Adapted from notes written by Joan Goddard and Kath Underwood, with additions by Pete Goddard.

Download the Wilson Family Tree here

As the oldest child in the Wilson Family, Daisy had her work cut out for her when her father died when she was 15 and her mother Martha was left nearly penniless. She was very protective of her two brothers Bill and Fred and particularly so for her youngest sibling Rose. She ensured that Rose didn’t end up going into service as was most likely, but paid for her to go to study short hand, and typewriting so she could get a job in an office.

It would seem that Daisy was considered something of a ‘starlet’ judging from the abundance of photographs that were taken of her.

She had a long connection with the Palace Pier, and was from 1907 worked as the manageress at the restaurant attached to the theatre. Here she met and associated with a number of famous and not so famous actors and actresses.

The Palace Pier was very up-market in its early days. It was quite the venue for the “haute-monde” who came to the Brighton “season” and mother came in contact with many famous names of Edwardian days.

The world’s top singers and orchestras used to come to the “Winter Garden”, the structure on the center of the pier that later became “The Palace of Fun” and that later became a kind of nostalgic “Palm Court” tea rooms.

All the stars and notables of the day paraded up and down to the strains of the top military bands, the smell of sun-soaked deck planking, with the whiff of cigars and cry of the sea gulls, to see and be seen. The theatre was managed by the father of Evelyn Laye, who later became one of our most famous musical stars of stage and films during the ‘twenties and ‘thirties. Daisy was particularly proud of her acquaintance with Evelyn Laye who was a bridesmaid at Daisy’s wedding- a fact reported in the local paper. The poor young reporter who came to the house to take note of the event could not find his hat when it was time for him to leave. After an extensive search, twenty stone Grandma Martha gently remarked “Perhaps I am sitting on it” – and sure enough she was!

In 1915 Daisy had decided that Will Ransom was the one after all – after many good-byes and reconciliations.  She married her Will 1915, when he was on leave from the war. After the war William worked for the post office and they moved to Bromley when William was promoted.

Will was a Quarter-master Sergeant in the Royal Artillery, and was at the time stationed at Westerham in Kent, and my mother was able to join him there in lodgings. The country life came as a welcome novelty and rest to Daisy who described her enjoyment of lying in the sun in a cowslip meadow with cows grazing round her head.

Having had so much to do with helping her mother rear her several children she had decided that she, herself, did not want a family. She was considerably miffed to discover that, as a result of what she described as a “soppy half hour” she was pregnant.

They had one daughter Kath, born in 1916. Kath later married Eric Underwood and lived at 4 Windlesham Gardens, near the seven dials in Brighton.

Here are Kath and Eric Underwood speaking in 1961

      Kath Christmas 1961

      Eric Underwood Christmas 1961

Will Ransom

Memories of Brighton at the turn of the century


William was born on the  7th June 1884 and died on the 13th April 1967. He married Daisy Wilson in 1915 whilst on leave from the War.

In 1962 he wrote down his memories of his childhood in Brighton. At one point he lived at 43 Middle Street, which is in the South Lanes. The house still stands, although it has now part of the Victory Inn pub, which was next door. Although he doesn’t give his exact age at the time (he says he was ‘still very young’), we can guess that the years he was referring to must be about 1890 – 1900.

His reminiscences are very interesting, although the document itself is quite long, you can download the whole document here: Download Will Ransom’s memoirs here

Here is Will speaking in 1961

      Will Ransom 1961

Here is an extract of Will’s reminiscence about Middle Street in Brighton

Whilst I was still very young, we moved to 43 Middle Street where I began to get a clearer picture of mother and father and sister and brothers. At that time there were my younger brother Tom, my sister Alice and my brother Sam. My brother Arthur must have been born about this time but whilst in Windsor Street or Middle Street I cannot say.


My purpose in giving the following details is to furnish a basis for comparison with present day ideas of what are decent standards of living accommodation. I wonder what a housing committee would say to the following: –


43 Middle Street is a five-roomed house. There is or was an underground kitchen, one sitting room on the ground floor, and on the first floor, two bedrooms, and the second floor was an attic. The front door leads straight off the street into the sitting room, opposite the front door on the right is a door leading to a flight of stone steps giving access to the kitchen. At the head of these stairs was a cold water tap; the only one in the house. In the underground kitchen was a copper for boiling washing; a kitchen stove with oven, and in one wall was a cubbyhole for storing coal. On the street side was an ‘area’ about 4 feet by 1 ½ feet. The only daylight entering the room came by way of this area and through a window.


In the sitting room on the left of the wall opposite the front door was another door, which leads to the upstairs rooms.

At the top of the stone steps leading to the kitchen was another door which lead into the side entrance to the Victory Inn; the Public House next door. There was also a back entrance to 24 Middle Street and at the bottom of the passage was a small cottage No 44. It had, I think three rooms. There was a communal dust hole, and a small open space where mother used to dry our washing.

In the underground kitchen mother cooked, washed our clothes, gave us our meals, and when the weather was bad this kitchen was a playground for us children.


The family consisted of mother, father, my sister Alice and by brothers Tom, Sam and Arthur. In addition we had a male lodger. Albert and Frank arrived during our stay at No 43. Mother and father occupied the larger of the two bedrooms, and my sister the smaller. There was a small landing on this floor with a small winding staircase leading up to the attic. Under these stairs was a small cupboard, which was at one time used by my brother Tom as a photographic dark room. In the attic was a dormer window in the sloping ceiling. There were two single beds for brother Tom and the lodger. The remainder of us boys slept together in a large bed. At one time I think that there must have been a maximum of six sleeping in the attic. However, by the time Frank was old enough to be relegated to the attic, the lodger had left.

So much for the accommodation. As regards neighbours mother and father were always, as far as I know on good terms with them. There was a Mrs White living at No. 45. She was in some way connected with the laying of the first Atlantic cable. The family had probably seen better days and has an air of decayed gentility about them.


At 44 lived a Mr. Picket with his young son and windowed mother. I always assumed Mr Picket was a widower.  On the other side of our house was the ‘Victory Inn’ kept at that time by a Mr and Mrs Cowey who were the typical publicans of the period. I seem to remember Mr Cowey with oiled hair, waxed moustache and fancy waistcoat. Mrs Cowey comes to my memory in black satin, ample bosom adored with a brooch and a chain and a ‘Queen Alexander’ hair do, not forgetting a display of rings on her fingers. I think the Victory Inn was rather a lively pub. We boys used to sit at the foot of the stairs with our ears close to the dividing wall and listen to the faint strains of music and singing.

Continue reading: Fred and Bill Wilson