|Harry Lewis Welch|
|Bess with Clive Weaving|
Bess proudly told the story of going into the Lewis (whom she described as being "of the gun family") home and being surprised to see a picture of her grandfather in a top hat and long coat, standing by a horse saddle that was on a stand.The saddle had been made by her grandfather, Edwin Blaney, for Queen Victoria, while he was in the employ of Lamplugh and Brown, a saddle company at 135 Great Colmore Street in Birmingham. According to the London Gazette, August 26, 1891, Lamplugh and Brown was dissolved when Mr. Brown retired. Subsequently, James Alfred Lamplugh formed Lamplugh and Co merging with Middlemore Saddles in 1896.
Mrs. Lewis was Agnes Bertha Brown (born 1871), the daughter of George Frederick Brown (born 1842) who was a wholesale saddler according to the 1891 census. In 1892 she married Ernest Charles Lewis (born 1868) who was a gun maker as was his brother and their father before them. Their youngest daughter Hiliary was baptized April-June 1915 in King's Norton. The other children in the Lewis family were Ernest age 22, Hilda age 19 and George age 13.
In 1911 the family was living at 316 Park Rd in the Hockley area of Birmingham, about ten miles north of the Blaney home in King’s Norton. His father and mother were both age forty, Harry was eighteen, his sister Amy was thirteen and his uncle, Thomas Lewis, was shown as a twenty-eight year old boarder. Thomas was the brother of Mary Ann and had been living with the family since at least 1901 at which time David Lewis, another brother of Mary Ann's, had also boarded with them. In 1911 Harry, his father and his uncles were all brass workers. Harry and his uncle Thomas were both brass hinge dressers and as such they would have worked in a foundry removing the flash and other unwanted bits from the brass castings of hinges.
Harry’s grandparents were William Andrew Welch (b 1835-1890) and Mary Ann Barnes (b. 1835-1905). They had five children so he had a couple of uncles on his father’s side of the family as well as those on the Lewis side. Harry did not know his grandfather William who was a bricklayer and died before Harry was born but his grandmother Mary Ann lived until 1905.
Harry won a dance contest in 1914, in Birmingham, receiving a set of silver plated apostle spoons as a prize for his waltzing.
Harry's prize was presented by Gerti Gitana who was a very popular British Music Hall performer. She began singing in public at the age of four and by the age of seventeen she was a headliner. Her first gramophone recordings were made in 1911 and she was known as the Force’s Sweetheart during WWI often entertaining the war wounded in hospitals.I am happy to own these prize spoons given to me by my grandmother, Bess.
Harry and Bess made quite the couple on the dance floor but she often had to share him with other women who had boyfriends or husbands who didn’t dance, this she didn’t particularly appreciate. They both continued to love music throughout their lives.
|Harry, four friends and Bess|