You are on page 1of 19

WALTER ROBERT HOWARD 14 July 1891- 30 April 1988

Despite my Grandfather, Walter Robert Howard, having

lived until he was almost 97 years old, not much has been

known about his life by his descendants. This paper will

attempt to rectify this, using various documents as

evidence. He was the first child born to Walter, a labourer

from Camp in St Albans. After agricultural opportunities

declined in the nineteenth century, his father had become

one of the thousands employed by the newly developing

railway network. His family therefore had settled in the

North London area by the time that Walter was born.

Walter Robert Howard
Within a year of marriage, as Ellen, his mother, was pregnant, they

had moved from a house which they were sharing with a Railway Inspector at 37, Elm

Grove Hampstead, to 23 Ariel Rd London NW6 2EA where Grandpop was

born in 1891 on Bastille Day, July 14th. My abiding

memory of him was his joking that whenever he was

in Paris on business on this day the streets were

decorated with flags for his birthday. He was not

baptised however until May 29th 1892 at Somers

Town Presbyterian, St Pancras.
23 Ariel Grove
Elm Grove

Although the house was 3-storied his parents lived in just two rooms, sharing the house

with another nine people, the family of a retired bronze chaser. Having moved to Marquis

Place by 1892, they had moved yet again, to 37, St Paul's Rd in St Pancras, (now known as

Agar Grove) by the time that Ellen was born in 1895.

Walter Robert their 9 year-old son. Booth’s report mentioned that the area had gone down considerably since making his poverty map. a railway accountant born in St Albans. aged 35. Ellen. Houses in today’s Agar Street. their 1 year-old son also born in St Pancras. Ellen Maud their 6 year old daughter born in St Pancras. and Albert John. who was born in West Hampstead. In 1907 for example St Paul’s Road was the scene of a notorious murder. . This new family group now comprised Walter. Emily Elizabeth (aka Phyllis) Dimmock. Camden Town including Marquis Road which was nearby. This was described by Charles Booth as working class in 1899. the Howards included. High rents meant that most families here had to sublet. a prostitute in her early 20s. Did this tragic event precipitate yet another house move for the Howards? Although houses here were mainly 3 or 4 storied only three families now kept servants. his 36-year-old wife born in Bloomsbury. was found one morning with her throat cut. 1910 Directory information about the St Paul’s Road area. proof of how much the neighbourhood had declined.

All these homes were convenient for his father as he worked for the LNER out of Euston for about 40 years. His father was a Railway Clerk. Mum remembers their living mainly in the basement. an end of terrace house.  Microsoft Corporation Elm Grove Ariel Grove where he was born St Paul’s Road Marquis Road Presbyterian Church where his father remarried. They lived in four rooms. he was unable to go. they having now moved to 19 Marquis Rd.Map of Camden in London showing various places lived in by Walter’s family. although he had won a scholarship to study at Oxford. whilst a widow and her son lived in the three other rooms. 19 Marquis Road In 1911 Walter was still living at home with his parents and siblings. Somers Town Presbyterian where Grandpop was baptised and where his parents married. His family had very little money so. and was working as a civil engineer's clerk. Ellen a dressmaker and Jack was still a schoolboy. as his father said he could not .

He was 18 months younger than Olive. unconnected with the sea. By 20th Aug 1914 he had been discharged at his own request as Mouchel. on Bank Holiday Monday. five divisions were established in Bristol. because the Navy was rapidly expanding. remembers Grandpop showing him his leave permission to get married as he had kept it in his wallet for over sixty years. This photo in uniform was taken the day they married. attending evening classes most nights to learn French. Prior to WW1 he was a Royal Naval Volunteer reserve. leading them to be affectionately known as the 'Wavy Navy' because the rank stripes on officers’ sleeves were wavy rather than straight. and so he brought forward his marriage to Olive. said his occupation was His Naval Uniform shows that he was in the Wavy Navy. and eventually qualified as a chartered structural engineer. London. and first known as the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Aware that the RNR could not supply the required number of trained men at the start of the 20th century. Mersey and Clyde where civilian volunteers trained in old Fleet warships.afford to subsidise his social life there and it would be unfair to his brother if Walter went and Jack did not. This provided the valuable experience of real time with the Fleet for a few weeks a year once a certain level of competence had been achieved. to train on a part-time basis at special shore establishments. Tyne. Walter continued his education. the company he worked for. Formed under the Naval Forces Act of 1903. his grandson. a scheme was introduced that allowed men in civilian shore jobs.1 He was at sea the day war broke out in Britain on 4 Aug 1914. RNVR uniform was distinguished by its wavy gold lace. Arthur. 1 MOD website . Despite this.

brown hair and grey eyes and was a clerk when he signed on in 1910. Admiralty and War Office: Royal Naval Division: Howard. Olive Ash Travers. Olive and his sister Ellen were committee members. Coastguard. Walter met his future wife. Ellen. at Somers Town Presbyterian Church where they both sung in the church choir. Within the Church they belonged to a Mutual Improvement Society in which Walter. and a lecture on “The Evolution Theory” on Thursday 6th February by Mr W. Naval Forces. and related bodies ADM 339/1/18483 He was described as having a red complexion. Howard. i. on January 30th.e. W R Rank or Rating: Able Seaman Service Number(s): 1/2333 Records of the Admiralty. The syllabus for 1913 included a talk on an essay “The Rise of the English Novel” by Miss Howard. Royal Marines.important to the war effort and so had asked that he be released. .

taken later. Official photos of the wedding. Bayham St. Colonel de Vesian the founder of Mouchel.August 7th 1914 marriage at the Register Office in St Pancras. with witnesses to the marriage being Lieut. . and Edith Travers. His father remained in his home until his death in 1941. Pancras Square. Walter was still living at home but Olive was sharing a room at 17. Camden Town. indicated how quickly it was arranged as little attention was given to the setting: the back garden of Marquis Road included a dustbin in the background. Middlesex where he died in 1935. St Pancras and later at 75. Bridesmaids were Ellen Howard and Edie Travers.. Minet Ave. Ernest Tancock. Ellen Howard. but Olive’s father had remarried and lived at 86. London with her sister Edie. Willesden.

. Others included Walter Howard senior (with moustache) in front of his wife. On Walters’s side are Ernest Tancock with his arm on Ellen Howard. On the left by Olive are Alice and Edie. Their bridesmaid Edith Ophelia Travers later wore this ensemble to the wedding of her future husband’s sister Florence Cain in 1915. and his mother. Ellen née Gooch and Jack who was in another photo. with Alice Lavinia’s 2-year-old daughter Joan in the foreground. Mary Ann Inge.

They completed one day’s service and were then placed on reserve. Howard family with Joyce. Whilst in the R. The Earl of Derby introduced what was called the Lord Derby Scheme on 16th October 1915 whereby men could volunteer for the forces but then return to their jobs until they were formally called up.A photograph of him holding his daughter Olive at her baptism shows him wearing a khaki-drab armband with a red felt crown.N. Olive. but his main interest at home was as a family loving man. . having three daughters.V. he won a pewter mug weighing 1lb 4oz for rowing He also enjoyed bowling for relaxation. Whilst still working and waiting to be called up they were entitled to wear a grey arm band with a red crown to show that they had signed up to fight. Joyce Muriel and Lorna Phyllis. family gatherings with several generations made for happy days and Olive Ash always led the way with a song. Olive May. and Walter Howard senior talking to Alma and Cissie. Walter was not subsequently called up as far as we know.R.

3 Graham Road. including Eastbourne and Margate and the Grand at Brighton. Walter’s den is above the garage. The Rolls Royce cars belonged to his company and the fleet was added to every year at one period until each member of the board had one. his friends in . Norbury. As a child I did not think that he was wealthy because he told me that the government took 19/6d tax out of every pound that he earned! I felt so sorry for him. Kilmartin Ave. later changed to 01-202-7239. Neeld Crescent. NW4 phone Hendon 1235 and finally. Holt. who. His car registration was WOL for Walter he told me. Grandpop used to joke. SW16 17. The year that all the board had their Rollers and WRH turned up at his bowls club in the same car as the previous year. driven there by his chauffeur. His bedroom is the double room at the front. the Chairman always having the newest one. including 96. Despite this so called poverty he frequently took his family on cruises. but as this was changed frequently I think this was yet another of his little jokes. 3 Graham Rd London NW4 3DH phone Hendon 1235. and when grandchildren were born they would then spend Christmas in various seaside hotels. did not know how to halt and so had fathered 12 children. from 1930 to 1979. He lived at various addresses in London with his family.

to me. arriving on August 1st 1939 at Niagara Falls. In 1919 Walter formed the Helical Bar & Engineering Company Ltd. Even after Olive died in 1967 Grandpop continued with these holidays. Walter and Olive took foreign holidays every two months. to the West Indies. using money provided by Mouchel to set up the office. I have found several references on the Internet to his voyages. considering my assumption of their poverty. especially enjoying cruises in Europe on the Rhine and various French rivers. as well as travelling extensively for business. the largest hotel there at that time. Whilst in New York they stayed at the McAlpine hotel. They left from Southampton and travelled via Cherbourg to Quebec. and I was impressed by the necklace made of real seeds which Grandma brought back for me. New York.. G. Surprisingly. From 1925 to 1945 he was a partner in the firm L. On August 17th 1957 he and Olive sailed first class on the Antilles. on what he called the “banana boat”. . based in Westminster. a boat owned by Elders and Fyffes Ltd. USA. He returned for another visit on August 5th 1958 on the Camito. on the Empress of Britain. Structural Engineers. Canada. a ship in the Canadian Pacific line.the club teased him by saying he had let the side down. Mouchel & Partners. On the 22 nd July 1939 Walter and Olive went on a Polytechnic tour to New York. To his grandchildren this sounded very exciting. arriving on Jul 27th 1939. London.

but was invited twice to Buckingham Palace Garden Parties. During WW2 his offices in Victoria were used by General de Gaulle as Walter worked in close liaison with the Free French committee in London. and of W. In 1955 the French ambassador nominated him for the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur for his services in connection with developing Structural and Civil Engineering contacts between France and Great Britain. At the conclusion of the hostilities he was awarded the Medaille de la Reconnnaisance Francaise. supply and erection of ferro-concrete structures and of reinforcing steel for the construction industry. . R Howard & Partners Ltd. could be worn with restricted permission in public. It was a specialist company in the design. 1950 1958 He was Chairman and Managing Director of the Helical Bar & Engineering Company Limited which was later incorporated as a limited company on 3rd July 1919. We suspect that he was a member of the Special Ops as agents reported to him when they came out of France. conferred by the President of the French Republic. In addition he was also Chairman and Managing Director of the London and Provincial Asbestos Cement Co. Walter refused a Commission and turned down the honour of being a Colonel as he wanted to keep a low profile. Buckingham Palace confirmed that these medals. Prior to the Second World War he was awarded the Palmes d'Academie and was nominated Officier de l'Instruction Publique for work he did in France. Ltd.

Holborn. Kingsway. Membre de la Societe des Ingenieurs Civils de France. WWII saw the company move from London to Sutton. Hove. Walter owned a flat in Hove. F. Past President of the British section of the Societe des Ingenieurs Civils de France. near Brighton. Meanwhile Helical Bar and Engineering Company Limited was now situated at 72. London. Back in Hendon Walter worked part time as an Air Raid Warden. moving back to Victoria after the blitz. Victoria Street where the company remained for 59 years until 1957 when they moved to premises overlooking the river at 82.Inst.W. He held many public positions including Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers. S. Viceroy Lodge. Victoria Street. but before long moved to 38.Victoria Street. Past President of the Society of Engineers. Vice . 18. London. opposite the King Alfred Training Centre for the naval RNVR Officers. Vice President and Treasurer of the Society of Engineers.D. In the summer they lived here but after war broke out.1.Mouchel originally opened an office at 124. and finding the train line up to London susceptible to bombing they all moved back to Hendon as he needed to be in the office every day.

towed across the English Channel and assembled off the Normandy coast to provide port facilities in support of the Allied Forces who mounted the invasion of the continent in June 1944. member of various technical and trade associations including the Architects Registration Council. to form the six mile breakwater to enclose Mulberry Harbour. He belonged to the Constitutional club the Royal Anglo-Belgian Club and the Directors no. This was the year he was Vice-President. the greatest military engineering project in history. R. Howard on extreme right. present at a meeting with Winston Churchill. Vice President of the British section at the World Technical Conference and Ordinary Secretary of the British section of the Ingenieurs Civils de France. Vice-Chairman of the Admission Committee. 204 feet long by 60ft high and 50 feet wide. W. 10 Club. Churchill famously said of this: “bring me the . the Architects Registration Council.President of the London branch of L'Alliance Francaise en Grande Bretagne. Mulberry Harbours Mouchel was involved in the design of the 115 huge caissons. This was the artificial harbour which was prefabricated in Britain.

The huge Mulberry undertaking was carried out during the winter months of 1943 ready for the invasion of the continent in June 1944. Amazingly. They had to be designed to float. The firm's office in Victoria Street survived the German onslaught undamaged except for broken windows and. but once sunk to resist floatation. Grandpop was decorated for this war work.com/Mulberry%20Harbours. The floating pontoons that supported the structural steel roadway were giving the Ministry trouble and the Royal Navy was demanding huge quantities of steel plate resulting in a severe shortage for the floating pontoons so the War Office approached Mouchel to complete the requirement in concrete. the huge concrete boxes were constructed all around the South Coast and in river estuaries without their true purpose being discovered. Some drawings were however done in the Victoria Street Office. Mouchel sent staff to the War Office to work on the huge reinforced concrete caissons. there was conjecture that they were for the production of masses of recently discovered penicillin for war requirements. do not waste time talking about the problems. With the firm's contribution to the Mulberry Harbours apparently completed. The whole operation was to be conducted in the utmost secrecy. the staff involved returned from The War Office to Victoria Street.htm These Floating Docks. The 'Mulberry' piers were linked steel bridge units sitting on 'Beetles' (pontoons built of steel plate) to support a floating roadway for the unloading of equipment onto the Normandy beaches. which produced a combination of pre-cast slabs and in situ concrete. they will take care of themselves. some sections of the Docks can still be seen today on Arromanches beach. The design. required slabs to be only 1¼ inches thick to obtain flotation. serving staff progressively returned to the firm.combinedops. . Few members of the staff knew what they had been doing. overturning and breaking up under storm conditions. were built 1942-1944.” http://www. following Japan's surrender in August 1945.best solutions. and those that did were warned not to talk about it. constructed of reinforced concrete by Wates Limited to a Mouchel engineered design. Designed to last solely for the six month projected use of the harbour for the D-Day landings. Being highly visible.

He couldn't face Christmas at his home that December so for the first time in years there was no family gathering at 3. Instead. However when she went to visit her daughter Marleen in America. leaving her sisters to share the care. 105 Marine Drive. In June 1967 after fifty three years of marriage. Despite this he could still converse in French and remembered driving to Brighton in the 1940’s. Though he once proudly stated that for the first time in his life he had managed to boil an egg for his breakfast. Rottingdean. BN2 9GE Brighton. Grandpop went on a cruise with his sister Ellen to get away and she unfortunately died in an accident aboard ship on Christmas Day. He was also aware that our car was a company one. However he recovered. which his daughters used to joke were of his girl friends as these included the Folies Bergere where one girl memorably said “ I nezzer says no”. and so the last ten years of Walter’s life were spent in Newick Nursing Home. Graham Rd. as it became apparent that he was suffering from dementia. so his mind was still sharp.He kept a diary with many phone numbers in. Olive died. In 1972 Walter was operated on at Whittington Hospital as he had prostate cancer and I feared that this was the end. being looked after by Olive who came over every day from nearby Kingsbury to cook for him. and attended International events such as the Chicago Trade Fair in 1933. leaving Grandpop alone and lonely. . He travelled frequently to France. both Paris and Nice. Joyce realised that he needed more help than could be given. carried on working until about 1975.

He mentioned that he had something to do with building the Maginot line…is this true? Work on this began seriously in the 1930’s. Olive and his brother had their ashes placed. and packed everyone in to visit Uncle Jack in Maidstone. Tablet 30. Memories of Walter and Olive June 2011 I asked various people who knew him what they remembered about him. friendly and not snobbish. Olive and Walter had been given a beautifully carved chaise longue as a wedding present (according to Alice it was an antique at the time. Daily Telegraph 1988: Walter Robert Howard aged 97. Alan was impressed as at that time it was unusual to see cars in Dagenham. Did you talk much to Pop when you were little? What were your impressions of him? Bert Hooper – who used to take Edie to Graham Road to visit her sister Olive whilst Bert was working in the Highgate Depot. Alan Cain – remembers Walter and Olive as always being friendly and bringing clothes for the Cain family. An obituary was written in the Times on May 8 1987. North London on May 6th 1988 where his wife. their daughter. Much loved father. He died in the home and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. Peggy . When the family knew that Walter and Olive were coming to visit the house would be cleaned and the fire lit in preparation. London. He is commemorated in Bay 28. about 75 years old. Funeral service Golders Green Crematorium. and originally had been covered in rose damask). Margaret Hooper and Peggy Cain. He remembers Walter as being ‘gruff’ and genial. grandfather and great grandfather. Friday May 6 2pm. He was also known to his great grandchildren as Pop Pop. One time they arrived at their home in Reede Road. formerly of Hendon. in their car. Olive gave this to Edie to help furnish their council house in Dagenham but it is now in Margaret’s house). Dagenham. which may explain why Pop was awarded certain French medals prior to WW11. probably in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

which appeared to be the only car in the street. Even though “we knew we were the poor relations”. Walter took the Cain family en masse (not sure if it was all 7) in the car to Southsea to visit Olive’s brother Will Travers. In the 1950s there was an article and caricature of Walter. she had a new pair of shoes of which she was very proud. However Pat never felt that Walter had feelings of superiority. Pat Cain– both directly and as memories from Edie. Pat remembers going to Graham Road. Pat remembers sitting on the floor of the car. She told him that next time she would buy him a pair of shoes. she hadn’t observed. short and fat! He was a pacer. probably when Edie was ill. on the back page of the Evening News business section that Edie cut out and kept. As we know they stayed together. the only one not to want the Howard money. The adults would also have had a drink at the pub. as a young child. Walter told Edie that he was really pleased to have Frank as a son in law. h’rm. but in separate bedrooms. and when Alan Cain was born in 1928 Olive and Walter asked to adopt him as they wanted a boy. saying h’rm. he told her he didn’t have any new shoes. as a child. however Olive found some aspects difficult. and to Maidstone to see Olive’s other brother Jack. walking up and down the room. There was a time when Walter and Olive’s marriage was under stress and Walter had asked for a break. Walter was like ‘Mr Pickwick’. In their younger days Olive . Barbara Cain thinks that the Cain family didn’t mix much with the Howards but she recalls the Howard car coming to Dagenham. He liked Claire: when. Walter adapted well to his meteoric rise in society. Sometimes they would arrive when the children were in bed and in the morning there would be the smell and the discarded paper of fish and chips. On her first visit to the house in Graham Road she had passed the house as it wasn’t as grand as she had remembered. and noticed the difference which.recalled that Olive had also given Edie money. At Edie’s funeral in March 1969 Walter arrived in his Rolls Royce without his chauffeur and as he was not used to driving he followed the hearse and upon returning took Peter Jefferey’s mother with him in case he got lost. probably in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Olive then took over cooking at 3.1914 Fiddler's Elbow Bridge. This paper is a work in progress so new information is continually being added. apart from once when she went to America for a visit to see her daughter. Until his retirement Pop always seemed aloof. Royal Liver Building 11 May 1908 . Reading assoc engineer LG Mouchel & Partners March 1924 . h’rm. Mouchel & Partners provided the UK with its first natural draught hyperbolic-curved reinforced concrete cooling towers — introducing the distinctive shape with which we are now so familiar. my brother. Walter seemed to become distant. twelve people. Uncle Jack and Aunt Alma always came to these parties. As he got older. He never had much to say until I was married and I took my two eldest to stay with him for a few days. Christmas was no longer the same after my mother remarried and we no longer went to hotels. and only took notice of me once when he tickled me mercilessly.25th June 1926 Royal Tweed Bridge .. furnished with a massive mahogany suite including a half tester bed which I loved to jump on. Newark 1915 Cooling Towers. Buildings associated with Mouchel. Caversham Bridge Caversham Road. L.G. and Arthur Hayden.opened January 1910 Spanish City 1910 New North Road Bridge 1912 . Berwick-upon-Tweed. 1924 At Lister Drive Power Station in Liverpool. his grandson. Arthur. produced the meal for.19 July 1911 Michelin Building October 1909 . Northumberland . h’rm . I think he was intimidated by all his women. Lorna Hayden. Grandpop only spoke to me twice.December 1910 Sheath Lane (Oxshott) Footbridge 1908 ..Royal Tweed Bridge River Tweed. and I. At Barbara and John’s wedding he gave them a lift to their house in Barking and walked up and down the hall saying. He shaved with an electric razor in his bedroom. as far as I can remember.and Edie would chat away together but William Cain was extremely quiet and if Alice was around no-one else would have an opportunity to talk. Graham.

Fishtoft 1947 – 1948 Other significant projects included Royal Victoria Dock.associated engineer LG Mouchel & Partners date 1928 Earl's Court Exhibition Centre (1937) LG Mouchel & Partners date 1935 .mouchel. and stands for Liverpool and Manchester City football clubs.com/about_us/history/default. (Research):Mouchel: Source: http://freespace. The company also designed the cooling towers for Battersea Power Station.aspx accessed Oct 1 2009 . which form the skyline of London south of the River Thames.html http://www.1st September 1937 Nunn's Bridge.d/history/recent_meetings.virgin.net/barry.

Related Interests