Charles Wallace Cooper, Grandfather

I don’t know a lot about Charles. Well, I say I don’t know a lot, but I guess I have come to know quite a few facts about him. Dad lost contact with him when he immigrated to New Zealand. Apparently, he did try to find Dad at a later date. But never found him.

Charles was born in Burnley, Lancashire, 21 September 1894. He was one of eight children, the others who will be covered in later posts. He was baptised at St Mathews, Habergham Eves, Burnley, 15th November 1894.

Charles Wallace Cooper baptism,2

So, you can see that the baptism record already gives a few facts. Some records show the date of birth and the date of baptism, but this one just shows the baptism date. However, it’s a start. His parents are named – William John & Sarah Cooper. Their residence is 9 Dugdale Court, so that’s presumably where Charles was born, as opposed to hospital. Dugdale Court doesn’t appear in any internet searches, including Google Earth or Maps, so it looks like it has gone. There is a Dugdale Street in central Burnley and a Dugdale Road in the greater area, but it is some distance away. I don’t know if the location of either of these is relevant to where Dugdale Court actually was . Charles’s father William is a commission agent. The last signature is the registrar.

St Mathews has changed over the years. It was damaged by fire in 1927 I believe, but this is what it looks like now.

This is the actual baptismal font that Charles was baptised in…

Below: Charles, circa 1897. The young baby is his brother, William, who was killed on the Somme in 1916. With their mother, my Great Great Grandmother, Sarah Porteous. She was from Fermanagh, (Northern) Ireland.

Burnley, 1901

The 1901 census has Charles living at 91 Church Street, with his parents, William & Sarah (nee Porteous) Cooper, brother William J (John), sister Sarah, brother Thomas G (George) & Uncle James R (Robinson) Cooper is also present.

1901 England Census (Cooper) cropped
1901 Census

91 Church Street appears in other records. Charles’s uncle, also Charles Wallace Cooper, was living here in 1898 when he got married to Mary Ellen Smith. I’m not sure who else was present at the time.

I’ve visited 91 Church Street a few times in recent years. I’ve looked in that window and imagined my Great Grandmother Sarah stoking the log fire that is located just inside. I could imagine her or my Great Grandfather William, or my Grandfather, or any other member of the family, looking out that same window over 100 years ago, when the scene outside was a lot different, with trams trundling by on the cobbled streets, through smoggy clouds cast out by the hundreds of mill chimneys that were there at the time.

IMG_7766,2
91 Church Street, Burnley

Below is a combined picture I’ve made up looking back the other way up Church Street, spanning over 100 years. #91 is just behind the blue car in the colour picture. In the black & white montage, #91 is on the very edge the left hand side of the right hand black & white photo. You can just see the window I’ve looked in. It gives you an idea of how it’s changed (and in some ways, hasn’t changed). Who knows, maybe my ancestors, including Charles, were actually living here when the old photo was taken.

Church Street3

And from further down Church Street. #91 is visible in the distance. The Sparrowhawk Inn is at the front right of the scene, in two different versions…

montage2

Burnley circa 1910 was a properly industrial place. Hundreds of cotton mills and their chimneys ruled the skyline. You couldn’t see much of the surrounding countryside because of the smog!

Burnley, Weavers Triangle 1910
Weavers Triangle, Burnley, circa 1910

In the 1911 census, Charles’, along with his widowed mother, brothers & sisters, have moved to 25 Hubie Street, in the Stoneyholme area of Burnley. His occupation is a cotton weaver.

1911 England Census for Charles Cooper,2

25 Hubie Street, Stoneyholme, today – first on the left.

25 Hubie Street

Stoneyholme is an area that has changed greatly over the years, as I have tried to show in this combination of pictures, again, about 100 years apart.

Stoneyholme2

RFA Cap BadgeCharles enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery on 4 September 1915, #70474, 203rd Battalion, with a rank of Bomber, later, according to the index card below “reverted to Gunner at O.R. (own request)” on the 10th June 1916. This was during the Battle of the Somme.  The whys and wheres of this change will probably never be known. He would have had a hat badge like the one on the left.

Below is his military service index card. His actual records were destroyed in the blitz during WW2, along with many others, so this is all I have to go on. (I plan to do some research on the 203 Bn. at a later date and post my findings.) There is nothing added to the reverse side, so I haven’t included it here.

British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards for CWC,2

Random photos of the RFA in action in, or about the time of, WW1…

RFA

RFA Gunners

RFA 126 Bn

Star, British & Victory MedalsHe would have received these campaign medals for his service. The 1914-15 Star, awarded to those who fought in those years. Also the British Medal & the Victory Medal.

Charle married Edith Ellen Hatherley on the 23 April, 1921 at St Andrews, Burnley. St. Andrews was the Hatherley family’s local church, located on the other side of Burnley. Look, there’s his signature! The vicar is William Henry Cooper. I don’t believe he is related.

Charles Wallace Cooper Marriage 1921,2.jpg

Charles & Edith’s wedding photo. Present also are Tom Hatherley, Edith’s brother and Sarah Cooper, Charles’s sister, who both appear as witnesses on the certificate above.

Charles and Edith Wedding (2)

You can also see on the marriage certificate that Charles’s occupation is still Cotton Weaver. I don’t know which mill.

A geographic summary of Charles’s Burnley (including Dugdale Road & Dugdale Street, of which I don’t know if either is relevant, as mentioned above.)

CWC's Burnley

A scene from about 1930, probably at Blackpool beach. Charles on the left, with members of the Hatherley family. My dad is sitting at the front.

CWC, Martha(Bridesmaid from Lizzys wedding) Edith WeeksHatherley standing, Richard H, Dad, Sally, Edi, Louis, Lizzy, Nellie (3)

Charles & Edith divorced in 1934, and sadly, Dad had no more contact with the Hatherleys. Note that it mentions Hallwell Street. That’s where Dad was born.

Charles Wallace Cooper Divorce 1934,2.jpg

Charles married Sybil Dixon in March 1939. In the 1939 Register, just before the outbreak of WW2, Charles, Sybil and Dad are living in Bristol. Charles & Sybil manage a Billiards hall.

Charles died on the 30th August 1979, in Fleetwood, near Blackpool. He was cremated at Carlton Crematorium, Fleetwood. Ashes strewen on Rosebed #44. I was lucky enough to visit the gardens about 2013. I am very grateful to a cousin from the Hatherley side, Sheila & her husband Lol for taking me there.

Carlton Crematorium,2

Rose Garden, Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool,2

So, there it is. I guess reading this, I do know quite bit about my Grandfather, albeit without actually meeting him. I wish I had done.

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