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Stories and Articles Part One

Bird and Goldsmith History Walk around Westminster

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Entrance to the Marriage Rooms - Registry Office Westminster
where Harry and Gertrude married

Great Grandfather - Thomas Bird

Great Grandfather - Thomas Bird
Thalia can remember Lilian telling her of her memories of going to Sleaford and playing in the snow on the river bank when visiting her grandfather.
Looking at the ages of the children in the above photo and now knowing the approximate date of when Thomas left London - we presume the above photo was taken in Sleaford...

Our Great Grandfather Thomas Bird...

Thomas obviously had left Westminster and returned to Sleaford before the 1st World War, we still have no idea when he was widowed. the family gave their address as 65 Westgate. They must have taken the the business over from John Bird.

We now know after access to the 1911 Census that this was the Marquis of Granby public house. Thomas Rebecca and Jessie were listed as living there.

His daughter Jessie Newton gave birth to Joyce Newton on 26th March 1922, then a son Norman in 1924 and a daughter Hazel.

Although always described as a Joiner/Carpenter Thomas has been found in the Kelly's Directories for Sleaford from 1913

In 1913 Kellys
Thomas Bird, beer retailer, 65 Westgate

In 1922 and 1928 Kellys
Thomas Bird, beer retailer, 65 Westgate

Not in 1930 Kellys

Whites 1872 is the earliest mention of Birds
John Bird, shopkeeper, butcher and beer retailer, West street (Westgate and West street seem to be have used equally - gate is the old Danish work for street, and is the preferred usage today)

Ditto in Kelly's 1876

In White's 1882
John Bird, brewer and beer retailer, 65 Westgate

With many thanks to Antony Barber.

Edwin's first wife (name unknown) died in childbirth; the child named Nessie was originally brought up by a nursemaid/housekeeper called Alice May who came from Sleaford - she later married Edwin and their children were Joan and her two brothers.
The interesting twist to all this is that the infant Nessie was brought up by her aunt Jessie in Sleaford, rather than by her father, Edwin. the Birds weren't a close family, and there seemed to be something of a 'taboo' about asking about the family members.
My mother remembers Rebecca Bird being blind, and thinks she had been blind for some while.
........ Maggie Edwin's granddaughter

Norman Green Jessie's son

Norman Green Jessie's son
Norman Green married Phyllis Collishaw in 1947 in Sleaford Jessie used to live with them in Sleaford and then went with them when they moved to Grantham. Norman and Phyllis had 3 children, Angela, Alan and Pam. Pam was only a baby when they moved to Grantham .... (Beryl Norman's niece)



Praed Street Paddington

William Bird Newsagent and Stationers

William Bird Newsagent and Stationers

Booths Archives

Booths Archives

Dora & Bertrand Russell

Dora (Black) and Bertrand Russell were heros of Harry and Gertrude, they therefore possibly thought nothing of trying to emulate their avant garde lifestyle. Implicit was Black's conviction that both men and women were polygamous by nature and should therefore be free, whether married or not, to engage in sexual relationships that were based on mutual love. In this she was as much an early sexual pioneer as in her fight for women's right to information about, and free access to, birth control methods. She regarded these as essential for women to gain control over their own lives, and eventually become fully emancipated.

In 1924, Black campaigned passionately for birth control, joining H. G. Wells and John Maynard Keynes in founding the Workers' Birth Control Group. She also campaigned in the Labour Party for birth control clinics, with little success.

Link to the Russells on the Education pages
Also Rudolph Steiner - click for section

Published in 1889

Published in 1889
This book has 28 chapters to include "The Choice of a Wife"
"What is the Use of a Child" and
"Making the most of a Bad Matrimonial Bargain"

Battersea - the Bird's first home in London by the docks

Thomas Bird brought his widowed mother and family down from Sleaford, their first home on the 1891 Census was in Canada Wharf Battersea. A very poor area of warehouses and tenement buildings.Thomas was listed as a Carpenter, daughter Jessie was born there in 1892.
The parish grew from several distinct areas, surrounded by open land, which gradually grew during the late 19th century into one urban sprawl. These consisted of the original village around Battersea Square, the crossroads that would become known as Clapham Junction, the upmarket area between Clapham and Wandsworth Commons and the industrial district of Nine Elms. Much of the open land was taken up by four railway companies, who not only laid track, but also had sidings and workshops. The riverside windmills and wharves gave way to new industries, such as Prices Candles, Morgan's Crucible works, Carton's Glucose factory, flour mills, breweries and the Nine Elms Gas Works.
With the opening of Clapham Junction Station in 1863, the focus of Battersea changed from the riverside to St. John's Hill and St. John's Road, which became the main shopping centre. At the main centre was the department store Arding and Hobbs (Allders), while the cheaper products were available from the street market in Northcote Road. Lavender Hill became the location of the public buildings, such as the Town Hall, police station and magistrates court and the post office. Entertainment was also provided in the shape of a theatre and a cinema. As well as trains there were also horse buses and horse trams, which were later replaced by the electric tram and the motor omnibus. The urban sprawl was relieved by the open spaces of Clapham and Wandsworth Commons but the major attraction near the river was Battersea Park, in which all sorts of sports facilities and other attractions were available.
For 50 years Battersea stayed relatively unchanged, until the bombing of the Second World War destroyed or damaged much of the property in the area. After the War a large area of north Battersea was swept away in a vast re-building plan of the borough and the county councils, changing the old face of Battersea.

Canada Wharf Today

Canada Wharf Today

London Victorian Lodging Houses

The immense extension of late years of the metropolitan railway system has thrown open to those in search of lodgings a much wider field than heretofore, even when sight-seeing is the object, and time pressing. To those who are very hard pushed in the latter respect, or who contemplate being out late at night after the trains have ceased running, a central situation is, of course, still of importance; and those would do well to confine themselves - if economically disposed - to the streets between the river and the Strand, where they will get tolerable accommodation at about 30s. to 50s. a week, or to those on either side of New Oxford Street, where the charges will run a few shillings lower. In Bloomsbury, again a little farther north, but still within easy reach of the amusement centre, will be found a whole region, the chief occupation of which is the letting of lodgings, and where the traditional bed and sitting room can be obtained at almost any price from one guinea to two and a half. Those who wish to be central, and are not particular as to the price they pay, should prosecute their search in the streets between Pall Mall and Piccadilly, including the former, where they will find as a rule small rooms, often shabbily furnished, but good cooking, first-class attendance, and a general flavour of "society." Prices here are a good deal influenced by the "season," this being the special resort of fashionable bachelors who live at their clubs; but the weekly rent of a bed and sitting room may be taken at from three to six or eight guineas; "extras" also, of course, being in proportion. On the other side of Piccadilly, prices are much the same, or, if anything, rather higher; but you get larger rooms for your money, the increased distance from the more fashionable clubs rendering them relatively somewhat cheaper. Beyond Oxford Street, again, there is a considerable drop, becoming still more decided on the farther side of Wigmore Street, where very good lodgings can be had for 30s. to 40s. a week. We have here, however, got beyond the region of male attendance, and must be content with the ministrations of the ordinary lodging-house "slavery." The streets running immediately out of Portland Place may be taken as belonging to the category of those between Wigmore Street and Oxford Street, averaging, say, from about 30s. to 60s. per week. Turning southwards, again we have the large districts of Brompton and Pimlico; a good deal farther off in point of absolute distance, but with the advantage of direct communication with the centre both by rail and omnibus, and the houses are newer and of better appearance. Visitors, however, having families with them will do well to make enquiry either of some well-informed friend or some respectable house-agent in the neighbourhood before settling down in any particular street. The prices here will be found much the same as in the two districts last mentioned, varying of course with the accommodation, which has here a greater range than in most districts. Those who desire still cheaper accommodation must go farther afield, the lowest-priced of all being in the north-east and south-east districts, in either of which a bed and sitting room may be had at rents varying from 10s., or even less, to 30s. In the extreme west, south-west, and north-west, rents are a little higher, 15s. a week being about the minimum. In all cases, except perhaps that of the Pall Mall district, these prices should include kitchen fire, boot-cleaning, hall and staircase gas, attendance, and all extras whatsoever. It will, however, be necessary to stipulate for all these things individually. The mere word "inclusive" means nothing, or less, being very commonly taken as an indication that the enquirer either does not know what extras mean, or is too shy to formulate his requirements categorically. Set everything out in plain terms and in black and white. Stipulate also at the same time and in the same way as to the prices to be charged for gas and coal for private consumption; the former being usually charged at the rate of 6d. per week per burner, and the latter at the rate of 6d. per scuttle. It may be as well to remember, too, if bent on rigid economy, that scuttles vary in size.


Gertrude Goldsmith, Harry Bird
and Dorothy Mazasitisz
became Theosophists
Some of the most influential people of the day were attracted to Theosophy - playwright Oscar Wilde, poet W.B.Yeats, author George Bernard Shaw and inventor Thomas Edison .

Link to the Torquay branch of the Theosophy Society where our family used to attend meetings

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A view from around the time the Birds arrived in Torquay

A view from around the time the Birds arrived in Torquay
By 1921 the entourage of the Bird family had moved to Torquay Devon .Why did Harry Bird and his family finally settle there? During its years of development, Torquay acquired a "posh" reputation. It became a place for wealthy and famous people to stay - Disreali, Kipling, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells to name but a few. During the 1920s George Bernard Shaw was a regular summer visitor to the Hydropathic Hotel above Meadfoot Beach ( possibly now the Osborne Hotel ) and is known to have visited the area often, He appreciated: "No housekeeping, plenty of bathing, taxicabs to get around in, shops galore, and every sort of urban amenity." During his time at the Hydro in 1914, Shaw wrote a series of letters to his fellow Fabian socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb. He discussed hostilities with Germany and related the arrest of the German novelist Hedwig Sonntag, who was working as a hotel porter at the Hydro. Shaw was also a visitor to Vane Tower in the company of Mr (later Sir) Basil Cameron, conductor of the Municipal Orchestra. Perhaps Harry drove him round in one of his cabs? An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land and promoting healthy lifestyles. Unusually for the time he persuaded the latter by being a vegetarian. Gertrude corresponded with Shaw.

Perhaps this influenced Harry, an up and coming healthy place to bring up his family? 1902 saw the first advertising campaign to bring healthy visitors to Torquay - rather than people recovering from illnesses. Torquay changed in character from being a winter holiday resort to being a summer holiday resort. Rail traffic increased steadily until World War One. (During World War One soldiers were brought to Torquay to recover from their injuries.) After the Great War an effective advertising campaign by The Great Western Railway Company was responsible for making Torquay a major resort. The busiest day was on August Bank Holiday in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War Two, when 20,000 passengers arrived in Torquay station, followed by 50 trains the next day.

Harry described himself as a "Conductor on Motor Bus" . In 1923 the family were living at Haytor View according to records held in Torquay library and he described himself as a Booking Clerk, a far cry from the Proprietor of two shops in London:

Haytor View, Osborne Mews Vane Hill Road
Harry Bird aged 41 yrs - Booking Clerk Motorbus Garage
Gertrude aged 37, Dorothy aged 28, Thora aged 13, Lillian aged 12 ,Norman aged 10, Florence aged 9, Ronald aged 7, Ross aged 5, Thalia aged 4, Iris aged 2 and Joy a baby

On 13 May 1913, two charabancs operated by Grist & Sons plus two others were acquired by the newly formed South Devon Garage & Motor Touring Co. Ltd and put to work under the name of ‘The Grey Torpedo Cars’ due to their shape and colour. The garage was in Market Street and the principal booking office was at ‘ Torpedo House’, 3 Vaughan Parade. At the outbreak of the First World War some of the charabancs went to the Army. Tours resumed in 1919 with a fleet of eight new charabancs, with the word ‘torpedo’ being diplomatically dropped from the name. A new operating Company of Grey Cars Ltd was formed.

Postcard dated 1925

Postcard dated 1925