Charles 'Charlie' and Gertrude 'Gert' Haylock
Charles (Charlie) Haylock was born on 28 Feb 1900, in Ashwell, Hertfordshire, his father, Robert was a shepherd aged 34 and his mother, Anne Ada (Annie Rowling), was 32, they lived in Back Street, Ashwell. It is said that Charlie was the first Ashwell baby delivered by Dr Robert Woodforde who arrived in Ashwell at the beginning of 1900.
Charlie had three sisters, Emily Fanny 1885, Doris 1897 and Ellen Mary (Nellie) 1903. Charlie was baptised at the Congregational Church (URC), Ashwell on 22 April 1900 by Revd CC Edwards.
Charlie was a pupil at the Merchant Taylors School, Mill Street, Ashwell. He walked daily with his pals from Newnham – sometimes played truant and had to stay all day playing to hide the fact (was this 1911 the only year he did not receive a prize?). However he was awarded prizes for good attendance and school work 1910, 1912 and 1913, copperplate handwriting was taught, it was a good school.
Charlie’s school boots were made for him by a cobbler at No 5 Kingsland Terrace.
At the onset of World War I in 1914 Charlie and his friends biked from Newnham to join up but were refused. On the way home they were tired so slept in a haystack. His father walked to Baldock at night to see if he could find them – the policeman was alerted. They returned home next day exhausted – parents were relieved so only had a telling off.
Charlie Haylock enlisted into the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, at Hertford on 19 April 1918 and saw active service in France and Flanders for which he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Instead of taking his discharge on 5 February 1919 he re-enlisted the following day into the Gordon Highlanders at Felixstowe. He was posted to the 52nd (Graduated) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, which was a training unit based at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire, before moving to Glencorse Camp near Edinburgh.
In early 1920 he was posted to 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders which was sent to Turkey on active service as that country was in a state of disorder following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and was stationed at Tuzla on the Ismid Peninsula. This was followed by a move to Haidar Pasha near Constantinople (Istanbul) in November 1920. In November 1921 the battalion moved to Malta from where he returned to the UK at the end of May 1922 to take his discharge from the army on 4th July 1922 with an “Exemplary” character reference. Charles was a Lance Corporal.
Prior to joining the army Charlie was employed for just half a day as an agricultural worker; fed up with the horse and plough he did not return for the afternoon. He went to Dartford staying with an uncle where he worked in a secretarial job.
During his time with the Gordon Highlanders he was employed as a clerk in the Battalion Orderly Room. He obtained the Army Certificate of Education (Third Class) as well as a swimming proficiency certificate. He could not swim when he joined the army, however, he soon learnt as he said “you were pushed in the water and it was either sink or swim”.
Charlie carried ’The Soldier’s Bible’ with him, writing inside:
“2867126 L/c Haylock C
1st Bn Gordon Highlanders
Army of Black Sea”
Upon discharge the Army Education Certificate and position as clerk with the Gordon Highlanders together with his “exemplary” character reference enabled him to work as a clerk for Fordham’s Brewery. The firm was flourishing in the 1920/30s when it was being run by four Fordham brothers, producing a range of ales, beers and stout, supplied in bottle or barrel and delivered to its many pubs and hotels over a wide area. Mild beer sold at fourpence a pint, straight from the barrel: pumps and tubes were then only just being introduced. The firm’s transport consisted of two Foden steam wagons and a fleet of petrol lorries. In addition, Fordham’s owned a London depot at Harringay. The beers were sent to the depot by rail from Ashwell Station and then delivered to London clubs and hotels by the firm’s men and lorries stationed at Harringay.
In 1953 the Brewery was sold to Greens Brewers from Luton, then to Flowers Breweries Ltd in 1958 who in turn were amalgamated with Whitbread Ltd in 1965.
Charles married Gertrude Castle on 24 Oct 1931, at St Mary’s Stotfold, Bedfordshire. They had one child during their marriage, Mary Elizabeth (Libby) born April 1943.
Gertrude was born on 6 Oct 1906 at Ivy Farm Brook Street, Stotfold, moving to New Inn Farm, Stotfold at the age of six where her parents, Arthur Castle and Laura (Fuller), were farmers. She had three brothers and one sister: Cedric 1898, Humphrey 1900, William 1904 and Laura 1916
Gert helped her father with the daily milk round measuring the milk into customer’s jugs, this was before milk bottles.
Gert enjoyed cycling from Stotfold to Baldock for the annual street fair, however one year she fell off her bicycle breaking her arm.
During World War II Gert cycled back to Stotfold to help out on the farm.
Charlie and Gert enjoyed playing badminton at the Barn in Gardiners Lane. They had a parrot called Billy who always greeted the milkman with a cheery ‘good morning’, he also mimicked the radio time signal which confused me when I was their neighbour at number 47.
Charlie and Gert lived in a bungalow they had built, Lyndhurst, 45 Ashwell Street, probably the first bungalow to be built in Ashwell. Their daughter, Mary, lives there today. (Mary passed away on 5 October 2017)
Charles died in December 1989 at the Lister Hospital, Stevenage, at the age of 89, and is buried in Ashwell Cemetery.
Gertrude also died at the Lister Hospital, Stevenage in Dec 1995, at the age of 89, and is buried with Charles in Ashwell Cemetery.