Category Archives: Winchcombe family

Musings on the 1939 Register

I seem to have collected a lot of information which I haven’t got round to using or putting in the proper place. Any one else or just me who has piles and piles of notes?

With thought of the 75th anniversary of VE Day I thought I would share some of my recent finds from the 1939 Register. This is a great source of information and I love tracking down family to see where they were.

In 1939 my grandparents were living in Badgeworth Road, Gloucester. My grandfather was an aircraft fitter and my grandmother undertaking unpaid domestic duties.


Over in Swindon I found my great-grandmother, along with two of her grown up and married children, living at 1 Whiteman Street. Her two daughters both worked in the Stemming Department at Wills Tobacco Factory.

I’m not sure why I didn’t track down other members of the family. I will have to add that to my to do list.

Celebrating VE Day in Swindon in 1945

The children wanted to learn a little more about VE Day in 1945. Of course we turned to my mum who was born during the Second World War. She remembered that school was closed that day and there was a huge street party all along their street in Swindon (Whiteman Street in Gorse Hill). I dug out some photos from 8th May 1945.

My Nan was amazing at whipping up new outfits and made a Little Bo Peep outfit for my mum.

1945 VE Day costume

Whilst my Auntie went to her VE Day party as Daddy Down Dilly.

VE Day outfit

I also found this photo of my Nan holding my Auntie, sitting between one of her sisters and her own Mother. It looks like there were a lot of sandwiches and cups of teas back in 1945.

VE Day street party Swindon

Free access to the 1939 Register

A few days ago I received an email from Ancestry about free access to the 1939 Register. I was pretty excited about this as it gave me an opportunity to find out a bit more about where family members were living at this time.

Due to a severe lack of time I only managed 2 searches! Life has been pretty busy lately which means I hardly get any time to carry out any new research. However, I did find two records which add to building up the picture of my family.

The first was of my maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Kathleen Winchcombe. His occupation is given as Aircraft Fitter whilst her occupation was listed as unpaid domestic duties.

They were living exactly where I knew they would be but I was still glad to be able to add this record to my collection.

Little black book

Kathleen Hacker and Robert Winchcombe were my maternal grandparents. My grandmother was one of ten children and there was nothing I liked more than sitting with her and looking through her black and white photographs and listening to her stories. One of my favourites was how she met my grandfather and how Hitler tried to upstage their wedding.

In 1936 Robert Winchcombe was unemployed after his apprenticeship had come to an end at the Great Western Railway Works in Swindon. He earned some money playing clarinet and 1st or 2nd Alto Saxophone in local dance bands, including the Harry Smith Band, the Moderniques, St. John’s Dance Band, and the New Georgians, who played all over Wiltshire and Berkshire.

Around this time he met my grandmother at the St Barnabas Church Badminton Club. He was an altar server at St Barnabas, sang in the choir and was also a member of the Youth Group.

After his death I inherited a small black engagement book for 1937-38 where he had meticulously recorded all his musical engagements as well as dates with his future wife.

Their first official date occurred on the 17th of December 1937 where Robert has written ‘1st engagement with K.H.‘ It must have gone well as there’s a small ‘K‘ pencilled in on Christmas Day, as well as ‘Went to tea at K’s brothers‘ the day after. They see each other several times each week, play badminton together, attend concerts, go on church outings and visit relatives.

In March Robert was given a couple of weeks work back in the Great Western Railway before they gave him 2 weeks notice during the middle of May. His engagement book then records a succession of interviews – ‘24th May Gloucester for work unsuccessfully‘, ‘28th June South Cerney unsuccessful application for work‘ and ‘21st July Colbournes unsuccessfully, Baines’ ditto‘.

The engagement book ends on the 4th of September 1938. Fortunately I’m able to fill in the gaps which give the story a happy ending. Robert Winchcombe eventually got a job at the Gloster Aircraft Factory in Gloucester, presumably soon after September 1938, and he and Kathleen Hacker were able to get engaged. They were married four days after war was declared, their wedding plans hurriedly changed as the church hall was requisitioned, and started married life in Churchdown, Gloucester.

[This was an exercise for my Creative Writing course which I hope will be of interest]


Fancy dress in Swindon


Black and white photograph of a group of children in fancy dress.

Caption for picture

My grandmother made all my mother and aunt’s clothes and I have many photographs showing them in knitted swimsuits, Sunday best and fancy dress. My mother, third from right, is dressed as Little Bo Peep. My aunt, second from right, wears a wedding dress. Taken around 1945 in Swindon.


I have so many photographs of my mother and aunt in similar situations. They really make me smile as I’m currently experiencing the same kind of events  with my own young children. Writing about this image has made me feel guilty I don’t know more about the circumstances, so I’ll be asking my mother about it today!

Edited – “it was taken at the St Mary’s Church, Rodbourne Cheney, Swindon, summer fair, in the Vicarage garden. It was taken with a Box Brownie, and I think it would have been in about 1948, the year we went to live in Rodbourne Cheney. I wore my Little Bo-Peep costume that I’d previously worn for the Victory street party at the end of WWII, but I’d grown  a bit, so Nanny put a frill on the bottom to make it long enough. Pauline was a bride, but neither of us won the prize. I was 7, Pauline was 3.

Nanny made both our costumes, as she did for almost everything we wore, and fancy dress costumes were constantly recycled to make different ones for cousins, etc. She was a whizz with sewing and knitting, and because materials etc were on ration, adult clothes were unpicked to make clothes for children. Jumpers and cardigans were unpicked, the wool skeined and washed, and used again. Only people who were handy with a needle could do this, and mum’s skills were used by all her family.”

Family treasures

I had a quick look in some of my boxes of treasures today. I’m sure we all have them. Boxes of items kept for sentimental reasons. As well as my boxes of photographs and certificates I have two boxes of treasures which include letters, framed photographs, books with written inscriptions, medals, coins and jewellery.

I feel quite lucky to have these ‘extras’ as they all help build up a picture of my relatives. They are great clues to expanding knowledge further than just dates provided by certificates and census returns.

Two of my favourite items are a diary belonging to my maternal grandfather. Although the diary records the dates of the gigs he played in, it also mentions his first dates with the woman who became my maternal grandmother!

I also have a diary written by my maternal great grandmother, dated with lots of family news even though she mainly records which of her many children visited that day.

I will transcribe both and add them here (time permitting).