William Edward Goddard was born on the 30th November 1885 at Withdean and baptised on 14th March 1886 at Patcham Church. He married Edith Waters on the 16th September 1922. He died on the 9th December 1954.
They had two children. George Edward, born 23 September.1923, died 4th October 1965. William Daniel, born 3rd January 1925, died 1st June 1990.
William (known as ‘Bill’) grew up for the first few years of his life in what must have been a very rural part of Brighton, – in the grounds of a large house in Withdean, before the development of the town reached out into what are now the suburbs. When he was 3 or 4, however, his parents moved into the built up area of Coleman Street. When he left school, he was apprenticed to a wheelwright, a training which would have taken about five years to complete. I was told that the firm he was apprenticed had their premises at the back of Jubilee Street, just off Church Street in Brighton. It is a pity that the trade which he learnt was to fall into decline. With the coming of the motor car at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a decline in the number of horse drawn vehicles on the road, with the subsequent fall in demand for hand built wheels, and by the time he was married in 1922, he had become a ‘coach body maker’. I believe that he was then working on the railway, – he certainly worked for them for many years. He joined the army during the 1st World War, probably as a volunteer, although I am not sure about that. He served in the trenches in the Battles of the Somme, and suffered terribly from the conditions there, as did all the soldiers. I am sure that it was because of the tales he and his brothers had to tell later in their lives that aroused the deep interest in the war that his son Bill had for the rest of his life.
He married Edith Waters in Barking, at the parish church, with his brother Fred as one of the witnesses Edith, his wife, was one of five sisters, and I believe that they were all ‘nippies’ (or waitresses) in Lyons Corner Houses. These were very high class establishments in those days. I have, as yet, done no research at all into her family. Her father was a ‘gas stoker’. After Edith’s death, Bill remained in contact with her family, and Bill’s son Bill used to see one of his aunts up until the time she died in about 1982 or 1983.
Once married, Bill and his wife set up home in 74 Richmond Road Brighton, just up the road from his brother Reg, and round the corner from his mother. George Edward was born a year after they were married, and William Daniel (also known as ‘Bill’) was born at home a year of so later. A little over three weeks after his arrival, Edith was to die of toxaemia, the result of infection at his birth. She was 35. What a tragedy. They had been married less than three years. The family rallied round, and Grandma – Jane (nee Parvin), took on the upbringing of the two boys, aided by her daughter Edie who lived with her. It was fortunate that they lived nearby. Bill and George eventually grew up calling their aunt Edie ‘mother’, so close was their relationship. It must have been hard to be a close father to his sons, when they were being brought up in another house by his mother and his sister. Life continued like that for some years. After Grandma Jane died, Bill bought his mother’s house in Richmond Road, and moved in there with his sister and her son, as well as his two sons.
Bill and his brother Reg bought, between them, another house in Richmond Road, which had a large plot of land at the back of it, and on this land they built a row of ‘lock-up’ garages, which they rented out – an innovation in the days when more and more people were becoming car owners, but none of the terraced houses in the neighbourhood had garages in which to keep them. Bill’s sons George and Billy (as he was known) spent many happy hours in the garages with their father, and it was paradise for little boys, with all sorts of equipment and tools to be investigated and played with.
It is known that Bill had a ‘lady friend’ later in his life, although this was never spoken about at all at home. A long time after his death, however, Bill’s son Bill was told by his cousin Elsie that all the family knew about it, and there was a daughter as a result of this relationship. How sad that she wasn’t accepted by the family. I suppose that Bill felt that the best thing for his sons would be for them to continue to be brought up by his mother and sister. If Bill were to marry again, Aunty Edie had no other income apart from a small pension so it would have raised problems about how she would live if she were not provided for by Bill. Perhaps his friend was not free to marry anyway. The saddest thing was that cousin Elsie did not know the surname of Bill’s lady friend, so son Bill had no means at all, all those years afterwards, of ever finding his half sister.
Bill was a kind, gentle man, and my mother Joan, liked him very much. He was at work when he suffered a stroke, and he died shortly afterwards at the Sussex County Hospital.
George was a big man, cheerful and jovial for most of the time, He was a keen gardener, and it was a pity he didn’t take up gardening as a career, – he worked for the railways as a clerk and disliked the job. During the war he served in the airforce in India. Unfortunately he suffered from mental illness, which made him very depressed at times, and he spent periods in St. Francis Hospital at Haywards Heath, and various other mental health hospitals. He eventually married Ivy Seymour, who was a teacher, and lived with her in Southend. He had attempted suicide on several occasions over the years, and eventually died of gas poisoning. At the inquest it was stated that he took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed. My mother said she will always remember him as laughing and joking.
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