Charles Roberts and his family moved to Thornbury in the mid 1930s. We understand that the family moved here when Charles got a job as slaughterman for Trayhurns the butchers. From about 1937 onwards for about 30 years the Roberts family lived in the same house in Gillingstool. Click here to read about the house
Charles was born on 23rd June 1904. His birth certificate shows he was born at the Bristol Workhouse at Eastville, the son of Bessie Roberts, a domestic servant who appears to have been working at Redland.
The Roberts family had no knowledge of Bessie, but there was some thought she may have been living in Tockington. Looking through the census and other records, we believe that she might be Bessie Roberts baptized in Olveston in 1872, the daughter of William Roberts, a farmer and his wife, Sarah. In 1901 this Bessie was working as a domestic cook in 103 Pembroke Road, Clifton. In 1911 she was working as a servant at Firleaze, Rudgeway. We don’t know anything about Bessie after that time, except she doesn’t appear to have married and she died in Thornbury Hospital aged 68 on 7th December 1940.
Charles’ early days were a bit of a mystery to the family. They knew there was a strong connection between Charles and Mrs Elizabeth Wheeler who lived in Gillingstool, next door to the house where Charles later lived. Charles’ children knew Mrs Wheeler as Grannie Wheeler.
The 1911 census shows that Charles was living in Tytherington with his grand-parents Thomas and Esther Shuring. There was no obvious connection between the Shurings and Charles’s mother, Bessie. We suspect that Charles’s father might have been George Albert Shewring (an alternative spelling in census records for Shuring). George was one of the children of Thomas and Esther (or Hester) Shewring. We have discovered Elizabeth or ‘Granny Wheeler’ was the first child of Esther Davis before her marriage to Thomas Shewring.
George Shewring died in Bristol in January quarter 1905 aged 25. The 1911 census indicates that Charles was cared for by his grandparents Thomas and Esther Shewring. We believe that after Esther’s death in 1912, Charles went to live with his aunt, Elizabeth Wheeler.
In support of this theory, the family has a document dated 10th July 1917 showing Charles was allowed to leave the Council School in Thornbury and get a job even though he was under the school leaving age (14). Charles was said to be living in Gillingstool at the time and we know from electoral registers that the Wheelers had moved from Grovesend to live in Gillingstool in 1913.
By 1927 Charles was living in Monmouth when he married Doris Kate Williams. His address at that time was 4 Savings Bank Yard, Whitecross Street. Charles was a grocer’s assistant. We understand Charles was working as a bread deliveryman and he met Doris on his rounds. She was working in service in one of the houses where he delivered bread.
Doris was born in Acacia Cottage, Brockweir near St Briavels on 28th February 1907. She was the daughter of John (Jack) Gilbert Williams and his wife Agnes Eliza (nee Hathaway). In 1911 they were living in Acacia Cottage and her father was working as a domestic gardener.
Charles and Doris had four sons born in the Monmouth area: Gilbert born in 1927, Raymond Leslie born in 1930, Kenneth J. born in 1931 and Derrick born in 1934.
We don’t know why the family moved to Thornbury in the mid 1930s. Charles had got the job with Trayhurns the butchers. The family remembers that he used an open cart to transport the family and their belongings from Monmouth. Ray mentioned his parents first lived with the Boyt family in Kingswood. Edith Boyt was the daughter of Elizabeth Wheeler (with whom Charles had lived as a child). Edith Mary Davis had been born in 1893 before Elizabeth’s marriage to Edwin Wheeler. Edith married George Boyt in the Bristol area in 1915.
The records of the Council School suggest that the Roberts moved to Thornbury in 1936 when they were living in Whitewall Lane. The school records shows that the Roberts family moved to Gillingstool in 1937 and this is confirmed by the 1938 electoral register.
They had two other sons born in Thornbury: Jack W. was born in 1938 and Brian Frederick born there in 1948.
Charles worked as a butcher for Trayhurns. The 1939 register describes him as a butcher’s cutter and salesman. The register noted that during the war Charles also worked in the Casualty Service of the ARP. We have been told that Charles used unwanted offal in his kidney bean trench which was allegedly the best in town. He was possibly the source of pig’s bladders used by boys to play street football.
During the War, whenever the siren went, the family went across to The Brickworks on the other side of the road. We understand that it was the kilns which were used as an air raid shelter as they were not being used for making bricks at that time.
Charles must have had a difficult time bringing up six sons. We were told that he was very strict with boys and they had to do what they were told. One of his routines was that the family’s shoes were laid out each Sunday for cleaning on the garden wall. He insisted that they had to be cleaned by the eldest boy. Gilbert still recalls that as the eldest he had to do this chore for far longer than any of his younger brothers.
The Roberts family had been let the house in Gillingstool when they moved to Thornbury by Charles’s employer Trayhurns. It appears to have been owned by Austin Roy Trayhurn as in January 1947 it was put for sale at auction as part of the estate of Austin’s widow, Elizabeth Trayhurn of Littledown, Olveston. At that time the house was described as:
Detached stone-built and tiled house and garden, Gillingstool, Thornbury; let at incl. rental of 8s 6d per week. Accommodation includes 3 bed, sitting, living room and lean-to back kitchen. Company‘s water and electricity. Main drains’.
We don’t know whether the property was sold at the time of the auction. Charles and Doris continued to rent out and live in the house at Gillingstool until the late 1960s. They were listed in the electoral registers until at least 1965. In that register Charles’s son Ken and his wife Beryl were living next door in Yew Tree Cottage, Gillingstool. The 1970 electoral register shows that only Ken and Beryl were listed under Yew Tree Cottage, the rest of the family were not listed in Gillingstool.
We understand that Doris worked in the canteen of the Council School which supplied meals to schools in the area. She was working there in 1945 when a photo of the canteen staff was taken.
Charles and Doris moved to one of the council houses in Eastland Avenue and then to Hawthorn Crescent, and then he got the job of caretaker in the Mundy Playing Fields. When they left there they moved to the council flats in Chapel Street now called Streamleaze Court.
Charles’s death was registered in the Thornbury area. He died on 2nd September 1980 aged 76. Doris died in a nursing home in Weston Super Mare on 10th November 1986.
Of Charles & Doris Roberts’ children:
Gilbert – married Ivy Isobel Swinbourne in Thornbury in 1949. Ivy was born in 1931 in the area of Morpeth in north east of England. Gilbert and Ivy initially lived in Crossways, sharing the house with Eliza Oates. In 1954 they were living in Park View Avenue. In the registers from 1958 to 1965 they were in North Road.
When Gilbert left school he started work for Trayhurns, alongside his father. After a short time he moved to another Thornbury butchers, Coombs at 4 The Plain and he stayed for several years in which time it was taken over by Pearces, the butchers. When he left there, he became manager of a butchers shop in Staple Hill.
Gilbert and Ivy had four children, David, Kevin, Linda and Michael.
Ivy died in 2001.
Raymond Leslie – Ray was born in 1930. He started work at P. G. Hawkins and he became a driver for the company. The 1950 electoral register shows he was living at Hackett House and he continued living there for a short time after his marriage in 1952 to Dorothy Edith Churchus who came from Bristol. In 1954 they moved to Marylands which was owned by Hawkins and located in the builder’s yard in Horseshoe Lane.
Ray and Dorothy had two sons, Stephen Raymond and Christopher Gary.
Ray worked for Hawkins for about 12 years during which time he developed skills as a plumber. When he left Hawkins he became self employed, going into partnership with Charlie Watts. Ray and Dorothy had to leave Marylands when he left his employment and they moved to Coln Square.
Kenneth J. – born in 1931. After leaving the Council School Ken worked for Francis Hopkins in his grocery business. He was later joined there by brothers, Derrick and Jack. When they were left to join the National Service Francis paid them a retaining wage and re-joined the business on being de-mobbed.
Ken married Beryl E. Always in Thornbury in 1953. The 1958 electoral register shows them living in the caravan site on Park View Road. By 1961 they had moved to live in Yew Tree Cottage in Gillingstool and they were still there in the 1965 register. We understand that Beryl was a district nurse.
Derrick – born in 1934. Derrick also worked for Francis Hopkins after leaving school and re-joined the business after doing his national service. In 1954 he married Margaret A. Evans in Thornbury and they had a daughter Jane. In 1965 they were living in Eastland Avenue. Derrick worked in Oldbury Power Station.
Jack – born in Thornbury in 1938. Jack also worked for Francis Hopkins after leaving school and re-joined the business after doing his national service. He was living in Eastland Avenue in 1965 with his wife Josephine.
Brian – born in Thornbury in 1948. Brian moved to live on the South Coast and eventually moved to France.