In memory of Frederick George Scrase


Frederick George Scrase was born around November 1889 in Ammenhurst near the town of Brighton in Sussex and sadly was killed in action on 2nd March 1916.

Frederick’s army records (L/8699) were quite extensive, which enabled me to build up quite a good picture of him, he was not tall at 5ft 4inches and weighing 107lbs, he had a fresh complextion, hazel eyes and brown hair. Prior to joining the army after receiving notice to serve in April 1907 he was a grocer. When Frederick first started his service he had several disciplinary offences for drinking and laughing and talking, all when not on duty though – life must have been so tough for them! It appears that after a year or so these occurances become fewer and from being a soldier that was “a hard worker, but requires supervision”, he was then descibed as “improved and is very capable”. Frederick was promoted to Corporal on 5th March 1913 after 6 years and 6 months in service and then the Sergeant on 5th August 1914.

Frederick obtained a few certificates of education whilst serving:

– 3rd class 12/3/09

– 2nd class 24/6/13

– transport class? 14/12/12

– qualified instructor in marindin range finder

Looking at his military history Frederick was home from 23 April 1907 to 11 August 1914 (7 years 111 days), being stationed in Chichester on 23 April 1907 and Belfast on 18th October 1907). From here he was in the expeditionary force from 12 August 1914 to 21 May 1915 (283 days), he then came home again from 22 May 1915 to 25th January 1916 (249 days) before his final deployment with the British Expeditionary Force on 26th January 1916 until the date of his untimely death aged 27.

It appears from the casualty form that he suffered several injuries whilst on duty, all of which I have listed below:

– 9/10/1914 Hosp Alveolar Abscess in the field

– 09/5/1915 Wounded in action Richebourg

– 11/5/1915 GSW Chest (severe) Boulogne

– 21/5/1915 tfr to England Boulogne

– 26/1/1916 embarked for ? Inf Base Ham – 5/2/1916 ? Bn Field

– 2/3/1916 Killed in Action in the field

The Royal Sussex Regiment – 2nd Battalion, of which Frederick was part of were in Woking serving with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division when war broke out in August 1914. They proceeded to France in August 1914, and fought on the Western Front throughout the war, taking part in most of the major actions. In 1914 they were involved in The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres and the Winter Operations of 1914-15. In 1915 they were in action during The Battle of Aubers and The Battle of Loos. In 1916 they were in action in the Battles of the Somme.

I located quite a lot of information on Frederick from his Army service records including the fact that he was not married and that his sister was Bertha Jane Miller, this enabled me to piece together his family.

Frederick George Scrace was born in about 1889 (Q4 1889 Brighton, Sussex Vol 2b Page 25).

From the 1891 Census it can be seen that Frederick’s parents are most likely Frederick and Jane Scrase. Frederick Senior being born in about 1861 in Patcham, Sussex and his mother Jane about 1862 in Chichester, Sussex. He also appears to have a sister Florence also born in Brighton, but in about 1882, as well as another sister Bertha (which ties in nicely with Frederick’s Army records) who is shown as being born in about 1884 in Brighton. Also living with them on the date on the census is Frederick’s grandmother Mary A Scrase who was born in about 1821 in Brighton. The family were living at 23 Washington Street in Brighton which is still standing today and can clearly be seen on Google maps as a mid terrace property about half way down the road itself. Frederick Senior is a Stationery Engine driver and Jane his wife is a laundress. (Source Citation: Class: RG12; Piece: 808; Folio: 16; Page: 25; GSU Roll: 6095918.)

From the 1901 Census it appears that Jane has sadly died and Frederick Senior has remarried Emily who is younger than him, being born in about 1867 in Haywards Heath, Sussex Frederick also is listed as having a middle name starting with W. Florence is no longer living with the family, but Bertha is. Frederick also now has a brother Sidney who was born about 1892 in Brighton and another sister Kate who was born also in Brighton in about 1894. The family are still living in Washington Street in Brighton, which looking at the photos of the property, must have been quite a squeeze! (Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 924; Folio: 59; Page: 5.)

I have so far been unable to ascertain with certainty Frederick’s location on the night of the 1911 census.

Having found out that Frederick’s parents were Frederick W Scrace and Jane, I then tried to locate their marriage, quickly I found a Frederick Walter Scrace’s marriage to Caroline Jane Stubbs on 5th June 1881 at St Peters Church in Brighton. On this record Frederick’s father is named as William Scrase (Source Citation: Place: Brighton, Sussex, England; Collection: St Peter; -; Date Range: 1876 – 1881; Film Number: 1067138.) is this who Jane is? or did he marry Jane Arnell who was living with Frederick Senior and Mary his mother in 1881 at 23 Washington Street in Brighton, she was also a washerwoman, possiby just a coincidence as I searched for marriages between Jane Arnell and Frederick Scrase to no avail.  As Jane is not with Frederick in 1901, I then searched for death records between 1891 and 1901 for Caroline Jane Scrase and found a death record in Q2 1898, she was 35 at the date of her death, which ties in with what I found on the 1891 census ( Brighton Vol 2b Page 143).

Frederick Senior then I believe remarried Emily.

I then went in search of Frederick Senior in the 1871 Census but was unable to find a Frederick with parents Mary And William Scrase born in Patcham, I did though find Walter F Scrase born in the correct year with parents Mary A and William who I believe could be the correct family living at none other than 23 Washington Street, Brighton!  William is shown as born in about 1821 in Ditching, Sussex and is a Labourer. Walter appears to be the only son at this date. (Source Citation: Class: RG10; Piece: 1078; Folio: 69; Page: 6; GSU roll: 827497.)

In the 1861 Census  the only close match is William and Mary living in Broadwater Street in Broadwater, Sussex. William is a platelayer for the Railway born in about 1813 and is shown as being born in Westminster, London. Mary is shown as a laundress. Mary’s details tie in well, but not so much for William, so this may or not be the correct family, so I have stopped here for now.

Of course to confirm I will need to purchase some certificates especially to confirm the mother of Frederick, but until then I believe the following to be true:

Frederick Scrase (1889 to 1916) was the son of

Walter Frederick Scrase (born circa 1860) and Caroline Jane Stubbs (born circa 1862) who in turn was the son of William Scrase (born circa 1821) and Mary A Scrase.

[Photo of Royal Sussex Regiment from]

If you recognise this family then please make contact as I would love to add to this with more findings, photos or confirmation of the details.

Until next time…………….

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Casulties of War

This year marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. It was all sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in this war was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead. Approximately two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Improvements in medicine as well as the increased lethality of military weaponry were both factors in this development. Nevertheless disease, including the Spanish flu, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.

Of these deaths I have located eleven Scrace/Scrase casulties, each of whom I plan to dedicate a blog post to this year on or close to the anniversary of their untimely deaths with the information I have located about them.

Frederick George Scrase born in Brighton who died on 2 Mar 1916 in Royal Sussex Regiment

Walter Scrase who died on 24 Mar 1918 in Tank Corps

Cecil George Scrace born in Penshurst who died on 13 Apr 1918 in Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)

William Thomas Scrase born in Bolney, Haywards Heath, Sussex who died on 24 May 1915 in Royal Garrison Artillery

Reginald George Scrase who died on 19 Jul 1916 in Gloucestershire Regiment

James Scrace born in Bexhill, Sussex who died on 13 Aug 1917 in Border Regiment

J Scrace who died on 24 Aug 1918 in Buffs (East Kent Regiment)

Herbert Scrase born in Plumpton, Sussex who died on 18 Sep 1918 in Corps of Royal Engineers

Herbert Scrace born in Gillingham, Kent who died on 24 Sep 1918 in Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Horace Scrase Brighton 27 Sep 1915 Royal Sussex Regiment Western European Theatre

John Scrace Fulham 12 Nov 1916 Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) Western European Theatre

If you are related to any of the men named above and have any information on them that you would like included in their post, including photographs I would love to hear from you.

Until next time…………………………..

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A well overdue update!

So what have you been doing with yourself I hear you ask.

Well, apart from not blogging, I have been so busy with non genealogical pursuits and major home improvements (which are still ongoing!) In 2013 I was asked to do quite a few photoshoots for people as well as a wedding in the summer, if you know me you will know that my other hobby is photography, so 2013 was a fun year for me, albeit rather hectic!

This does not mean I have put my one name study on the back burner, quite the contrary actually. Since my last post over a year ago, I have completed taking all the correctly transcribed Scrace’s from the Census records and made a good start on the Scrase surname too. I had transcribed these into excel, but felt that there must be a better way to store this data. I did a lot of research and read many reviews on good software to use for a one name study and finally decided on Custodian for storing all the source data. It means that I can easily hold all the names in one place ( a huge bonus). The main reason I settled on this program above the others is that it it easy to use (well I have found it to be so, which is a big plus for me) and I can add sources to all the data, after all I need to start as I mean to go on. My excel spreadsheets although good and they would have done the job, I felt that with the number of names I would soon meet the limits of the program. I have decided to not use the tree facility within the program though, but instead continue to use Legacy Deluxe as I mentioned in a previous post, I know the program well and like the added features it has.

As well as changing the program I use, which I am still transfering data to as I type, I decided to look at setting up a website to accompany my blog , after considering various options I decided to go with Wix to create this free website (for now at least), and just see how it goes. Hopefully I will be able to do all I plan with it, time will tell though!

I plan to add to this blog at least twice a month with posts on individuals, for now I will add the posts to both my website blog and here, if you have an interest in the Scrace or Scrase name make sure you come and check out the website as I will be adding a lot more data on there, including trees for lines I have traced.

If you are reading this and have any information on Scrace or Scrase decendants I would LOVE to hear from you and see what we are able to share.

Until next time…………….


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A walk back in time……….


Patcham Windmill at sunset

From finding the articles on Charlotte Scrase, known by her friends and family as Lottie, I became intrigued and wanted to find out more about her and her family.

I started by looking at more old newspapers and found quite a lot of information about Lottie’s family. One such article I found I have transcribed part of it here:

Funeral of Miss C. Scrase.
The funeral took place on Thursday, at Buckland Churchyard, of Miss Charlotte Eleanor Scrase, of 80, Heathfield Avenue, the tram conductress who met her death in the tram disaster on Sunday last, at the age of 27 years. The first portion of the burial service was conducted in St. Barnabus’ Church, the Rev E J Hampspn officiating both there and at the graveside. The mourners present were Mr A Scrace (brother), Mrs E Kenning and Mrs G Paddock (sisters), Mr T Sayer, RN (fiance), Mr and Mrs D Hocking (Uncle and Aunt), Mr Paddock (brother-in-law), Mrs D Hocking (Aunt), Mr A Singleton (uncle), Corporal W Hocking, Mr Ward, Mrs Hopley, and Mrs Vaughan (Cousins), and Mrs Dawson. Amoungst the large number pre-at the church and the graveside were the Mayor of Dover (Councillor E Farley), Alderman W G Lweis, Mr Boices, Mr Worsfold and Tram Inspector Elgar. The coffin was bourne into the church by tram Drivers Blackman, H Brett, Pay and Miller; and the tramway employees were also represented by Checkers Mrs Cahall and Mrs Kilbey, Conductresses Regan, Brewster, Smith, Richardson, Perring and Ewer……………………….”

– Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 24 August 1917

This article continued to list all the individuals that left floral tributes and monetary ones too, it was a very long list!

I wanted to reconstruct a family tree for Charlotte, using the vast amount of personal details I had taken from all the articles written about her. I first of all located the registration of Charlotte’s death on the BMD Indexes (Sept 1917 SCRASE Charlotte E Aged 27 Dover 2a 1150), this is highly likely to be her as the dates, age and place all correspond to what we know about her already and this is the only reference to a Charlotte Scrase in the time period (also as it is not a common name it is easier too!).

From these articles I then continued and tried to find Lottie on the 1911 UK Census, as this was only six years before her untimely death in Dover. I searched using the parameters I knew such as her full name, a rough date of birth of 1890 and her mothers name also being that of Charlotte and those of her brothers and sisters. I found her without much problem, living at 80 Heathfield Avenue, Dover, Kent, the same address she was living at the time she died!
“Charlotte Scrase, aged 20 . She was born in Fulham London, is Single and living with her mother and siblings. Other members of the household on this date are:

Charlotte Scrase, Aged 49 (she is the head of the household, married for 27 years, now a widow, she had 9 children six of whom are still alive, she was born in Dover, Kent) ;

Arthur Scrace, aged 24 (Charlotte’s son, he was born in Warley, Essex is Single and works as a Railway engine cleaner for the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company);

Maud Scrase, aged 16 (Charlotte’s daughter who is single and was born in Aldershot, Hampshire);

Edith Scrase, aged 12 (She is Charlotte’s daughter is single and born in Jamestown, St Helena, South Africa) and finally

Beatrice Eaton, aged 8 (who is described as a nurse child born in Tottenham, London).”

[Reg District: Dover; Reg Number 65; Sub-registration District: Dover; ED, institution or vessel: 19; Household schedule number: 385; Piece: 4609]

I then went back in time again and located Lottie and her family in the 1901 England Census still living in Dover at 3 Edith Cottages,Clements Road with her Mother and siblings (the family have been mis-transcribed as Sorace on Ancestry!).

“Charlotte E Scrase, head, widow, aged 39 born in Dover, Kent
Arthur Scrase, son, 14, a telegraph messenger for the GPO, born in Warley, Essex
Mabel Scrase, daughter, 13 born in Warley, Essex
William Scrase, son, 12 born in Warley, Essex
Charlotte Scrase. daughter, 10, born in Feltham, London
Maude Scrase, daughter, 6, born in Aldershot, Hampshire
Edith Scrase, daughter, 2, born in St Helena”

[Class: RG13; Piece: 844; Folio: 38; Page: 21.]

The 1891 England Census was just as easy to locate and this time I found them living in the Horsed Foot Barracks in Kensington, London,  with her father. George William Scrase, a Sergeant in the Army, this explained the birth places of Charlotte and her Siblings as I knew from local knowledge that they had Army connections.
“George William Scrase, head of family, aged 31, Sergeant in the Army Service Corps, born in Portsmouth, Hants
Charlotte Helenor Scrase, wife, 29, born in Dover, Kent
Arthur Lawrence Scrace, son, 4, born in Worley, Essex
Isobel Mary Scrase, daughter, aged 3, born in Worley, Essex
Charlotte Helenor Scrase, daughter, aged 7 mths, born in London, Middlesex
William James Scrase, son, aged 2 born in Worley, Essex”

[Class:  RG12; Piece:  29; Folio:  146; Page:  8; GSU roll:  6095139.]

As this would have been the first census that Charlotte would have been on I first of all located Charlotte’s Birth registration (SCRASE Charlotte Eleanor Fulham 1a 309, Fulham) and then started searching for details I could locate on George William, her father, who from the Censuses died at some point between 1891 and 1901 (He in fact died on 6th January 1900 whilst in Service in St Helena’s, with his wife at his side, he died due to an inflammation of the liver.)  I soon located his Army records which gave me Charlotte’s birth date of 12 Aug 1890, along with that of her siblings and the date and place of marriage for her parents (George William Scrase and Charlotte Eleanor Hocking). The marriage was then easily located on the BMD Index- Dec qtr 1883 Dover district 2a 1835.

Next step was to see if I could locate George in the 1881 England Census, which I failed to do. I believe though, from his Army records that he may have been abroad at the time, having signed up on 8th March 1880. Back 10 years though to 1871 and George can be found living with his parents in Portsmouth at No 2 Quay Gate, Portsea Island.
“James Scrase, aged 44, head, pensioner military staff clerk, from Patcham, Sussex
Isabella Scrase, aged 33, wife, pensioners wife, from Ireland
George W Scrase, aged 12, son, Scholar, from Portsmouth, Hampshire
Elizabeth A Scrase, aged 7, daughter, scholar, from Portsmouth, Hampshire
William Henry Scrase, aged 5, son, scholar, from Portsmouth, Hampshire
Arthur E Scrase, aged 2, son, from Portsmouth, Hampshire
Matthew Gatherer, aged 57,  a widower, father in law, General Porter, from Ireland”

[Class:  RG10; Piece:  1136; Folio:  22; Page:  1; GSU roll:  827782.]

From this census, I found that George’s parents were James Scrase, from Patcham in Sussex and Isabella (whose maiden name was most likely that of Gatherer!). James is descibed in his Army pension records as 5ft 7 inches tall with a fair complextion, light blonde hair and hazel eyes.

A further step back in time to 1861 and George can once again be found with James and Isabella in Portsmouth, this time in Colewort Barracks.

“James Scrase, aged 34, Head, garrison staff sergeant from Patcham, Sussex
Isabella Scrase, aged 23, wife, from Scotland
George William Scrase, aged 2, son, from Portsmouth, Hampshire
Matthew Gatherer, aged 49, father-in-law, a chelsea pensioner, from Scotland”

[Class:  RG 9; Piece:  639; Folio:  63; Page:  ; GSU roll:  542675]

I then started to look for James further back, but failed to find him in the 1851 Census when he would have been 24. I then started to search for a marriage between James Scrase and Isabella Gatherer and found one in the transcript of Madras Marriages 1851-1870 – 31/275. On 7th Dec 1852, James Scrase married Isabella Gatherer in Bangalore, Madras, India. James father is named as Thomas Scrase and Isabella’s as Matthew Gatherer! So perhaps James was in India for a while before marrying Isabella, I will continue to research this one though.

Up until this point in time I am fairly certain that I have located the correct information, as I have several sources of for each piece of information to tie the links together.

I then tried to locate James aged 14, in the 1841 England Census, seeing if I could find  a James from Patcham with a father called Thomas. The only one I was able to locate that seemed to correspond was living in Portslade Village in Sussex.

“Thomas Scrase, aged 54, from Sussex an agricultural labourer and other members of the same household are:
Jane Scrase, aged 53, from Sussex
James, aged 17, a labourer, from Sussex
Kezia, aged 19, from Sussex (married James Denyer White, as with father in 1851 Census, her husband and daughter Maria, then also in 1861)
Henry, aged 14, an agricultural labourer, from Sussex
Maria, aged 14, from Sussex
Fanny, aged 8, from Sussex”

[Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 1112; Book: 4; Civil Parish: Portslade; County: Sussex; Enumeration District: 7; Folio: 7; Page: 8; Line: 22; GSU roll: 464160.]

IF this is in fact the correct family then a  possible marriage of Thomas Scrase and Jane Walter took place on 17 Mar 1815 in Warbleton, East Sussex

“Extract from the Sussex Marriage Index:
Place: Archdeaconry of Lewes Marriage Licence,  Date: 17 Mar 1815:
Subject: Thomas SCRACE, bach 28+ labr West Hoathly
Spouse: Jane WALTER, sp 30+ Warbleton
Extra Information: Sponsors ss: T.S. John WALTERS yeo Warbleton SRS 26

Extract from the Sussex Marriage Index:
Place: Warbleton, East Sussex,  Date: 17 Mar 1815:
Subject: Thomas SCRACE, bach West Hoathly
Spouse: Jane WALTER, sp otp (lic)
Extra Information: w: Theophilus GOBLE Sarah HARMER”

Once again, if this is the correct Thomas Scrase it means he was about 28 in 1815, that would mean he was born in about 1786/87, using this as a starting point I searched parish records around this date and found the following in Patcham:

“Thomas Scrase baptised in Patcham, Sussex 15 Oct 1786 Parents William Scrase and Rachel.”

I then continued searching and found possible parents for William:

“William Scrase baptised in Patcham, Sussex 13 Jul 1763 parents Richard Scrase and Susannah” and then in the Sussex Marriage Index the following entry:
“Place: Patcham, East Sussex,  Date: 20 Jul 1758:
Subject: Richard SCRASE, otp [SCRASE in pr]
Spouse: Susanna WEBB, St.Michael Lewes (lic)”

I intend to continue researching Charlotte’s line, to prove or disprove any connection between the individuals I have located on the early records and Charlotte! If anyone reading this is in fact related to Charlotte, George, James or Thomas I would just LOVE to hear from you with any  findings you have made, as I do have more information on this line to share also.

RESEARCH UPDATE: I am slowing making my way through the Census records of England and Wales, so far I have the 1911, 1901 and 1891 Census transcribed for the surname Scrace. I have decided to use Legacy Deluxe for all family reconstructions that I produce (which I have used before and found easy to use).

I am also currently trying to set up a website for more detailed information on families and my research which I will make public one I have finished transcribing the census records and worked out how best to share the data. I have also entered a few details on families from 100+ years ago on both Ancestry and Wikitree. As you can see I have been busy! :-o .

Until next time (I will try not to leave it so long between posts this time though, where did that month just go!!!)………………………………..

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A life cut short by tragedy

On 19 August 1917, at about 3.30 in the afternoon, tram car 20 ran away down the hill leading to Crabble from the London Road in Dover. The tram jumped off the rails at the second bend at the foot of the 1 in 10½ gradient, struck the paper-mill wall, ran over the debris, struck the wall for a second time, and toppled over. Eleven people died as a result of the accident, and nearly 60 were said to be injured. Many critically injured were taken to hospital. Six people though died at the scene, including Miss Charlotte (Lottie) Eleanor Scrase, aged 27, the conductress of the tram. She had been on the upper deck, according to a witness. She lived at 80 Heathfield Avenue and was the daughter of the late Staff Sergeant Major Scrase, of the Army Service Corps, who had died in 1900 at St Helena, and Mrs Lottie Scrase, formerly Hocking. Her brother, Arthur, was a locomotive fireman; she left also two other brothers, William and Eugene, both on military service abroad, and two sisters, Ivy and Edie.

Miss Scrase was said to be very popular on the tram service, and was said to have kindly taken another woman’s shift that day.  She had been engaged to be married to Mr Tom Sayers. The wedding ring she would have worn was buried with her at Buckland.

The driver of the tram, Albert James Bissenden, aged 28, stated that he had done all the could to stop the tram as it gathered speed on the incline, and when he had realised he could do no more, had jumped off to save his own life.  He immediately came down the hill to help the casualties. A soldier since 1907, he had been discharged on 1 June 1917 as a private from the Army Ordnance Corps after a nervous breakdown owing to the heat in Egypt and his work of dealing with explosives.  He had joined the trams on 21 July 1917 as a learner driver, qualifying to drive in 9 days and being passed as competent on 1 August.

The coroner, in summing up, stated that the case was on the borderline between accidental and criminal negligence; the driver could be liable for a charge of manslaughter. The verdict at the inquest was of death by misadventure, and that inexperience and lack of judgment on the part of Albert Bissenden were the causes. The coroner commented that misjudgment “could happen in a moment of forgetfulness, without knowing or wishing to wrong.  Something forgotten or something to attract the attention in moment and then something happened.”

However, it is probable that there were other causes and contributory factors. One passenger claimed that the car had not stopped as quickly as usual at the Buckland stop prior to Crabble Hill (although this may have been normal practice for Sundays and the driver may have been beckoned on). Several witnesses stated that the car had not stopped at the brow of the hill, as demanded by the regulations. This stop enabled the controller to be turned off and the slipper brakes applied; once the handbrake was released the car would proceed down the hill under its own weight, checked by the slipper brakes. Driver Bissenden stated that he was most aware of the regulations and the procedure at the top of the hill and had tried to stop the car with the handbrake but in vain. He maintained that the handle of the handbrake turned easily and met with no resistance”, so he concluded the brake would not stop the car. Indeed, the chain was unconnected when the tram car was examined after the accident. However, this was dismissed as there were no scrape marks on the chain, as there would have been had it been loose and dragged, and the chain was likely to have dislodged during, rather than before, the accident.

There were three braking systems; the slipper brakes were also examined, being the drag mechanism on going down Crabble Hill. Blocks were replaced about once a month; the blocks on car 20 were worn, but evidence given suggested that worn blocks were better at gripping than new, and that the extent of wear would not have contributed to the accident. The driver had been seen attempting to use the slipper brakes, but they were unable to stop the car. The third braking system, the emergency brake, failed to operate; this, it was stated, was owing to the driving current not having been turned off. The driver stated that the brake was “jammed”. The Depot Mechanic, Mr Nye, stated that he had examined the car before use that morning, and passed it and the brakes as fit, although he had not examined the emergency braking system, stating that this was done once a week, and that drivers rarely had occasion to use it. He added that the handbrake had been reported slack on 30 July and taken up. The controllers were tested once a week, sometimes twice. No driver had registered concern about the performance of the car since. When questioned by Mr de Wet, who was representing the friends of casualties Mr and Mrs Joseph and Mr Barnstein, Mr Carden, the General Manager of the tramway, was reproved for uncertainty in his responses regarding maintenance schedules and reporting of the cars.

On examination of the wrecked car, the controller was turned to full speed, and the direction lever was placed at “ahead”. Driver Bissenden stated that he had turned the controller off before descending the hill, exactly as regulations required. This was dismissed, the coroner stating that he believed the current had been on. However, passengers on the car, notably Dragoon Gunner, had attempted to stop the car, and children subsequently had played with the levers, which were then removed by Mechanic Knott and handed to Inspector Elgar. This was over 90 minutes after the accident, whereas Mr Fred Cook, former driver and then clerk to the tramways, stated that upon his examination twenty minutes after the accident, the levers were in the “drive” position. Whether attempts to stop the car had moved the levers is uncertain; it was however stated that the accident would not have moved them.

War-time conditions may have contributed to the accident. On considering the driver and the conductress, the Coroner in his summing up said, “I do not think these are times for anyone in a case of this description to be too critical. We are in troublesome times and we have to do the best we can with very little material. … our expert men are gone, and what is left are boys and girls and invalided men.” It was a general view, nevertheless, that business at home should carry on as best possible. Driver Bissenden’s discharge from military service was not considered significant. He had qualified as a driver after the minimum period of instruction, and was said to be quick at picking up his duties, exceedingly alert and intelligent, and one of the best men Mr Edward Carden, the tramways General Manager, had “had to deal with”. He had shown no signs of nervousness during instruction, and stated that he was most interested in his work, keen to demonstrate his suitability to his employers, and that furthermore he had suffered no nervousness during his work; indeed it was doing him “the power of good”.

It was the responsibility of Lottie Scrase, the conductress, to ensure the behaviour of the passengers, and that the car was not overcrowded. She had instructed Driver Bissenden to proceed without stopping at St Bartholomew’s church, well before Buckland, as they were carrying so many there was no more room. The tram was overcrowded when it crashed. The capacity was 22 people downstairs and 26 upstairs, yet some 70 people were casualties. The exact number on the tram was not ascertained.

However, it was common for the cars to be overloaded, and the Corporation Tramway permitted extra people to be carried provided it was safe and on the level portion of the track. Mr Carden stated that “since the war the population had increased” and their “service had been reduced, and it is very difficult to prevent people overcrowding”. Only on the River route were the regulations strictly enforced; an inspector at Buckland was responsible for ensuring the cars were not over capacity before descending Crabble Hill. Inspector Elgar stated at the inquest that he did not see car 20 go past, and that he had other duties to attend to in addition. The former tram shed is right.

It may have been that passengers also paid little regard to the tramway staff. Conductress Scrase was said to have been on the upper deck, she may have been asking passengers to sit down as standing was not permitted or trying to persuade some to alight. Driver Bissenden noted that a gentleman had been standing on his platform, having got on at Buckland, and the gentleman’s wife was standing on the steps. The driver had told the man he could not stand there, but did not make him move as “one got sick of asking people to move as they often said they had a right to be there” and he also had been told to speak to no one. It is possible that the gentleman distracted the driver, and thereby contributed to the accident.

Certainly overcrowding exacerbated the situation. Although a section of the mill wall was demolished by the impact of the car, Miss Laura Bomford, in charge of National Registration and a passenger at the accident, stated that she was surprised “there was not a violent crash”,. The tram appeared to have fallen over on to its side slowly and smoothly, before sliding a couple of yards along the ground.  Too many passengers in the top deck would have raised the centre of gravity of the car, and rendered it unstable and therefore contributed to or even caused the fall. Furthermore, many of those hurt were thrown from the open-top car. The extra weight would also have influenced the speed of acceleration down the hill, and rendered the brakes less effective. Mr Carden noted in mitigation that there were fourteen children on board, who would not weigh as much as adults.

The trackway down Crabble Hill followed a steep gradient in which there were two sharp bends, the first having a radius of 90 feet and being the most acute on the entire system, and the second near the bottom of the hill. The rails on the outside of the bends had been elevated in order to help prevent the car leaving the rails, and the braking power had been increased, with the addition of the slipper brakes. The combination of curves and gradient meant that the place, nevertheless, was regarded generally as dangerous, though Mr Cardin said that he “did not look upon that as the most dangerous part of the tramways for a tram driver”. In addition, owing to the war, it was difficult to maintain the system and to obtain spares for the rails and trams.

In summary of the accident, although the verdict was that the driver had been at fault, it would appear that war-time conditions had their impact but that there was a slackness in the running and the upholding of the tram network beyond that.  Fortunately the prevailing conditions also led to the Corporation being able a little to ameliorate the effects of the accident. Owing to the air raids they had set up an organisation to manage emergencies and ensure prompt medical care. They had also bought and hired extra hospital beds. Casualties were being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital until 10pm, with the help of two naval surgeons, and the soldiers had been removed to the Western Heights Hospital. Nevertheless, it was estimated that there was spare capacity for medical care for another thirty cases, should it have been required. The same was not true of the mortuary, which had room for only three bodies! The Market Hall was used instead.

[Information gathered from various Newspaper articles  in The Dover Express and East Kent News, The Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph]

Next week in part two of this of this blog article, I will share some more information on Lottie Scrase.

RESEARCH UPDATE: I am slowing making my way through the Census records of England and Wales, such a time consuming job. At the moment I am still using Microsoft’s Excel to record the information (I am using separate worksheets for each area searched). I am currently looking at which program to use for recording the family reconstructions I am starting to produce, but as yet I am not sure which one to use 😮 .

Until next time………………………………..

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Looking for Information

One hectic week at work and after school activities with my kids has meant that time researching has taken a hit this week. My daughter has dance exams coming up which means LOTS of extra lessons, I sure feel like a taxi service at the moment!

RESEARCH UPDATE: Although time has been limited, I have at last completed extracting all the correctly transcribed Scrace’s from the 1911 UK Census. I have now started the same process for the surname of Scrase, although I have only just started on this. I currently have my data on various Excel spreadsheets, but after reading a few reviews I am considering trying out Custodian 3, but think I will see if I can find out some more information first. If anyone has any experience of it, please get in touch?

CAN YOU HELP?  Do you have any information about a gentleman called Richard SCRACE (the spelling has also been as SCRASE on some documents I have). He was known as Dick and he was born in Brighton in October 1837 and died in Bexhill in October 1906. He was the Town Crier here. I would love to hear from you if any of this sounds familiar, as I am currently trying to build up a profile of him, I have been provided with some information on him, but want to know a little more before I share it on here.

Until next time………………………..

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Another Brick in the wall!

In 2003 whilst on maternity leave I commenced researching my own family tree and right from the start I was hooked. I loved not only the challenge of finding and confirming links between individuals, but also the social history element of it and adding the “flesh to the bones” so to speak! My grandmother, Florrie who I loved dearly, was born a SCRACE in 1914, which is my association with the surname. The main brickwall in my personal family history though lies in East Barming , Kent, UK. This is where my GGGGG Grandfather James SCRACE’s marriage took place.

James SCRACE married Mary COUNTS on 21st May 1766 at St Margaret’s Church. After his marriage he settled with his family and subsequently leased the farm that was owned by the Hubles, that had previously been hired by his father in law Thomas Counts. He was in his early life a constant attendant at Public worship, but through drinking spirits to extreme he stopped entirely! James and Mary had three children that I have located so far, all from the parish records at St Margaret’s Church: Elizabeth SCRACE who was baptised on 12th April 1767; John SCRACE who was baptised on 20 February 1768 and finally James SCRACE who was baptised on 29 March 1772.

The farm was at some point named “Scrace’s Farm” and can be seen clearly on old maps of the area as such. James was also a farrier by trade, from which he obtained some property, sadly though in 1791, only a few weeks prior to his death, after having a  new house built and moving in he died and subsequently his burial took place on 8th April.

From this generation forwards I know about most (not all though!) of the family descendants. I have though been unable to find out where James was born or to whom. In the hope that I would eventually find him and his parents I commenced gathering information on all Scrace’s that I found within a 10 mile radius of East Barming, using Parloc to identify parishes. Several descendants with whom I have made contact believe that he may have come from Sedlescombe, but I to date personally cannot find any evidence to corroborate this. My search has now expanded and so the SCRACE One Name Study was born!

East Barming itself is one of Kent’s mystery names. It is recorded in the Domesday Book as Bermelinge, but where this name came from, and what it means, are uncertain. The parish church of East Barming is dedicated to St Margaret, and is of Norman origin, although it is a small building, consisting of one isle and a chancel, with an elegant spire steeple.

A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves, if necessary. A farrier combines some blacksmith’s skills (fabricating, adapting, and adjusting metal shoes) with some veterinarian’s skills (knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb) to care for horses’ feet. Historically, the jobs of farrier and blacksmith were practically synonymous, shown by the etymology of the word: farrier comes from Middle French: ferrier (blacksmith), from the Latin word ferrum (iron). A farrier’s work would have included horseshoeing, as well as the fabrication and repair of tools, the forging of architectural pieces, etc. The Blacksmith trade then continued several generations within this line. [Wikipedia]

The pictures below are of St Margaret’s Church, where these ancestors life events were recorded, thank you Paul for allowing me to use the following two images (

I would also like to thank Adrian of Adrians Art for allowing me to use the following two images of St Margaret’s in East Barming, I just LOVE poppy fields, what a fantastic foreground to the church.

RESEARCH UPDATE: I had hoped to finish extracting all the details from the UK 1911 Census for all the correctly transcribed SCRACE entries from Ancestry this week, but alas I managed only about 90%! I have though received some fantastic information from a fellow Guild member on a Scrace from Brighton who lived in Bexhill, which I am sure I will post about soon once I do a little more digging that is and find out some more about him!

Until next time…………………………………………………

© Karen Anderson 2012

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