An appreciation of Forest Gate artist Eric Dawson

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Last year's Newham Heritage Week paid a rare local tribute to Forest Gate artist, Eric Dawson, by displaying some of his original works at The Gate, and elsewhere in Newham.

Eric Dawson in his late 80's 
These paintings are normally hidden from public view, in the stack of the reference library and archives. Many of the paintings are specifically of our local area and we felt that they deserved a more permanent public viewing.

Last train leaving Forest Gate station
We are grateful to Newham Library service, to whom Eric donated many of the paintings and to Eric and his family for being able to present them. It should be made very clear that the paintings are the copyright of Newham and Eric's family, who we are sure will be glad that they can be shared with a wider public than who normally has access to them.

Sunday evening in Upton Lane
Eric was born in Forest Gate in 1918, and was educated at West Ham Secondary school and West Ham School of Art. On the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined the armed forces, serving for almost five years.

Sunday School anniversary, Woodgrange
 Baptist church, early 1930's
After the war he joined Carlton Artists as a designer - six years later moving into women's magazines, first as Art Director of Homes and Gardens and later as Art Director to the Women's Own Group.

Woolworth's in Green Street
He later moved back to press and TV advertising, finally freelancing and working for a range of top-ranking agencies and high street companies.

Looking Back
On retirement, in 1988, he began to bring some of the memories of his earlier life back, with a series of watercolor paintings, exhibiting at the National Army Museum, Epping Forest District Museum - where he lived latterly - and about 20 other locations around London.

Grandfather and Eric Dawson, in the kitchen
Eric donated 42 paintings to Newham Council about a decade ago, all under the theme Growing up in East London 1918 -1939. To celebrate the donation, Newham Council published his memoir Looking Back, in 2006, which basically provided a commentary to the donated paintings.

The house Eric Dawson
 was born, 6 Beauchamp Road
Eric was born at the very end of World War 1, but never knew his father, who died following a gas attack in the trenches.

Children watching Dawson's fish van
 leaving Beauchamp Road for their
 shop in Woodgrange Road
The Introduction to Looking Back says of it:

He evokes a comfortable but nor really wealthy Forest Gate of close-knit families and helpful neighbours. There are some chain stores on the busier streets, but every neighbourhood has its small privately-owned shops - butcher, grocer, sweet shop, boot and shoe repairer, oil shop - providing  necessities on a daily basis.

Coffee stall by Forest Gate clock
Sunday schools and Temperance meetings attracted large audiences and it was not unusual for a cinema to seat 3,000 people. At home, evening parties included poetry recitals and songs around the piano. He described families travelling on the criss-cross of local railway lines to spend holidays at seaside resorts where the lodgings were modest, but the home cooking superb.

Horswills were builders in Green Street
Eric described his Forest Gate origins at the start of his memoir, thus:

In 1890, two brothers, joining an accelerating movement away from the overcrowded eastern districts of the City of London, left Bow for Forest Gate. They brought adjoining houses in Beauchamp Road, leasehold for around £200 each. The elder brother was my grandfather, William Robert Buck, the other my great uncle, Arthur. Both were recently married. ...

Grandfather with Eric Dawson
In the early days of the 1920's it seemed as if every other road in Forest Gate was lined with shops. The main thoroughfares, heavy with traffic, much of it still horse-drawn, contained the larger establishments - Woolworth's, The Penny Bazaar, Home and Colonial, the Co-op. Lots of dress shops, haberdashers and milliners, Freeman, Hardy and Willis (shoes), Montague Burton, 'the tailor of taste'.

Dolls' hospital, by Forest Gate station
The back streets provided the daily necessities of the local inhabitants. Just around the corner from us in St George's Road, a group of such local shops existed ...

Kenner -tailor of taste, 36 - 38 Upton Lane,
 painted in 1998
Within five minutes walk was West Ham Park. Here we sped our scooters along smooth asphalt paths, and in the summer learned to play cricket (underarm bowling) in the shades of the leafy chestnut trees. The flower gardens splendidly maintained by the City of London Corporation, were patrolled by stern park keepers, with whistles. Close by was Upton Lane school, which all the family at various times attended. ...

Two Sikh men, by the Gurney
 memorial in West Ham Park
Further north, along Upton Lane, occupying a whole block, was the Forest Gate Sanitary Steam Laundry. The establishment ejected vast clouds of steam across Upton Lane; at night the dramatic effect was enhanced by powerful but flickering arc lights illuminating work areas. Sounds of heavy machinery rent the air, occasionally interspersed with women's voices, raised in song, a truly Wagnerian manifestation. ...

Forest Gate Steam Laundry, Upton Lane
On the far side of West Ham Park was a large house called The Cedars, once the home of the Gurney family (ed: Elizabeth Fry, principally). It was now used by the local Territorials and by the British legion, the ex-servicemen's club ... Outside The Cedars several horse brakes were drawn up, decorated all over with flowers and favours and were filling up with excited children, the atmosphere distinctly of the knees-up variety. ...

Intermission, Broadway Theatre, Stratford
Looking Back - Growing up in East London (1918 - 1939) by Eric Dawson, published by Newham Council 2006, £7.99

Forest Gate Conscientious Objectors in WW1

Monday 15 May 2017

This article is posted to commemorate International Conscientious Objectors' Day, on 15 May 2017.

We have covered World War 1 many times on this site, before, including:

  • The diaries of a romance of two local people that was extinguished on the battlefields of France, here and here
  • The diaries of the Hammers Battalion during the war, here and here
  • Life on the home front, in Forest Gate, seen through the eyes of  the Godwin school log book, here
  • Anti-German riots locally sparked off by the sinking of the Lusitania, here, and:
  • The fate of a number of WW1 memorials erected in memory of the local war dead (never forgotten, but quickly so), here.

We have never, however, covered Forest Gate Conscientious Objectors (COs) of the time and this post attempts to tell the story of almost 50 of them.

First a little national background. 

WW1 broke out in the summer of 1914 and, encouraged by the  jingoism and popular mood of the time, volunteers were sought and filled all the required military and fighting requirements for almost 18 months. As the war wore on and the grim realities of life in the trenches reached people at home, volunteers alone were not enough to fill the boots of those killed in battle.

In January 1916 conscription was introduced, to take effect from March that year. Basically, all able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 44 were liable for military service and they began to be called up. People deemed to be doing jobs of National Importance (NI) were exempt from conscription.

1916 Act of Parliament that
brought conscription to Britain
A system of Military Service Tribunals (MSTs) was established in all areas of the country where conscripted men could appeal against being drafted. These tribunals were composed of the local good and the great complemented by a military presence.  

By common consent, they were regarded as being pretty much rigged in favour of the conscription order being upheld. Appellants, for example, were not allowed representation and the voice of the military presence was generally heard loud and clear.

There were a number of reasons for men appealing; and if turned down they could appeal again to a higher (probably county) tribunal.

Most of the appellants were pacifists of some form; mainly through religious convictions (see later), or some through political (usually socialist convictions). So, early national leaders of the Labour Party (e.g. Kier Hardie, Ramsay Macdonald and George Lansbury) all declared themselves pacifists.

The outbreak of war was said to have broken Kier Hardie's heart and he died within a year of the start of hostilities.

The MSTs could offer a number of judgments. They could reject the claim for non conscription outright and declare that appellant should be drafted into the armed forces. They could judge that the appellant should still be called up, but be assigned to a Non Combatant Corps (NCC) e.g. field ambulance, or that the appellant could be excused military duty, on the grounds that he undertook a job of National Importance (NI).

The British national memorial to COs,
 unveiled in London's Tavistock Square
 on 15 May 1994
Most people appealing to the MST seemed prepared to accept the Tribunal's judgment, but others refused.  Most notable amongst there were people called Absolutists. Often they would have been told by the Tribunal that they could be exempt from military duties, provided they undertook a job of NI - farm work was most commonly decreed.

Absolutists, however, objected to this on the grounds that they were effectively substitutionists - i.e. replacing a farm labourers who had gone to fight - and so were, indirectly assisting the war effort. Their case got no sympathy and they often ended up being extremely harshly treated, as some of the case studies below makes clear (see below for details of local Absolutists).

A number of COs, when called up, simply went AWOL, or refused to obey orders.  They then  faced a Court-martial and were typically given between 4 months and two years imprisonment, with Hard Labour (HL), this was often repeated on their release from prison after the original sentence. After the war was over, in 1919, the government decreed that nobody should face more than two years in prison, in total, from that time onwards - so many COs were released without having served their full subsequent sentence.

Men who refused to fight were often victimised locally by people calling them cowards, waving white feathers at them , them, having stones thrown through their windows, being assaulted in the streets etc.  Life as a CO was never comfortable. We have no examples of this kind of treatment locally, but undoubtedly it would have been meted out.
White feather of kind
waved at Cos.. Find our
more aboiut then via
@wfdiaries, and
Nationally, about 17,000 men declared themselves COs and went through the MST process. The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has very recently taken a very sympathetic look at the plight of the COs and has published, on-line (accessible for a small charge), a remarkable piece of work by an ex-Leeds university academic, Cyril Pearce, who has tracked, in skeletal form at least, the stories of each of those men.

Some of the 17,000 CO's - Conscientiously
 Objecting to military service, during WW1
Pearce's work suggests that of the total number of COs, about 7,000 -  40% - were offered NCC status and became e.g. stretcher bearers. About 4,500 - 25% - were offered work of NI, usually farm work, and 6,000 were forced into the armed services and adopted forms of passive resistance which usually resulted in Court-martial and prison sentences with Hard Labour (HL).

We have interrogated Pearce's database and found reasonably full details of almost 50 Forest Gate COs (our definition being they had a Forest Gate address - see list below) and found references to  a similar, additional, number who have slightly less concrete Forest Gate connections (went to a local church, were said to be from the area, but no address was given etc).

The list below provides a portrait, in outline, of the 48. We have supplemented some of Cyril Pearce's remarkable work by reference to a card index in the library of the Society of Friends (Quakers), in Euston. We are extremely grateful to the incredibly helpful staff there for their assistance in this regard.

South Esk Road c 1914. Near Barclay
Hall and home to at least 4 local COs

The most striking thing to note about the list below is the number. If there were 18,000 COs nationally, pro rata, there should have been about 18 in Forest Gate - given the size of the population then. There were, in fact almost three times that number of confirmed Forest Gate residents and six times that number if the "vague Forest Gate connections" numbers are included.

This begs the question: why? 

As explained above, one of the main grounds for people appealing against being called up was religious, pacifist, convictions. Perhaps the group mostly associated with this were the Quakers.
We have discovered 10 local Quaker COs (John Edwin Davies, Alexander Stewart Fryer, Frank George Hobart, Ernest George Mountford, Reginald William Mountford, George Leonard Pratt, William Ronald Read, Frank Augustus Root, Robert Sandy and George Alfred Weller). 

A surprisingly large number. Most of them, as the list shows, were clustered around Green Street, probably been because of the presence of Barclay Hall.

Barclay Hall in Green Street was founded by the Bedford Institute Association, a Quaker philanthropic organisation, in 1900. The hall was named after Joseph and Jane Barclay, two prominent Quakers from Leyton.

Barclay Hall in Green St, today.
In the early years of 20th century a major
Quaker meeting place, and spiritual home to
many of Forest Gate's Conscientious Objectors
Within a year, over 800 people were attending the venue, associated with various missionary organisations. It became a full meeting church and in 1906 it was rebuilt into the brick building it is today. It was bought by the then West Ham council in 1948 and turned into an adult education centre. It was sold, for £2.1m in October 2015 and is now a campus for the London Churchill College.

The Bedford Institute, itself, was established and named after another Quaker philanthropist, and silk merchant in 1867. It developed over time to provide a range of social and charity functions for the local poor. In 1998 it changed its name to Quaker Social Action and continues to support east London communities. See here for an article on this site for its work in recycling unwanted furniture for local families.

Twenty of the other local COs quoted religious objections as their grounds for seeking exception from military service, a number of these were Jehovah's Witnesses, but others were members of the Church of England (CofE), and members of a basically pacifist arm of it, the International Bible Students' Association (IBSA) - see below.

Two of the 48 claimed political objections to fighting (Edmund Howarth and Frederick Thompson, the former described as an "Anarchist/Communist/ Athiest" and the latter as a member of the Independent Labour Party). 

There were four Absolutists - and they had a totally torrid time.  They were Howarth and Thompson (above) plus Frank Augustus Root and George Arthur Weller.

Twenty-one of the Forest Gate 48 served prison sentences because of their CO status - some in a number of prisons. Fifteen - almost a third of local COs spent time in Wormwood Scrubs (Scrubs), 4 in Winchester, 2 in Dartmoor and one each in Maidstone, Pentonville, Newhaven and Wakefield, while 4 spent time in unspecified prisons.
The gates to Wormwood Scrubs prison,
where 15 Forest Gate Co's served time
The full lists of locally confirmed COs, with their fates is provided below. It is a totally absorbing and fascinating read.

We have used extensive abbreviations, and tried to use a fairly standardised template for providing the pen portraits, produced in alphabetical order, to make it a more manageable read.

This is a subject we would like to return to in the future and would be delighted to hear from anyone who has tales of Forest Gate COs to share.


AE - Absolute Exemption
AMSF - Associate Member, Society of Friends (i.e. an irregular attendee at a Friends' Meeting Place)
Bttn - Battalion
C-m - Court-martialled
CO - Conscientious Objector
CofE - Church of England
ECS - Exemption from Combatant Service
FAU - Friends Ambulance Unit
HL - Hard Labour
IBSA - International Bible Students Association
MST - Military Service Tribunal
NCC - Non Combatant Corps
NCF - Non Conscription Fellowship (CofE)
NI - National Importance
Scrubs - Wormwood Scrubs

HE Baker
23 Sidney Road. b 1884.

Bank cashier.

MST granted ECS/NCC, if he maintained his existing job.

Henry Chapman
23 Tower Hamlets Road. b 1882.

Worked in the furniture trade. It is claimed he was an "Anarchist/Communist/Atheist". He was a trade unionist and member of the Society of Polishers.

He was C-m in central London. Jan 1917, given 112 days, with HL. May 1917, given 1 year with HL. Apr 1918 given 18 months with HL, in Scrubs and later Winchester prison. Eventually released in Apr 1919 - having served more than 2 yrs.

Arthur Corke
57 South Esk Road. b 9 May 1895.

An AMSF. He was for several years a teacher at the Friends (Quaker) First Day School and a member of the United Methodists. 

He declared himself a CO, but refused to attend an MST to get dispensation. He was arrested and faced charges at East Ham police court (fore-runner to magistrates court) and "forced into the ranks".

He was conscripted into the army as a member of the Royal Sussex Yeoman Bttn and was sent to Egypt. Fate thereafter unknown.

William George Corke 
57 South Esk Road. Unknown DOB.

He was a tea salesman in the City. An AMSF. He was for many years a teacher at the Friends First Day School. He was an active member of the Men's Adult School and undertook various forms of work at Barclay Hall.

His father made an appeal to the East Ham local MST on his behalf, but was refused CO status.

He was arrested twice. The first time he was sent home. The second time he was ordered to sign up for military service; he refused. He was C-m and sentenced to two yrs at Scrubs.

John Edwin Davies
7 Chestnut Grove. Unknown DOB.

Iron Fitter. Quaker.

Claimed AE, given ECS in Aug 1916. Sent to work in a shipyard.

William Thomas Dopson
15 Jephson Rd.  b 1888.

Printer. Member of Company of Believers.

C-m in Hounslow. Sentenced to 112 days with HL, initially in Scrubs, later transferred to Dartmoor.

Arthur Downing
129 Green Street. Unknown DOB.

C-m Dartmouth 1917. Sentenced to 112 days, with HL. Served in Scrubs.

William George Easterford
281 Odessa Road. b 1891.

Shop assistant, carpet salesman.

Arrested on 26 Sep 1916 for not responding to conscription order/being an absentee. MST - 1 yr with HL; served in Scrubs.

Percy William Faunch
131 Capel Road. b 1887.

Insurance claims clerk.

Applied to MST in Essex; directed to work of NI. Sent to timber trade, in Northamptonshire.

Henry Arthur Freedman
19 Rectory Road. b 1886.

Member of NCF.

June 1916 MST. Refused to sign military papers. Arrested Jun 1916 and sentenced to 112 days HL, served in Maidstone Prison.

Alexander Stewart Fryer
27 Crosby Road. 6 Oct 1879.

Quaker. Superintendent at Barclay Hall - a branch of the Bedford Institute Association (see footnotes). He was also an assistant chaplain at Pentonville prison.

AE given by MST, on the condition that he remained in his current employment.

Edward Fuller
47 Spratt Hall Road. Unknown DOB.

Journalist. Member of the Forest Gate NCF.

Charged with "printing and making statements likely to prejudice recruiting, discipline and administration of HM Forces". Fined £100 and sentenced to 91 days in Pentonville.

S Galin
145 Osborne Road.  Unknown DOB.


Applied to MST Sep 1916. Granted ECS, conditional on remaining in current occupation, of NI. Offered a position at Penketh Friends' School.

Simon Peter Grant
29 Strone Road. b 1886.

Cemetery worker.

MST in Jun 1917, granted ECS, on the grounds that he continued with his job, one of NI.

Ernest Green
95 Capel Road. b 1894.

Commercial Traveller. Member of CofE and of IBSA. He additionally sought exemption from combat service on the grounds that his father was Hungarian and "he did not wish to fight against his father's people".

MST Apr 1916. Was granted ECS, but refused to accept. He was declared a service absentee and was arrested in Aug 1916. C-m and given 1 yr, with HL, in Newhaven, and later a further 18 months, with HL.

George Alfred Hall
125 Halley Road. b 1892.

Member of the NCF. he was conscripted, then turned absentee.  Arrested 27 Sep 1916. C-m and given 2 yrs with HL. Sent to Scrubs.  In 1917 given an additional 2 yrs and sent to Winchester Prison.

Frank Rivers Hancock
73 Hampton Road. b 5 Aug 1883.

His occupation was "Agent and Collector" - a door to door insurance sales worker. An AMSF. He was a Wesleyan Methodist preacher.

He made four appeals to the local MST, on CO grounds. He was turned down on each occasion.

He was arrested on 28 May 1917 and C-m. he was sentenced to two yrs HL, Scrubs and was later transferred to Dartmoor, where he joined the Quakers.

Frank George Hobart
323 Romford Road. Unknown DOB

Manufacturing chemist. Quaker.

Became a member of the FAU.

John Horn
140 South Esk Road. b 4 Apr 1895.

Clerk. An AMSF. Member of (Friends) Adult School, secretary to Men's classes, "helps out generally, in a helpful way".

Became a member of the FAU on 29 May 1916, then became a farm labourer in Essex.

Made two appearances before local MST. Application for CO status was dismissed on the first occasion, but accepted on the second, provided he undertook work of NI.

Edmund Howarth
106 Dames Road. b 1893.

Clerk. An Absolutist, member of the NCF.

Conscripted to Middlesex Regiment. C-m for attempting to escape. Sentenced to 112 days, with HL. Given a second conviction of 1 yr, with HL and later a third conviction of 2 yrs with HL. He was released in Jan 1919, having served three sentences of more than 2 yrs in total.

Arthur Stewart Ingram
33 Shrewsbury Road. b 1881.

Master Butcher. Member of the IBSA (mainly Jehovah's Witnesses).
Called up; refused to fight. C-m. Sentenced to 2 yrs with HL. Served in Scrubs and Wakefield prison.

Ernest J Lee
Earlham Grove. b 5 Oct 1894.

Clerk at the Great Eastern Railway office, Liverpool Street. An AMSF.

He made two appearances before the West Ham local MST, to be recognised as a non-combatant. He work was classified as work of NI. He later joined the FAU and worked on the land.

Asher Samuel Lill
204 Strone Road. b 1895.


West Ham MST declared him ECS only.  He was called up and refused to serve. Sentenced to six months with HL, in Scrubs.

John Lloyd
6 Upton  Avenue. b 1878.

Furniture buyer. A Primitive Methodist.

He refused to sign any army papers, when called up. He was C-m in Stratford and sentenced in Dec 1916 to 2 yrs imprisonment with HL. He was released after 2 months and sent to a NCC of the army.

Gerald Matter
41 Halley Road. b 1884.

Drug Clerk and Shorthand Typist.

MST - granted ECS, subject to remaining in his current job which was deemed to be of NI.

James McKenzie
70 Margery Park Road. b 1896.


MST granted him deployment to a NCC. He refused. Was C-m and sentenced to 6 months with HL at  Scrubs.

Tudor William Ralph Mead
376 Katherine Road. b 1898.


MST refused non conscription. Sent to Royal Fusiliers. Refused to take up arms. C-m - 112 days with HL, Scrubs.

Ernest George Mountford
204 Shrewsbury Road. b 1892.

Teacher. Quaker. Adult school lecturer.

Enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps - went to Egypt and Palestine with the Expeditionary Force.

Reginald William Mountford.
204 Shrewsbury Road.  DOB 1900.


MST Apr 1918. ECS, subject to joining the War Victim' Refugee Service in France. He was a member of this between Apr 1918 and Jun 1920.

William George Moorcroft
35 Strone Road. b 1884.


No religion, but a member of the NCF.

He was conscripted to the Rifle Brigade. Refused to serve. C-m. Given 1 yr with HL, followed by 2 yrs with HL. He was released in Aug 1919, under the 2 yr rule.

Percy C Ogden
Woodgrange Road. b 1874.


MST 22 Oct 1918. Decision was that he should join the Special Constables. He appealed against this and agreed to work on a job of NI. He took up farming, 3 days per week.

Herbert Wilfred Pate
65 Capel Road. b 1887.

Member of the Plymouth Brethren.

MST declared him ECS. Served for 6 months in 1918 in the NCC.

Charles William Pratt
170 Halley St. 10 Nov 1894.

An auctioneers' clerk and secretary of the Band of Hope, of the Young People's Council , of a Department in the Sunday school. Quaker. Captain of the Barclay Hall swimming and cricket clubs.

Underwent 2 tribunal hearings. At the first, East Ham 1916, he claimed AE. Granted exemption from military service if he undertook work of NI. He became a farm labourer in Essex and later a member of the FAU.

George Leonard Pratt
170 Halley Road. 11 May 1897. 

A chartered accountant. Quaker. A Sunday School teacher, and Adult and Boys' Club worker in Barclay Hall.

He made 4 appearances before local MSTs. He was told to find work of NI. He was an absolutist, and refused.

He was arrested in Jan 1917 and found guilty of non-compliance with military conscription summons. He was fined £4, but refused to pay. He was re-arrested and handed over to military authorities. He was C-m on his 20th birthday and sentenced to 2 yrs imprisonment, with HL in Scrubs. Released in Apr 1919.

Cyril Thomas Prince
6 Horace Road. b 1895.

Member of the Plymouth Brethren.

MST, Stratford - sent to NCC from 17 Aug 1916 - 27 Dec 1919.

William Ronald Read
180 Monega Road. 7 Jun 1898. 

A furrier's clerk. Quaker.

Made 2 appeals to the local MST. Undertook farm work in Essex when conscripted. He joined the FAU in Jan 1917.

Frank Augustus Root
323 Strone Road. DOB 1880.

Book keeper with local authority. Quaker. Absolutist.

MST Sep 1916 - given ECS, on condition that he maintained his existing employment.

Robert Sandy
128 Odessa Road. b 1877.

Chemist, owning his own business. Quaker.

MST August 1916, Claimed AE. Granted ECS, on that he maintained his existing job, which was deemed one of NI.

George Henry Scanlon
8 Margery Park Road. b 1877.

School teacher.

MST - ECS: joined NCC.

Hugh Patrick Scanlon
8 Marjory Park Road. b 1877.

MST - ECS - NCC in France: May 1916 - Jul 1919.

George Sim
339 Upton Lane. b 1886.

Handicraft teacher, West Ham LEA.

MST - allowed work of NI. Remained a teacher in West Ham.

John Smiley
65 Pevensey Road. b 1886.

Clerk, National Insurance Commission.

MST directed him to work of NI - continued in existing occupation.

Nathaniel Streimer
2 Margery Park Road. b 1897.

Confectioner's foreman in family firm of Morris Streimer and Co of Stratford.
MST said must find work of NI. Sep - Dec 1918 worked as a labourer at Gibbs Soap Works, Wapping. Left to undertake farm work in Hounslow, but had to leave when all CO's on the farm were sacked because of local opposition to their presence. Then went to undertake farm work in Romford.

Joseph William Tantner
11 St John's Terrace, Green Street. b 1891.


Volunteered in Sep 1914 to East Anglian Field Ambulance Service. Sent to Egypt. C-m in July 1918 for refusing to take up a weapon. Given 5 yrs penal servitude, later reduced to 2 yrs.. The sentence was suspended when he contracted dysentery. He was then transferred to the Essex Regiment to perform guard duties at a POW camp. He waived his right to early demobilisation and discharged and continued serving until Apr 1920.

Frederick Thompson
19 Huddlestone Road. b 1880.

Printer. An Absolutist. A member of the Independent Labour Party and of the Printers' trade union.

Went to MST in May 1917, but refused to accept their conditions. He was C-m in Winchester and given 2 yrs with HL, spent in  Scrubs and Winchester prison.

He was given a second sentence of 2 yrs with HL in 1918, but was released in Apr 1919, under the 2 yr rule.

Henry Bertram Thomson
32 South Esk Road. b 22 Nov 1899. 

Started work as an office boy in 1914.  AMSF . Was a teacher at the Barclay Hall Sunday School, Green Street (see footnote for details about this building, which features prominently in this blog and the organisations associated with it).

He made two appearances before the East Ham local MST and one before the Essex Appeal Tribunal. He was given work of NI, as a clerk at Prices Patent Candle Co, in Battersea.

Henry Edward Thrower
28 Lancaster Road. b 1891.

Clerk. Congregationalist.

MST said ECS. Went to FAU, where he served from Apr 1916 until Feb 1919.

George Alfred Weller
299 Shrewsbury Road. b 1883.

Absolutist. Quaker.

Went to MST. He refused to accept their conditions. Was given 3 sentences of imprisonment with HL, served at Scrubs and Winchester. He was released in Mar 1919 on medical grounds, having served almost 2 yrs.

Godwin School ( boys ) log 4 - Godwin and Forest Gate between the wars (1919 - 1939)

Wednesday 3 May 2017

 This is the fourth of a series of posts based on the school log of Godwin School, from 1883 - 1984, providing a fascinating, worms' eye view of the development of the local area.

Godwin school 1973

See here for details of the first post and a background to this series of articles.

This article, in particular, highlights:

  • The school participating in public celebrations and commemorations;
  • some remarkable service records from school staff;
  • a goal-scoring English international footballer on the staff!;
  • high achievement by the school in London-wide music and football competitions;
  • gradual emergence of "new technology" into the school and its teaching;
  • visits by older pupils to large local employers, with a view to future employment;
  • Improvements in HMI reports following appointment of "new broom" head.
14 Apr 1919 It is 34 years today since the school opened. The master (ed: Herbert Henry, the(head) master would now have been about 59).

18 Jul 1919 School was closed today to celebrate the Peace. Outing to Grange Hill. The day was fine and all seemed to enjoy the outing thoroughly.

11 Nov 1919 Armistice Day In accordance with the wish expressed in the King's letter, all classes observed two minutes silence at eleven o'clock. The boys were spoken to during the morning about the significance of the event. Each boy made a copy of the following: "Remembrance day, a thought for 11 a.m. November 11 At this hour, and on this day, forever tell us remember the brave men who died that Britain might be free. Let us endeavour so to order our lives that we may be worthy of the sacrifice they made for us."

9 Dec 1919 The boys visited the Borough Theatre to see the Merchant of Venice played by Ben Greek's company.
Borough Theatre programme, 1925
 (photo courtesy Arthur Lloyd)
Interior of Borough Theatre (photo:
 courtesy of Athur Lloyd)

Borough Theatre, Stratford c 1920
 (photo courtesy Arthur Lloyd)

12 Jan 1920 24 boys who are studying Julius Caesar have gone this afternoon to see the play at the Pavilion, Whitechapel Road.

27 Apr 1920 Mr Joseph Addison, in accordance with the council's instructions, gave a temperance lecture this afternoon to Standard 7 (60) boys.

6 Sept 1920 Mr Robert Gibson of North Bay, Ontario, visited us this afternoon. He has been in Canada for 7 years and is chief clerk to the railway at North Bay. He was a scholar here in the nineties.

1 Oct 1920 Ten boys have left today, being over age (ed: the minimum school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 in 1918) or have passed the labour examination.

11 Nov 1920 The two minutes silence was observed at eleven o'clock this morning. The boys were assembled in the playground and the names of the Old Boys on the Role of Honour was read out, as previously.

12 Dec 1920 The school visited the Queen's cinema and saw a good series of pictures.

Queen's cinema, Romford Road

24 Feb 1921 The school was closed today by the Education Committee on the occasion of a school football match between West Ham and East Ham boys.

28 Feb 1921 Mr Deville took 20 boys from Standard 6 to the Tower of London this afternoon.

Near contemporary photo of Tower of London

18 Apr 1921 Received a letter from Mr Crossland stating that he had been to hospital and the doctor informed him that he had cancer in his throat. It was 36 years on Friday last that Mr Crossland began his service in this department.

2 May 1921 Standards 7 and 3 went on the flats at eleven this morning and Standards 6, 4 and 2 this afternoon, to select suitable boys for the forthcoming sports day in the borough.

10 May 1921 Bertrum Wilson, Standard 5, died yesterday morning. An inquest was held today and the doctor gave the cause of death as acute tubercular meningitis.

10 June 1921 Mr Crossland who has been a great sufferer since he gave up on April 6th passed away yesterday afternoon.

14 June 1921 The department was closed this afternoon to allow staff and may of the boys to pay their respects to Mr Crossland's memory.  He was buried at Woodgrange cemetery.

8 Jul 1921 The school was closed this afternoon on the occasion of the king opening the King George V Dock at Silvertown. 12 boys attended.

George V Docks, soon after opening

14 Jul 1921 A great many boys have been away today at St Marks and St Saviour's Sunday school excursion.

St Saviour's church, host of excursion
 resulting in school stay-away by Godwin boys
19 Jul 1921 This afternoon Mr Deville, who has been on the staff since the opening of Godwin Road, was presented with a gold watch and chain as a token of regard from the boys and teachers of all departments.

22 Aug 1921 School reopened this morning.  All present, including Mr AJ Deville, from Drew Road County School ... Mr Deville takes charge of Standard 7, in succession to his father.

31 Aug 1921 The staff decided to re-establish the school football, and so gradually bring it back to pre-war efficiency.

28 Feb 1922 A general holiday was given today for the wedding of Princess Mary.

25 May 1922 The usual work of the school was suspended after playtime to perform the function of making a presentation to the headmaster, who is retiring on 31 May. Mr Hubert has been here from the opening of this school  (ed: 39 years previously!)and there were present Mrs Horne, his first colleague at Centenary Hall, Essex St school, the one brought over to Godwin Road on its completion ... Mr Everard, a former teacher, President of the NUT, voiced the good feelings of all towards Mr Herbert.

16 Jun 1922 Herbert Stanley Ford took charge as head teacher today.

22 Jun 1922 The school was open during the afternoon session for parents to visit and inspect the work of their children and to interview their teachers.
About 80% of the parents availed themselves of the opportunity and undoubtedly much goodwill will result. In the evening the school was again open for visitation by parents from 6.30 and at 7pm a meeting of parents was held in the drill hall.

29 Sep 1922 The election of a school captain was held this afternoon. They mayor, supported by the deputy mayor and mayoress and Mrs Ridgewell acted as presiding officer. Henry Sanders was elected school captain.

28 Nov 1922 A piano has been purchased at a cost of £47.10/-, for use in the boys department.

27 Aug 1923 School re-opened ... During the last fortnight of the holidays 50 boys were taken to camp at Babbacombe, S Devon. All the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The head teacher and Mr Taylorson were in charge of the camp, assisted.

2 Apr 1924 The boys of Godwin Rd school were successful in winning the junior football championship of West Ham. The school thus holds the junior shield and the boys gaining medals ... The boys were trained by Mr Deville.

4 Apr 1924 HMI report: This school is attended by boys from for the most part from well-to-do homes. There is, however, a certain number who have attended private schools and are backward though intelligent, and there is a certain section who are dull mentally. The school is drained at its upper end by the boys proceeding to secondary and other schools. As a result, the higher classes are comparatively small. A chart of the ages, however, shows that the classification is on the whole, rather low, in spite of the efforts of the new Headmaster to improve it, by interim promotion, and there is an accumulation of old and dull boys at the bottom of the school, which still presents an unresolved problem.

10 Apr 1924 This afternoon 25 boys visited the Houses of Parliament.

15 May 1924 Mr V Gibbins absent today, having obtained leave of absence from the Education Committee for two days to enable him to travel to France and play in the international football match. (ed: William Vivian Talbot  Gibbins, 19 Aug 1901 - 21 Nov 1979, - known as Viv -  was born in Forest Gate. In addition to being a school teacher, he was a fine amateur footballer.

He joined West Ham in 1923 and made his debut on 26 December 1923 against Aston Villa, creating the only goal of the game for Billy Moore. He became the first unpaid West Ham player to top the club's scoring charts in 1930 -31, with 18 league goals. He also played for Clapton, and won the FA Amateur Cup with the club in 1924 and 1925. 

Whilst registered with Clapton, he won two full England caps, both against France, scoring twice in a 3–1 victory on 17 May 1924 - i.e. the game for which this leave was agreed - and once on 21 May 1925. Gibbins went off injured after 35 minutes of the latter game. 

He was one of the last amateur players to play for the English national football team. He also won 12 amateur caps, scoring seven goals. After playing for West Ham and Clapton, he also played for Brentford, Bristol Rovers, Southampton and Leyton . Gibbins returned to the Tons in the 1950's, as a trainer. 

He became head teacher of Harold Road school. He died in 1979. The entrance gate at the Old Spotted Dog ground is called the Viv Gibbins Memorial Gate.

See the extract from the Stratford Express, below. This is the ONLY coverage given to this full England International, local centre forward, scoring on his international debut.  It was buried in the middle of a dense page 3 of the paper. Just imagine the coverage today!).

Vivian Gibbins, Godwin school
 teacher and English football
 international centre forward
Stratford Express - 21 May 1924

19 May 1924 Godwin Rd school choir gained 2nd place in Stratford Musical Festival ... Second place was also gained in the sight singing tests ... Godwin Rd boys were also successful in gaining the Boxing championship of West Ham schools ... the school holds the cup presented by the officers of the 6th Essex regt. for one year.

25 Jun 1924 45 boys with three teachers are visiting Wembley Exhibition today. (ed: this was an "Empire" exhibition located next to the site of the Empire Stadium -old Wembley stadium - which hosted its first cup final the previous year, featuring West Ham United - six months before Viv Gibbins joined the club).

Programme for British
Empire Exhibition, 1924
25 Mar 1925 Permission gained for day to end on 26th at 3.30 ... this will enable about 120 boys and 40 parents to travel to Tottenham (ed: via what is now the Goblin line) to watch the school play the champion Tottenham school in the 4th round of the Dewar Cup competition (ed: see entry of 27 Feb 1905, above, for details).

19 May 1925 Mr Gibbins absent today, leave of absence granted for 4 days to allow him to play in the international match against France, in Paris (ed: see above for details of Viv Gibbins. He was granted leave of absence a number of times to play in various football matches, while at Godwin.  As the comment above makes clear this was his second and last "full" international for the national team, and he left the field injured - at a time when no substitutes were allowed, so the team went down to 10 men, after 35 minutes).

Gloucester Echo 22 May 1925, describing
 Viv Gibbins' role and fate in the international. 

It is the only  coverage we could find of his
 fate, in the national Newspaper archives!
27 May 1925 Mr Gibbins left to have his knee X-rayed, he received a very serious injury in France.

16 Jul 1925 The boys department held a sports festival in Sebert Road ground at 5.30pm (ed: site of present day Woodgrange infants school?). The meeting was great success and was attended by about 2000 people.

11 Jan 1926 My Symes a member of staff for 30 years passed away on Monday 4 January. The whole of the staff and boys from classes 5, 6, 7 and 8 attended the funeral on Friday 8 Jan.

5 May 1926 The attendance of 40 boys to the baths has been cancelled, owing to the General Strike.

10 May 1926 The attendance of 40 boys to the baths again cancelled.5 Oct 1926 HMI report: Since the previous report, the head master has affected a marked improvement. Classification is now normal, the accumulation of old boys in the lower classes has disappeared ... the teaching of French to boys who have not passed through to Standard 7 is of doubtful value.

27 Oct 1927 A concert was given in the Town Hall, Stratford, by the scholars, in aid of the school's sports fund. The programme took the form of a minstrel entertainment. The town hall was crowded and the concert was most successful. The profit exceeded £38. Great credit is due to Mr May and Mr Deville.

10 May 1928 Godwin school won the Dewar Shield and thus became champion school in London and district for football. The boys have also won the West Ham senior and junior championship.

23 Oct 1930 40 boys were taken on an educational visit to the Houses of Parliament this afternoon. Councillor Groves MP conducted the party round the Houses.

7 Mar 1931 Mr May and Mr White took a party of 24 boys to the British Museum.

22 Apr 1931 Reginald Newall, a scholar at this school, was awarded an international cap for football.

27 Nov 1931 A Nigger Minstrel Entertainment was held at the town hall, Stratford. ... The hall was crowded and the concert a great success. The funds of the school will receive a very welcome addition.

25 Apr 1933 Mr W How, the newly appointed head teacher, visited the school this afternoon. (ed: William How moved from Gainsborough Road school, and took up duties at Godwin on 2 May 1933).

23 Oct 1933 I and Mr Penfold left school at 3.15 this afternoon to visit the new baths in Romford Road, relative to holding a gala there.

5 Dec 1933 A man tried to steal my overcoat from my room today was given in charge by me after assaulting me. A doctor examined me and recommended that I go home to rest for the afternoon.

9 Jan 1934 I, with the caretaker, Mr Bailey, attended the Old Bailey today as witnesses in the trial of Alfred Wilson. He was sentenced to 8 months hard labour for the theft and 3 months hard labour for the assault.

Stratford Express account of the court
 case over the theft and assault
(13 Jan 1934). "Mr How executed
 a "rugger tackle" and brought the
 prisoner down. He was struck two
 or three times on the side of the face
 "The Recorder sentenced the
 prisoner to eight months hard labour
 for stealing, and three months
 hard labour for the assault on Mr How
 - eleven months in all"

6 Sep 1934 20 boys in the charge of Mr Deville and myself went on an educational tour of the London Docks, under the aegis of the Port of London Authority, in the SS Catherine. As the boys had to catch the train at 12.18 from Forest gate, I sent them home for dinner at 11 am.

17 Dec 1934 The boys assembled at 3pm for a fancy dress party, followed by tea and entertainment ... Miss Read and Miss Tear assisted by the vicar of St Marks judged the fancy dress costumes and selected the winners.

3 May 1925 The boys were assembled in the hall this afternoon for a short talk about HM the King's silver jubilee. Each boy was presented with a new 6d - the gift of the mayor. Others were given free tickets to attend the Grand Cinema in Forest Gate on the 7th. The proceedings were closed with the national anthem.

29 Sep 1935 The first swimming gala ever held by this school took place on Friday 20th inst. It was highly successful and wonderfully attended by both parents and scholars.  Among those present were His Worship the Mayor (ed: and half a dozen other local worthies).

1 Oct 1935 Arising from the financial success of the gala, His Worship the Mayor was asked to accept a cheque for 3 guineas from the school, as a donation to the boot fund (ed: the boot fund was a West Ham council initiative aimed at providing boots and shoes to "necessitous children". Up to 2,000 pairs footwear were supplied each winter, for the duration of the fund).

20 Nov 1935 A party of 40 boys visited the Ford Motor Company this afternoon.

Near contemporary photo of Ford's
 Dagenham - one of a number of industrial
school visits laid on by school, as
 potential future employers for the boys.
16 Dec 1935 The new cinema projector arrived and was used for the first time today.

4 Feb 1936 This afternoon Mr Meldrum, a representative of Ford Motors called to give prizes to the successful essay winners on "A visit to Ford Motor Works". The final prize was awarded to R Basham and the 2nd prize to K Ingham. All other boys were presented with a token of their visit.

18 Mar 1936 At the invitation of the staff of the school, parents were invited to attend this evening to witness a demonstration of the new school cinema projector, to show its educational worth.

4 Dec 1936 Four boys - PT, LP, SH and SW were guilty of stealing from the barrow of a helpless cripple a packet of cigarettes and afterwards sharing them out and smoking them. I dealt with them severely and informed the parents.

11 May 1937 Today, the eve of the coronation, is very rainy but the attendance is very good. Tickets from the cinema entertainment arranged by the council were distributed, as were also the sixpences - one to each boy ... The school closed this afternoon for the coronation and the Whitsun holiday.

22 Jun 1937 Mr Penfold reported to me this morning that one of the boys, M O'B on the way to the baths had shown gross respect to the dead. He punished him this morning with my full approbation.

30 Sep 1937 Mrs Holmes called at the school and without consulting me went straight to Mr Harper in a fury of temper and complained that he had struck her boy across the head. Mr Harper brought he to me, but she was so infuriated that I ordered her out.

21 Jan 1938 Mr Munro of the Telephone Development Association attended this morning and gave a lecture on the uses and methods of the telephone.

31 Mar 1938 Mr Penfold reported to me that a trolley bus ran through some boys crossing the road at a Belisha crossing (ed: road crossing introduced in 1934 and named after the then Minister of Transport, Leslie Hoare Belisha - a man most famed for a quip by 30's sex-symbol Mae West, who when visiting Britain, provocatively asked "So, just who is this Hoare, Belisha?").

9 May 1938 Mr Penfold and 3 boys had to attend West Ham police court this morning regarding the summons on a trolley-bus driver for negligent driving, as reported by me on 31 March. The man was fined £3 and 2 guineas costs.

Stratford Express (14 May 1938)
 account of the court case
of Arthur Bowie, the tram driver.

"It was alleged that the bus driver
 made no attempt to stop
(while 26 boys were on a
crossing on Romford Road,
on the way back from the baths).

The teacher "boarded the bus
 and spoke to the driver, who,
 however, would have nothing to do
 with him".

"Defendent would be fined £3
 and £2.2s costs, or 21 days
 on the summons for driving
 without reasonable consideration"

23 Jun 1938 40 boys visited the Gas Light and Coke Company's works this afternoon.

25 Jan 1939 Mr Munro of the Telephone Development Association attended and gave the boys of the upper class a lecture on 'How to use the telephone'.

14 Jul 1939 I attended a meeting at the Education Offices relative to the extension of the school age to 15 (ed: the application of this had to await the end of the impending war, and was introduced in 1947).

26 Jul 1939 Today is my last day here as Headmaster, on my retirement.

27 Aug 1939 Sunday. Members of staff were present from 9 o'clock until 4.30pm to interview and advise parents.

28 Aug 1939 Evacuation rehearsal successfully carried out. The children were assembled in their respective groups and marched around the playground into school.