Himbury History

Charles James Himbury

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Charles James Himbury 1920 - 1989

Birth= 12 Jan 1920 Southwark, London

Marriage= 19 Jul 1941 St James' Church, West Streatham to Rosina Hutchings

Death= 14 Sep 1989 Brighton, Sussex

Spouse= Rosina Margaret Hutchings (Hutch)

Children= Rita, Barbara, Lesley

Charles...by his youngest daughter Lesley

 

Charles & Rose's Wedding in 1941

 

Charles James Himbury was my father. He was the second of four children, born to Emily and Charles. He had a brother Albert (Albie) and two sisters, Violet (Vylie) and Emily (Emmy).

Charles married my mother Rosina Margaret Hutchings (Rose) on 22nd July 1941. I believe they started their married life in Streatham, I am not sure of the address, but I think it was Penrith Road.  By the time I was born (1954) they were living in a prefab, 7 Grassmere Road, Streatham, having been bombed out of their house during the war. They had three daughters, Barbara, Rita and myself the youngest. Dad always said he wanted a boy to carry on the family name, but his wish was never granted.

Dad was called up during the war, but to the best of my knowledge he was one of the lucky ones who was never called upon to fight and so remained safe. Dad was stationed on Salisbury Plain during this time and used to ‘bunk off’ and go home to see my Mum on weekends!

 

When I was a child Dad was a milling machine operator at an engineering firm called Bryans in Mitcham . He was definitely ‘a man’s man’ and liked to spend time at his social club (Conservative Club in Blegborough Road, Streatham, SW16, although I don’t think he was actually a Conservative), where he would enjoy drinking and playing cards and cribbage. He didn’t really seem to have any other hobbies, he just enjoyed socializing.  On a Saturday night he and Mum would go to the club where there would be a live band playing and they would enjoy a dance and a drink or several(!)  with their friends. They were members of the club for many years and had a large circle of friends. I can remember listening to him getting ready to go out in the evening and he would sing while he was shaving, he had a good singing voice. He liked Perry Como songs.

Dad had a brilliant sense of humour and was brilliant fun when he played with us  when we were children, but he also had a darker side to his character and was often moody and bad tempered. When he was angry I was scared of him although he never smacked me, he didn’t need to as his angry voice was enough to make me cringe. On the other hand, I always felt safe and protected when I was with him. I knew that no one would ever hurt me all the time he was around which was a nice feeling to have when I was little. Dad deliberately never laid a hand on us because he said that his own father used to get drunk and get ‘punchy’ and hit his mum and he was determined not to follow down that road, and to his credit, he never did.

Dad was very honest. Probably the most honest person I have ever known. He was also very loyal and loving. I don’t think a day went by without him telling Mum that he loved her.

 
   

Charles & Albie

 

 

We used to play cards in the evenings sometimes, ten card rummy, or Honest John, or Kaluki. Sometimes we would play when mum and dad’s friends came round. We would play till quite late at night and mum would make sandwiches for everyone. You had to play properly, no messing around because Dad took it all very seriously, although he would entertain us all with a joke or a bit of ’leg pulling’  while we played. Dad also taught me to play chess, cribbage, and dominoes.

We didn’t have very much money when I was a child and Mum had a part time job in an industrial laundry as well as taking in sewing to make extra money, but we always went on holiday in the summer, usually somewhere on the south coast, bed and breakfast and evening meal in a boarding house, maybe on a farm. We would go out walking in the countryside for miles and miles and take a picnic lunch with us, which Dad would have to carry in a shopping bag. A couple of times during the holiday we would go to the beach, but not too often as Dad thought the beach was boring, although he was a good strong swimmer. I can remember once when my sister lost a beach ball in the sea and the tide took it out. Dad swam out to get it and I watched until his head was just a dot on the horizon and I worried that he would get swept away. I think Mum was getting a bit panicky too. He came back safe though. I don’t remember whether or not he got the beach ball, it didn’t matter so long as he came back safe.

Dad didn’t learn to drive a car until I had left home. I can remember he used to ride a pushbike to work and he progressed to a moped and then a motorbike by the time I was about nine years old.

 

Charles & Lesley

When I was nine years old the council moved us out of the prefab and into a flat on the seventh floor of a tower block, 29 William Harvey House, Whitlock Drive, Southfields, SW19.  Dad left Bryan’s shortly afterwards and for a while worked as a clerk at the United Friendly Insurance Company. From there he went to Kodak’s in Waterloo and he worked there until he retired. I am not sure but I think this was a retail shop and he was serving on the counter.

When I was a teenager and started going out in the evenings with my friends and boyfriend, Dad was very strict about what time I had to be home. 10.30 and not one minute later or there would be hell to pay! I remember thinking that he was very unreasonable, but he stuck to his guns and we had lots of rows! To be fair to him, I think he was probably scared to death. He had three daughters and didn’t know how to keep control and keep us out of trouble. Having children of my own now I understand how that feels. At the time I just hated him and used to fantasize about leaving home and being free of him and his rules.

He proved to be as brilliant a granddad as he did a dad and my boys loved him to bits. He always had time for his grandchildren and would dance with them in his arms with their faces held close to his when they were babies.

 

 

He was a real animal lover to the point of being soft. I can remember the time he allowed the pigeons to nest on our balcony and forbade my mum to remove them which was her first instinct. He lived to regret it as they made an awful mess and mum was not at all pleased. Mum would not have animals in the house so he wasn’t allowed a cat or a dog, but we did have a budgerigar called Pip which he got from someone that he worked with.

 

 

Dad smoked all his life, from the age of fourteen.  He used to smoke Old Holborn tobacco in roll ups and when he was about sixty he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to have a portion of his lung removed followed by radiotherapy. It didn’t stop him from smoking. The consultant at the hospital would not say that it was smoking that caused the cancer and that was enough for him to continue smoking. He was well for about five or six years after that but then the cancer returned and it was that that eventually cased his death at only sixty nine.

A couple of years before he died,( I don’t remember the exact dates), he and Mum moved to Brighton to live with Milly, an old friend of theirs. Milly was elderly and lonely and needed looking after and she promised to leave them her bungalow when she died. Mum and Dad had never managed to buy a house, so the temptation to move down to Brighton, and thereby end up with something they could leave to their children when they died, was very strong. I pleaded with them not to move down to Brighton as I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, but they decided to go anyway. I think that was the beginning of the end for Dad. He didn’t get on with Milly very well and he was missing his mates and his social club which had been such a big part of his life. He never really settled in Brighton and he wasn’t happy, but they had burned their bridges so there was no going back. Dad became ill and died shortly after my second marriage. I wish he had stayed in London and been near his friends as I feel he would have lived longer and been happier in his last years. The ironic thing is that Milly ended up outliving both Dad and Mum, so they never got the bungalow they were promised.

 

In conclusion I should just like to say that my Dad was the salt of the earth. He had a strong sense of morality and integrity. A strong character, bad tempered at times, but never meant anyone any harm and always friendly and polite to strangers. He had a fantastic sense of fun and I remember him with great affection. I had a fantastic childhood and it was in part due to him and the safe and loving environment he helped to create in our home. I always knew that I was loved and for that I thank him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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