Life with my Grandad: A Nostalgic Look Back at the 19th and 20th Century focusing on my Family's History
The early years
My grandad, Frank Trigg, was one of eight brothers and two sisters who were all born in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The family name in those days was "Triggs", but at some point, it became "Trigg" after the "s" was dropped. I am unsure when and why.
My grandad, born in 1906, was the fourth eldest boy.
His oldest brother Arthur, born in 1895, joined up with the Armed Forces at the outbreak of World War One, when he was 19. He survived the war and returned to marry, but never had children. He died quite young, in the late 1930s.
My grandad's second oldest brother, Bob, born in the 1897, was also old enough to join up during the Great War and was away fighting at the frontline when he was just 17 years old . He survived a poison gas attack and returned to the family home after the war.
Next came grandad's oldest sister, Annie, born in 1899, followed by sister Mary, born in 1901.
Next came Frederick - or Fred, as he was always known - born in 1904. Fred went on to marry and have several children. He survived into old age, as he regularly visited grandad and grandma when my older brother, Eric, was a child in the 1950s.
My grandad, born in 1906, was to go on and have two children (my mum Audrey and my Uncle Ken).
Then came another brother, Tommy, born in 1909. He married and had one daughter, Olga.
The next brother was Charlie, followed by Joe, neither of whom had children. Joe never married, although Charlie did. I don't have their exact birthdates.
Finally, the youngest brother was Willie, born in 1918, who later married and had a son and daughter. His daughter, Pat Beaumont, lives in Australia today, after emigrating in her youth.
My mum and Pat, first cousins, keep in touch with each other to this day and exchange Christmas cards and letters.
Pat has a son, Kristian Beaumont, who came to the UK for a visit in the 1990s to meet his extended family for the first time. I was lucky enough to meet him after he stayed with us for a week before flying back to Australia.
My mum has written down all her memories and knowledge of the family history and some of it from the early years is a little sketchy with the passing of time.
Grandad's own mother was also called Anne and had a sister, Mary. His own two sisters were named after them.
I have to say this has made it rather confusing for me when researching and writing about our family tree!
Researching online, I was lucky enough to find a census form from 1911, detailing my grandad's family. It showed that his father, Frederick Triggs, born in 1877 in Bristol, was a 34-year-old brush-maker at that time. Grandad's mother, Annie, born in Liverpool, was also 34 and a housewife.
It also showed that Arthur Triggs, then 16, was a brush-maker too and Robert Triggs, then 14, was an assistant mat-maker and wool-winder. Arthur and Robert were both listed as being born in Liverpool, so the family had moved when they were little.
The family must have moved around wherever grandad's father found work, as the next three siblings, Annie, Mary and Frederick, were born in Seacombe, Cheshire, while my grandad was born in Liverpool. This was something I didn't know before. Only young Thomas Triggs - the youngest child at that time - was actually born in Leeds.
Also living at the family home in 1911 was grandad's maternal grandma, Mary Donnelly, then aged 69, who was a widow. She was listed as being born in Louth, Drogheda, Ireland, in 1842.
Grandad's Auntie Mary, his mum's sister, was a widow, who had one son, Tom. He joined the Navy at a very young age and sadly was killed while at sea during the First World War at only 16 years old when his ship was hit by a torpedo. He was so young to lose his life while fighting for his country.
Grandad's sister, Anne, went on to marry and had two daughters, Joan and Dorothy. They lived in Leeds all their life and mum always kept in touch with them. Joan's married name was Peck.
Grandad's other sister, Mary, had two children, including a daughter, Shirley Copley, who grew up to marry her sweetheart, Brian Manson. Sadly, Shirley's brother became epileptic and died at just five years old.
Mum also kept in touch with Shirley for many years. There was a family reunion in Yorkshire in the 1990s and all the surviving cousins were there. It was a very emotional occasion for my mum, who had not seen many of the family for years.
It was a very close-knit community in the early 20th century. Grandad's close family all lived in the same street, Midland View. Grandad lived at number six. Later, in 1928, my mum was born there!
It has long since been demolished and when mum went for a visit to Yorkshire in the 1990s, she found the whole area unrecognizable and felt quite sad.
My grandad's own grandma lived with them, his Auntie Mary lived further down the street and the other neighbours were all good friends who looked out for each other.
Looking at the photograph (above) of all the ladies (family and neighbours) posing in the street, it would appear to have been taken during World War One due to the clothing and also due to the fact there were no men pictured, as the majority were away with the troops.
Grandad had only scant memories of his own paternal grandmother. He recalled her as being "a little old lady with white hair" who used to sit next to the fire all the time when he was little because she felt the cold.
We had a marriage certificate, dated 10th February 1873, showing that Thomas James Triggs, a brush-maker, aged 21, married Emma Welsford, aged 22, at Bristol Register Office. We believe these were grandad's paternal grandparents. The bride's father was a boot-maker and the groom's father a brush-maker.
Thomas Triggs died aged 35 of heart disease in 1887, according to the death certificate. So grandad's memories of an elderly lady sitting in front of the fire seem to tie in with this, as his paternal grandma would have been in her mid-60s and a widow by this time. People did not live as long in those days and someone in their mid-60s would seem very old to a young boy.
Italian ice-cream man caused quite a stir
In those days, it was rare to meet anyone who wasn't a local person, as of course, this was long before everyone had a car and the only transport was horse-drawn carriages.
It was therefore a cause of great excitement when a young Italian gentleman moved to the area, just before the war in 1914, with his family.
He travelled round the streets selling ice-cream! He pushed round a huge barrow - a much earlier version of today's ice-cream vans!
This was not a regular occurrence in those days and grandad's mother and the other ladies in the neighbourhood all loved the Italian ice-cream.
Prior to this, they would have to walk to the local shop on the main road at the top of the street if they wished to buy ice-cream. When the Italian gentleman started peddling his wares, all the women would rush out into the street clutching a basin to buy their ice-cream.
When the Italian fell ill for some time, another ice-cream salesman tried to "steal" his round, but the local women shunned him! They were very loyal to their Italian ice-cream man.
The Italian connection ... 70 years on
Strangely enough, mum recalled an amazing coincidence which occurred in the late 1980s, when she worked in the office of Warburton's Bakery in Blackpool. It was one of those occasions when you would say. "It's a small world."
One of the office cleaners, a dark-haired, olive-skinned man, started his shift while mum was still in the office. He was laughing and joking with mum.
The cleaner, Tony Fusco, said he was Italian and that he had been born in Hunslet Carr, mum's birthplace. He said he had grown up there and that his father had been an ice-cream man!
The Fusco family had later moved to Blackpool, as mum had too, in mum's case in the 1950s. It turned out Tony's dad was the mobile ice-cream man who had so delighted all the ladies on Midland View as a young man in around 1914! Subsequently, he had gone on to run a successful ice-cream business.
On settling in Blackpool, Mr Fusco senior, who was small in stature, but very sturdy, became something of a local celebrity with his impromptu strongman act on the beach! On a regular basis, he would place bets with holiday-makers that he could carry a donkey on his shoulders from pier to pier and back, a distance of around two miles. (The donkeys were there, of course, to give kids rides during the summer season).
The visitors were always drawn in by his bet and they never won, as amazingly, he always did manage to carry the donkey! Tony described how his father would duck underneath and then pick up the donkey in the same way a weight-lifter would lift a heavy bar-bell, bending his knees and keeping his back straight, while positioning the donkey across his shoulders, its head and front legs over one shoulder and its back legs over the other.
Perhaps the donkey was happy to get a ride itself for a change instead of ferrying holiday-makers back and forth - who knows!
Mum thought this was absolutely hilarious and couldn't believe this was the same person who had sold ice-cream to her grandma back in Hunslet Carr.
Sadly, Tony told mum he had been disowned by his mother and father because he had married an English girl and they wanted him to marry an Italian!
Still mum was amazed to have ended up working with Tony and they were colleagues and friends until mum left Warburton's in 1991.
I have since done a little research online and found that the Fusco family had started out selling ice-cream in Liverpool in the early 1900s after settling there from Italy. They started by mixing ice cream in their back rooms and selling it from the three-wheeled carts they pushed around the streets. Eventually, they opened shops to supply both parlours and wholesalers.
So Mr Fusco senior had apparently moved from Liverpool to Hunslet Carr at the same time as grandad's father made the same move.
There are still branches of Fusco's Ice Cream Parlour in operation today.
Grandad used to reminisce a lot about his youth to mum. One anecdote he always recalled was the fact he had a larger than average head when a child.
The young boys normally wore hats in those days and this was discovered when his head was measured.
Grandad was teased about this, though in an affectionate and not a nasty way. He used to say to mum, "There's only one head bigger than mine and that's Flamborough Head!"
This was an east coast stretch of cliffs, a famous beauty spot. He took it all in good humour.
He part-blamed this on a fall he had as a toddler, which he said always left him with "bumps" on his head. One day, his mother was pushing his pram along Balm Road, Hunslet Carr, in the direction of the local park, where there was also a lake.
It was considered a local beauty spot in those days (pre-1910) although grandad recalled there were rats living there and in later years, the lake was filled in. According to the history books, it was filled in to make way for two crown bowling greens for Hunslet Lake Amateur Bowling Club in 1920.
On the fateful day as grandad was pushed along Balm Road, his mum accidentally lost her grip and the pushchair went hurtling off down the hill, sending him flying out. He bumped his head on the pavement. Luckily, he wasn't seriously injured, but he said he had lumps on his head for the rest of his life after this accident.
When he was a little boy, grandad joined the local Boys' Brigade (or Boy Scouts, we are not sure which). He had a wonderful photo in his box of mementoes of the whole troupe in around 1910. I know grandad is on the picture somewhere, but we don't know which one is him, unfortunately.
He suffered from rickets as a child, a condition that affects bone development, causing the bones to become soft and weak. With advances in health care, there is much better treatment and prevention of rickets today. The most common cause is a lack of vitamin D and calcium.
In those days, grandad just lived with it and it was quite common, often due to poverty and poor nutrition, but it affected his legs for the rest of his life.
Mum told me that when grandad was in the RAF during World War Two, he was allowed to wear long trousers all the time, instead of the shorts that his comrades wore, because of the deformities in his legs caused by his childhood illness. It didn't affect his mobility, but just the appearance of his legs, in adulthood.
Because his legs were so weak as a child, it was often hard for him to participate in the Boys' Brigade activities. His sister Anne's husband ran the troupe and the activities included many long walks. Because of his legs, grandad was allowed to ride on the open-top horse-drawn cart to their destination, a large field, where they would put up their tent.
While there, they would go apple-picking and the cart would be laden with apples on their return. On one occasion, grandad said the horse took fright and bolted across the field, with apples flying off all over the place. He said this was where the saying came from, "Don't upset the apple cart."
In those days, the area was all rural, with just horse-drawn carts for transport.
Mum recalled going back there years later and it had been built up and was a mass of traffic and houses, unrecognisable from how my grandad had remembered it.
When grandad was at school, he used to go home at lunch time (no school dinners then) and had to run an errand during his break.
He would run to the railway sidings at the end of the street - where the family's next door neighbour worked - to take his sandwiches, or some other meal, wrapped in a cloth on an enamel tray.
He also used to take him a jug containing a few cups of tea.
The neighbour used to give grandad a few pennies or "coppers" as a thank you for his efforts.
Early days of cinema
Grandad also recalled how there used to be a pool hall at the top of his street when he was still at school.
It was owned by his friend's family and the top floor was converted into a cinema. He spent much of his leisure time there in his youth, sneaking in to watch the latest movies!
This was in the early days of cinema, when silent films were made, before the "talkies" had been invented.
Grandad, who was under 12 years old at this time, used to help his pal deliver leaflets to local houses publicising the week's films.
Children weren't allowed in the cinema, but grandad and his friend used to creep past the ticket kiosk by crouching down so the box office clerk couldn't see them, run up the stairs and crawl under the curtain to hide and watch what ever film was showing!
In general, however, it was not an easy life for kids in those days.
Grandad left school at the age of 12 or 13 - there was no going on to university for ordinary working class folk.
Everyone in the family went out to work, as there weren't any state benefits either. They did "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay".
Grandad's first job was in a shoe factory. It was very hard manual work, using machinery.
I don't suppose unskilled youths would be allowed to use industrial machinery like this today due to health and safety regulations!
Before the soles were fastened to the uppers, the size had to be stitched on using a massive industrial sewing machine with a treadle. This was heavy work for a young lad, as it wasn't an electric machine.
He was doing this all day (very long hours) and then at night, after a full day's manual work, he had to cycle home on his pushbike, exhausted.
He told his mum he found it hard to cycle due to the intense pain in his legs due to operating the treadle machine all day. His legs would be in such great pain due to having had rickets that his mother had to massage them each night, as he could hardly walk.
People today who complain they "don't like their job" would never have coped at the age of 12 or 13 working in an industrial factory. It was very hard manual work, but the family needed the money and it had to be done.
Grandad's own father had originally moved to Hunslet Carr in Leeds to find work - people had to go where the work was in those days. He worked in a factory, the local brush works.
According to old documents we have found, grandad's father was the third generation of the Triggs family to be a brush-maker.
The house where they lived at the time, at 6 Midland View, was tied in to his job at the brushworks and was rented from the Co-op.
Prior to living in Liverpool, the family had originated from Drogheda in southern Ireland. (This was my grandad Frank Trigg's maternal grandparents' side of the family. His paternal grandparents had come from Bristol, as detailed earlier).
We have some old birth certificates and other documents confirming this, although we are a little sketchy on some of the dates.
Mum was always told the family had gone to Liverpool seeking work to escape poverty and the great potato famine in Ireland, which began in 1845.
According to the history books, potatoes were the staple diet of the rural population of Ireland at that time. But there was a horrific famine in 1845 after a potato blight, ‘Phytophthora Infestans’, caused them to lose 50 per cent of the crop that year.
The crop of 1846 was all but a total failure and there was a very poor harvest in 1847. Three disastrous years in succession presented Ireland with huge problems.
Between 1846 and 1850, one million people in Ireland died of starvation, or the diseases associated with the famine.
We believe grandad's ancestors came by boat to Liverpool at around this time to try and start a new life. If this date is correct, this would be when my grandad's own grandma was a child.
Mum has an old marriage certificate, dated 20th February 1865, confirming the marriage of Charles Donnelly, a 34-year-old railway porter, to 27-year-old Mary Wasser, in St Augustine's Church, Great Howard Street, Liverpool. We think these were my grandad's own grandparents, on his mother's side.
So we believe Charles Donnelly must have been born in Ireland in 1831 and would have been a young man in his teens when the family moved to Liverpool during the potato famine.
At the time of the marriage in 1865, the groom's father was listed as farmer Hugh Donnelly, while the bride's was Patrick Wasser, a joiner. This is the earliest documented evidence we have of our family history on my Grandad Trigg's side.
So this is how grandad's family came to be living in England in the late 19th and early 20th century.
A new career for grandad
As a youth in his teens, grandad eventually left the shoe factory and found work at a funeral parlour. Mum is unsure of the year.
However, she said it was a job he hated and he never spoke of it. She believed it upset him working there.
She said, with hindsight, it must have affected him psychologically, as he developed a dislike of the dark which remained with him for the rest of his life and he always slept with a nightlight on.
After this, he became an upholsterer. I don't know if he had any formal training, but he became very skilled.
He kept, in his box of mementoes, a hand-written book of his income and expenditure which made him about 23 years old when he was running his own upholstery business.
He did this for the rest of his life and was meticulous with his book-keeping, all done in the 'copper-plate' handwriting which he had been taught at school.
Births, marriages and deaths
It has been hard to keep track of the family tree with grandad having had so many brothers and sisters and with only sketchy information from the early days.
We do know that grandad's parents had married in Liverpool before moving to Hunslet Carr and already had young children, including my grandad, when they settled in Yorkshire.
I am thrilled that we have quite a lot of wedding photographs from the early years, including the marriage of grandad's younger brother, Charlie, to his sweetheart, Kitty, in the 1930s (pictured below). My Uncle Ken (mum's brother) was a pageboy on this occasion.
We also have a photograph of the marriage of grandad's older brother Arthur to Elsie, although I am unsure of the exact year. Looking at the fashions, it appears to be the 1920s.
As mentioned earlier, Arthur survived being in the trenches during World War One and returned to Hunslet Carr to marry his first love.
The couple did not have any children.
Then, tragedy struck at a relatively young age. In the late 1930s, Arthur was in a lot of pain with his back. Mum believes this was just before the outbreak of World War Two in 1939.
He was ill in bed with what he thought was a painful boil on his back, but when his condition worsened, on a Friday, he asked the doctor to come and visit him, being too ill to go to the surgery.
The doctor said he would go on the Saturday, but - not realising the seriousness of Arthur's condition - he went to watch a football match first.
During the afternoon, Arthur's condition deteriorated and by the time the doctor came, it was too late and he died. It turned out it was not a boil causing the pain, but an abscess on his spine, which had burst and caused an infection throughout his body.
Mum said there were no antibiotics then and illnesses such as this could prove fatal.
I am unsure where the photograph on the beach (above) was taken. Mum thinks it may have been at Bridlington, which was near Flamborough Head.
However, it could possibly have been taken at Scarborough, as both were popular destinations for visitors in those days.
Mum has another photograph of Arthur and Elsie, also taken on an unknown beach (on the right).
What amazed me when looking at them was the fact that the men all wore suits and ties on the beach. They were always smartly dressed even when sunbathing and relaxing on holiday, although I did note that Elsie had taken off her shoes on one photograph.
I think they would shudder if they saw some of the beachwear today, with bikinis, micro-shorts, topless sunbathing and thongs. The women always looked elegant in the 1920s and '30s, no matter where they were.
I also noticed that Arthur was always smoking a pipe, as my grandad did his entire life.
We also have a photo of (we think) grandad's brother, Tommy, on his wedding day (pictured below). I am not sure of the year, as there was no date written on the reverse. We think it is Tommy. Again, it's a shame we don't know for sure the identity of the bride and groom.
The couple never had children, although enjoyed a long and happy marriage.
Charlie joined the army at the outbreak of World War Two, when he would have been in his late 20s. He had his photo taken in his uniform and my grandad had kept the photo (pictured, right) in his box of mementoes for the rest of his life.
Charlie survived the war and returned safely to the family in 1945.
Older brother Arthur had a photograph taken of himself in his army uniform from the 1914-18 war. I presume the young lads had the photos taken at the time for their wife, sweetheart or mother back home.
Again, my grandad had kept Arthur's photograph in his box of mementoes.
Ironically, Arthur would have been joining up for the army too at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, had he not died tragically from the burst abscess.
All of the brothers who were of the right age had joined up during the war. It must have been dreadful for their mother, with eight sons, not knowing if she would ever see them again.
Another family wedding of which we have a photo was this one (pictured below). I do not know the details, unfortunately, as there was no information on the reverse of the photograph. It may be one of grandad's cousins. It may be his youngest brother, Willie. However, it's quite sad not knowing for sure.
The bridesmaid and pageboy were my mum and my uncle Ken, which would have put the date as the mid-1930s.
My mum looked very pretty in her bridesmaid's dress and a floral head-dress, while Kenneth was dressed all in white, in what looked like a silk suit. I don't think youths today would be happy at having to wear a suit like this for a wedding. How times have changed!
A very glamorous family wedding was that of grandad's younger sister, Mary, to a Mr Copley (pictured, below).
It appears to have been in the early 1930s, looking at the fashions and the fact my Uncle Ken looks about six or seven on the picture.
The stunning bouquets and matching lace outfits on the bridesmaids perfectly complement the beautiful bride.
As detailed earlier in this Hub, they went on to have two children, a son and a daughter.
Pictured (below) is a photograph of the couple a few years later in their garden with their young son, who tragically died in childhood after suffering from epilepsy since birth.
In those days, illnesses and medical conditions - which are vastly more treatable today due to medical advances - often led to early deaths, unfortunately. Many children did not even see their first birthday.
The case of young Master Copley, Mary's son, was a particularly tragic one. He was a beautiful baby and such a cute child, but was always very poorly.
As a result, his mother decided not to risk sending him to the state school, as she feared it would make him more ill and could possibly be fatal should he have a seizure while at school. She planned to educate him at home.
However, when he did not start school at age five, as required by law, the school board told Mary she could not keep him at home, despite his illness. When she refused to send him to school, they involved the authorities (I presume the equivalent of Social Services today) and they took the boy off Mary and put him in a home many miles away, in another town.
The family was heartbroken, as with poor transport links, Mary could hardly get to see her son. Then, one day, when she arrived for a visit, she was told the shock news that he had died. What a terrible shock - and what a way to do things! She had no prior warning - she just arrived to visit her little boy and was told he was deceased.
Although he was an epileptic and the cause of death was said to be connected to this, Mary always said he died of a broken heart as a result of being separated from his beloved mama. Tragic indeed.
According to national statistics, in the 1930s, children were born into a dangerous world.
Every year, thousands died of infectious diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria and polio.
Infant mortality - deaths of children before their first birthday - was around one in 20. Penicillin was not even invented until 1944.
Poverty, poor diet and bad living conditions lay at the root of much childhood illness, according to the doctors of the era.
But ... I digress.
To return to the happier subject of family weddings, I am sorry to say we don't have any photographs of my grandad's own wedding to my grandma, Ivy Trigg (nee Garnham) which was in 1927.
Some of our photo albums have gone missing over the years after the chaos of several house moves. We are hopeful they will turn up again at some point.
The only surviving photo we have of this happy event is of grandad in his wedding suit, posing at home before his impending marriage. He would have been 21 years of age.
This seems young by today's standards, but bear in mind he had been working since leaving school at the age of 12 or 13, so had been a working man for around nine years in those days.
After the wedding, grandma and grandad went on to have two children, my mum, Audrey, in 1928 and a couple of years later, her little brother, Kenneth. (Mum and Ken's own early life growing up in Yorkshire has been documented in another Hub already).
Another happy event in the family was always a christening. Unfortunately, we have few christening photographs until the 1960s. I am unsure why.
Mum felt her dad's side of the family had been brought up as Catholic in past times, but she didn't recall anyone of my grandad's or her own generation being particularly religious. His mother had been brought up a Catholic, but the family members weren't practicing Catholics by the time mum was born and christened.
All the kids were christened, regardless of the family's beliefs at that time.
The photograph shows my grandad's youngest brother, Willie Trigg, with his wife Mary and baby daughter Patricia Trigg in a posed studio photograph to celebrate Pat's christening.
This is the baby girl who grew up and married to become Pat Beaumont (as detailed earlier in this Hub) - later to emigrate to Australia.
Grandad's brother Fred also married at this time, but unfortunately, we don't have any photographs. Mum heard how one of his daughters was trying to compile our family tree in the 1990s. However, we don't know if she ever succeeded and maybe hit the same snags as I have.
Incidentally, our family wasn't without its scandal, which mum revealed to me when compiling these memoirs. Grandad's second youngest brother, Joe, was apparently a bit of a rogue. He never married and was, in modern day terms, a "Jack the lad", according to mum. He dated a lot of women, but didn't settle down with any of them.
During the 1940s, he had an affair with a married woman who had two children. She managed a shop and lived in the flat above. One night, the husband arrived home unexpectedly and in an effort to escape, Joe had to climb out of an upstairs window.
Mum recalled, as a child, seeing Joe's "girlfriend" and thinking what an unattractive woman she was and wondering what he saw in her!
Sadly, Joe died at a relatively young age himself. He was only 47. There don't appear to be any surviving photos of him, unfortunately.
Stigma surrounded a family illness
Mum has told me a rather odd recollection relating to the sad death of .my grandad's father, who wasn't an old man by any means.
The brothers and sisters were all gathered together at the family home at Midland View when their father fell seriously ill. They were heartbroken when he told them that he was dying.
While on his deathbed, he told the kids "never to booze", because he said that was why he was dying - that consuming too much alcohol had made him ill and was killing him. The children thought this was to dissuade them from drinking.
However, my grandad learned, some time later, that his father had actually died of tuberculosis, but was spreading the rumour that he was dying of alcohol-related ailments because of the stigma attached to having TB. It was a very serious, killer disease in those days and sufferers were often kept in isolation in hospital, not allowed to see even their own family.
Grandad's father had spent some time in hospital himself and while there, he had to sleep outside on a verandah, as fresh air was believed to be the cure.
Some sufferers did indeed survive TB, but my great-grandad was not one of the lucky ones and it killed him eventually.
It seemed bizarre to me that he would prefer people to think he died of self-inflicted alcoholism than of an illness which was not his fault. But such was the social stigma attached to TB that my great-grandad did not wish anyone to know he was dying from it - not even his own children.
With modern-day advances in medicine, it will be hard to imagine that at this time, when grandad's neighbour's son kept falling over, other neighbours blamed "booze" and said he must drink too much!
But he was only 16 or 17 years old and was continually breaking bones when he fell. With hindsight, mum realized he must have suffered from brittle bone disease, although this was not a known medical condition in those days.
Grandad's early married life and fatherhood
Following my grandad and grandma's wedding, they had two children, my mum, Audrey, in 1928 and a couple of years later, her brother, Kenneth.
Mum was a tiny baby - she weighed less than a 2lb bag of sugar - and apparently grandad's sister, Anne, described her as looking like "a four-penny rabbit", which meant very scrawny, adding that she "wouldn't last a year".
This was proven wrong (as I have documented in another Hub about my mother).
Mum recalled that after she was born, grandad's employer (I am unsure who this was at that time) gave him a very expensive pedal car as a gift for her. I presume grandad had taken salaried employment, in addition to running his own upholstery business, to provide for his family.
However, as a toddler, mum was still very small and her little legs weren't long or strong enough to pedal the large toy car.
By this time, they were living at 25 Throstle Lane. Grandad would push mum, in the pedal car, all the way there and back when they went to visit his mother, using a big stick to propel the car from behind!
Mum said the route was a mixture of roads and fields, but mainly fields. How fit grandad must have been!
When mum was a toddler, they moved to 3 Southleigh Grove, to a bungalow, where sadly, her beloved pedal car came to an unfortunate end some years later.
Kenneth was only a young boy at this time and in my mum's absence, one Saturday afternoon, he had been playing with her car in the garden. He had somehow pushed it up on to the rockery, where a bonfire had blazed on November 5th, Bonfire Night, the night before. The remains of the fire must have been still smouldering.
Mum arrived home to find her car had been burned while she was out and she was very upset, as it was ruined.
Grandad worked hard on his own upholstery and furniture-making business, going into partnership with a friend, Albert Oldfield, at some point and buying new premises.
I can still remember the address to this day: Trigg and Oldfield, 76 Wakefield Road, Ossett, Yorkshire. This is engraved into my brain, since when I was a kid living in Blackpool, I used to write to grandad every week. He would write to mum and always put a note in to me.
My grandparents didn't have a car at that time and the whole family would walk a lot. Mum recalled, as a little girl, going for a walk with her parents up a steep hill. She was pelting along, but kept checking behind to see if grandma and grandad were following, which of course they were.
They were actually walking to a customer's house so grandad could collect payment for an upholstery job he had just completed.
Incidentally, for his entire life, grandad had saved mum's first pair of shoes - a tiny pair of black leather boots - which must have had sentimental value.
With grandad's own mum now being widowed, he and grandma would visit her all the time and she took great delight in the grandchildren.
My mum's memories of her grandma are somewhat scary, however.
Mum recalled. "My Grandma Trigg used to frighten me to death at times with tales of the 'banshee' wailing. I only found out recently a banshee is the Irish spirit which takes you away at death. She also used to speak about people playing cards on a Saturday night and through to Sunday morning, saying the 'cloven foot of the devil was under the table', because cards were frowned upon, particularly on a Sunday."
The majority of the family still lived around the same area and always remained close-knit. Grandad's sister-in-law, Elsie, became a frequent companion to her mother-in-law.
After grandad's older brother Arthur died young, in the 1930s, Elsie, his widow, went to live with her sister, taking with her a beautiful musical sewing-box, which had been a wedding gift.
Mum recalled that when Elsie died, many years later, some of the Triggs family were upset because they felt the musical box was a family heirloom and a memento of Arthur, but Elsie's sister kept it.
None of them asked for it back, however.
Grandad's mother Anne died in 1956 at the age of 78. Her sister Mary - grandad's aunt - lived till well into her 90s.
Grandad's brother, Tommy, was a keen cricketer and played for a local team (pictured below). He was very athletic and good-looking. They had won a league trophy in the photograph below.
Grandad himself wasn't sporty (the aftermath of having suffered from rickets as a child) but what he lacked in sporting agility was more than compensated for by his wonderful skills as a pianist.
He was totally self-taught and learned to play the piano through hours of practice in his youth.
He was a talented pianist for all his life.
Even into old age, he used to play for grandma, mum and me. I recall one song he played was Irving Berlin's "What'll I do?" (which was a love song of its day) and another was, "Abide With Me."
Grandad remembered all the lyrics and used to sing as he played: "What'll I do when you are far away and I am blue, what'll I do? What'll I do when I am wondering who is kissing you, what'll I do? What'll I do with just a photograph to tell my troubles to? When I'm alone with only dreams of you that won't come true."
It was quite a sad song really. It regained popularity when it was recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1947, but grandad had learned to play it long before then. When I hear it today, it reminds me of him still.
Grandma and mum couldn't listen to "Abide With Me" without crying. It reminded mum of a funeral song, she said!
Incidentally, my Uncle Ken inherited grandad's skills at playing the piano and was also a brilliant, self-taught pianist, who couldn't read a note of music.
He played "boogie-woogie" and I remember when I was young watching him play the piano, his fingers flitting over the keys at an astounding rate. He could have played professionally, I am sure.
Sadly, mum and I didn't inherit grandad's musical abilities, as I recall after hours of painful piano lessons at school!
I learned the basics - how to read music, how to "drill" by playing scales over and over again, the difference between a sharp and a flat note, how to write music. I reached my Grade 6 Pianoforte examination and managed to pass that when I was about 13 years old.
But I was never a naturally gifted player and it was all a chore to me! I wish I had inherited grandad's talent too.
Frank Sinatra singing What'll I Do - one of grandad's favourite songs
Family days out in the 1930s
Mum said that when she and Ken were kids, family trips included going to the Lake District in Cumbria for the day, for the whole extended family and friends.
We had some photographs taken at the Lakes in the late 1930s and we were most upset to find they were among those that had gone missing when we moved house. We hope to locate them again at some point.
The Lake District was a popular destination for families, who enjoyed the tranquility and fresh air, not to mention activities such as boating on the lake.
Mum couldn't remember whether they had travelled by coach or train, but she recalled how the more athletic family members and the children (herself and Ken included) used to take out rowing boats on Lake Windermere.
Mum told me, "My dad didn't know how to row. Mum, me and his mum were in a little boat, with dad rowing. He hadn't a clue and it was going round and round. Mum was screaming - she was scared. Lake Windermere was a huge lake and she made him go back to the shore - we had only gone a few feet!"
Mum recalled how other members of the party, in bigger boats, had a race to an island in the middle of the lake.
"I don't know which lot won, but our Ken was in one of those boats," mum added. "It was a lovely, hot day. My mum walked on the road with her shoes off. There were no cars on the roads then."
Grandad had plenty of fascinating tales
As mum and Kenneth grew older, they found their dad was a mine of information, with plenty of fascinating tales to tell them about their family's past. This is how mum was able to relate so much to me today about the bygone days.
Grandad related how, during the Great War, the family spotted an appeal in a national newspaper, in the notices column, where a London solicitor was searching for sisters "Anne and Mary" and then related the surnames "Wasser" and Donnelly". These were the names on the old marriage certificate from 1865 - grandad's own grandparents on his mother's side.
Grandad would have been about eight or nine years old when the appeal appeared in the newspaper. It said they would learn "something to their advantage" if they responded.
They got in touch with the London solicitor and it transpired one of their uncles had died suddenly in Australia, leaving quite a considerable sum of money and no close relatives. He had been a sheep farmer.
So my great grandma could have been rich ... but for the fact she and Mary had no formal identification documents and could not prove who they were!
They had no birth certificates and could not prove they were descendants of the Wassers or the Donnellys.
They were unable to claim the small fortune which their uncle had left without proof. This could have changed the course of our family history!
Many years later, when mum was an adult, she contacted a solicitor herself to ask what would have happened to the money. She was told that if no proven relatives had been found in a specified time, the money would have "gone to the crown" and it was impossible to claim it now. She had hoped she might be able to trace it, as it would have been nice for grandad and his surviving brothers to have some money for their old age.
But it wasn't to be, unfortunately.
Grandad also related how another uncle was a ship's captain in the 19th century who traded in spices, salt and other commodities from India. He had been to many exotic destinations, which most ordinary folk in those days could only dream of seeing.
Sometimes, he brought home rather strange mementoes of his trips for his family ... on one occasion, he arrived back with a giant, 2ft long, stuffed salamander, fresh from the taxidermist!
This was completely alien to people in the UK at this time. It was so rare that it was presented to the local school, where it was placed in a glass display cabinet, where it was always a source of great fascination.
One uncle was a school teacher - the school was Hunslet Carr Primary School, at the junction of Leasowe Road and Woodhouse Hill Road, Leeds. It was here that the salamander was on display for the pupils. Both grandad Frank Trigg and grandma (then Ivy Garnham) were pupils at this school. The old school buildings were partly demolished in more recent years and a new school built on the site. Mum presumed all the old artefacts from grandad's schooldays would have long been disposed of,
The uncle who was a ship's captain also brought back ivory trinkets. Of course, this was many years before the ivory trade was known to be cruel. Mum's grandma had many carved ivory ornaments in her cabinet when mum was a child.
Mum said, "This was at a time of slaves being shipped to the USA. My dad said this uncle would never carry slaves back. Anyhow, the ship eventually went down in Liverpool and when dad was young, he remembers the ship's brass bell and a huge thermometer being in the cellar of 6 Midland View.
"When they were kids, they took the mercury out - he called it quicksilver - and used to watch it 'run' around the floor. They were not supposed to touch these things!"
All of the items in the cellar and the carved ivory ornaments were sold at some point.
The ship's captain had died, it was noted, after being given an ice-cold drink when he had a pain in his chest thought to be indigestion! Of course, mum said, with hindsight, it was more likely to have been a heart attack.
Family lost out on a fortune a second time
Another story that grandad told mum related to how the Triggs family may have lost out on a large sum of money from shares that they once owned.
To this day, it remains a mystery where the shares came from - one that will never be solved, unfortunately, due to the passing of time and scant information.
Apparently, the shares had been bequeathed to grandad's mum Anne and her sister Mary by their own mother. However, whether this was from the Irish Donnelly or Wasser ancestors my grandad didn't know. He said the Triggs were certainly not wealthy.
Mum recalled, "Dad said his mum and her sister owned some shares and they used to get cash from them. Ordinary people didn't own shares in those days!
"Just after the 1914-18 war, some man came along, supposedly from the company - or so he said - and told them that the shares were 'useless'. He offered to buy them from Anne and Mary. Being uneducated and having cash problems at the time, the shares were sold cheaply.
"He was possibly a con-man. At an older age, my dad thought this."
Of course, with hindsight, the company would not have wished to buy back shares that were useless and worth nothing!
Grandad bought a motorbike
When mum was a kid at school, she recalled how grandad had bought a motorbike and used to let her ride pillion.
This was when she was only four or five years old and before Kenneth had started school.
"Dad would take me to school on the pillion - no helmets in those days!" said mum. "Imagine little me on it, holding on to my dad for dear life!
"There was no traffic on the roads in those days, though."
Incidentally, mum said the roads were so quiet that she recalled playing in the school playground as a kid, without being supervised by a teacher. The gates were left unlocked and if they lost any toys through the fence, the pupils used to just nip out into the road and get them!
Mum remembered a hoop and wooden stick and the hoop sometimes went into the road, so she would just go and retrieve it. Can you imagine this happening today? Mind you, it was different in those days, with no traffic, I guess.
World War Two 1939-45
As the 1930s drew to a close, with the outbreak of World War Two, my grandad joined the RAF - not as a pilot, but as an aircraft engineer. He was 33 years old at this time.
The younger Trigg brothers joined up too, though in the Army.
When grandad joined up and was completing his training in the UK, his commanding officer excused him from the normally mandatory marching because of his leg problems. He was given the unusual job of refurbishing and repairing all the seats in the airbase cinema!
Grandad was then deployed to Iraq to the RAF airbase, Royal Air Force Station Habbaniya, where he remained for the duration of the war, repairing and servicing the aircraft. He was unable to serve on the frontline due to the rickets he had suffered as a child permanently affecting his legs.
He was a member of No 157 Repair and Salvage Unit, according to his discharge papers at the end of the war
With hindsight, I'm glad he was an engineer, or he may not have returned, like the thousands of other young men who lost their lives.
While overseas, grandad became the unofficial squadron barber, earning himself a few pence by cutting his comrades' hair. He always charged the officers more! Mum told me that before becoming a furniture-maker, grandad had always fancied being a barber.
Grandma worked in a munitions factory to support the war effort while grandad was away.
Mum said during the war, grandma made sure the kids never went short of anything.
Grandad was discharged from the RAF on 31st October 1945 to return to Civvy Street.
We know little of his day-to-day life while serving overseas. He never spoke of it, to my knowledge, although he kept among his personal possessions some photographs taken with his pals in the RAF and also a great caricature of himself, drawn by one of his friends during the war.
I noticed in granddad's older photos, he was sometimes smoking a cigarette. In later life, this was replaced by a pipe (more about this later).
Incidentally, mum said her brother, Kenneth, always wanted to follow in grandad's footsteps in his youth and join the RAF.
But unfortunately, he didn't pass the medical due to his eyesight not being good enough. Mum said Ken was upset about this, but there was nothing he could do, sadly.
Grandad's upholstery business
It was when grandad returned to Yorkshire after the war that his business took off and for the rest of his life, until retirement, he was a furniture-maker and upholsterer.
Mum said she recalled grandad setting up his business premises at the site of the old fever hospital in Wakefield. I have done some research online and found this was Snapethorpe Hospital, which operated as a hospital from 1907-1954. His business partner was Albert Oldfield and they employed several staff, including grandad's brother, Charlie.
Grandad was a "hands on" employer and continued to do the hard work himself. At one time, they had some major contracts, including all the refurbishments for Tetleys Brewery. They also refurbished the Woolpack Inn for the television "soap" Emmerdale Farm (now Emmerdale) when it began in 1972.
The Woolpack is a traditional country pub at Esholt with a famous heritage, being the setting for ITV's Emmerdale for many years.
The story of Trigg and Oldfield, in later years, was rather a sad one.
They lost the Tetleys contract when the brewery's management changed and no doubt someone undercut them.
Then, sadly, grandad began suffering from heart problems, which led to a number of heart attacks. He was unable to continue the "hands on" role that he loved, as his health wouldn't allow him, although he still remained a partner in the business. He remained on medication for his heart problems for the rest of his life.
I know, at some point, Trigg and Oldfield had moved to smaller premises at 76 Wakefield Road, Ossett, as mentioned earlier in this Hub. I presume, in modern terms, this was "downsizing", as these appeared to be lock-up premises. (I have researched this and found the building is now occupied by a business called Bags 4 Everything).
It's quite surreal for me to think how many years my grandad must have spent here, as I never actually visited the premises, but they must have been a big part of his life.
The 1950s and '60s
In the two decades after the end of the Second World War, grandad saw both his children happily married and he did indeed become a grandad.
My uncle Ken married his sweetheart Anne and they had four children, Lesley, Martin, Nigel and Phil. They emigrated to Canada when the children were very young.
Unfortunately, I too was very young then and have only scant memories of this period of my life, which is a shame. I bet I would've had some great times with my cousins as kids.
Although Uncle Ken came for a visit to the UK in the 1980s and stayed with us for a holiday, I have not seen any of these family members since.
Thankfully, I am in touch with my cousins Lesley and Phil through Facebook.
Lesley and I are a similar age and often catch up on the family news across the miles. Her birthday is just three days after mine. We have both commented it's a shame we couldn't spend more time together as kids and go out as a family with grandad and grandma.
My mum married dad, Richard Evans, in 1957.
My brother Eric and I were brought up in Blackpool, Lancashire. (I have documented this in detail in another Hub).
My brother was 15 when I was born and I know he had a close relationship with our grandad. I have many photographs in the family albums of Eric and grandad spending happy times together.
From my own memories, I believe grandad used to come over to Blackpool to see us many times a year and spend the weekend with us.
Grandma ran a guesthouse, called 'The Erica', at one time and looking at the old photos, taken outside, grandad was a big hit with the visitors and they always looked like they were having a giggle.
There was a swing in the yard that had belonged to my brother and grandad could be found fooling around and swinging on it!
My own childhood
Grandad always stayed at Christmas and New Year, too. I remember this era as feeling like Father Christmas had arrived when grandad came, as he would arrive on Christmas Eve with our presents and used to put them in huge sacks that were bigger than me!
One year, he brought me two guinea pigs, which I adored. We had a big hutch for them in the dining room. He said they were both female ... which proved to be wrong when we came downstairs one morning and found they'd had babies! Luckily, I was able to find them homes with friends.
In those days, grandad used to drive from Yorkshire to Blackpool in his works van - a large, dark green, transit van with "Trigg & Oldfield" printed on the side.
Sometimes, while he was here, we would go out in the van, but it used to make me feel horribly travel-sick and I didn't enjoy it! It seemed a very bumpy ride to me when I was little.
I always think of my grandad as wearing a long, heavy overcoat and always a suit, shirt and tie. I know the modern trend even among some older people is for more casual wear, but I can honestly say I never saw grandad wearing anything but a suit and he was always impeccably dressed, even in the summer.
He always brought me new toys over and at Christmas, the sack he brought would contain much of what I had put on Santa's list, including lovely toys, dolls and games and also new dresses. It's hard to believe I was such a "girly" girl and used to wear pretty dresses, as I don't think I've worn a skirt for about 15 years now!
It sounds like I was spoilt getting everything I wanted, but I did realise how lucky I was and always let all my friends play with my toys - I was never selfish or a "brat". I wasn't brought up that way.
When grandad came over during the summer, we would go for days out, to places such as Blackpool Zoo or Blackpool Tower. The school holidays were always such fun for me, because growing up in a seaside resort meant it was one long holiday for me and grandad, grandma, mum, dad and I were always out and about somewhere, enjoying the sunshine.
We would go on the beach and build sandcastles, sit in deckchairs, have donkey rides and eat ice-creams - all the things the visitors could do only once a year on their annual holiday. For me, it was a way of life.
As mentioned earlier, grandad smoked a pipe in later life and this was his 'trademark' for me.
I always picture grandad relaxing in the front garden, pipe in hand, or sitting in his armchair in the same pose.
My grandma just hated that pipe and I can hear her now saying, "Oh, Frank, that stinks!"
But I actually quite liked the smell. I didn't like it when he had the occasional cigar at Christmas ... now that did smell bad!
But to this day I don't mind the smell of someone smoking a pipe and I can picture grandad 'teasing' the tobacco before lighting it up.
I also recall grandad as having a great sense of fun and sense of humour and when I was a kid and my friends came over, he would have us in stitches playing silly games and chasing us round the house!
I remember seeing an advert on television recently in which a couple left their children in their grandad's care while they were at work. While they were out, grandad was playing crazy games with the kids and had them running riot round the house. I know it wasn't real and was only an advert, but it made me chuckle because it reminded me of my own grandad!
Grandad started slowing down
I cannot recall exactly when I first became aware my grandad was unwell, but I think I realized when I was about 13 years old that he was starting to slow down.
He had taken tablets due to his earlier heart attacks for the past 20 years and they gradually increased over time. He kept them in a pill box so he could remember which he had taken and I'm sure he was on about 15 tablets a day by that time - some were for high blood pressure too, I think.
As he grew older, he could no longer manage the drive from Yorkshire to Blackpool, so he would drive half way - not on the motorway, but on the scenic A-roads. Then dad - and later my brother when he passed his driving test - would go and pick grandad up at a pub in Gisburn en route. He would leave his own car parked up there till he went home again, when dad or Eric would drive him back to Gisburn.
Grandad had a car later on and had stopped coming over in the works van. It was, I think, a "shooting brake" and was like a big estate car.
Although unable to come over as often as he used to, grandad still came to stay with us when ever he could and never lost his sense of fun, even when in ill health.
It was Christmas 1981 when mum told me grandad was unable to come and stay with us because he was too ill to make the journey. It was the first Christmas in my life that hadn't been spent with my grandad and I recall he sent over a parcel of presents. I wrote to him after Christmas and thanked him for my gifts, adding that I had missed him and that it hadn't been the same without him.
I didn't know at the time, but he had cancer.
My parents didn't tell me that he was terminally ill because I guess they were trying to protect my feelings. Now, with hindsight, I wish they had told me, as I would have gone over to Yorkshire to visit him when he was in his sickbed. Having no idea how serious his illness was, I was shocked when I learned he had passed away.
Mum and dad had made the decision not to tell me he was so seriously ill with the best intentions, however, so I couldn't blame them for trying to spare me the worry as his condition worsened.
The odd thing was that after grandad's death, mum and I could sometimes smell tobacco in the house, an aroma which was stronger at some times than others. We liked to think it was grandad watching over us still, although maybe I am romanticizing too much here and it was just a tobacco smell that had lingered in the soft furnishings!
I will never forget my Grandad Trigg. He was a big part of my life when I was a kid and it was only in later life, when mum and I talked about him more, that I found out all the details of his own youth and I started trying to trace my family tree as a result.
It is hard to imagine than in the space of just three generations, the world has changed so much and that my own grandad left school at 12 years old and worked long hours in a factory to earn money for his family. It makes me think how lucky we are today to have all the trappings of modern life that we so take for granted.