Happy birthday!

Today would have been the 100th birthday of my uncle, my mum’s only brother. Although we didn’t see him so often when I was living in the north of England, I have such wonderful vivid memories of him when I was a child.

Uncle Alan, born William Alan Matthews in East Preston in Sussex, was the eldest, and only boy of a family of four. He was named William, as was family tradition:

Four Williams, photo taken about 1892, William born 1813, William born 1838, William Henry, known as Billy, born 1861 and my granddad, William Reginald, known as Reg, born 1887

This oldest William died a few years after this photo, but the next photo, taken nearly thirty years later shows the family tradition continues:

Four Williams, photo taken about 1919, old William, Billy, Reg and Alan

During Alan’s early life, the family moved around quite a lot and during that time Reg, his father went abroad, possibly for two years, possibly to Manaus in Brazil, or maybe the Cape Verde islands – or maybe the Cape Verde Islands was later. That would have been between 1920 and 1922; Audrey, his sister was born in Willesden London, maybe at the home of their widowed grandmother, Lois Walford, in 1920; she was about two years old when she first met her father – or met him as a little girl not a baby. Two more sisters were born, Beryl in 1924, and my mum Monica in 1925, both in Winchester.

At some point the family lived in Wallasey in the Wirral, and at some point Audrey and Allen were sent to live their aunt and uncle, while the two little girls stayed with their mother – or parents… I’m not sure whether Reg was travelling again. At some point, maybe about 1926/7 they moved to Pavenham in Bedfordshire and Alan went to the Bedford Modern School, a very prestigious school then, and now.

The family lived happily in Pavenham, although times were hard through lack of money. Alan joined the RAF as an apprentice in 1935, and eventually became a flight engineer, and continued in the service throughout the war until probably about 1949. He then became an agricultural machinery engineer working at some point for Massey Ferguson.  I think he then went on to become a sales representative for them, and later, after his marriage in 1961 he and his wife had a hotel in Hereford. He had two daughters and the family continued to live in Hereford; Alan sadly died in 2001 and was greatly mourned by all who knew him.

Uncle Alan was a dashing, handsome man with dark hair, a sweeping black moustache, and sparkling eyes; he would arrive and whirl into the house ‘Hello you girls!’ he would shout to me and my sister. I have a feeling he had a motorbike for a while, but then he had a series of flashy, fast sports cars… he was like a James Bond figure, and had many tales to tell about adventures in Spain and Turkey. He and his two brothers-in-law, my dad and my other uncle were firm friends, and I think particularly when they were younger, before any children arrived they probably had quite a bit of mischievous fun! He was always laughing and joking,

I’m sure anyone who ever met him would never forget him, and tonight, no doubt we’ll raise a glass and say ‘Cheers, ,Alan!’

2 Comments

  1. david lewis

    I listened to a radio show about the important influence single, free spirited Aunts had over young girls. I guess they were seen as the direct opposite of the Mother.I think as a lad I would have been in awe of your Uncle.

    Liked by 1 person

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