I start my story of the Evans line with an enigma. Little is known of Arthur Evans, pictured here, since he is reported to have died in the early 1900s of TB after spending about 3 years in a sanatorium (allegedly Alton Priory?), perhaps in Evesham although to date there is no confirmation of what happened to him.
Arthur & Annie Evans
Arthur's wife and daughters were to visit him in his last days but Arthur junior never saw his father again. Only two pictures of him remain both taken with his wife Annie Evans (previously known as Birch). Judging from the style of the first photograph with the curtains as a backdrop it was most probably taken between 1880 and 1900 so it could have been a wedding or engagement photograph.
The second photograph was taken on the beach, probably somewhere like Great Yarmouth where it is known that the family had spent their holidays. It was printed on a post card which had been sent to Annie's daughter Gladys. Since it was also addressed to Gladys and her husband (who married in 1924), this photograph must have been taken somewhat later than the first, perhaps several years after the birth of Arthur junior. A search of the family history centre records, even by a professional agency, has so far revealed no further information about Arthur senior. Arthur and Annie had four children, Gladys, Dolly, Arthur and Harry.
A birth certificate for Arthur junior, made as a copy more than 10 years later, records him as having been born at Park Village, Heath Town in 1913 and living nearby at 141 Cannock Road, on the North side of Wolverhampton.
Arthur Evans and mother Annie
A visit to the area unfortunately revealed that the house has now gone but an early Ordnance Survey map of Heath Town dated 1902 shows Park Village as a small set of roads to the North East of Wolverhampton city centre clustered along the Cannock Road. Number 141 Cannock Road is shown on the map opposite a Grimstone Farm. Open fields surround this newly developing area lending it a more rural outlook than its proximity to the city centre suggests. The fields which stretched across to St Barnabas' church on the Wednesfield Road were later to become the site for the Chubb lock and safe works. Charles and Jeremiah Chubb set up at Horseley fields in 1818. This may be close to Horseley Fields Tavern the home of a David and Ann Evans in the 1880s.
Although the Evans family appear to be working class, the place they lived in would tend to be more middle class. It has been written that as urban areas developed, the social classes became so segregated that communication between the classes was almost non existent. There is no way of knowing the exact background to the Evans family but from their professions, the locations in which they lived, the survival of their children and a reasonable life expectancy it can be assumed that they were not a real inner city family
Information for the research on the Evans line stemmed from only that one document, a birth certificate for Arthur Evans junior. The certificate was dated many years after his birth when he was about 14 since the original no longer existed.A baptism record has been found which corroborates the dates. The reason why Arthurís birth certificate was needed then was that the school leaving age had been set at 14 and by law, the age of a child was required to be known before employment could be given.
We will come back to Arthur junior later but for the moment let us study his father in more detail. The birth record shows that he may have worked in the motor trade although the actual form of his work was in dispute by the family. The word Ďlabourerí was written on the birth certificate by an uneducated registrar and did not fairly represent Arthurís profession. The family chose to try and delete that from the record.
On searching the Wolverhampton registrar's records a marriage certificate of 1900 between Arthur Evans and Annie Birch was discovered. That was the year in which the Dunlop Company produced its first pneumatic tyres in Birmingham, a company which was to figure highly in the lives of all the Evans family in later years.
St Peter's Wolverhampton
The marriage took place at the Collegiate Church of St Peterís, a large imposing building standing on the North Eastern side of Wolverhampton City. It was considered to be the local parish church for people who lived in the North East Wolverhampton and Willenhall area. The church of St Peters dates back to 994 and was built by Lady Wulfuna, after whom Wolverhampton's Wulfrun Hall is named. It was rebuilt between 1852 and 1865 by Ewan Christian. The Rector then said that his "parishioners should have humble gratitude to Almighty God who made their industry prosper amidst the crash and uprooting of surrounding nations. Their land was to be the Goshen of a darkened and stricken world". The Manders family had much to do with refurbishing the inside of St Peter's.
Arthur and Annie would have made the short journey from their homes to worship in this cathedral like church and finally came to marry there. The family would continue to worship there into the twentieth century and it is perhaps here that Arthur junior has his earliest memories of a venomous preacher delivering his hell fire and damnation sermons which would scare him for many years to come.
From the marriage certificate it was discovered that Arthur Evans senior was a tram conductor at that time. 1872 saw the first horse drawn trams running through the streets. Steam trams arrived in 1883 followed by electric trams by the 1920s. It may well have been one of these trams on which Arthur, was a conductor. Trams would have started out early in the mornings to transport people to their places of work. Most people had to be in work by about 6AM so Arthur would have set off even earlier when no trams or busses were running. Perhaps before he married, when he was living in St John's Street it may have been a short walk to the tram garage. Now that he was living out at Heath Town it would not have been so easy to get to work. Bicycles made locally were becoming popular as a means of transport so it could have been by bicycle that Arthur went to work. His TB and failing health would have been a hindrance especially on cold damp winter mornings.
Arthur and his wife Annie both lived in Wolverhampton and according to their marriage certificate, his father was recorded as being one Edward Evans, a railway labourer. Through the new city a complex of rail transport and canals was constructed to ferry people, coal and goods around. It might have been one of the new private rail companies like the London, Midland and Scottish railway (LMS) for which Edward worked or more likely, on a colliery train. Edward had died by the time his son married which may be an additional reason why Arthur junior knew very little of his fatherís side of the family. Edward and his wife Maria, formerly Bolton were discovered in a search of the 1881 census for Wolverhampton. It describes the family unit of Edward and Maria living in the Essington Road in Willenhall, so Arthur was already a resident of that part of town. Interestingly the record shows a large family of which Arthur junior was totally unaware. The eldest son John was 17 by 1881 which means that he was born in 1864 and that Edward and Maria had married many years before Arthur senior was born.
Two other sons Thomas and Joseph were still at school in 1881. This makes four other male Evans children who by now may have several descendants. (One was believed to have been the famous American jazz musician Bill Evans 1929~1980, through an interesting emigration by one of the sons but research has not succeeded in establishing the link. Bill Evans traces his roots back to Wales so a link is unlikely). There were also three daughters, Esther, Annie and Alice. Arthur junior does recall one Aunt known to him only as a Mrs Hollice who was a hairdresser. It is believed that she emigrated to Australia. This was an age when famous ocean liners like the Lusitania, the Mauretania, the Olympic, the ill fated Titanic and the Aquitania were launched. Perhaps it was on one of these ships that they sailed. It is believed that she too may have had a large family of some six or seven children.
From a little knowledge of the social history of the time together with some speculation I have written a story about how life might have been in Victorian times.
Victoria Street, 1886
Edward and Maria Evans and their family would have lived in Wolverhampton in the second half of the nineteenth century which saw a tremendous growth of the area during the Industrial Revolution. The area South of them around Wolverhampton, but perhaps not Wolverhampton itself, had become known as the Black Country. Edward and Maria must have grown up in the Wolverhampton area against a background of poor health but a rapidly improving environment. A birth certificate for Edward has not yet been discovered but a marriage certificate between Edward and Maria dated 1st April 1861 shows them to have married at St Paulís Church, Wolverhampton. They were recorded as living at Halletts Row which, if connected with present day Halletts Drive is very close to the centre of Wolverhampton. Edward's Father was John Evans, which perhaps identifies the reason behind the naming of Edwardís first son. John, like his son Edward was a miner. Working back at about 20 to 25 years between generations, we can deduce that John may have been born around 1800 to 1820.
Mariaís Father was William Bolton, a builder, although no more is known of her side of the family. Interestingly a witness to the wedding was a Sarah Evans who may perhaps have been the mother of Edward. Again a search of the 1881 census does show several possibilities for this generation. A John and Sarah Evans were living at 73 Dial lane West Bromwich. They were born in 1803 and had another son, perhaps the brother of Edward's called Elijah who was 38 and unmarried. His job was a puddler, which may have been applied to one who worked at the canals filling in holes with clay to prevent the water from leaking out, or more likely he would have worked with wrought iron. John was an engine driver at a mine colliery again showing the strong links with transportation. Establishing these facts takes the search back to the start of the 19th century but the facts remain tenuous.
Moving back to Arthur Evans senior we can explore a little of the life and times in which they lived. He was born on 23rd April 1880 which would have made him 20 when he married Annie. At that time, he was living in St John's Street, now part of an inner ring road in the centre of Wolverhampton. Arthur senior was born in the era of the great depression of mid-1880s which lasted through until 1893 when he would have been a teenager thinking about employment. The population of Wolverhampton had grown from just over 10,000 in 1801 to 94,000 by 1901. (By 1951 it would grow to 160,000). In the city there were tenement houses holding on average 8.2 people per property, a cause for concern to the town planners. Adult literacy, safety and working conditions in mines and industry had all improved but Arthur chose a career in the transport and motor trade as a tram conductor.
Arthur and Annie had 4 children. Their daughters Gladys and Dolly were born several years before the 2 sons. They would have been almost in their teens by the time Arthur Junior then a few years later, Harry, were born.
Arthur junior remembers as a child that his mother and older sisters would visit their father in hospital, telling young Arthur about their father's condition on their return. Being very young at the time he remembers little of his father. He tends to have developed a greater interest in his Mother's side of the family, the Birchs.
A tale told to Harry much later records the sad death of Arthur senior. This may best be recounted as a narrative story which perhaps bears some resemblance to the real events of the time.
The two sisters Gladys and Dorothy (known as Dolly) were now married and had gone to live in Pype Hayes Road, Erdington, near Birmingham. They invited their mother Annie and the two boys to come to Birmingham to stay with them. It was to be the start of a whole new life. Dolly's husband Ernie treated young Arthur like his own son as the family began to establish their new life in Erdington, far from their Black Country roots.Arthur's sister Gladys' husband Arthur Bernard (known to the author as Uncle Bernard) suffered a mustard gas attack during World War 1 and retained a disfigured face. Their daughter Betty married John Orr whose family ran a shoe business in Birmingham. A love of Jazz music took them to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA. They returned to the UK where their son Stephen was born in 1967. Sadly both his parents died in the 1980s back in Cheltenham, but now married Stephen survives and a reunion has finally been made with him through this site.
Arthur junior was a youth who enjoyed adventure. His escapades on a motorcycle brought him notoriety. His two older sisters were now working for the newly established Dunlop Tyre and Rubber Company. Arthur and his brother Harry went to Paget Road school (which Arthur junior's son Anthony was later to attend). It was at the age of 14 that he left school to start work at the Dunlop Tyre factory, to be followed later by his brother Harry. Dunlop had recently relocated from Aston Cross in Birmingham out to its new site along the Tyburn Road in Erdington.
Dunlop at Manor Mills, Rooky Lane,
Aston cross 1920
Fort Dunlop 1920~1929
The company was just being established in its newly developing rural surroundings between Erdington and Castle Bromwich. Only a village then, the workers would have found difficulty travelling out from their homes near Birmingham, especially when they were required to cross Gravely Hill. The company sought to help them by laying on barges to ferry them out along the canal to the factory gates. Since the site was built on the old Ashold Farm, the security gates were still the five bar farm gate with a small outhouse for the security guard. Arthur remembers going through those gates every morning. Many of the buildings which have by now become landmarks for passing motorists on the nearby motorway, were still to be erected.
Arthur was employed as a youth in the accounts department helping record names for the payroll but lacking stimulus he ventured out to climb the factory's chimney stack in search of excitement. It was an exploit which would, if not for the intervention of his mother, have caused his dismissal. From there he moved into the factory but life inside did not suit him. A basic education at the nearby college in Erdington followed by a year at Matthew Boulton in Birmingham convinced him that there must be more to life than a factory job. His brother Harry was already driving delivery trucks.
Dunlop garage Test Fleet.
He was soon attracted by the sight of the Dunlop test fleet and even then he must have decided that driving was the life for him. Finding his way out of the factory the first step on the ladder was through an internal transport system driving site vehicles. From there he progressed to become a company chauffeur escorting directors and visitors around the country. Finally his dream was realised when he joined the test fleet where he was to stay for virtually the remainder of his career.
Their mother Annie had now remarried to an electrical engineer, Frank Devey. Annie had been running a small dance club in Erdington and Frank was one of her regular students. After marrying they returned to their roots by moving back to Penn in Wolverhampton.
Arthur & Gladys
Life became a little more settled when Arthur married Gladys Spacey on 21st December 1935 at St Mary's Church, Pype Hayes. Gladys moved from her home nearby at 370 Holly Lane and Arthur from his home in Pype Hayes Road to set up a new home very near by at 6 Alman Road. Arthur now spent much more time with Gladys and her family riding motorcycles then driving cars visiting relatives around the country.
It was not long after they married that World War 2 broke out and Arthur,
keen to see more action volunteered for active service. He returned home one
day and told his wife he had joined up. She too had
news for him. She told him she was pregnant and expecting a child who was to be
my brother Anthony.
Not long after Harry also joined up together with their step father's son, Gordon Devey.
Harry Evans and Gordon Devey Arthur
Dunlop did offer to keep Arthur in a reserved profession but the spirit of risk and adventure was greater. The four years he was to spend in the army did not detract from his service which meant that after retirement he was able to record over 50 years of continuous employment with the company.
Whilst away at training camp in Dumfries, Scotland his first son Anthony was born on 21st August 1942. Army training was to see a relocation to Aldershot where his driving skills came to the fore. Harry drove tanks and Arthur learnt to drive heavy trucks and even a tank transporter as the walls of Winchester barracks may still bear witness. He managed to continue with his enthusiasm for rugby playing for his battalion but soon found the opposition more aggressive than those of his earlier school days.
Shortly afterwards the brothers were split up. Harry went to the Isle of Wight where he formed a band for the officer's mess. Finally he joined the tank division and was to see action at the D Day landings.
Arthur left to fight in the Artillery with Montgomeryís 8th Army in North Africa. Even 60 years on since the war he still recounts many memorable stories which had a lasting effect on his life. One particular event that he claimed earned him the DSM may have gone like this:
The War was a wonderful adventure but it had its darker moments for Arthur. Malaria struck putting him in a field hospital and since Whiskey was the only medicine available it gave him a taste for the nectar which would be passed on to sons and grandsons. Arthur still recalls vividly the traumatic experience of seeing one of his army colleagues die. Major Harry Gom had been a close friend during many of their war escapades but one fateful night their task was to act as spotters for the enemy guns. A careful drive through a minefield bought them to a small hut in which they took cover. During a lull in the shelling Harry took a short walk outside to answer the call of nature but shortly after leaving Arthur was shocked to hear a nearby explosion. Thinking the barrage had restarted he rushed outside to find Harry lying in a pool of blood. He had trodden on a mine. Caring not for his own safety Arthur lifted Harry back into their truck and at break neck speed he drove back through the minefield to the safety of his troops. Breaking radio silence he called for help and they were both rushed to an emergency Hospital nearby. His brave efforts were to no avail as the medic in charge shook his head breaking the news that nothing could be done to save him. It was the moment when the reality and horror of war came home to Arthur, a reality which would remain with him for the rest of his life. Gladys knew Harry's wife and had to go and console the widow.
Gladys brought young Anthony up alone during the war and it was over 3 years before Arthur was to see Anthony again. Gladys moved back in with her parents, Sidney and Emily who had moved to 207 Foley Road West, Streetly, a safer area away from the bombed city of Birmingham. After that dramatic night of bombing in Coventry, a family who had lost their home were rehoused in Arthurís now empty home in Alman Road. Returning safely from the traumas of war to re-establish his home, Arthur discovered that the new family refused to leave and so a court case ensued. Winning the eviction to the pleasure of both parties, since the other couple had to be rehoused by the council, Arthur and his wife returned to their home in Erdington, Birmingham.
After the war, Arthur returned to Dunlop and took to the road again as a test driver. In his new found job which was a far cry from that of his early youth, a test driver's work took him regularly all over the country driving hundreds of miles every day.
It even took him to the South of France where he earnt the nickname Monsieur Le Pipe (pronounced like peep) since he was never seen without a pipe in his mouth. He was by then a regular pipe smoker. His work took him to race tracks around the country where he met stars of the Grand Prix circuit like Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart. He remembers one day seeing a very young Damon Hill riding a small vehicle at his father's home and Arthur thought then that he was watching a champion in the making. Pathe films made a feature about the life of test drivers, or hell drivers as one article reported. The glamorous life driving cars of every variety was long and enjoyable but eventually as retirement age approached he decided to take a quieter life and settled for home life more. Driving and cars however remains his life long love. He stayed with Dunlop for half a century before retiring to live in Lichfield.
Harry followed the musical side of the family enjoying big band dance music and also playing drums with the bands. Doris Alexander and her brother Percy played in Harry's band and it was through this that Harry married Dolly on 2 December 1939 and they had 3 children, Michael, Diane and Carole. Michael like his father was a keen drummer, played in a band and wrote music. Tragically he died young in a car accident and left a wife and two children.
Harry and Dolly
It was in 1947 that Arthur and Gladys' second son, Malcolm (the author of this site) was born. Both sons are now married and have children of their own. Anthony who is known better now as Tony (a retired photographer) married Anne Lancashire and has two children, Joanne and Richard. Those children are now married, Joanne to Andrew Moore (they have 2 lovely children Grace and James). Richard married Diana Bailey.
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Now about the site author's direct family:
Malcolm married Janice Collier
Janice & Malcolm married April 1976 in Lichfield
They have a son, Andrew.
Janice, Malcolm and Andrew
Who like his father, graduated
Andi's Graduation day Jan 2000
In September 2005 Andi (as he is now known) married Julia Barham at St Osmund's Church Derby not far from where his maternal grandmother's family used to live.
St Osmund's Church, Derby.
In Feb 2008 their daughter Emily Victorai was born. She was baptised at St Osmunds church in Derby. She is now growing up and has even started school, time flies!
The writer of this website retired from a working life in the tyre industry to spend more time with his wife and family. Retirement offers time to spend in many pursuits like writing, reading, study, science (fact & fiction) and also to embark on a whole different life full of new hobbies and interests. Retirement needs structure and importantly it also requires one to maintain a healthy mind and body. Past generations have lived long and eventful lives. This descendant wants to continue the tradition.
For a change of environment the website author Malcolm and his wife Janice moved to live in Derby. Looking back over the various family histories we find several loops have now been closed. Janice was born in Derby.
Malcolm was relicensed as a "reader" that is a lay preacher in the local church, St Michael & All Angels in Alvaston, the church where Janice's Mother & Father were married in 1945