Tinker, Tailor

Bellew Street 1912advanceBellewbikeTucked away on the bend of Garratt Lane, just before it hits the Wimbledon Road roundabout, its sometimes easy to forget about sleepy little Bellew Street. It connects up with Huntspill Street but can’t quite match its neighbour’s peaceful ambience. If Huntspill Street is Mykonos, then Bellew Street is a Naxos or a Paros. Still a glorious destination, but just a little bit more mainstream. Nibbles fried chicken shop and a convenience store sit either side of its entrance, distracting the casual observer. As you enter it, half way down on the left hand side is a house that is far from ordinary. This is No18 Bellew Street, which in 1914 was the home of Ernest Arthur Hayward. Incredibly he is one of three members of the Summerstown182, each from different families to have lived at this address. All were killed in different years, first 16 year old Henry Ollive in 1915, then Ernest Hayward in 1916, finally Henry Geater in 1918. Its hard to appreciate how this little house could have had such sadness repeatedly thrust upon it. We met the current resident on one of our walks in the summer and I just hope he doesn’t read this or he might be tempted to pack up and leave. ‘EA Haywood’ on our war memorial has taken us nearly a year to work out. One of the last five names out of 182, it wasn’t a common moniker in this area and it took a long time before an Ernest Arthur Hayward emerged and suddenly seemed a possibility. It was a further three months before we established his Summerstown credentials and we are now as sure as we can be that a spelling mistake was made and he’s our man. Ernest was a journeyman tailor from Oxfordshire and like a number of other Summerstown182 his name pops up on a second war memorial, in this case another St Mary’s church in the village of Long Crendon on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. Born in 1886, the son of Daniel Hayward a painter and labourer, Ernest was one of ten children, four of whom died. His Mother was born in Long Crendon which explains the presence of his name on the war memorial. In 1901 the family lived at Cowley and Ernest was aged 15 and working as a labourer. A local historian, Ashley Riddell advised that many young men from what was predominantly an agricultural community, needed to move away to find work. This was long before the motor car factories came to the area and many joined the army to avoid the poor house. 23 year old Ernest’s moment came on 1st April 1908 when he signed up for the 22nd Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps. They later became the 12th Battalion of the London Regiment, known as The Rangers. He was working as a tailor for his older brother Frederick at 28 Delvino Road in Fulham, just around the corner from the famous ‘Sloaney Pony’ White Horse pub. Ernest served in the army for a year and by 1911 was living at 56 Grosvenor Road, Fulham and still a tailor, in the employment of a William Jackson. Like many other Summerstown182 families he followed the well-worn path across Wandsworth Bridge and down Garratt Lane. The key to us establishing his connection to the area was his marriage on November 30th 1914. He had moved to 18 Bellew Street and just a hop around the corner at 829 Garratt Lane lived a widow called Mary Ann Cox and her three young children. I’m not sure what Nibbles was at this time, but they may have encountered each other over the purchase of a quarter pound of brandy balls in Aslett’s sweet shop, now the convenience store at the end of Bellew Street. The above photo was taken in 1912 and the children in the group would have been roughly the same age as Mary’s. In 1911 she lived at 18 Wimbledon Road with her husband Alfred who worked as a metal turner. They had two daughters, Florence aged eight and Kate who was three and a five year old son also called Alfred. The following summer Alfred Cox senior died. Mary and Ernest had one child together, a son Albert who very sadly died the same September 1915 quarter that he was born in. Just a few weeks after Ernest and Mary’s wedding, the Rangers embarked for France and in 1915 fought at the Second Battle of Ypres and Loos. Ernest was killed on 9th September 1916 in the Battle of Ginchy on the Somme. This victory was famously inspired by the 16th Irish Division, after whom a street in the nearby village of Guillemont is named. The Rangers were in the 56th Division on 9th September, fighting alongside the Irish. In the cemetery on the edge of the village is the grave of a sixteen year old called Horatio Nelson Smith who lived just a few streets away from Ernest Hayward and died the same day. Also on that day at Ginchy, the future British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan lay in a shell hole in a state of semi-consciousness for ten hours before being rescued by stretcher-bearers. Ernest became yet another name on the Thiepval Memorial. As if losing two husbands in four years and a baby son wasn’t enough, Mary’s brother Douglas Clephane, aged 18 was killed in March 1916, serving with the East Kent Regiment. Mary went on to live at 28 Wimbledon Road and the electoral roll of 1970 indicates that younger daughter Kate and Alfred and his wife Charlotte were all still at the address over five decades later. The house is only a few minutes walk from the church, opposite the start of the holly hedge which borders Diprose Lodge and Burfield Close leading into the Hazelhurst estate. Neither a Haywood or a Hayward is mentioned in the parish magazines during the war years. Being an outsider coming into the area, its likely that Ernest had no connection to St Mary’s in Summerstown and his presence on the memorial was due to Mary who had lived locally for longer and in such close proximity to the church. It’s understandable under those circumstances that his name could have been mis-spelt. I’m sure she would have noticed but correcting it would have been difficult and expensive and it had already been an almighty struggle to raise the necessary funds to construct it. So, the journeyman tailor from Oxfordshire has a permanent place in the heart of this community, he’s one of the 182 and as we do our guided walks down Bellew Street, we’ll stop outside No18, reflect on the turbulent events of one hundred years ago and be glad that he found a little happiness in Summerstown.




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