Frances Dunkley

Story Courtesy of Sheila Bradley

Frances Dunkley

Frances Dunkley with her aunt and two young children

Frances Dunkley is the niece of Olive Woodford and seemed to have been very close to her Aunt. She told me that Aunt Olive’s asthma was so bad when they lived in Kedleston Road in Leicester that Charlie (her husband) had to carry her upstairs and that when they moved to Coventry it got so much better.

Frances also remembers Charlie Woodford’s brother Harry and Harry’s daughter whose name she can’t remember and who lived a couple of streets from Frances.

In WW1 when her father was in the war, her mother Charlotte, Frances and her two brothers at that time, went to live with Aunt Olive (Known as Mary or Polly in Kent St. She wonders how they all fitted in as there were 10 – including the essential lodger – living there.

My mother Sarah used to tell me of the marvelous Christmas parties they had in Kent Street, of getting the last tram at night out there on Christmas Eve and going home in the early hours of Christmas day and hearing the Town Waits singing the carols. Frances remembers the food being laid out on tables in the cellar, this was the only day of the year they could afford luxuries, and my Mum told me that one year Polly got up on the table and performed a dance for them.

At one point Charlotte and her sister Sarah (Sally) – who also lived there – worked from home making children’s coats and used to take the work back and forth to the factory in the baby’s pram. One day Frances’ little brothers set fire to the bedroom curtains and only the fact that a neighbour saw it quickly prevented a tragedy; the boys were hiding under the bed. What hard times they lived through.

Since these recollections have been printed I believe the Harry Woodford, Frances is referring to was Charlie’s cousin, not his brother.

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