THE EARLY LIFE OF EDWARD LOUND PART ONE
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will. HAMLET
Nanny, my paternal grandmother, and ‘Uncle Laurie’ (real name Edward Lound) were married in 1954 and honeymooned at the Craighurst Hotel in Southwold. This hotel, which is no longer there, was on the front at the north end of the town. Nannie had been born Emily Peachey and her first husband was my grandfather, William Mason who died in 1945.
Nanny had remarried Laurie Lound as her second husband after nearly nine years of widowhood. Uncle Laurie’s first wife had died before we knew him. His early days are rather a mystery to me despite having read his enthralling autobiography. He was born in Leicester but was soon living with his grandparents in Yarmouth. The birth was registered under the maiden name of his mother, Lound. It sounds as if his birth was illegitimate. For a few years he was known as Edward Laurence and some of his army records show his name as Edward Laurence Lound. This would account his being known to all and sundry as ‘Laurie’ Lound. Laurence was his wife’s husband’s surname but whether Mr Laurence was his biological father or not I do not know, and I am sure no-one ever will now know. In any event although he retained Laurie as a nickname he soon reverted to Lound as his surname, and he never mentioned his father, nor anyone named Laurence in his autobiographical notes. His second name was in fact May, and it is possible that this was the surname of his real father, as this is a most unusual Christian name for a boy.
He was brought up from the age of three months by his grandparents, a Norfolk family. His grandfather had been born in Stalham and his grandmother in Attleborough. His grandfather always wanted to go to sea and had been the master of a sailing smack, the Cambria, in the 1870s. He sailed the smack as far away as Iceland to the West and to the Baltic to the East.
After working in the packaging and the catering industries in Great Yarmouth until the age of 24 he spent the next 22 years of his career in the regular army. Although he had been born in Yarmouth his regiment was the Sherwood Foresters. He had intended to join the 16th/17th Royal Lancers because he liked their nickname – ‘The Death or Glory Boys’ – but they were “full up”. He had joined the army in 1908 before the First World War and was in the Curragh, County Kildare, when war broke out. In August 1914 his Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters was part of the 18th Brigade of the 6th Division which was widely dispersed with two brigades in Ireland. They landed in France in September 1914 and after taking part in the Battle of the Aisne moved north to the Ypres salient where the division stayed for the next thirteen months, sustaining some 11,000 casualties before moving down to the Somme in August 1916.
In fact he fought right through the Great War on the front line as a senior NCO and was decorated for bravery in the field, receiving the Military Medal. On the cessation of hostilities with the Armistice he remained in the Army, being sent to Germany as part of the army of occupation. In 1922 he was sent to Istanbul, where he said the Golden Horn was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. He had previously spent some years in Egypt. He ended his army career on the North West Frontier of India (now Pakistan). He had many stories of his brushes with the Pathans and Afghans.
Uncle Laurie was a marvellous raconteur, but a very modest man. He was gentle-man, despite the terrible stories of blood and death he had to tell of the First World War. He had a soft spot for me I think, giving me various treasures from his collection over the years. I am afraid the ostrich’s egg from his days in Africa did not last long, but a wooden bench lasted in various gardens until the last few years, and an antique ‘wag on the wall’ clock that I still have.
After finally leaving the forces in 1930 he worked for the engineering firm Ayton’s of Derby as cost accounting clerk for 22 years. He and his wife moved back to East Anglia after he retired, but she died in 1952. They had two sons, Peter who worked as a draughtsman, also for Ayton’s, and Ken who had health problems but worked as cowman in East Anglia. They were both married but I don’t think Uncle Laurie had any grandchildren.
It was in February 1884 that everybody at 122 Blackfriars Road, Great Yarmouth, was in a state of excitement, for the postman had just delivered a letter from the town of Leicester. With trembling finger Emma, eventually opened the letter and exclaimed to her mother: “You have a grandson, born on February 10th; all is fine and well”.
Then follows the description: “He has fair hair, blue eyes, weight about seven and a half pounds, no marks or scars, in fact a perfect child.” So was heralded the arrival of one who became known as E.M.L. After a lapse of about 3 months Emma’s mother made the journey from Great Yarmouth to Leicester and brought the baby back. The child was brought up by her.
This is where we begin the story.
On my arrival at 122 Blackfriars Road the family consisted of : Thomas Lound my grandfather who was a very tall man of over 6½ ft and very big with it. He was born at Stalham in 1830 and worked on a farm, occasionally coming to Norwich with what were termed grains. These he delivered to the Boars Head Hotel where they were used in the brewing of beer. This would have been about 1845.
Having unloaded his goods he was told to report to the kitchen where the cook would give him his breakfast. So with the kitchen staff he sat at the long wooden table enjoying cold belly of pork with plenty of fat. He also had bread and a mug of tea. In those days he was long and skinny.
Mary Ann Lound was my grandmother. She was born in Attleborough but came to Norwich at a very early age. She worked at the Boars Head and eventually became the cook. Naturally she saw the young man from Stalham, and ion the course of time they fell in love and were married. Thomas Lound had a great desire to go to sea, and after a time they moved to Yarmouth and settled in a house in Blackfriars Road. The family consisted of four girls, Rhoda, Rose, Thurza and Emma; Rose (whose married name was Laurence) was my mother.
When I joined the family Emma was about 20 and was still living at home. The others had married and left the town. I grew up with the love and care of my grandparents. In my early life Emma would take me out and take charge of me. My mother, who had married into the Roman Catholic Church was definite that I should be brought up in that faith. Grandmother disapproved of this, but had to go through with it. So on a certain day my mother arrived bring with her a baby that was to be christened. I was three years old, and I remember it as if it were yesterday. We duly arrived at St Mary’s Church, Regent’s Road, and as the service proceeded I was all eyes on the priest. I watched him take hold of the baby and pour water on its head. Then there was a scene, because he got hold of me by the waist and lifted me up bodily. I thought he was going to duck me. I struggled hard to get free, shouting and crying. The place was dark and I was afraid. Even my grandmother said I was a naughty little boy.
How vividly these scenes stand out in one’s mind. Little did I know that I should serve the Catholic church for many years of my life. Now that I was one of them I had to go to the Roman Catholic School. Neither the church nor the school were very far from our house, so arrangements were made for me to be taken to school. There were women teachers and I got on very well with them but I was not making much progress with my school work. Before every lesson was said the catechism. Two things I still remember; first the question “Who made you?” Answer, “God made me”. And the second “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world but lose his own soul?” I was an Altar Boy and helped in the Mass.
My grandfather belonged to the Ancient Order of Foresters, and he decided that I should become a Junior Forester. Being a member of this Friendly Society would enable me to obtain sick benefits if they were needed at any time. I would be about seven. So, on one occasion when my grandfather was at home, when there happened to be a meeting I was taken to St James’ school room. This was where the monthly meetings were held and I was duly initiated as a Forester and received passwords and signs, rather similar to Masonry.
One Saturday afternoon I was taken to St James’ school where there was a great gathering of Foresters. They had a Salvation Army Band. We all formed up and the band played “Onward Christian Soldiers” as we marched off along Queen Road and Marine Parade. Being a Roman Catholic I did not know the tune or words when we started out, but by the time we reached St Nicholas’ Church I did. Despite my Catholicism there was no turning back and I marched into the Anglican Church.
At a very early age I had a nice little voice as was able to take part in school plays. As time went on I was given larger parts. On occasions I played in the Minstrel Shows; didn’t the burnt cork and grease paint take some removing! My dear old grand-dad had that job of getting me clean. Never-the-less the following morning found me going off to school with black make-up in my ears and other places.
On one occasion, when I was trying to write a letter, my mother came in. On trying to read what I had written she chastised me in the usual manner, and finally decided to send me to another school where there were male teachers. The British Higher Day School was selected and we went to see the Headmaster Mr Alpe. This school was formerly the Oliver Tompkins School. This school was also near my home.
Well; about 8.45 a.m. one bright morning I duly reported to Mr Alpe. I was nearly 12 years old and was placed in standard IV under Mr Palmer. He was in possession of my previous school records. I was told that if I wanted to remain at this school I would have to work hard – I had a lot of back work under the nuns to make up. From the first day at my new school I felt at home. I took an interest in all I was shown and told; and I progressed from the start. I would have liked to go into the commercial section, but I could not remain at school. I had to go out and get a job.
On Sunday afternoons the Salvation Army would gather at the top of our road where five roads meet. Our house was less than a hundred yards from their meeting place. I could hear the service plainly, and all through a man kept calling out: “BE SURE YOUR SINS WILL FIND YOU OUT.” (Numbers 32 verse 32). As I am writing I can hear that voice coming down the road to a little boy sitting in his grandmother’s back yard.
As time moved on I began to advance in church work on the Altar, and progressing at school; this pleased many and was helpful in the home. In other words I was being trained, and what I learned in those days I have not forgotten.
Now something of what was happening at home. I was nearing 14 years old and conditions changed. My grandfather for most of the year was at sea on a smack, trawling for deep-sea fish. Several smacks left Yarmouth together. At set seasons they went to Ireland, Western Scotland and Iceland. They then returned down the East Coast of Scotland and the East Coast of England. At home for a period of refitting and repairs etc and then it was off again, this time to Holland, Heligoland and up the Skagerrak, returning via the Dogger Bank. They called at any places where there was a market for the sale of their fish. He would tell me of these journeys, of the people and places and how the fish was sold in foreign parts. The fish were iced and sold at the nearest port en route.
Granddad particularly stressed if I were fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of the Skagerrak between Norway and Denmark you would have a wonderful sight of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. These I have not been able to see.
He sailed a smack for 40 years and when he was too old to go to sea he was given a job as night watchman on the railway bridge, the Breydon viaduct. It was under construction at the time and he was able to stay to see it completed.
One afternoon I was allowed out but had to be home by 4.45 p.m. I took my fishing line and proceeded to the rafts. I liked fishing but was not very successful at catching fish. Anyway this afternoon I had my eye on the Town Hall clock, and as usual no fish. So I wound in my line and started to run home over the bridge. As I passed the Town Hall I noticed that the time was after 4.30. When I got to the General Post Office I saw a purse lying at the bottom of the stone steps. Picking it up and looking inside I saw a sovereign and half-sovereign with some silver coins and coppers. There were not many people about and no one looked as if they had lost anything. I ran to the Police Station which is only about 30 yards from the Post Office. There seemed to be no one about, but all of a sudden a voice said “What do you want” and a policeman stood at the table.
“Please Sir,” I said, “I have just found this purse” and handed it to him.
“Where did you find it?” he asked.
I told him, and he asked me if I knew what was in it. I explained, one gold sovereign, a half -sovereign together with some silver and some coppers. All the time I was telling him he kept the purse in his hand. Then he opened it and wrote out a report.
“What’s your name” he enquired, “and what school do you go to?”
I told him that I went to the British High Day School.
“You’re a good boy,” he said. “If you come here in three months time and this purse has not been claimed it will be yours.”
Of course I was late getting home, and my grandmother was troubled. I explained why I was late and she was very glad. She said that as soon as the three months were up we must go and see if the purse had been claimed.
When we thought the three months were up we duly called at the Police Station. My grandmother did not see the policeman that I had seen when I handed the purse in, so I was questioned fully as follows; “What is your name? Where do you live? Where did you find the purse? Now describe it.”
“It’s a green leather purse with a golden letter “A” in the right hand corner.” I also went through the coins it contained again.
“Alright, I’ll go and see if it’s been claimed.” He was gone some time, but when he returned he
said “No, it’s not been claimed, but the time’s not up yet. Come again.”
Well, we did go again, we went four times, and on the last visit I was handed the purse and duly signed for it. My grandmother and I were so glad to get the extra money. It was like a windfall.
Once I went down to the river and onto the rafts to do a little fishing. After a while I was joined by four or five other boys from our road. They got down onto the rafts and were playing about. One of the boys called William Howard whose father was shoemaker lived two doors away from me. William slipped and fell into the river. Very close to where I was pulling in my line he disappeared out of sight. I put my hands in the water under the rafts and got hold of the hair on his head. I pulled him clear of the rafts and he shot up as soon as he was clear.
We grabbed him and pulled him out onto the rafts. He was soaking wet and yelling like a baby. The tide was going out and the rafts were very low in the water, so we had a good climb up the face of the quay to get back onto the road. With our aid he and another boy scrambled up and ran as fast as they could home, still crying.
I got the smaller boys up and I was the last one off the rafts. It was quite a job, and I had one leg on the quay and the other one dangling when I saw a policeman coming up with his cane. I was in a splendid position for a flogging and he gave me a real beauty across my bottom. I yelled with pain, and he told me if I didn’t shut up he’d give me a jolly sight more. I got up and ran off down Southtown Road. On the way I met two of the boys who had been in someone’s garden and had taken some rhubarb. They wanted to give some to me, but I didn’t want their rhubarb. I was smarting with pain and just wanted to get home.
It is very strange that this incident was never spoken about. Nobody ever mentioned it. It could so easily have proved fatal; thank God it didn’t.
In the meantime my Aunt Emma had married and left the town, so now there were only my grandparents and myself left at home. The rent of the house was five shillings a week plus rates. To keep things going my grandmother took in lodgers. We had four good-sized bedrooms and a long landing; downstairs a nice sized front room, a smaller middle room and a good workable kitchen. Of course there was no bathroom in those days. There was a hall which led from the front door to the large back yard. There was a passage and a back door. All the rooms were separate and ideal for letting. Our visitors came year after year and were no trouble. Grandmother was a good cook and a good manager. Our letting season was about six weeks in the summer months.
I remember on one occasion we were waiting for the London boat to come in, the Saturday before August Bank Holiday. It happened at that time that we had no one in the house as our visitors had left that morning. We were ready for anyone. The rooms were lit with the lamps burning brightly and our cards were up in the window. My grandmother said I won’t be long but I must just go and get a bit of meat. She had not been gone many minutes when a lady and gentleman called and enquires what apartments we had.
I told him my grandmother would be returning soon, but showed him our rooms. They selected the front bedroom a prepared to await her return. A little later there was another call, and this time I could only offer the middle room. I told them to wait if they wanted to stay, which they did. We were fully booked now so I started to get ready. I knew my grandmother would be overjoyed and I was anxious to break the news. When she saw me outside she thought something had happened, but she did not think I had filled the house. Work started after the usual arrangements, and we began to talk of food. The guests went off in search of a meal. The beds upstairs were already made and it was only left for us the lay the supper table. They both proved to be very good lets because they returned in subsequent years.
In the spring we took in members of the Militia, six men who were billeted in the town for ten days training, and that was a help too. They did their training at the Royal Artillery Barracks on the South Denes. After the summer season we started to prepare for the Scotch fisher folk. We took in a complete boat of eight men. They arrived towards the end of October and left before Christmas.
E. M. LOUND (1884-1971)
THE STORY OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE