Research: George Henry Alec House

My 2x great uncle George Henry Alec House was born on 1st May 1907 in Alverstoke, Hampshire. He was the oldest of 4 known children; George Henry Alec (1907-1989), Andrew Mark (1909-1973), Lilian Alice (1911-1989) and Dorothy Annie May (1913-2001). Their parents were George and Emma Eliza House (nee Cook).

In 1911, George was living with his paternal grandparents (George and Annie), 2 of his uncles (Mark and Alec), 2 of his aunties (Annie and Lily) and a friend of the family called Algernon Bundy. They were all living at Ashdown which is in Fawley, Southampton.

The house, which was called Ashdown Cottage, can be seen in the photograph below. From left to right the photo shows Mark House, George House, Annie ‘Lily’ House (nee Mintram), George House (the subject of this blog post+), Nellie Clark (nee House), Raphael Bellenie and Lily May Bellenie/Ellis (nee House). It would have been taken in about 1914.

Ashdown Fawley Hampshire. Great Unlce Mark.GrtGrandad George. Grt Granny Lily House. George(daddy). GA Nellie. Raphael. Ga Lily.jpg

The photograph below was taken on the same day as the previous. It shows the same family members outside the same house. I like the previous photograph because one can see the whole house, and this photograph because one can see each individual’s face more clearly. George is sitting on the floor between his grandparents.

Grt Aunt Nelly. Grt Uncle Mark. Grt Aunt Lily. Grt Grandad George House. Grt Granny Lily House. Raphael. my daddy George Henry House.jpg

George later lived with his parents and siblings, as in 1919, the House family moved to Paull, East Yorkshire because George House (George’s father) had just discharged from the Royal Marines and had been given an opportunity to work as a coastguard there. My grandmother remembers her mother Dorothy (George’s sister) telling her a story that they got the train from down south, up to Hedon Station. They then rented a horse and carriage in Hedon, in order to travel to Paull. George Jr. would have been about 12 years old at this time.

East Yorkshire - Paull Lighthouse

George, his parents and his 3 siblings first lived at the Coastguard Cottage, which is located next to the Lighthouse in Paull. They then lived at Lakes Farm, which is situated on the back road towards Thorngumbald from Paull. My great-grandmother (Dorothy) had once told my grandmother that the farm was only a small holding with pigs and chickens. George used to grow his own vegetables too, which meant they were self-sufficient.

lakes farm

It was from this farm that George and his three siblings would walk to Thorngumbald in hobnail boots, in order to go to school. This used to happen in all kinds of weather. They all used to be scared of walking down a road that is still there today called Dark Lane. George would have gone to school in Thorngumbald for only 2 years, as he left school at the age of 14.

George met Dorothy Emma Ibbotson in Preston when Dorothy taught in the Preston village school. The photograph below shows George and Dorothy in 1932 before they were married. They are standing outside of Dorothy’s family home, Stray Farm, which is located in Holme on Spalding Moor.

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The photograph of George (below) was taken during the same year at Stray Farm.

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The couple married on 1st April 1934 at the All Saints church in Holme on Spalding Moor, East Yorkshire. The couple went on to have 3 children; Judith Isa, Helen Carolyn and Janet Miriam. The photograph below was taken on their special day.

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The photograph below shows George as a young man.

George Alec House

George played the flute in a Royal Marine’s Band. This could have been due to George’s father being involved with the Royal Marines.

George enjoyed playing football. The photograph below shows George and his younger brother Andy with the Hedon Football Team. From left to right on the back row: unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, Ossie Heron, and unknown. The front row features unknown, unknown, Andy House, George House and Hughie unknown.

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George used to ride his pushbike to work when he worked at Shell Mex and BP at Saltend. During his time working at Saltend, George had various jobs. He worked as a Charge Hand in his younger days but later became a Supervisor. He unloaded oil from the ships that arrived at the jetty there.

George was made redundant at some point during the merging of BP and Shell Mex companies. He got a job on the Saltend site, painting the fuel tanks. One particular day, a few of the bosses were visiting Saltend and one of them asked why George House was painting tanks? Another man replied, informing them that that was his job now. When one of the bosses, heard this, he said something along the lines of “That’s not his job. Get him back on site doing the job he was trained to do. He’s a good worker and I don’t want to see him painting tanks again!”. George was therefore reinstated and remained at the site until he retired in the 1960s.

The photograph below was taken from the Shell-BP News magazine, which was dated February 1958. It celebrated long-serving employees and George was one of them, as he had worked at Salt End Installation for 35 years. George was 50 years old at the time of publishing.

George House.jpg

George bought a motorbike and sidecar, which was one of the first motorised vehicles he owned, apart from a motorbike that he owned during the time he was courting Dorothy, his future wife. He kept this motorbike for a few more years after their marriage. The photograph below shows George and his motorbike in 1930.

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George used to take two of his daughters, Helen and Janet, to see their grandparents who were living at Paull. Helen told me that she and her sister used to sit in the sidecar, whilst their father rode the motorbike. The sisters used to sing and make noises with their voices when they went over rough pieces of ground, in order to entertain themselves on the short journey.

George was in his early 40s when he passed his driving test. He rented a car and drove his family down to his hometown of Fawley, and they stayed at Armadale House with George’s cousin Majorie Annie M Baker (nee House).

Eventually, George bought his own car, which was a black Austin 10. According to one of George’s daughters, the black bodywork always shone, because he always took pride in the car, as he did with all of his belongings as well as his own appearance. Before George retired, his car usually only came out of the garage on Saturdays or Sundays so that he could take his family out, in order to visit various places and people. He loved taking his family to the countryside, the seaside, stately homes and gardens.

The photograph below shows George’s Austin 10 at Spurn Point, East Yorkshire in 1952.

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George, alongside his wife, tended to their own garden. They grew both fruit and vegetables, and there was a greenhouse in the garden too, where George grew tomatoes. Apple trees, bramble and raspberry bushes were often harvested and preserved for the winter months. George would also prune the trees and bushes (under Dorothy’s supervision!).

The photograph below shows George standing on the right of his younger brother Andrew, who was better known as Andy. George and Andy weren’t just brothers, they were very good friends. According to many family members, the two brothers were very nice people. They were very much alike in both looks and mannerisms.

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George had various hobbies, additional to those I have previously mentioned. They included but were not limited to:

  • Photography / Film Making – Many of George’s photographs were of boats on the River Hull, which were often taken at Paull. He and his wife enjoyed a drive to Paull on an evening in order to watch the river traffic. George knew a lot about boats and with working near them, he kept the love of the vessels, up to the end of his life. The RNLI benefitted from George and Dorothy’s interest in boats, as they would take a little lifeboat collection box wherever they went.
  • Carpentry – George bought a lathe when he retired and spent many hours in his garage making, lamp stands, napkin rings, bowls etc.
  • Travelling – George and his wife went on various holidays. When they returned, they would often give talks and slideshows of their holiday cruises, such as those to Canada and the Mediterranean.
  • Campanology (the study of bells) which led to him taking part in the bell ringing at events such as weddings and services at the St. Augustine’s church in Hedon.
  • Making monthly evening visits to prisoners at Hull Prison, with Reverend Charlie Dann, to talk about various subjects. Football was a favourite topic of his to talk about.

George can be seen in the photographs below, wearing the mustard coloured waistcoat. They were taken at the church during a particular bell ringing event.

George became a churchwarden in later life. With his wife, George embroidered canvases to cover kneeling stools for the pews in St Augustine’s Church. George also carved the wooden base and legs for the stools, too.

On 14th June 1950, George’s father suddenly passed away whilst on duty as a night watchman at the Paull Battery. He had had a heart attack at some time whilst on duty that night. According to my grandmother’s cousin David, George’s father used to take a stick whilst he was on duty. He said that this could have been to assist him with walking, but he apparently used to tap the stick, which could have been in order to keep the time. Nobody knew what had happened to George’s father until he didn’t come home the next morning and they didn’t hear the stick tapping!

In the February of 1961, George’s mother was caught in an awful accident involving a fire in her home. This was caused by her nighty (dressing gown) catching fire on the electric heater. A lodger called Tom Dalton, who was living at the house, tried to help her by wrapping her up and attempting to carry Emma down the stairs. This, in fact, made the burns and injuries worse. On 13th February 1961, Emma sadly passed away as a result of her burns.

George had a lot of respect for his parents and they were very highly regarded. When they both passed away, George was devastated.

The photograph below was taken in 1966, at George’s 2nd daughter’s wedding. She told me that this is her favourite photograph of her father. It depicts George outside of Saint Augustines Church in Hedon, East Yorkshire. He was just putting his pocket watch away after checking the time. It was 12:00 and George said to his daughter that it was time to go into the church!

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In 1973,  George’s brother Andy passed away at the age of 64 years old. Andy’s early, untimely death was a shock to the whole family and it affected George for a very long time.

George and his wife Dorothy often travelled abroad for their holidays. The photograph below shows the couple in 1983 on their holiday in Sicily, Italy. George was 76 years old at the time.

Helen's parents in Sicily

On 5th February 1987, George’s wife Dorothy passed away at the age of 80 years old. This devastated George and the rest of his family. George celebrated his 82nd birthday on the 4th June 1989 with his family, but then one month later, on 9th June 1989, he sadly passed away. He died as a result of a cancer that was located in the neck and throat area. He had been diagnosed with this illness, several months prior to his death. Later that month, George was buried in Paull Churchyard with his wife, Dorothy.

I never had the opportunity to meet George, but I have heard a lot about him from various family members, including his daughter, Helen. Helen told me that her father never used bad language or swore. He did, however, curse when something went wrong or something annoyed him, but the worst words she ever heard him say were “Damn!”, “Blast!”, or “Drat!”. George rarely got cross and Helen remembers him being very understanding and supportive. I would have loved to have met George, as there are so many questions that he could have answered and I believe that he would have been very interesting to talk to.

If you know anything else about George that you think could be included in this post, please feel free to contact me!

Thank you very much for reading,
Tony.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Louise Mabey says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much, Lousie. I appreciate it!

      Like

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