Welcome to Rob's Journeys Web Site

Family History

My Life Story

From No-body to Somebody.

Where do we start! I was born in a bungalow called ‘Bensbung’ in Eastwood located close to Leigh on Sea, Essex on Maundy Thursday the 21st of March 1940. Conceived before the start of the second world war but born after the start of the war on September 3rd 1939.  My parents were Frederick William (Fred) and Doris Adelaide Burton, originally from Edmonton Middlesex.  My Father worked as a Knitwear machine operator for a small local firm called Glenleigh.

The outbreak of war brought with it the possibility of a German invasion up the River Thames.  As a result many children and young families were being evacuated away from the area.  My father having worked as a universal miller (similar to a metalwork lathe operator) obtained employment with Dowty Aviation an aircraft undercarriage manufacturer in Cheltenham.  It was at 1 Kipling Road that I spent my early life until the end of the war.

Perhaps now is a good time to look back at my ‘Family History’.  To start the journey back through my family tree my parents were married on October 6th 1934 in Edmonton Parish Church.  My father was 27 having been born on May 8th 1907 to William and Frances Burton of 160 Winchester Road, Edmonton.  My mother was 25 and had been born to Robert Henry and Annie Butler of 76 Hazlebury Road on 28th December 1908.  At their wedding in 1934 they only had one parent alive and so I only ever knew one grandparent, Frances Burton.  I did however have uncles Vic Burton and Philip Butler and married aunts on my mother’s side of the family, aunties Gladys Simmonds and Marjorie Whines. More complete Family Trees may be seen in the appendix.  My father before being married had worked in several trades during the depression. They included working in a bakery, a ladies hairdresser, and as an engineer. My mother worked as a typist.

Life in Cheltenham as a growing boy is naturally very vague and most memories are from stories and photographs.  I had a white rabbit called ‘Nibs’ and a second hand pedal car.  I started school for a few terms but only remember seeing a large square heater with crates of 1/3 pint of milk bottles warming.  Khaki colored screw top tins of dried egg powder and small glass bottles of very concentrated orange juice presumably from the USA. Some of my relations visited us from London and we had day trips to some of the picturesque towns in the Cotswolds.  About a year before the second world war ended on VE Day (Victory in Europe) May 8th 1945 my father’s birthday we returned to Essex as my father had obtained his old job back at Glenleigh.

We lived at 73 Exford Avenue Westcliff-on-sea. The house had been built just prior to the war and the road was unmade and at times lived up to its name as we had to ‘ford’ the River ‘Exe’.  As a young lad of four years I was taken on wildlife visits with my parents who had joined the local Natural History Society. I attended Earls Hall Junior School before passing the eleven plus exam for the Grammar School.  I enjoyed my schooling at Westcliff High School. It was here that my athletic ability became apparent when I was awarded the Victor Ludorum before representing Essex at the All England Schools Sports on three occasions.

At the age of seventeen I went on a holiday to Kents Bank, Cumbria, situated on the coast of Morecombe Bay.  Why mention this? Well it was here that a sixteen year old Lancashire lass, Maureen Yates, served me my porridge each morning. The rest as they say is history.  We were not to meet again until I went for my interview at Loughborough College six months later.

I was amongst the first men not to have to do National Service and so my education continued attending Loughborough Teacher’s Training College to study as a teacher of Handicraft and Mathematics.  After two years at Loughborough I spent a year at Alsager Training College on a Mathematics course. It was during these years that I progressed from a push bike to motorized transport.  I bought a shaft driven Lambretta LD scooter which carried me many miles between home, college and Maureen’s home in Farnworth, Lancashire.  Towards the end of my stay in Alsager I purchased an Isetta Bubble Car.  I was able to drive this on a motorcycle licence as this three-wheller did not have a reverse gear.  Holiday jobs included cleaning hen houses, working on the Christmas post and working in the freezer making ice cream at the local dairy.

My teaching career started at Belfairs High School in 1959 teaching Mathematics for a year.  On a very wet August 11th 1962 Maureen and I were married at Farnworth Congregational Church near Bolton.  Our Honeymoon was spent at Thurlestone Sands in South Devon.  We went to live in Harpole a village near Northampton.

I was a teacher at Towcester Grammar school for two years where I taught Mathematics and Woodwork. During these two years I built a brick garage with an up and over wooden door as well as a built-in wardrobe and cupboards for the bedroom.  No flat packs in those days!  We had a holiday in Alkmar, Holland flying courtesy of reduced fares as my father was by this time working for Aviation Traders at Southend Airport as a Universl Miller.  Maureen taught at the nearby Secondary School.  Before we moved to Felixstowe we went on a trip to Europe.  In 1964 we flew a 1956 Ford Anglia across the channel from Lydd in Kent to Le Touquet in Northern France.  We camped in France, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia , Austria, Germany and Belgium.

We moved to Felixstowe in 1964 as I had gained a Head of Mathematics post in an Ipswich school.  Maureen obtained some part time teaching at Felixstowe Girls School.  While in Felixstowe we had a coach travel holiday starting in Venice, driving down the East coast of Italy to Brindisi, crossing to Igoumenitsa, driving in a non air conditioned coach with temperatures over 100F(!) to Patras.  We then visited Delphi and Athens before making our way North through Mesopotainia, Yugoslavia and Italy back to Venice. During the time I was teaching in Ipswich Maureen and I took the school minibus and thirteen pupils on a camping trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Southern Germany. My parents moved to Felixstowe around 1966.  We moved houses in 1968 and Sara was born that August.  My school in Ipswich was soon to be amalgamated into one large school.  As I was the last in post as a head of department and the youngest it was unlikely that I would get promoted.  However I was able to obtain a higher grade Head of Mathematics post at a school in Guidford.

We moved to Godalming in March 1969. While teaching I took a Science Bachellor's Degree at Kingston Polytechnic.  Sara grew up and went to St Hillary's School where at the age of six she passed the entrance examination to go to Guidford High School.  Maureen taught at the local secondary school eventually becoming Head of the English Department.  At my school in Guildford I had gained an additional role as Head of Year.  Maureen did an in service Bachellor's Degree course in English in Chichester.  I extended our house to the rear and added a playroom at the side.  Holidays were spent camping in France and Spain.  It wasn't long before we moved house again to live in Guildford.

At about the time we moved to Guildford and I obtained my first Deputy Headship in Reading.  This  involved a lot of driving.  During this time we took a party of pupils to Romania and Malta.  Sara continued at Guildford High School eventually having to travel to school by car (she learn't to drive) and train as we moved to Winchester.  Why?  By this time not only had I gained my second (and last) deputy headship in Purbrook Hampshire but Maureen was appointed Deputy Head at The Clere School near Newbury.

Around 1988 we moved to Hart's Cottage near Wimbourne, Dorset. Maureen had obtained a Headship of a large Comprehensive school in Bournemouth. Sara and Tim were married in 1991. I continued to drive to Purbrook, Potsmouth, each day until I retired in 1993. We had by then moved to Poole. At this time Maureen became ill with Breast Cancer. During the next ten years despite several major cancer operations we managed to enjoy holidays to South Africa, New Zealand, the Baltic capitals and Greece. Maureen died in 2004.

I downsized my property in Poole and moved to Great Kingshill to be nearer to Sara and Tim in 2004. Here I have enjoyed many holidays around the world. Details of these can be found at www.robs-journeys.uk


Rob's Story