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                                                                                   THE FAMILIES OF EDITH AND HELENA The two eldest girls in the Murray family both attended St. Andrew’s School and grew into engaging and intelligent young ladies. Edith was a sturdy girl with long dark hair, who felt her responsibilities as the eldest child and took life seriously, whilst Helena (Nelly) was of a more light-hearted nature. She had fair hair and a very clear complexion and grew into beautiful young woman. Edith was the first to get engaged, however. Her fiancé, Charlie Dee, lived with his parents in Manchester, and had been a childhood friend of both the girls when they lived there too. The Dees were old acquaintances of the Murrays, They also ran a shop, so they were a busy family. In 1901, the mother was taken ill, and a request was made that Edith might go to stay with them to help with the business and the younger children. Jim and Elizabeth did not feel that this was appropriate, as it would mean that an engaged couple would be living in the same house, so instead, they suggested that Nellie went to Manchester and this was duly arranged.  This decision was a disaster. Charlie had a roving eye and Nellie was the prettier and no doubt the more flirtatious of the two girls. Exactly what happened has never been fully told. Indeed it was kept as a dark secret for many years, but after some months, Nellie came home to Southport, where she shared the big front bedroom with her four sisters, and somehow found the opportunity to confess to Edith that she was carrying Charlie’s child. Edith felt betrayed and deeply shocked, but when she had come to terms with the situation, she told Nellie that she would write to Charlie, brake off the engagement and support Nellie in any way she could. Jim was furious. The wedding plans at St. Andrew’s Church were already set in motion, and now the family felt disgraced. Nellie was distraught, but Charlie decided to rescue her from an unbearable situation. Arrangements were made for a secret marriage at the parish church in the nearby town of Ormskirk, and no-one in either family knew this was to happen, except Edith. On the appointed day, …. Nellie and Edith left their home at 9, Maple St. Southport very early in the morning and caught the train to Ormskirk, where they were met by Charlie and two male friends. Immediately after the wedding ceremony had been completed, they all took the train to Liverpool and that night the young couple boarded a passenger ship to Canada. Nellie never saw her parents again, and did not return to England until after two World Wars.( In 1948 she came back to England for a long summer holiday.)  The two young men presumably took a train home to Manchester, and Edith took one to Southport to come home to face her parents and confess that she had been complicit in assisting in the elopement. In her old age, my mother, Elsie, recalled that as a child of seven, she and her two older sisters, Ethel. (9) and Clare (11) were summoned to see their father who solemnly told them that they must never speak of what had occurred. Nellie had made her own decision to marry Charles Dee. The parents did not approve the marriage, but everyone would simply be told that Nellie had gone to live in Canada for the rest of her life. The girls kept their word. I grew up to know that I had an Auntie Nellie living in Canada, who had a large family, but the story of the engagement to Charlie Dee was never revealed until after Ethel and Clare had both died. It was my Auntie Louie who told me the full story, a few nights before she died, in her ninetieth year. Louie was my father’s sister, and had been a childhood friend of both Edith and Nellie. She told me how Jim Murray had come to see her father (my grandfather) in deep distress, and confessed that she had listened to the tale through the keyhole     Probably, Jim Murray felt that he was partly responsible. Nellie was his favourite child and perhaps he had spoiled her. His health began to deteriorate. His bronchitis got worse, but on the 18th January 1905, he had the honour to carry Edith on his arm when she married Roland Winnard in St. Andrew’s Church, Southport - a day to remember with joy. Rol was a hard working young quantity surveyor who was to prosper. The young couple moved to live at Rayleigh in Essex, when Rol got employment with the rising company of Balfour Beattie in London. It was here that they brought up their two daughters, Gladys Mary (born 1910) and Joyce (born 1912). They bought a plot of land on the edge of the village, looking towards the countryside, and had a house built called “Terra Nova”, where Edith kept chickens, and Rol caught the morning train to London. A new chapter of the family had begun. Meanwhile, Nellie and Charlie were creating a whole new life for themselves in Canada. Charlie probably had the idea that he would make good in the exploding gold and silver mines in British Columbia for this was where they headed along with other young British hopefuls. The town of Nelson set on the banks of the Kootenay Lake in the remote Selkirk Mountains had become the hub for the mining and forestry industries in the region. A new rail-track had been built there, for this was now a transportation centre linked to the main cross Canadian Railway. No doubt the young couple spent several days on the train getting there after their arrival on the east coast. We do not know what work Charlie first obtained, but he soon became the father of a young family, and Nellie must have had her hands full in their log cabin home. Letters and photographs were sent back to Southport over the years as the family grew. Dorothy, Arthur, Charles, Jim, Elsie and young Noreen were all born before the outbreak of the 1914 war. Charlie Dee served in the Canadian army during that time and fought in France. He returned to Canada after the war ended, but he and Nellie split up soon after then. Helena, as she now preferred to be known, had to bring up the young family single-handed. They moved to Vancouver, where the climate was kinder and jobs were more plentiful. When they left school, Dorothy, Arthur and Charles all started working for the Macmillan Timber Company, who owned much of the forest and floated their timber log-laden rafts down the Fraser River. Dorothy worked her way up over the years to become the private secretary to the Managing Director, one Mr. Holporan. Arthur, who had always been in uncertain health, died fairly young, but Charles persevered in the company and eventually became one of their Vice Presidents.   Meanwhile, back in England, in the late 1930’s Edith and Rol moved to live in a new house in Hampstead Garden Suburb in London. Rol could go to his office by the underground train from Golders’ Green Station. It was quicker and cheaper and the girls had left school and it was easier for them to find work in London. In the summer of 1935 the two girls booked a ski-ing holiday together in Austria and came face to face with the Hitler Youth Movement on a train crossing the border from Germany into Austria. Joyce later told how they had tried to go to the restaurant car and not been allowed to walk thought the corridor of the carriage occupied by a rowdy group of youths singing Nazi songs. An elderly Austrian gentleman tried to intervene on their behalf but was shouted down. The old man nearly wept. “I do not know what this country is coming to,” he said.   Mary, as she now liked to call herself, married later that year. Her husband, Frank Hurd was a cheerful young man who had trained as an artist, but sadly he developed TB and died after only a few years of marriage. Mary was distraught. Joyce, who had trained for secretarial work, found employment in the London head office of Barclay’s Bank. Fortunately, Hampstead did not suffer badly through the bombing in the Second World War, and although life was difficult for the family with many nights of broken sleep and all the necessary restrictions, life continued comparatively normally. Joyce was at Barclay’s for many years, working her way up to become the private secretary to a Mr. Roberts, who was the Managing Director of all the London Branches. She did this work for around ten years, supporting him throughout the difficult war years. Mary worked in a jewelry shop, at this time and it was here that she first met her second husband. Robert Strass was a Jewish businessman, who had been born in Czekoslovakia and been forced to leave when the Nazi’s seized power. He had been a soldier in the Czech army and, after being wounded, was initially left for dead on a battlefield, but later rescued and nursed back to health. He was now living alone in London and had established a small business making cooking oils, which were new to the English market. The tradition was to use butter, margarine or lard and these were all in short supply. Robert’s business was now thriving. Through Robert, Mary was introduced by members of the Czechoslovac government, who were in exile in London. The couple were married in 1941. They lived at a flat in Kensington Gardens, later moving to Hampstead as Robert’s business prospects expanded.  After the war, he made business trips to the United States, Europe, Japan and Singapore. On occasions, Mary was able to accompany him. He had a coronary heart attack when he was in Bogota in South America. Mary flew out to join him and they later convalesced in Jamaica, but never made a full recovery. Robert died in England, in 1954.       During the war, Helena remained in regular contact by letters with her English family, and even offered to have her youngest sister’s two young boys stay with her Canadian family under an evacuation scheme. This never happened though, as Elsie changed her plans following the sinking of a British ship laden with young evacuees. Helena sent food parcels whenever she could. Tins of Canadian salmon and fresh apples were very popular. In the summer of 1948, Helena came to England and stayed with Edith and Rol in Hampstead. The reunion was a very happy one. Harold and his wife May brought Helena north in the car. She stayed at their home and also at her old family home at 9, Maple Street Southport, with her younger sisters, Clare and Ethel. She also had a holiday on the Isle of Man with her youngest sister, Elsie, and her family. She returned to Canada from the Manchester Docks, sailing along the Manchester Ship Canal, in which her father had bought shares when it first opened. In 1956 Joyce married John Bartlett, the London Territorial Manager of Barclay’s Bank. John had succeeded Mr. Roberts in this post, and shortly afterwards his first wife died. As his secretary, Joyce helped him over this very difficult period and a strong friendship developed. They went to live in a lovely house on Carbone Hill, Cuffley, Hertforrdshire, and had nine happy years of marriage, before John died of a coronary attack. Shortly afterwards, Joyce and Mary decided to share a home with their mother, Edith, who had now been widowed. Rol died in 1966. He was living then at Angmering-on-sea, East Sussex, and a large house was bought near there. Sadly, Mary never made that move. She died suddenly in 1967 when on holiday in Venice. Joyce flew out to attend an inquest, which was unsatisfactory. Joyce always felt that the hospital care had not been appropriate and that the cause of death in bed during the night was not properly investigated. She suspected unintentional food poisoning. It was all very distressing. Joyce and Edith moved to their new house, “Cherrywood”, the following year. It made a lovely home, with a large garden featuring cherry trees and rhododendrons. Edith suffered a slow deterioration over the years, an eventually died in 1978. Joyce continued to live a quiet life there with her dogs. Many elderly relatives and friends came to stay And Joyce was always attentive to their needs. She died peacefully, after a long illness, on her eighty-second birthday. 27 May. 1994
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