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Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Edward Evans (1873-1963) was the son of Josiah Evans and his wife Selina (nee Lloyd). His father worked as a station-master on the Cambrian Railway in Montgomeryshire and later at the company's head office in Oswestry, Shropshire, but died of consumption when Charles was only 6 years old. After attending various schools in Oswestry and elsewhere, Charles Evans was taken away from school by his mother at the age of 14 years and sent to work as a trainee reporter on the Oswestry Advertizer at a wage of 2/6d per week. Although he himself had never thought of journalism as a possible career, and did not even know what the job entailed when he started, he quickly came to enjoy the work and after a few years decided to leave his home town in an attempt to better himself. He subsequently worked on several provincial papers including the Dover Standard, Montgomery County Times and the St Helens Reporter. After a short spell as a freelance reporter in the Liverpool area, in 1915 he moved to London where he was taken on to the staff of the Press Association, which supplied reports to most of the Fleet Street papers. After the Great War, he was particularly concerned with reporting the proceedings of the War Debts Tribunal for the Financial Times and in later life claimed to be the journalistic authority on international law as a result. He remained in southern England, becoming editor of the Croydon Chronicle and of the West Middlesex Times, but in 1940, being then 67 years old, he returned to the Oswestry area to escape the Blitz. However, he was not content to retire from journalism altogether and continued to submit articles to many local newspapers. At this time, he also completed the lengthy autobiography which he had begun in 1936, and at the end of the Second World War he submitted the manuscript to numerous publishers. None were willing to accept it, and though he tried again a few years later, it was never published.

Sadly, the latter part of Charles Evans' life seems to have been overshadowed by financial problems. He made several attempts to secure himself a pension from the Institute of Journalists, whose pension fund he claimed to have been instrumental in founding. In 1960, he even applied for a Civil List pension based on what he regarded as his important contribution to journalism and to his country. According to his letter he had been the inventor of the idea of the war-time 'blackout', the first person to have reported the successful splitting of the atom and the discoverer of an artistic masterpiece in the form of a portrait of Christian Huygens, the 17th Century Dutch astronomer and mathematician. It is unclear how much reliance can be placed on these claims, as certainly in the case of the portrait, all the art experts disagreed with him both about the subject and the painting's value.

In 1958, when both were in their 80s, Charles Evans and his wife of over 50 years, Henrietta Brideoake Toke Evans (nee Halton), moved from Shropshire to Norman Road, Wrexham, to be near their son who was living in the same street. They remained there until their respective deaths in 1962 and 1963. Their son, Reginald, later moved to Holywell.

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Custodial History

The items in this collection comprise the papers of Charles Edward Evans which were kept by his son, Reginald Brideoake Evans, and were found in the latter's home after his death by one of the executors of his will. Records deposited on indefinite loan by an executor of the will of R.B. Evans, 2nd January 1987.