Sunday, 16 December 2007

My Grandpa

On 28th November 1956 my Grandpa - Henry Charles Body - died. I recall little of him. By the time I knew him he had long since ceased to make portmanteaux and dressing cases (the job he did his whole life) and was merely a shadowy figure in the dining room at 46 Queens Drive where children should be seen and not heard (or ideally not even seen). I do recall that he once gave me a sixpence out of the blue.

This photo shows Grandpa's workshop in Seel Street in Liverpool just after the First world War. He is second from the left and the others are his employees including one of his brothers. Note the enormous crocodile hide! One of the residues of his work was a large collection of locks and keys and fittings that could be found in one of the two attic rooms at 46 Queens Drive and which were a source of great enjoyment to an adventurous young child. Sadly, any financial residue from his work was swallowed by the Depression of the Thirties and the increase in mass-produced goods (allegedly not helped by the amount of alcohol he imbibed).

Among Grandpa's interests were cooking (especially meat dishes); billiards; bowls and visiting the local hostelries. He won so many prizes at billiards at the Childwall Abbey he became quite unpopular! It was the source of most of the canteens of cutlery in the Body household. These were subsequently monogrammed with HFB for Henry (Harry) and Florence (Flo) Body.

Grandpa's death certificate showed his age - 79. He was born on 11th May 1877 in Jubilee Street, Mile End Old Town, in the heart of London's East End. Such was the pollution from the factories to the East of Mile End Old Town that when Henry Charles was just two the area lay for seventeen weeks (from November 1879 to March 1880) under a bank of yellowish grey fog with a combined smell of 'chemical works, varnish manufactories, match mills, candle factories, manure works, cocoa-nut fibre and leather-cloth factories, and distilleries..." The death certificate was signed by Dr. Dorothy Gough who was our family doctor and a much respected acquaintance of Mum's.

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