Sunday, February 19, 2012

Richard WEEDEN - my grandad, the photographer

Well here he is. My grandad. If you've been keeping up then you'll know he was the photographer. More used to being behind the lens. Born in Southwark, older brother by 10 years to beautiful Ada of Friday's post. Richard went to school in Bermondsey, leaving in 1906 and got his first job as a dispatch clerk at the Civil Service Co-operative Society Ltd in the Haymarket, London. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1912, aged 20, and went to war (The Royal Army Medical Corps) in 1915, barely a month after marrying my Nanna Emma. After being demobbed he returned to the Met in 1919. Lived in Lewisham, Hackney and Ealing over the following years. Bought his first house in 1935. 

As war was approaching, the decision was made in 1938 to reurn to Emma's place of birth (near Downham Market, Norfolk) for safety. The family rented an old house called The Chalet in Downham Market, and lived there during WW2. My mum had very fond tales of those days, receiving evacuees and keeping pigs and chickens, going to the cinema, and sitting in the waiting room at Downham Station where a roaring log fire was maintained. 

Relations and friends from London often arrived. Richard's mum Helena for one, was a frequent visitor. During the war, Richard worked as Billeting Officer in Downham.

After the war, Richard started a company with a friend producing crisps, under the name Willow Crisps, situated in a building very close to the railway lines.

In 1952 Richard and Emma were given the chance to buy the Chalet, but decided instead to buy a small bungalow in Wisbech, and subsequently moved via St Ives to Hunstanton in 1963, where my family were already living. I remember my grandad Richard with mixed feelings. He wasn't a natural grandparent like Emma. I was aware of his mood swings, and his competitive nature, even revelling in beating us grandchildren at board and word games.  He was not happy at growing older and, in retrospect, I suspect he railed against it. Later family albums are full of photos taken mostly by my mum, he had given up one of his chief joys of life.  He had a series of strokes in the early 1970s, becoming less and less mobile each time and finally died in hospital in 1974.

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