From a long line of Chocolate Workers

in family •  2 months ago

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I've been poking around in the national archives, initially inspired by looking at the history of our house and the people who have lived in it.

But once I'd started, I got pulled into family history. How do I think I am? :)

I looked at both the 1911 census (when only my grandfathers were alive) and the 1939 register which was a kind of special census done at the outbreak of the second world war.

The picture above shows my grandfather, Arthur as the five year old youngest son in a family of five - I'd never thought of him that way. I also didn't know that they lived in the part of South West Birmingham where my mother lived a few years ago, nor that his father was a Chocolate Worker. This is not at all uncommon in that part of Birmingham, they lived a few hundred yards (albeit on the other side of the railway line and canal) from the Cadbury's factory.

By 1939, Arthur was married and my father had been born. He would soon be called up and join the RAF, but in September 1939 he was working as a Sales Ledger Clerk. Talk about upward social mobility! The son of an undifferentiated Chocolate Worker to not only Clerk but a clerk working on the Sales Ledger. There's something subtle about the class distinctions implied by differentiated job titles that I hadn't perceived before.

As it happens, my maternal grandfather, Frank Davenport, was also a Chocolate Worker in 1939 and his dad had been a bricklayer in 1911 - this may explain some of the gentle snobbishness between the two branches of the family...

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