Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Home in Garbett Street

Celebrations in Garbett Street to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The women standing in the back row (from left): Emily Clayton (nee. Wayne), Anne (Nance) Millington, Granny Clayton. The two women seated at the front are Mrs Witheridge (a neighbour) and Florence Millington. The young boys are sons of George Clayton and Emily Wayne.

William and Mary Clayton set up home at 20 Garbett Street in Ladywood. They are recorded at this address in the Electoral Roll records of Autumn 1920, with Harold Clayton also recorded at the same address.

In the same records, there were also Claytons recorded at 1 back of 17 Garbett Street:- George Samuel Clayton, Emily Anne Clayton and Frederick Clayton.

Harold, George and Frederick were all brothers of my grandmother Florence. Emily Anne Clayton was the wife of George.

Two of the Clayton brothers, George and Frederick (in bowler hats) outside The Vine Pub on the corner of Garbett Street in Ladywood. The lady at the back of the group is Emily Clayton (nee.Wayne), who worked in The Vine as a barmaid.

Florence herself married my grandfather, William Joseph Millington on June 23rd 1919. They lived at 3 back of 19 Garbett Street, but spent about two years abroad in India in the early 1920s, where William was stationed with the army. The Millingtons lived close to the Claytons in Garbett Street for at least two decades, until they moved a few streets away to 1a Monument Road in the 1940s.

Kathleen Robinson described the conditions in Garbett Street:

“There were eight families sharing a single lavatory in our yard. Granny Clayton’s house next door to ours was a bit bigger than the one we had. She kept chickens in her garden and one of her bedrooms was haunted by the ghost of a white lady. It was an old inn you see, divided into two houses”.

Six years later, electoral roll records of 1926 record William Henry and Mary Clayton still living at 20 Garbett Street, along with Thomas Clayton and Henry Joseph Joyce. At 1 back of 17 Garbett Street we find that Frederick Clayton and Emily Anne Clayton are registered to vote, as is a gentleman named Henry Underhill at the same abode. At 2 back of 19 Garbett Street we find George Samuel Clayton, William Thomas Clayton. At 3 back of 19 we find Enoch and Beatrice Taylor with William Millington (though not Florence).

Another six years on and electoral roll records of 1933 record William Henry and Mary Helen Clayton still living at 20 Garbett Street, this time with Thomas and Frederick Clayton also registered at the same address. According to these same records of 1933, George Samuel and Emily Annie Clayton had moved from 1 back of 17 Garbett Street into 2 back of 19 Garbett Street, with William and Florence Millington living at 3 back of 19.

A photograph from the Coronation celebrations of 1937. This one shows more of the neighbours who lived in the courtyard in Garbett Street. The man on the right with the cigarette is my grandfather, William Millington who married Florence Clayton. My Uncle Bill is the boy in the front right corner and the other boys include some of his Clayton cousins

Neighbours of the Claytons and Millingtons in 1933, and presumably all queuing to use the same lavatory, were Mr and Mrs West at 19 Garbett Street, Mr and Mrs Rogers at 1 back of 19, Mr and Mrs Adams at 4 back of 19, the Brookes family at 5 back of 19 and Nellie West at 6 back of 19.

Polling registers at the end of the war in 1945, show Henry William, Mary and Thomas Clayton still at number 20 Garbett Street, whilst Frederick Clayton and Marion A Clayton are at 3 back of 61 Garbett Street. This was my grandmother’s brother Fred with his wife who was known as Agnes or Aunty Doll.

Four years on, in the 1949 register, there is no sign of William and Mary Clayton at 20 Garbett Street. My guess is that William had died and Granny Poll had gone to live with relatives in Quinton. Frederick and Marion A Clayton remain at 3 back of 61 Garbett Street, though it seems all other Claytons have moved out of Garbett Street. My grandparents, Florence and Bill Millington continued to live around the corner in Monument Road until 1969. But as far as Garbett Street was concerned, it was the end of a long, hard but happy era for the Clayton family.

My father Geoff with his cousin Rita Joyce. Standing behind are Nance and Kathleen Millington with their aunt, Annie Joyce.

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