Albert Screen was baptised in Thornbury on 7th June 1868, the son of Oliver and Lucy Screen (nee Gale). Click here to read about Oliver and Lucy
Albert had a difficult start to his life. At the age of 10 in 1879 he was caught with William George Cornock aged 11 stealing some sticks from a field in Thornbury belonging to John Crowther Gwynn. The sticks were valued at two pence. The boys were found guilty and sent to Clifton Wood Industrial School in Bristol until they reached the age of 16. We don’t know what happened but the 1881 census shows Albert was back at home with his parents aged 13.
By 1889 Albert had become a corn porter working at Sharpness Docks. Here he got into more trouble. Along with three other young men he was charged with breaking into a fowl house and stealing five fowls valued at 12s 6d. They were found guilty and sentenced to one months hard labour.
On 24th December 1890 Albert married Caroline Wood who was born in Berkeley in 1868, the daughter of Sidney Wood, a sweep, and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1891 Albert and Caroline were living in Canonbury Street in Berkeley (two doors away from the George Inn). Albert Screen and his wife Caroline appeared to have a stormy relationship which at times was reported in the press and on one occasion resulted him spending time in Horfield Prison. If anyone has an interest in knowing more, we would be willing to share the information if they contact us by emailing us at the address given near the bottom of the Home page.
In spite of their troubles, they did have two children and continued to live together for many years. Their son, Albert, was born on 26th August 1891 and Gertrude was born in 1894. Both children were born in Berkeley. The 1901 census shows that Caroline and the children had moved to live in 8 Rock Street. Albert was shown to be in Horfield Prison. The 1911 census shows that Albert and Caroline were in 5 Upper Bath Road. Albert was working as a labourer. Living with them were their son, Albert, a coach smith aged 19 and Gertrude, a dressmaker aged 17.
The electoral registers up to 1918 generally do not include women. We only know that Albert is listed as living in Gillingstool in 1904 and Morton in 1907. It would appear however that from about 1910 Albert settled in what we now know as Upper Bath Road. The 1910 electoral register lists him under the address of ‘Raglan Castle Road’. The 1910 rate book shows Albert living at 12 Upper Bath Road. We also have a plan of a site for the new market which was considered in land at the rear of this property. This plan shows’ A. Screen’ occupying the house. From 1918 to 1927 both he and Caroline are listed under Upper Bath Road.
Albert died in Bristol Royal Infirmary aged 61. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 3rd April 1930. The report of the funeral indicates that Albert had been suffering from illness for over one year. He had previously worked at Grovesend Quarry as his fellow workmen there acted as bearers. The 1931 electoral register shows Caroline in Upper Bath Road.
We know from local residents that ‘Granny Screen’ as she was called lived in the house which later became known as 5 Upper Bath Road. Her son, Albert and his wife, Ruby Olive (nee Mills) lived next door in number 7 Upper Bath Road. Caroline died aged 66 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 15th September 1934.
Of Albert & Caroline’s two children:
Albert married Ruby Olive Mills in Thornbury on 12th June 1916. Ruby was born on 11th August 1892, the daughter of John Mills, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Ellen who were living at Clapton, near Berkeley in 1901 census. In the War, Albert applied for exemption. At that time he was a farrier and general mechanic working for Savery & Sons, Sheffield House Works, Gloucester Road and he had worked in this capacity for 10 years. The record indicates that his address, following his marriage was Castle Street, but that he had been living at Raglan Castle in 1915. He was granted a conditional exemption when he applied in January 1917 and when it was reviewed in September 1917 he was declared medically unfit for service.
Albert and Ruby had 2 children: Phyllis Ruby born on 6th November 1916 and Jeffrey Herbert born on 17th September 1928. Phyllis’s birth was registered in Thornbury. It appears that Albert and Ruby left Thornbury for a few years. They do not appear in the Thornbury 1918 electoral register. We know from the Council School records that they had moved back from Chepstow in 1922 to live in what was then called ‘Raglan Castle Road’ when Phyllis started school. In 1924 when she started at the Council Upper School their address was ‘Streamleaze’. We believe that both these addresses probably refer to the same house at 7 Upper Bath Road which is where the family were living when Gwen Billett (nee Collins) who lived next door remembers them.
When Jeffrey started at the Council Infants School in 1933 they were still living in the same house, although we understand that the family needed more space and they moved shortly after to their house at the bottom of St Mary Street. This house (now demolished) became known as number 2 St Mary Street and the family continued living there.
The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war listed Albert, Ruby and Jeff living at 2 St Mary Street. There is one other person listed but that name is blacked out. Albert was described as an engineer (Public Works Institution).
Albert died in Bristol Royal Infirmary aged 60. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 16th February 1952. The burial record describes Albert as a fitter. We understand that Jeff suffered from a hearing defect and he met his wife, Elizabeth, whilst in Southmead Hospital. When he left home, Ruby carried on living in the St Mary Street house. By the 1965 electoral register she had moved to 78 Streamleaze. Ruby died in November 1974 aged 82.
Gertrude – married Jabez John White on 3rd October 1918. We know from his army service records that John was born on 24th November 1887. He was the son of William George White of Hook Norton. In 1901 Jabez had become a journeyman butcher and he was living with his parents, George, a carpenter and Rhoda at Blacksmith Hill, Hook Norton. The 1911 census shows Jabez was still at home but now working at Ironstone Quarry. When Jabez enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Dorset Regiment in February 1916 he was described as a slaughterman living at 23 Market Place, Chipping Norton. He was aged 28 years 3 months, 5ft 9 1/2″ with 36 inch chest. His service record shows Jabez served in Ireland and he was discharged in 1919.
They had one son, John W. White who was born on 10th May 1919. The birth and early death of a baby Jabez George Oswald White in Thornbury were registered in 1920. We don’t know why, but Jabez and Gertrude left Thornbury leaving their son John (or Jack as he was called locally) behind. When he started at the Council Infants School in 1922, his parent/guardian was recorded as Jack White of Raglan Castle Road, presumably this was Jabez. By the time he was admitted to the Council Upper School in 1926 his guardian was noted as being c/o Mrs Screen, Raglan Castle, Streamleaze.
It appears that by December 1921 Albert and Gertrude had moved to Hook Norton. They had several more children born there over the next 15 years. According to the FreeBMD website these were Albert H. E. in 1921, Ruby R. I in 1923, Queeny Caroline Patricia in 1924, Jabez S. O. in 1925, Shedrick W in 1928, Orderly M in 1930 and Colin C and Phyllisatine A in 1931. According to a family tree on the Ancestry website Gertrude died on 19th March 1969 aged 75. Jabez had died in 1965 aged 77.
Gwen Billett (nee Collins) who lived next door tells us that Jack was brought up by his uncle and aunt, Albert and Ruby Screen. The photo on the right above shows Jeff Screen and Jack White in their garden. John worked at Littleton Brick works before he joined up and went to France with the British Expeditionary Force when he was 20 years old. He was taken prisoner in the retreat to Dunkirk on June 12th 1940. He spent the first and worst 12 months of his imprisonment in Germany and then was moved to Poland where “things were not too bad.” The food provided by the authorities was not at all good and John was grateful for the Red Cross food parcels which kept him and his fellow prisoners alive. He was away from most of the bombing in Poland but came back via Barcelona and on his way he saw much destruction at Stettin and Berlin. In June 1944 the Gazette had an article saying that Pte. John William White had been repatriated to England. Mrs Screen had been told about his home coming in a telegram saying “Safely on board Gripsholm. Hope to be with you before long”. We understand from a website which is a tribute to the Swedish American Line that during World War II the Drottningholm and the Gripsholm were used as repatriation ships and made 33 voyages to exchange prisoners of war, diplomats, women and children, between the warring nations
After his terrible experiences he was given 28 days home leave from the army. The article was accompanied by a photograph which we have here on the left. We would love to hear from anyone who knows what happened to Jack.