Friday frustrates and satisfies

Woking looked decidedly beautiful today under the blue sky and blazing sun. That’s not an exaggeration. The sun is definitely blazing at the moment. It’s enough to send one up above the Arctic circle lickety split…if it wasn’t so hot one couldn’t move.

Heading down from the station

The road above has been closed off for quite a while (at least since I started at the Surrey History Centre) and now even the buses have been diverted while they relay the road outside the station. It’s remarkably peaceful…unless you happen to work at the station where the constant hammering of the big machines must be a bit annoying.

My researching was a bit of both types today; frustrating and satisfying. Most of the frustration came from the fact that there were an awful lot of Greens in Farnham at the turn of the 20th century. The fact that I had to search for a few specific Greens made it a case of going down one road, hitting a dead end and trying the next one. This was made even worse when Greens lived next door to each other.

However, for each frustration there was a a whole load of satisfaction. In fact, today I managed to fill in the lives of two families, one very much part of Farnham and the other a bit more international.

The international chappie was Dugald Stewart Gilkison. Born in India to a Scottish father and Indian born mother, the family ended up in Wimbledon. Stewart was educated at Rugby then graduated straight into Sandhurst for a bit of officer training.

He left Sandhurst as a 2nd Lieutenant, being promoted to a full Lieutenant a short while later. He was then sent out to South Africa just in time for the Boer War.

Captain Gilkison and his son, Stewart

While in South Africa, serving Queen and country, he met his future wife. Janet Kate Harcourt Vernon was the daughter of an Anglican vicar living in the Orange River Colony. I haven’t found out much about the good reverend (it’s outside my remit) but I imagine he was a missionary, sent out to bring the word and diseases of the white man to the heathen devils.

Back in Britain it wasn’t long before the good Captain (promoted in 1905) decided to settle in the Warren, Heath End, just up the road from central Farnham. Then war was declared and he set off for France leaving his wife and three kids in the house.

Then there’s the sad bit (of course). Dugald Stewart had a brother, James David. He was also a decorated officer in the British army. He was also sent out to France at the beginning of the Great War. He died in August 1914. A month later, Dugald also died.

I cannot imagine how anyone copes with this sort of tragedy. Presumably Dugald’s father took it all stoically but his mother, Margaret must have been absolutely devastated. To add to the general misery, their youngest, Joan, lost her husband not long afterwards.

Moving right along…I then researched the wonderfully named Hamilton Goodridge. 

Hamilton was born in 1896 in Shoreditch in London, as was the rest of his family – mother Emma, brothers Edward and John and little sister May. Why they all moved to Farnham is, to me anyway, a mystery. His father, Edward Goodridge was a confectioner by trade and he had a shop in Downing Street. So maybe he decided he could sell more confection in Farnham than he could in Shoreditch.

Whatever the reason, he had a shop. It was at 62 Downing Street which is now called Clarendon House and has an optician in it. Actually the optician has been there since 1935, something typically Farnham. Edward Goodridge, however, was not selling glasses. Given he was a confectioner, I imagine he was selling either cakes or sweets.

While poor Hamilton died in the war, his younger brother John did not. Now this is where I have to guess some stuff to make a connection. You see there is a menswear store in Downing Street. It’s called John Goodridge’s Menswear and has existed since 1927.

On the store’s website it states that the shop was previously further down Downing Street but became too small and so John (or Jack as he was known) moved up to bigger premises at 35-36. Now, Edward Goodridge died sometime before 1916 while Hamilton died actually in 1916. It’s not inconceivable therefore, to assume that John took over the family business and, eventually, turned it into a clothing shop.

Further investigation shows a John Goodridge marrying a woman called Edna Mabel Evelyn Harrington in 1929. His address at the time was 57 Downing Street and his occupation was Outfitter. I think it’s possibly the same person. (57 is now a hairdresser, by the way.)

Anyway, it was a lot more cheerful finding out about the history of a business rather than the death of a Farnham hero…though hero young Hamilton surely was.

I haven’t been able to find a photo of Hamilton Goodridge so I’ve included a second Woking shot, this time of the roadworks outside the station.

Road works
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One Response to Friday frustrates and satisfies

  1. mum says:

    They always have road works there I remember when I was over last time. Boris is a laugh but loveably. A lot of history in Farnham very interesting . Love mum xxx

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