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]
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).
I love this photograph taken on the 7th October 1902 showing Alfred Benjamin Hacker and his new wife Elizabeth Hunt.
They got married at St Peter ad Vincula, the parish church of Broad Hinton, Wiltshire. For much of his life he was a master baker in the area, later joining the GWR as a plasterer in Swindon. They had 10 children, one of which was my maternal grandmother.
I’m going to start a new weekly feature called Wedding Wednesday. Like many family historians I have lots of wedding photographs so this will be a great opportunity to feature some of my photographs and a bit about the people in them.
It’s a poor scan but it shows the wedding of one of my grandmother’s brothers where she was a bridesmaid (centre, above the bride) along with two of her sisters. I only have a couple of photographs when she was young so this is a very special photograph.
Recently my mum has been helping her cousin identify some old photographs. I inherited lots of photographs from my maternal grandparents and luckily they went through a lot of them with me when they were still alive.
I have three new photographs to add to my collection. Unfortunately they’ve been scanned to a very small size but it’s nice to have them.
Keith Hacker’s wedding, 1960s
Les Hacker’s wedding
front row, third left, Nanny Hacker, Auntie Bid, Kath Winchcombe, bride and groom, Auntie Dor, Auntie Else. Middle row – 3rd left, Grampy Hacker, Uncle Chip just behind him, miss 3, then Uncle Cecil, Auntie Connie, Uncle Reg. This must have been taken before 1935, as Grampy and Uncle Cecil died that year from TB. The whole surviving family (4 boys, 4 girls) of the 10 children Nanny had, are on this photo.
Auntie Dor’s wedding