The Porter family of Derby, Swindon and Southampton
A Personal Account

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This page gives a personal account of the Porter family of railway and shipyard workers of Derby, Swindon and Southampton, kindly supplied by Mrs. Shirley Hatcher, to whom any enquiries should be addressed by clicking on her name.

The family story

Arthur Peter Porter, my grandfather, was born the third youngest in a family of eight to Charlotte Ann Lawrence and Joseph Porter. Arthur's birth was 22 January 1869 at 3 Panfield Lane, Bocking, Braintree, Essex. Joseph died in October 1876 of peritonitis age 40 years old leaving Charlotte Ann with three very young children and Arthur was about six and a half years old. I have been told he was put in a workhouse but so far I have not found any information regarding this.

Arthur then turns up in Derby working on the railway as a boiler maker where he married my grandmother Elizabeth Buckland on the 15th September 1889 in St Peter's Parish, Derby. He was 20 years old and his mother was living near him age 66 years with youngest son James 27 years working on the railway as an engine wheel turner in the 1901 Census. Living with her also was her grandson Percy age 19 years, postman, and a nephew age 20 years, a fitter labourer. Elizabeth Buckland's father was also working on the railway.

Arthur had two children in Derby and sometime in 1901 he moved to Swindon Great Western Railway Works working in the boiler shop as a boiler maker. Just after moving from Derby they had the birth of their first son, George Arthur Porter, who was born on 25th September 1901 at 15 Exmouth Street, Swindon, Wiltshire. George never worked on the railway but he worked on the boats as a vegetable cook. He was killed when the California was sunk by enemy aircraft off the coast of Sicily on the 11th of July 1943. He was 42 years old.

One of Arthur's eldest girls used to take lunch and a flask of tea to him and stay with him during his lunch break at Swindon. She was Myrtle, born in Swindon on the 21st August 1905 at 119 William Street. Neville was born on the 15th December 1907 at 119 William Street, and my father Douglas Lawrence Porter was also born there on 27th May 1913. During a search I found a copy of a sick pay that my grand father was paying into while working in Swindon and it gives the date he left Swindon works, 19-02-1916 and by his own accord after about 15 years.

I think they were a prosperous family; when I saw them they had a lovely home. They moved from Swindon and Arthur worked for Harland & Wolf in Southampton Docks up to his retirement in 1934.

On moving to Southampton they found a big house on the edge of the water where my grandmother made the rooms nice for her visitors. The theatre was close by so Elizabeth let her rooms to the film stars who needed somewhere to stay after working on stage.

My father became involved with the theatre as he could earn some good money. Not only did his mum look after her guest's but my father helped to take water up stairs for their baths, and later he worked as a call boy by knocking on the stars' doors to let them know it was time to go on stage, for which he would then get a tip!

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