William Gosling was born on 25 May 1866 at Broom Edge on the outskirts of Lymm, Cheshire. He was the youngest child of William Gosling, licensee of the Wheatsheaf Inn, and his wife Alice Johnson. William grew up in Lymm, and became a clerk in the tannery. His future wife Annie Hinton was born in Lymm on 7 September 1869, and was the oldest child of John Hinton, a fustian cutter, and his wife Sarah Sorton.
William and Annie married in St Elphin's Church, Warrington on 30 March 1891, and for a short time they lived with Annie's parents in Statham, Lymm. The couple left Lymm when William got a job as a clerk at the newly-completed Manchester Ship Canal and moved to Gorse Hill, Stretford.
The Manchester Ship Canal was constructed at a time when Manchester was starting to decline economically, and suffering from the high cost of transporting goods to and from Liverpool by rail. The canal gave the city direct access to the sea, and transformed Manchester into Britain's third busiest port, in spite of its position 40 miles inland. Upon completion, it also generated local employment in the docks and warehouses, such as William's clerical position.
Manchester Ship Canal: Barton Swing Aqueduct
Just prior to the First World War, trade grew slack on the canal, and William's wife, Annie, came home from a Mothers' Union meeting at St Peter's Church, Gorse Hill, to tell William that interviews were taking place for the post of apparitor/verger, and that he should go to the church because she had arranged for him to get the job. William, a Methodist, said he didn't know the Anglican liturgy, to which Annie replied that she could teach him all he needed to know... William occupied this post until he died, and was succeeded in it by his son, William (Bill).
William and Annie had five children:
After her husband's death, Annie lived with her youngest son William and his wife for a few years, then in about 1930 took the post of housekeeper to two elderly ladies named Warburton at Great Budworth, in Cheshire. (The Warburtons were a cadet branch of the family of Lord Derby.) As housekeeper, she took priority over the other indoor staff, and also maintained a constant war with the head gardener over who had the right to choose what should be grown in the way of fruit and flowers: both she and the gardener were strong characters, and apparently their employers had no say in the matter!
Alice Mabel Gosling was born in Lymm in 1896. She was a school teacher, and married Arthur Gerald Akehurst in Manchester in 1917. Arthur was born in Brighton on 29 September 1894, and was the son of newspaper editor George Osborne Akehurst and his wife, Ada Clewer. The couple spent most of their married life in Portsmouth, where Arthur, an electrical engineer, was a scientific officer for the Royal Navy.
Their three sons all attended Dartmouth Naval College, and the oldest, a lieutenant on HMS Albert, was lost at sea at the end of World War 2.
1. Arthur Maurice Akehurst
3. John Basil Akehurst
Alice died in Portsmouth in 1964, and Gerald in 1981.
Richard Gosling was born in Lymm in 1893, and became a constable in the Manchester police in 1913. After the outbreak of WW1, he joined the Royal Field Artillery at Preston on 11 May 1915, and was assigned to 6" Battery 170th (Co. Palatine) Brigade. He was promoted to sergeant, and went to the Ottoman province of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) in 1916, at a time when the British Army had suffered heavy and unexpected losses at the battle of Ctetisphon and the siege of Kut-al-Amara. Richard spent 2 years in Mesopotamia, and like many other soldiers contracted malaria, which would affect him all his life.
Richard recounted that before leaving for Mesopotamia, he was on Aldershot Plain with 200 troopers, each holding two unbroken Peruvian mules. Various other army units were training there, including some from the Border Regiment, and when their bagpipes struck up, pure chaos ensued as the mules bolted in all directions. Richard tried desperately to round up the mules and regain control, while the Border Regiment officer laughed at the spectacle. Once things were calmer, Richard headed for the officer in high indignation, only to see him tip back his cap and say, "Well, our Dick, have you finished ranting and raving?" The officer was his cousin, Alfred Shapley, who was killed on the Somme two weeks later.
After the war, Richard went back into the police, reaching the rank of Superintendant. He was an excellent athlete, competing in police sports and winning many medals for running. He married Annie Walker in Longridge, Lancashire in 1923, and retired from the police during WW2 to become a farmer.
Richard and Annie had two sons:
1. George Frederick Gosling
2. Richard Gosling
m. Margaret Ross, 1953
Richard died in 1953, and Annie in 1968.
Margery Esther Gosling ("Meg") was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1898. She was a school teacher, and married George Jones in Manchester in 1925. George was senior partner in a Manchester wood working company which made - among other things - wooden tennis raquet presses for Lewis's department store.
Shortly after their only daughter was born, Meg developed a degenerative disease which confined her to a wheelchair, and the family moved into living quarters at the factory. With the factory buildings, offices and stores, there were always people around so Meg did not feel isolated. Later, George also rented an old farm cottage on Werneth Low, where Meg's mother Annie lived as housekeeper. The cottage had stone floors, and no electricity, hot water or mains drainage, but possessed a magnificent view over the Cheshire plain.
Meg died in Manchester in 1944 at the age of 47, and George died in 1977.
William Gosling, youngest child of William and Annie, was born in Stretford, Lancashire on 19 November 1903. As a child, Bill suffered from some kind of back trouble, and it was though that he would be permanently crippled. He was sent to stay with relatives at Lymm, where he was pushed around on a flat wheeled stretcher. He learned to use his toes to grasp objects he could not reach with his hands from a prone position, and he retained this unusual ability in later life.
As his health improved, Bill received a training in office work, probably because it was believed that he was physically unsuited to a more active occupation. However, when he finished training after World War I there was litle clerical work available, and employers preferred women staff, who could be paid less. Bill therefore turned to a range of manual jobs.
When his father died in 1927, Bill took over his job as Apparitor at St Peter's Church, Stretford, and shortly afterwards married Lillian Griffin at St Mary's Church, Hulme on 25 July 1927. They lived with Bill's mother Annie in Burleigh Road, Stretford.
In addition to his duties at the church, Bill had an allotment of about an acre where he grew flowers and vegetables both for home consumption and to supplement his income. Based on baptisms, weddings and funerals at the church, he developed a catering business, which later expanded to cover dances and other functions. This led to some unusual meals at home on Sundays, where anything uneaten at Saturday's function became the family's Sunday breakfast.
Bill and Lilian had 3 children:
3. Elizabeth Annie Gosling
m. Cyril James, 1953
During WW2, Bill served in the Pioneer Corps in Norway, Iceland, France, Belgium and Holland. Lilian and their three children went through the daily hardships of so many families across Europe at that time who had to cope without their main breadwinner, and as they lived on the outskirts of Manchester, they suffered the air raids inflicted on all industrial centres, including the 14 hour Christmas Blitz of 23 December 1940.
Bill was demobilised in August 1945, and joined the railways where he worked until his retirement. The family moved to Manley Road, Whalley Range, where they lived until the 1970s. Even after retiring, he took on other part-time jobs, as well as devoting himself to his garden, where he kept the family supplied with fresh vegetables.
In many ways, Bill is typical of a generation who lived through social and economic upheaval. Finding no openings for his initial training in office work, he turned his hand to anything available, and often combined full and part-time jobs. At various times he was an asbestos spinner, navvy, church verger, gardener, caterer, pall-bearer, railway parcels foreman and dispatch clerk for a mail order company. His wife Lil seconded him in many of his part-time activities, and also worked as a laundress, level-crossing keeper and nursing auxiliary.
In the mid 1970s, Bill and Lil moved to a bungalow in Handsforth, and Lil died on 1 July 1982 at the age of 76. Bill died in Stockport on 19 January 1985 aged 81.