Thursday, 9 March 2017

A shop before its time and a family search abandoned

It was one of those shops which with its quirky concept and interesting objects should have done well on Beech Road.

Take an everyday object past its sell by date and no use to any one and turn it into something different, but I guess it was an idea ahead of the retail trend which now dominates the place.

Now I just assumed that number 19 Beech Road had always had a shop, but not so. Back in 1911 it it was a domestic property the home of Mrs Edith Elizabeth Edwards and her three step sons and Amelia Seel their domestic servant.

I rather think there is a story here which in time with dogged patience I might uncover. Edith was a widow and her husband had died sometime between 1909 and 1911. They were in the house by 1903.

The 1911 census was signed and so I guess filled in by her eldest step son William Pettitt Barrie. And here the mystery begins. The census return declares that Edith had no children.

And yet go back just ten years and there is Edith E Barrie living with her three sons, unmarried sister niece, nephew, a boarder and servant on Stretford Road. She describes herself as a 32 year old widow who was a “Shopkeeper Confectioner Dealer” and her sister as “living on own means.” 

And back another ten and Edith is living with her husband William daughter Elsie and the 36 year old companion Mary A Biggins at 2 Wharf Road, Sale.

It is at this point that you begin to question whether there is something not quite right about crawling over someone’s life and beginning to draw conclusions. And so I won’t.

Perhaps it is enough to draw the more general conclusion that the period was still one where many could die young and be left a widow. Not only did it happen to Edith twice but also to their domestic servant Amelia Seel who at 51 had also lost her husband.

Picture; from the collection of Lawrence Beedle

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