Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Life and Death of Terence Millington

A view along Bishopsgate Street in 1954. Terence Millington spent most of his life living in the Lee Bank area and in his final years he lived at number 75 Bishopsgate Street.

By most accounts, our great grandfather Terence Millington led much of his life in the public houses of Lee Bank and Ladywood. Several of Terence’s grandchildren (my father’s brother and sisters and some of his cousins – children of George) have substantiated the over riding impression that Terence was a man who was frequently drunk and invariably had, putting it as tactfully as possible here, a ‘difficult’ side to his personality.

My aunty Kath recalled to me that her father William did not get on with his own father Terence, and believed that William may have even blamed Terence somehow for neglecting them as children and perhaps also neglecting their mother Phoebe.

William was deeply affected by the death of his mother, he was 14 years old when she died and after her death he had an intricate and colourful tattoo put on his arm with the word “Mum” inscribed over a crucifix embellished with flowers. Throughout his adult life there was little love lost between father and son, to the point that I have been told that William could not even bear to be in the same room as his father and refused to go to visit him, even when Terence was in his old age.

If the animosity between them dated back to William’s childhood, it was further inflamed by a situation which occurred sometime in his teenage years. Once again, my dad’s sister Kath described events recalled by her father:

“When our dad was a teenager, he used to work for a wealthy Jewish family who lived in the area. They paid him to go in and light their fires for them and they always showed him a lot of affection and encouragement. Our dad was very interested in chemistry and this kindly family spotted his academic potential and offered Terence money for dad to have further education. But Terence took offence to them offering charity and he sent dad off to work up The Mint, even though our dad was underage for employment. Terence put an end to his ambitions, so that’s why our dad spent his life working in them dirty foundries.”

Terence John Millington died at 75 Bishopsgate Street on 29th May 1959. He was 77 years old and his trade recorded as a retired metal caster. He died of (1) a cerebral haemorrhage, (2) arterio sclerosis, and (3) bronchitis. His death was registered by his daughter Violet Campbell of 2 back 158 Tennant Street who was present at her father’s death.

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