Ken Bell

In May 1973, Ken Bell was taken ill with severe pain at about half past midnight. Linda phoned for the doctor about 2am. The doctor came twice during the day. The next day, Ken was no better. The doctor came about 7.30pm and called an ambulance. Ken was taken to the West Norwich Hospital. After two days, the doctors decided not to operate. He was discharged two days later without having had surgery. In January 1974, he was not too well again. After two weeks, he went to the hospital for an x-ray.

Barbara Carpenter

In February 1973, grandad noted that Barbara Carpenter was not at work as she had a bad finger. Grandma invited her in for tea. The next day grandma went with Ron Douglas to get some penicillin tablets for Barbara. She came back on the bus. At the beginning of March 1973, Barbara went to the hospital. Grandad said they gave her gas as her finger “needed scraping”. In January 1974, Barbara came from work about 2pm as she had “tummy trouble”.

164 Drayton High Road – next-door to grandma and grandad. This is where Barbara Carpenter lived. On the right is 162, which is where Ken and Irene Bell lived.

Grandma Drew

In June 1973, dad went to Kirkby to see his mother who was in King’s Mill Hospital (see Chapter 50). I don’t know why she was in hospital nor how long she was there.

Auntie Bertha

Grandma went with him to Mansfield to see Auntie Bertha who was also in hospital. Grandma came back after a couple of days. The next month, grandma went back to Mansfield to look after Auntie Bertha while Jim, who grandad was calling Frank at this point, and Renie went on holiday to Llandudno.

John Smith

In July 1973, mum helped grandad write a letter to Dolly Smith, the wife of Len Smith, grandad’s nephew, as she had written asking for £150 to allow John Smith[2] to go into a home for three weeks. John Smith was grandad’s brother-in-law, the widower of his sister, Olive. I think grandad was administering some of Olive’s money. I am not entirely sure what the arrangement was or why it was set up like that. Grandad agreed to this arrangement.

Miss Cooke

In November 1973, grandma and Mrs Elsegood went to see Miss Cooke who was in West Norwich Hospital.

Mrs Cooper

That same month, grandma went to see Mrs Cooper who was in West Norwich Hospital.

Irene Bell

In April 1974, Irene Bell fell on her way home from work and hurt her head.

Rev Hayman

That same day, Rev Hayman had an accident on his moped. He was told to have complete rest for three days.

Sick Visiting

Grandma used to do “sick visiting” for chapel, for example in October 1970. That month, on the 29th, grandad noted that there were only nine at the ladies’ meeting as several were ill. In July 1973, grandad referred to this as “invalid” visiting.

Grandad Drew

At the start of this period, in March 1970, my “other” grandfather, my father’s father, Charles Arthur Drew, died. On 1 March 1970, grandad noted that dad went to Kirkby to see his father who was very ill. He died on the 7th. Mum and dad went for the funeral on the 11th. I was not quite ten when he died and I only have vague recollections of him (see Chapter 58).

This was the first close relative I had known who had died but I am not sure how much I took this in or really understood it. I think it was explained to me but I don’t think I was very involved in things. For example, I don’t believe any of us children went to the funeral. My recollections of grandad’s death were that I was slightly older than this, say around 11, when he died but it seems I was only nine.

I have almost no photos of my paternal grandfather, Charles (Charlie) Drew. This one was taken on my parents’ wedding day in 1956

John Smith

Another close relative who died during this period was grandad’s brother-in-law, John Smith. On 2 November 1974, Dolly Smith (Len’s wife) phoned to say that John Smith had died. They were living in Doncaster. He had turned 91 on 27 September 1974.

Other deaths

There were a number of other deaths during this period that grandad recorded in his diary. These included people grandma and grandad had known from Kirkby.

Clarence Reeve

Clarence Reeve died on 23 June 1970 and he was cremated in Mansfield on the 26th.

Clarence and Linda Reeve were friends of grandma and grandad’s from Kirkby who visited them when they were in Norfolk (see Chapter 92). Linda’s maiden name was Steggles and she was Amy Wilson’s sister. Clarence had a heart attack in 1968 (see Chapter 88).  From Find My Past, Clarence was born in 1893.

According to the 1901 census, his parents were Samuel and Sarah and he was one of ten siblings. His father and three brothers (Osley – aged 20, Willie – aged 15 and Samuel W – aged 13) all worked as miners. According to the 1911 census, his father was now a widower. Clarence was working as a shop assistant. Another brother, Frederick (22), was working as a general labourer while another, Charles (21) was working as a plumber. Electoral registers showed him living at the family home (54 Fishers Street) from 1921 to 1923. From 1923, he lived at 37 Kingsway with his wife Linda who appears on the electoral registers from 1926 (she was born in 1895 so turned 30 in 1926 – see Chapter 24). They had married in 1922. In the 1939 Register, he is listed as a grocer shopkeeper who was born on 17 November 1892.

Linda Reeve

Just over a year later, in October 1971, Tom and Amy phoned Irene to tell grandma and grandad that Linda Reeve (nee Steggles), Amy’s sister had died. She was cremated on 6 October 1971. She was Lucinda May Reeve. According to the 1939 Register, she was born on 18 December 1895.

Bill Howells

In October 1970, grandma and grandad received a letter from Mrs Howells saying that Bill Howells had died on Friday. He died in Chelmsford. He was only 50. For more details, see the list of Ministers at Bourne Methodist Church. Grandma and grandad sent £1 for flowers or charity.

Frank Bowmar

In September 1971, grandad noted that Frank Bowmar died. Grandad noted that he was the retired clerk for Kirkby Urban District Council. He was born on 20 November 1890 so was 80 when he died. In the 1911 census, he was described as a clerk. He was living with his parents at 40 Station Street. His father George was a wheelwright. It appears Frank may have been a corporal in the Royal Engineers during the first world war.

George Bailey

In August 1972, George Bailey died aged 73. It appears he was born on 31 December 1898. Grandma, Tom and Amy went to visit his widow Meddy on 25 August 1972.

Florence Bust

On 9 October 1972, grandma and grandad received a letter from Amy informing them that Mrs Bust had died. This was Elizabeth Florence Bust. She was born on 12 March 1881 and she was Tom Bust’s mother.

Florence Bust aged 83 in 1964

Joseph Marshall

On 17 October 1972, grandma and grandad heard from Pearl Hodges (nee Marshall) that her father, Joseph Marshall, had died on the 13th. There was to be a service at Trinity Methodist Church on the 18th followed by cremation in Mansfield. He was Joseph Henry Marshall and he had been born on 11 February 1900.

Walter Maltby

On 15 January 1973, grandma and grandad received a letter from Henry informing them that Walter Maltby had died and that he was to be cremated on the 17th. They sent £1 for flowers. I think Henry and Walter were friends and neighbours of grandma and grandad’s in Welbeck Street in Kirkby. Walter Maltby was born on 8 August 1898. I am not entirely sure who Henry was.

Arthur Booth

On 20 April 1973, Amy phoned to let grandma and grandad know that their neighbour Arthur Booth had died. He had been born on 3 September 1898. According to the 1939 Register, he had been a colliery hewer living in Forest Street.


On 22 June 1974, Frank (Jim?) phoned to say that Elsie had died. I am not entirely sure who this is.

Deaths Among People Grandma and Grandad Knew From Drayton

There were also some deaths among people grandma and grandad knew from Drayton.

Harriett Gotts

In July 1970, grandma went to a funeral of Miss Gotts at Drayton Methodist Church. She was 100 years old. According to Free BMD, she was Harriett Sarah Gotts who was born on 10 November 1869. In the 1891 census, she was listed as a draper’s assistant. In the 1939 Register, she was listed as a drapery buyer. Grandad noted that grandma and others had often visited her.

Harry Davis

In January 1972, grandma went to Mr Davis’ funeral. It was held at Surrey chapel with the interment at the Rosary Cemetery.

George Bidewell

On 30 June 1972, grandad noted that Mr Bidewell had been cremated the day before. This was George Ernest Frederick Bidewell who was born on Christmas Eve 1902. According to the 1939 Register, he was a railway porter. According to the 1911 census, his father was Ernest George and he was also a railway porter.

Mr and Mrs Moore

On 29 March 1973, Mrs Moore, a friend of Mrs Davis died. Her husband died four days previously. Their joint funeral was on 2 April 1973 at Drayton Parish Church. Based on death and marriage records, it seems that he was Charles Edward Moore and she was Lily May Moore. They lived at 81 Drayton High Road. On 3 May 1973, grandma and Mrs Davis found £1,973 at the home of Mr Moore. Grandma phoned the solicitor to find out who the Executor was. The solicitor sent someone to collect the money.

Hilda Crabb

On 24 June 1973, Mrs Crabb died as a result of two strokes aged 76. Her name was Hilda Crabb and she had been born on 2 February 1897.

Alice May James

Mrs James, a member of Drayton Ladies’ Meeting died on 24 February 1974. Her full name was Alice May James and she had been born on 5 March 1892.

Dorothy Berry

On 14 July 1974, Dorothy Berry, the daughter of Mr and Mrs Hodson died. I believe she lived in the US and this may explain why I have not found records of her death. On the 16th, Rev Hayman came round to tell them the news about her.

Francis Ducker

Mrs Ducker died on 2 December 1974. I think this was Francis Elsie Ducker who died in Norwich Outer that quarter. She had been born on 6 September 1889. I found a photo of her presenting a cheque on behalf of Drayton WI for a guide dog in April 1971.