William Axbey

Scope and Content

Born 14.06.2004 in Brentford. Father drayman at Royal Brewery, Brentford, weighed 25 stones. Montague Ballard, Chairman of the Brewery, later married Lady Maple. Lived on premises and kept an eye on workers. Early childhood in Brentford, contracted scarlet fever at 6, period in "fever hospital" (Clayponds, South Ealing). Parents allowed only one visit per week and kept outside of glass screen. First school Little Ealing School off Ealing Road, later attended Drayton Green School following family move to Eccleston Road, Ealing. Headmaster Mr May, teacher Mr Scarlett. Knuckles rapped if not writing properly. Father recommends him for job in brewery on leaving school at 14 but father called up for service in the army during WW I. Served in the Royal Field Artillery and stationed at Colchester as 'Officer's Groom'. Officer needed a cook and invited Bill's mother to fill post. Family moves to Colchester. No further education. Spends time watching troops on parade ground. Starts work as messenger boy at W & G Ducrose ammunition factory in Acton. End of war 1918. Mother working in laundry in Richmond. Walks from Acton to Richmond to carry news of peace to mother. 1918-1920 unemployed. Gets job in office at Royal Brewery, clerk in 'loading out' dept. Father becomed head coachman to the Chairman, drives a horse drawn Brougham. Anecdote of being asked to take Chairman to Hendon and gets into carriage. On reaching Hendon finds carriage empty. Chairman had briefly returned to his office without coachman realising. Threatened with dismissal but given another chance. Wages on starting work 5/- per week (1920). Gave half of this to mother for keep. Moves place of work three times folowing several take overs by other breweries. Finally employed by Courage at Tower Bridge before being made redundant. Sometimes walked from Brentford to Battersea to get to work during WW II. 1920: Family living in 113 Ealing Road, Brentford. House backs onto Brentford Footblal Club ground. Mother dies aged about 86. father dies aged 89 - funeral escorted by British Legion. 1930: Marries at age 26 at St Paul's Brentford. Sets up maritla home in four rooms at Clapham Junction. later moves to Battersea. Later moves to Feltham. Two sons born. Days out a tBrighton, Runnymede to pick blackberries. Saturday nights out at Castle pub in Brentford High Street, live entertainment. No family holidays as such. Wife works a sbook-keeper. Family evening entertainment - playing card games, dominoes. Had no radio prior to WW II. Money tight. Earned £10 per month at end of 1930s. Recalls seeing German airship Graf Zeppelin landing at or near Feltham. No smoking for fear of explosion. Recalls cinemas in Brentford - Queens Hall, Half Acre, Coronation Hall opposite fire station. Recalls Saturday morning matinee for children at the Queens Hall. Pearl White serial. Cost 1d admission. 1939: Becomes ARP Warden. Then living in Overdale Road. Wardens post in Lammas Park. Recalls shops destroyed in Northfiled Avenue. Morrison shelter in home. 1941: Called up at age 37. Not good eyesight. Joins Royal Army Pay Corps, posted to Sidcup, Kent. Posted ot Ashford, Middx. Posted to India. Travels on SS Strathmore in convoy. Indian troops board at Port Said. Complaints from British troops about smell of curry. Arrives Bombay, train to Delhi. Infested with cockroaches. Poverty of population. Train from Delhi to Marrott (?). 1945 returned to UK. Responsible for POWs accounts. Demobbed at Olympia, returns home. Long association with Brentford Football Club: recalls seeing first game at Brentford at age 12, has remained supporter ever since. 90th birthday given Brentford shirt with name on by grandchildren. Member of Ealing Cricket Club since 1944. Marriage of 59 years. Wife died 1990. Regards his amrriage as most significant event of his life despite uncle's advice against match. Lifelong enjoyment of sport. Attributes being a good mixer to his life in the army.
Scarlet Fever, hospital Claypond.
Father head coachman to the Chairman

Recorded by John Cordon 15.2.96