19th November 1885 – December 1961
Joseph was born on Tuesday, November 17th 1885 to his parents, Henry and Sarah Ann. Henry was an iron puddler at the time and died 8 years later in 1893, aged 40. Some records give his birth year as 1886.
Not much is known about Joseph’s early life other than his father, died when Joseph was only 8 years old. He enlisted in August 1914 aged 29, very shortly after WW1 started. He was posted fairly quickly to the Army Service Corps (later known as the Royal Army Service Corps) and sent to France. As he was one of the originals, he became one of the ‘Old Contemptibles’ who were in France at the start of hostilities. His army service number was MS .2782 and he was in 18th Division Mechanical Transport Company. The MS stood for Mechanical Special which meant that he had a special skill, probably his metal work skills. During the war he achieved the rank of sergeant. He returned home at the end of the war and was transferred to the reserve on April 5th 1919. Like many survivors of the Great War, he was changed by it. On his return his mother was known to have said “it tisn’t our Joe came back, it was the Devil” which I understand was partly due to his now, short temper.
On June 8th 1917, Joe married Beatrice Perry at Dudley Registry Office. At that time, he was a corporal and was described as an art metal worker although what his duties were in the war are unknown. At that time, their wedding certificate stated they were both living at 16 Lloyd Street, Dudley.
On his return from the war, he again became an art metal smith making a wide variety of articles including table lamps, standard lamps, gates, tables, plant stands and much much more. I understand that he made the gates for the Dame of Sark’s residence, La Seigneurie, although these may well have been replaced by now. As well as him carrying out his metal work, during the 1930s Joe was supplying James Purdey & Sons (a high end maker of shotguns and rifles) with ‘goods’ on a regular basis. When I contacted them, they were unable to say what those ‘goods’ were but said that they would not normally use a firm in the Dudley area “unless there was a particular benefit or he was providing a part that few others could”. Their financial records state that he was supplying them monthly in 1938 and 1939 but there is no mention of him supplying them after that.
On January 21st 1920, Beatrice Josephine was born, her names derived from her mother and her father (not unusual at that time). At that time they were still living at 16, Lloyd Street, Dudley.
At that time, I believe Joe had a workshop at the end of Lloyd Street.
Some time later, possibly in the late 1930s, Joe had a new house built in New Rowley Road, Dudley at the top of the hill and was named ‘Four Winds’. Much later a small housing estate was built at the foot of the hill and was named the Four Winds estate with a road named after the house. He made the gates for this house which are still there to this day.
Joe didn’t always stick to the rules during his life and at one time fell out with the tax man. Another incidence was during the Second World War when railings and other metal structures had to be cut down and sent away to be made into tanks, rifles etc. Joe didn’t want to lose his gates so he buried them in the garden, to be dug up again after the war had ended.
In November 1945, this house was sold by auction at The Dudley Arms Hotel. From here Joe and Beattie moved to 107 Victor Street, Caldmore, Walsall. This house and the surrounding ones were demolished and rebuilt, probably in the 1960s. They lived here for roughly 5 years when they moved to 457 Maidstone Road, Wigmore, Kent. I remember it had a fairly large back garden that went into woods.
They moved from Maidstone Road to 21 Durham Road in 1956. At the rear of this house was a mature garden with fruit trees. From memory there were two Bramley apple trees, one Victoria plum, one Conference pear tree (in the centre of the garden), a Newton Wonder apple tree and also a Marello cherry tree.
Along with the fruit trees, there were two sheds, one at the back of the kitchen set up for storing apples through the winter, a large shed which contained Joe’s tools and a large greenhouse where Joe grew tomatoes. One of my memories was that Joe used the Bramley apple drops as fertilizer and after a little while, the smell in the greenhouse was overpowering. However, the tomatoes were beautiful.
Joe carried on with his craft and made items such as small tables, ornaments etc at the back of the house, using the gas cooker rings to heat up the metal ready for beating on his anvil. I don’t recall Joe leaving the house much and he had regular games of cards with Beattie and a friend, Mrs Holeman, who lived opposite their previous address. The game they played was then known as three ha’pence or a more common name today as bast__d brag. It was called three ha’pence as that was the number of your lives in the game. You had three half pennies and lost one of them each trime you lost a round of cards. The winner was last person with any coins. Of course, the first one who lost all their coins was given a “dog’s chance”.
Joe passed away at home in December 1961 aged 76. His funeral had to be delayed due to bad weather at the time. My mother, José, was unable to attend his funeral as she was living in Benghazi, Libya at the time and flights were not as convenient as they are today.