Research: William Hunter

My great grandfather William Hunter (who was more commonly known as Bill) was born on 13th February 1906 in Burton Pidsea, East Yorkshire. He was one of 13 children (2 of which died when they were very young). They were Lily (1900-1971), Isabella (1901-1965), Charles Henry (1903-1985), Thomas Wright (1904-1984), William (1906-1982), Amy (1907-1981), George (1908-?), Harold (1910-1930), John (1915-1983), Ronald (1922-1978). The 2 children that died when they were young were probably born between John and Ronald, as there is a gap of about 7 years between them. Their parents were Henry and Mary Ann Hunter (nee Wright). The family were Methodists, which I believe came from the Wright side of the family.

The photo below and to the left shows the 6 oldest children. There is Lily (back left), Isabella (back right), Charlie (middle left) and Amy (middle). Bill is one of the two boys at the bottom, and his older brother Thomas is the other. This photo would have been taken in Burton Pidsea, East Yorkshire.

The photo above, on the right-hand side, shows Bill on the back row (second from the left) and his football team. Two of Bill’s brothers are also in this photograph. George at the right of the back row and Thomas on the left of the bottom row.

I’m not entirely sure which school Bill would have attended, as I do not know when exactly the Hunter family moved away from Burton Pidsea. He could have attended the school in Burton Pidsea, but then again, he could have also attended the school in Hedon.

At the age of 14, Bill left school and started working for some Irish farmers in Paull, East Yorkshire. He told my grandmother that they weren’t very nice people and that they treat him like a slave. He really hated it there.

Bill worked at the Brickyard in Hedon. He used to make bricks there. There are a lot of buildings in Hedon that will have been made with the bricks that Bill had made. The photo below shows Bill working at the Brickyard.

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Bill met Dorothy Annie May House at a dance in Hedon. After seeing each other at the dances in Hedon, they started “courting”. One particular time Bill walked Dorothy home, one thing led to another and Dorothy became pregnant, which meant that they needed to get married.

William Hunter married Dorothy Annie May House on 1st March 1930 in Paull, East Yorkshire. My grandmother told me that there was only one known photograph from the wedding, which showed the couple stood together outside the church. However, Dorothy, unfortunately, ripped it up because she didn’t like how she looked on it! We believed that the photograph was lost in history, until 26th August 2017, when my 2nd cousin showed me a photograph that his grandfather (Cec Hunter) once had. The photograph that we didn’t know existed is shown below.

From right to left; Vina Hutchinson (a friend of Dorothy), Lilian House (older sister of Dorothy), unknown (behind groom), Bill Hunter (groom), George House (the father of Dorothy, stood behind her), Dorothy Annie May House (bride), Emma Eliza House (mother of Dorothy), unknown.

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My grandmother told me that her father, Bill, borrowed a bowler hat from Leonard Sharpe, the Mayor of Hedon, for the wedding. Leonard Sharpe was apparently related to Bill, although he was actually married to a cousin of Bill, Rachel Annie Hunter. On the marriage record of Bill and Dorothy, Bill’s occupation is Engine Driver. Part of the certificate is shown below.

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Years later, the couple returned to Paull church and took a photograph outside the same door. It can be seen below.
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Three months after the wedding, Dorothy gave birth to the couple’s first son, William Cecil Hunter on 14th June 1930. At this time the family were living with Dorothy’s parents, George and Emma Eliza House, at Lakes Farm in Paull. When Cec was about 6 months old, they moved into one room in a house on The Boulevard, which is a street which is joined to Souttergate in Hedon. A photo of the street is shown below.

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A few years had passed and Dorothy became pregnant with their second son, Harold Hunter. She was told by the landlord that they were to move out of the room because they didn’t allow more than one child there. They apparently didn’t want children running around all of the time. The family moved into two rooms at the Old Hall, on the corner where Fletcher Gate meets Thorn Road in Hedon. An old postcard of The Old Hall is shown below. The two rooms on right, on the ground floor, were the rooms where Dorothy and her family lived. Her second son, Harold Hunter was born there on 30th April 1933.

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After living at The Old Hall, Bill and his family moved to a house down the main street of Hedon, St. Augustine’s Gate. The postcard below shows how the street looked in the early 1900s. The building to the left of the man stood in the street was owned by Bill’s brother, Thomas Wright Hunter. It was called “Hedon Recreation”, but was known sometimes as Clubhouse and was a place for men to go and play snooker. There were two snooker tables, one upstairs and one downstairs. Two houses to the left of the Clubhouse is where Dorothy and her family lived for a couple of years. It is now 10 St. Augustine Gate, Hedon and is an Insurance shop. The Clubhouse is now Larard’s estate agents. A few years after their second son was born Dorothy became pregnant again and gave birth to another boy on 19th June 1935. He was called George Henry Hunter. He was born in this house.

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Bill’s brother, Thomas Wright Hunter was quite a wealthy man. At one point, he owned various properties in Hedon, including the fish shop and the house next to it. Bill and his wife Dorothy were to rent these two properties. Bill did not want to move from their current house, so on their moving day, he stayed sat in his chair. Dorothy started to move everything with the help of Bill’s brothers. Everything had been moved out of the old house and into the new house, except my great grandfather and his chair. It was at this point that he had to give in his stubbornness and carry his chair down the street to the new house next to the fish shop!

“Fish Shop House”, which was 36 Fletcher Gate, was first bought by Mr and Mrs Morrison, who lived next door to Bill’s mother, Mary Ann, at Lambert Park in Hedon. The Morrisons owned the fish shop and had bought the house when the previous owners sold up. Bill and Dorothy both lived there with their 3 boys in about 1939. The Morrison’s eventually retired and Tom Hunter bought the fish shop and the house next door. From then on Dorothy ran the fish shop which was 38 Fletcher Gate. Tom only asked for the rent and said that she could keep the rest of the money that was earned there. Dorothy ran the fish shop for a very long time. It was called Hunter’s Fish Shop. The photo below shows the fish shop and the house in 2016. The fish shop is still a fish shop, and the house is now a hairdresser. One favourite meal of Bill’s was cold fish, which was leftover fish from the night before. Luckily for him, his wife ran the fish shop, so he was able to have it quite often!

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The family lived in this house throughout the Second World War. My grandmother, Bill’s daughter, remembers her mother Dorothy talking about having all three of the boys in her bed on a nighttime, so that they would be all together, in the event of a bomb landing on or near the house. Luckily, they survived the war.

Bill was in the Cold Stream Guards. He was part of Corporal Perry’s squad, the 13th Coy in the Coldstream Guards. The photo below and shows Bill in this company in December 1940. He is on the middle row and at the far right. The 13th Company was also known as the Guards Training Company at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. Bill then served in the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards.

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The photograph below and to the left shows Bill in his Coldstream Guards uniform and the photograph below and right shows an item that was sent to inform Bill’s family and friends that he was serving “serving his king and country as a soldier No. 2663917 in the Coldstream Guards.”

After World War Two, Bill worked as a Pipe Fitter at the BP chemical plant at Saltend, Hedon Road, Hull. He used to walk to and from work every day, from his home in Hedon. Bill once made a money box from a pipe for his daughter Janet Hunter (my grandmother). This has now been passed down from my grandmother to my younger cousin.

On 19th August 1950, Bill’s father, Henry, passed away at his home, aged 80. He died as a result of a heart attack. Bill was 43 years old at the time.

In 1952 Bill’s wife became pregnant, but at the time she didn’t know that. One day she decided to go to the Doctors, as she had started to feel a little uneasy. The Doctor replied with something along the lines of “Mrs Hunter, there is nothing wrong with you. You are pregnant!” In 1953 my grandmother was born in the front room of the fish shop house. As my grandmother got older, she used to help out at the fish shop, by making patties etc. This went on until my grandmother was a teenager.

In the late 1960s, Bill got a hernia following an operation to remove half his stomach. He had to have half of his stomach removed because due to ulcers.

Bill was a man of few words, meaning that he didn’t really say a lot. Both my grandmother and great-grandmother found the things he did and said, very funny. But my grandmother told me that he was unintentionally funny. Bill was really into keeping up with sports teams, whether it was cricket, football or rugby, it didn’t matter to Bill. He would listen to games on the radio and when the family bought a television, he would always be sat in his chair in the middle of the room, watching whatever sport was on. If Bill was home, that was all that was allowed to be on the TV because he hated as soap operas that my grandmother and great-grandmother used to watch, such as Coronation Street. If someone ever dared to walk in front of the screen whilst he was watching it, he would quickly move around them to watch it, whilst tutting. He would also tut if anyone was talking, whilst someone was on!!

It was in that living room that my grandma and a friend had to sneak by Bill sitting in his chair, in order to go into the front room. She wasn’t really allowed to have friends in the house, especially in the front room! They would play in there until Bill heard and told my grandma to get to bed!

Every few weeks Mr Sanderson, a barber of Hedon, used to visit Bill in his home of Fish shop house and then later on at St. James Close, in order to cut his hair. Bill used to always style his hair with Brylcreem and always had short back and sides haircut.

On 5th January 1966, Bill’s mother, Mary Ann, passed away at her home, aged 86. She is believed to have died as a result of Pneumonia. Bill was 59 years old at the time.

The first photograph below shows Bill pretending to pull his son’s car. The second shows Bill and his wife at Bridlington. I included these as I thought they were funny photographs that showed quite a fun side to Bill’s personality.

My grandmother told me that when they lived at Fish shop house, she would take some of her dad’s cigarettes and go to the outside toilet in order to smoke them. Bill used to smoke Park Drive cigarette’s which were well known for being really strong. My grandma said that she used to “cough her guts up”, but still used to do it!

In Bill’s day, the local pubs were more of a meeting place for all townsfolk. Everyone used to know everyone in Hedon, and most people got on. There would be many group visits to the seaside that all started from the people who used to meet in the local pubs, especially The Queens Head. The photograph below shows a common sight; Family and friends outside The Queens Head. From left to right; Bill Hunter, Vi Hardy, Vera Hardy, Fred Witham (landlord), Marie Hunter, Eileen Witham (landlady), Gladys Hunter and Dorothy Hunter. The little girl is Linda Hunter. The photograph was taken by George Hunter (the son of Bill and Dorothy).

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My grandmother said that Bill loved playing dominos in the Hedon pubs, especially in the Queen’s Head. The photograph below shows Bill playing the game.

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Bill and his wife, Dorothy moved into 13 St. James Close, in Hedon, after Bill’s brother Tom had sold the fish shop without giving them a choice to buy it off of him.  The fish shop house was apparently condemned, but it was never pulled down as it was made a Grade II listed building on 22nd February 1979. Bill and Dorothy’s bedroom did leak, which could have been something to do with the condemning of the building, but the house was still obviously liveable. The whole situation could have simply been because Tom Hunter pulled a few strings, as he knew people on the council, in order to get Bill and Dorothy a house to live in. They were the first people to live in the newly built house on St. James Close.

In the morning Bill would often walk his dog, Shammy. He would walk up Far Bank, which is a long stretch of grass at the side of Draper’s Lane in Hedon. At 2pm every day he would leave his house, alone, and walk up to the bench that is located on Draper’s Lane near the main road, and meet some friends. They would then walk through the main street of Hedon in order to meet some more friends and then walk toward the Hedon Station. They would then walk down the train track and then walk down that track.

As Bill and Dorothy grew older, they decided to downsize and move into 68 Draper’s Lane, Hedon. They were the first people to live in this bungalow. The photo below shows the bungalow in 2009, which was 27 years after Bill had passed away.

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The photo below shows Bill and his wife Dorothy on their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1980.photo 1 (2)

Bill sadly passed away on 24th June 1982 in Hedon, East Yorkshire aged 76. He died from Malignant Lymphoma and was later buried in Hedon. His wife was later buried with him in 2001. There is a headstone in the cemetery for them both which I am pleased about, as it marks the resting place of two special people, who will always hold a special place in my heart, despite never having chance to meet Bill.

Eric Walker walked in front of the hearse at Bill’s funeral. Eric, who was apparently the cousin (probably distant cousin) of Bill, was a Funeral Director at the time and also owned restrooms on the outskirts of Hedon. These Restrooms are still used today by M. Garton & Son.

I never had the opportunity to meet my great grandfather but I have heard a lot about him from family members. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet him, as I have so many questions that he would have been able to answer, and also I believe that we would have got on well with each other. It is such a shame.

Thank you very much for reading,
Tony.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful account. Well done

    Like

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much Jennifer, I appreciate that!

      Like

  2. Fascinating story, and so well written and researched. Good on you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much, I appreciate that!

      Like

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