My Paternal Family
Uncle: Dick Wray (born 1903)
Dick was the twelfth child of Alfred and Emily Wray born on 21 July 1903 and baptized at St Martins. Preston almost a year later. He was admitted to Preston School on 4 September 1906 and left on 15 June 1916.
In 1921, Dick was living with his parents and siblings at Chequers Cottages, Preston and working as a general labourer for Frost and Carter of Luton who were building new homes at Preston - probably the council houses on the north side of Chequers Lane. In the summer of 1929, there was another Wray/Fairey marriage in the Hitchin area - Dick married Elsie Fairey, the daughter of a hay-tier who lived at St Ippollitts.
Elsie contributed to the local history book, A School Remembers. Her family had a small holding at Redcoats, Green. She and her four siblings were expected to work and do their duty to make the home run smoothly. She recalled that her father ‘left home early, cycling many miles to work with a huge cutting knife tied to the bar of his bike. If there was a bright moon, he often went in the middle of the night’. All the wood in their home was scrubbed white. Ironing was done on the table. Washing was done by hand, boiled in a copper in the back kitchen. Water was also heated in the copper for baths. From the age of nine, she delivered milk from their cows on the way to school. Their house had a cellar in which milk was churned. In the evenings the family played cards or dominoes and sang, if their father wasn’t too tired to play the piano. Elsie went to Sunday School twice on Sundays and got several certificates for Scripture examinations.
Elsie aged thirteen
After their marriage, Dick and Elsie were living at 54 Town’s End Place, Ippollitts (Dick’s brother Arthur was at No 59) and for a time, Dick worked for the Gas Board. The couple had two daughters: Pamela Jayne (born 24 April 1940) who married Cecil R Worbey in the summer of 1950 and Jennifer (Jen) A (born in early 1939) Wray, whose married name was Windebank. At signing day of the Preston History book, they attended attended the event, having seen it mentioned in the local Comet newspaper:
The 1939 Register recorded the family at the Bucks Head, Little Wymondley, Herts:
The Bucks Head - (left) in 1900
Dick enlisted in the Army and while there, Elsie met her second husband-to-be, surnamed Hughes. Dick and Elsie were divorced in around 1941 and Dick later married Minnie (Min) Jackson. She had been married to Albert and they had two children - the family was living at 6 Top Row, Ashbrook, Ippollitts in 1939, (her husband, Albert, died in the spring of 1947):
I remember walking along the road with Dad and Dick and feeling proud to be with the two brothers yet confused because they were not walking companionably. They weren’t swopping reminiscences about their childhood or recounting what they had been doing. There was almost a stony silence. He was a tall man even then, as his photographs portray, and I remember his ‘drinker’s nose’. He appeared unsmiling and hard.
Pam(ela)’s wedding. (left to right) Kathleen Worbey, Bob Symonds, Cecil Worbey, Pam, Dick, Jennifer and Kathleen Fairey
After his stint in the Army, Dick returned to the Bucks Head and in June 1950. in tandem with Pam’s brother Cecil Worbey, won a darts competition. When I knew him, in the early 1960’s he was still the landlord of The Bucks Head public house. I would go there occasionally with Dad and drink ginger beer in the snug. He was an executor of his sister Flossie’s estate.
The final photograph of Dick I have was taken when he older and grey-haired. Perhaps it’s of Jennifer Wray’s wedding?