Following Monday’s blog post, previous blog contributor Rosie Rowley was inspired to do a bit more research into Frederick Webb, the man at the heart of the case. Here she shares with us her findings – our thanks to Rosie for this unprompted but very welcome research. We love it when someone is inspired by the stories we’re telling and goes off and extends the research – so, if this happens to you in the future, please let us know!
Frederick James Webb was born on 25 October 1880 and baptised on 26 December 1880 at the Church of St Peter Apostle, Leamington Spa, the son of Harriet (née Jones) and James Webb, a plate layer of Leamington. In 1881, two-month-old Frederick James was living at 30 Clarence Street, Leamington Priors, with his parents and older brother William, aged 2.
By 1891 the family had moved to 62 Fount Street, Leamington, and included another son, Louis, aged 2 months.
Like his father, Frederick became a platelayer for the Great Western Railway (GWR) and, also like his father, joined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants union in 1907, although his membership lapsed in 1908 due to arrears.
Frederick married Annie Round on 3 November 1909 at Solihull Register Office and in 1911 he was living at Lanark Cottage, Whitnash, with his new wife and her three-year-old son, Frederick Cyril Round (later known as Frederick Cyril Round Webb). Frederick was then working as a railway labourer for the GWR. A son, William Henry, known as Bill, was born on 6 June 1914.
Frederick rejoined the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants union as a platelayer in August 1912, continuing his membership until he again fell into arrears in December 1926.
After the outbreak of the First World War, Frederick enlisted on 9 September 1914 with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Warwick Regiment (service number 3085) as a Special Reservist, stating that he had previously served with the Border Regiment (Territorial Force) but had been discharged due to his period of service having expired. He was then almost 36 years of age and was still employed as a platelayer, living at Landscape View, Whitnash, Leamington. Frederick was described as 5 feet 8½ inches tall, with a 35 inch chest, grey eyes, brown hair, and weighed 132 pounds.
Three days later Frederick was sent to Parkhurst, Isle of Wight for training, and on 11 November 1914 he was posted to France with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Frederick was repatriated to England on 18 January 1915, suffering from frostbitten feet. After treatment, on 28 September Frederick was transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (service number 19864) and on 17 January 1916 was further transferred to Messrs Cammell Laird & Co Ltd at Birkenhead for civilian employment in munitions. Frederick remained working at Cammell Laird until 14 December 1918, when, according to a letter he wrote to the Army, he was dismissed due to not being a member of the Shipbuilder’s Union. In his letter, Frederick explained his circumstances and ask for his discharge papers so that he could return to his former employment, although another document from Cammell Laird stated that he was absent without permission. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding between Frederick and Cammell Laird, or possibly some ill-feeling from former Cammell Laird employees returning from the war? Frederick was finally discharged from the Army on 24 December 1918 and was awarded a small pension due to rheumatism attributable to his Army service.
In 1919, both Frederick and his wife Annie appeared in the Electoral Register, living at Landscape View, Whitnash, and in later years up to 1928.
Frederick met with an accident at work on 10 November 1922, which was reported in the Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser of 18 November:
RAILWAY MISHAP AT LEAMINGTON – SERIOUS SHUNTING ACCIDENT
A Great Western Railway employee, Frederick Webb, met with a serious accident during shunting operations late on Friday afternoon. He was admitted to the Warneford Hospital, and we understand that his left leg has been cut off just below the knee, and he has a lacerated wound on the left thigh. The House Surgeon at the Hospital stated that there was reasonable hope of the man’s recovery, and he speaks highly of the work of a first aid man who prevented the loss of a considerable amount of the man’s blood.
Webb, who is 44 years of age and resides at Whitnash, apparently slipped on a sleeper whilst engaged in shunting operations, and a truck passed over his left leg. He is a married man.
Frederick and Annie’s son Frederick Cyril died on 3 April 1929 at the age of 21; an “In Memoriam” notice was placed in the Leamington Spa Journal on 4 April 1930:
Webb – In loving memory of our dear son, Frederick Cyril Webb, who passed away April 3rd, 1929. Never forgotten by Father, Mother and Bill. “Till We Meet Again.”
Frederick died in September 1937 at the age of 56. His death was reported in the Leamington Spa Courier of 1 October 1937:
OBITUARY: MR F J WEBB
We regret to announce the death, at Landscape View, Whitnash, on Saturday, of Mr Frederick James Webb, at the age of 56. For 32 years he had been employed as a guard in the service of the Great Western Railway.
The funeral took place on Wednesday. A service was held in the Parish Church, Whitnash, the Rector (the Rev. C H Gleave) officiating. The interment was in Whitnash Cemetery.
The mourners who attended were: Mrs F J Webb (wife), Mr W Webb (son), Mr W Webb (brother), Mrs Porter (sister), Mrs Fellows, Miss Effie Fellows, Mr H Smith, and Miss Marjory Smith. Among others present were….
Wreaths were sent by: His devoted wife and son; Rose and Will; his brother Bill and family; Aunt Alice and family (Netherton); Annie, Harry and family; his niece Rose; …. The Hygienic Staff and Two Friends, Lockheed, Ltd;
Rosie Rowley (@MaccHistorian)
Although she gave up learning history at school as soon as possible, Rosie has been a keen local and family historian since the 1980s. She has volunteered for several family history societies over the years and is currently the journal editor for the Family History Society of Cheshire. She enjoys contributing to collaborative projects, most recently researching the lives of almost one thousand men named on over sixty Macclesfield WWI war memorials and adding the data to the Cheshire Memorial Roll website (www.cheshireroll.co.uk).
A former computer programmer for British Rail, Rosie still has a soft spot for railways and also enjoys knitting, birdwatching, and visiting museums; occasionally she finds the time to research her own ancestors.
Sources: Find My Past
Catholic Baptism Register, Church of St Peter Apostle, Leamington Spa
Census records for 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
GRO Birth, Marriage, Death indexes
Trade Union membership records
WWI British Army Service Records
Electoral Registers 1910-1932 for the Parliamentary County of Warwickshire, Warwick & Leamington Division
Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser, 18 November 1922
Leamington Spa Courier, 4 April 1930, 8 April 1932, 1 October 1937