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Killora & the Townsend Family


  From about 1948 until 1963, Killora was the Headquarters of the Iron Making Division of the British Iron and Steel Research Association (BISRA) and which had other laboratories at the nearby Lackenby. The Head of these laboratories was a J M Ridgeon whose office was here at Normanby. He lived in a house, Chequers, which was built for him in 1956 in the grounds of Killora. Mr Ridgeon was responsible to a Mr E W Voice who was the Director of the Iron Making Division and who was based at BISRA laboratories in South Kensington in accommodation provided by Imperial College, University of London.
  I (Dr John Willmott) the author of this article worked from 1960 to 1963 as the Mathematician to the Iron Making Division and was based in an office on the first floor of Killora, overlooking a wonderful rose garden at the rear of the building!   I became friendly with one of the then partners of Appleby Hope and Mathews, meeting over lunch at the Poverina next door.   I mentioned to him that BISRA Normanby was moving in 1963-64 to new laboratories in Eston Road, Grangetown.   Within two hours, two of the partners were in discussion with people at BISRA at which it was agreed that Appleby Hope and Mathews would move into Killora when BISRA departed - and this they did.   The solicitors have been there ever since.   It seems that BISRA’s move to Grangetown went in stages for it was only in 1966 that Appleby Hope and Mathews finally moved into Killora.   During the gradual move to Grangetown, a BISRA employee and his wife lived in a flat on part of the upper floor of Killora.   It is most likely that their bedroom was the office which I had used when I worked at Normanby!
  I moved from Normanby to become a University Lecturer in Computer Science, initially from 1963 until 1968 at UMIST in Manchester and then until 1998 at the University of York when I retired.   I had left Normanby before the new BISRA (later Corus) laboratories at Grangetown were opened.

Killora - Appleby, Hope and Mathews

Killora - Appleby, Hope and Mathews

The Townsend Years

  Dr Francis Edward Townsend was born into a well known Irish medical family, the Townends, in Cork in 1884.   He appears to have been sent to the Vicar of Great Braxted in Essex in the early 1880’s to prepare himself along with other students for his studies at University.   In 1886, at the age of 22, he graduated at the Royal University of Ireland in Dublin with the degrees of MD (Doctor of Medicine) and Master of Surgery.   At the same time, he obtained his licence in Midwifery at the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Dublin.
  The Royal University of Ireland subsequently became, in the early 20th century, the National University of Ireland.   The King and Queen’s College of Physicians was also renamed as the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.
  Dr Townsend first appeared in the Medical Register in 1891 as the doctor and surgeon in Killora, Normanby.   In 1892, he married Annette Theresa Steavenson, the daughter of the Town Clerk of Darlington.   They had four children:
      Francis Edward Steavenson Townsend (1893-1916),
      Arthur Eric Townsend (1895-1917),
      Hugh William A Townsend (1897-1902) and
      Margaret Annette Townsend (1911-1995)
  Dr Townsend died suddenly in Killora, Normanby in 1932, aged 68.   In the funeral report in the press, it is recorded that he was on the medical staff at Eston Hospital and held a big practice in Eston and Normanby.   It was noted that Dr Townsend was succeeded by Dr J G Warnock.   The following Probate his Will shows that he left £8275 1s 8d to his widow:

"TOWNSEND, Francis Edward of Killora, Normanby, Eston, Yorkshire died 4 October 1932. Probate London 9 November to Annette Theresa Townsend, widow and John William Watts esquire. Effects £8275 1s 8d."

  It seems that the medical practice left Killora with Dr J G Warner practicing from Eastwell Lodge in Eston in 1935 and then, by 1939, in the Manor House in Normanby.   Moreover, it seems that Mrs Townsend continued to live in Killora with her daughter, Margaret Annette.   Certainly in the wedding report in the press of Margaret’s marriage to a Charles Alexander Blow at Christ Church Eston in 1935, Margaret’s mother, Mrs Annette T Townsend was noted to be living at Killora, Normanby.
  (Many years later, when elderly people might call at Killora to see one of the solicitors at Appleby Hope and Mathews, occasionally they would mention that Killora was once a doctor’s practice.)
  However, it appears from her Probate that Mrs Townsend was living with her daughter, Mrs Margaret Annette Blow and her husband at 105, Kenton Road in Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1948 although she died in 1948 at Spencer Beck House in Ormesby.   The following Probate of her Will shows that she left £4551 19s 10d to her daughter:

"TOWNSEND Annette Theresa of 105 Kenton-road, Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, widow, died 2 April 1948 at Spencer Beck House, Ormesby, Yorkshire. Probate York 15 July to Margaret Annette Blow (wife of Charles Alexander Blow). Effects £4551 19s 10d."

The Children of Dr F E and Mrs A T Townsend

  A chiropodist mentioned to me the story of two of the brothers who fought and died in WW1.   From the picture of the War-Memorial in Normanby , the author identified a pair of brothers, namely:
      Francis Edward Steavenson Townsend (1893-1916) &
      Arthur Eric Townsend (1895-1817)
   Their stories are set out below.

Francis Edward Steavenson Townsend (1893-1916)

  He was born in Normanby on 7th July 1893 and was educated at Durham School.   Upon leaving school, he entered the offices of his uncle, H G Steavenson, his mother’s brother, who was the Town Clerk of Darlington and began his training and serving his articles to become a Solicitor.   However, at the outbreak of War and weeks before when he was supposed to sit his Final Examinations, he joined the local Territorial Unit of the 5th Durham Light Infantry and was granted a Commission, Lieut.
  After training in Stockton and Newcastle, he went with the Northumbrian division to France in April 1915.   He took part in the battles of Ypres, Hooge and Hill 60.   Francis went on to fight in the Battle of the Somme where he was wounded on 16 April 1916.   His head was caught by shrapnel and he was taken to a Military Hospital at Abbeville.   So serious were his wounds that his parents were summoned and they were at his bed side when he died on 30th September 1916 .   Moreover, Dr and Mrs Townsend were there when he was buried.
  His grave is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Abbeville Cemetery in France.

Killora - Appleby, Hope and Mathews

Normanby War Memorial

CWGC Abbeyville Communal Cemetery

Arthur Eric Townsend (1895-1917)

  Like his elder brother, Arthur, who was born on 3rd November 1895, enrolled in the 5th Territorial Division of the Durham Light Infantry at outbreak of WW1.   Prior to this, Arthur had been educated at Hailesbury School in Hertfordshire after which he became employed by the Cargo Fleet Ironworks in Middlesbrough.   However, early in his army training with the Durham Light Infantry, he was discharged due to repeated disabling attacks of acute rheumatism.   He therefore returned home to Normanby in May 1915 and resumed his work, now as a sub-manager to the Coke Ovens and By-products Plant at the Cargo Fleet Ironworks.
  However, a year later on 8th June 1916, he applied for a Commission and was made a 2nd Lieut and entered the Flying Corps in July 1916.   After training, he joined the Expeditionary Force in the Flying Corps in January 1917 but was killed in action on February 1917, just one month later.   He was buried in the Crucifix Corner Cemetery at Villers-Bretonneau in France.   His name appears on his school’s Roll of Honour for WW1.

Hugh William A Townsend (1897-1902)

  He was born in Normanby in 1897 but died aged 5 years in 1902.   Sadly, Dr and Mrs Townsend had also lost a third son but before WW1.

Margaret Annette Townsend (1911-1995)

  The story of the only daughter of Dr and Mrs Townsend was very sad in one respect but on the other, Margaret Annette Townsend outlived her siblings considerably.
  Margaret was born in Normanby in 1911.   Her two eldest brothers were killed in WW1 and her father died in 1932.   In 1935, Margaret married Charles Alexander Blow (1909-1986) at Christ Church, Eston.   The bride was given away by her cousin, Mr Douglas Cumming.   The ceremony was performed by two previous Vicars of Eston, namely the Revd G A Hervey, rector of Craythorne and the Revd E C Lace, Vicar of Appleton Roebuck and Rural Dean of Ainsty, York.   Margaret's veil had been worn by her Great-Grandmother and was now one of the gifts to her from her mother. One of the bridesmaids was Miss Dorothy Blow, the groom’s twin sister.   She and her husband appear to have had two children, Frances A Blow and Charles E Blow, born in 1936 and 1942 respectively.
  Charles Alexander Blow (1909-1986) was born in Longbenton, Newcastle Upon Tyne.   He was the son of a wealthy Iron and Steel Merchant who was born in Sheffield although the Blow family hailed originally from Lincolnshire.   How he came to meet Margaret Blow is unknown.   It seems likely that Charles and Margaret Blow made their home on Tyneside.   Certainly, Margaret’s mother appeared to be living with them in Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne about the time of her death in 1948 according to her Probate record.
  By about 1963, Charles Alexander Blow and Margaret Annette Blow were divorced.   This must have been far from amicable for in the London Gazette of 18th December 1964, the following entry appeared:

"Notice is hereby given that by a Deed Poll dated the 30th day of November 1964, and enrolled in the Supreme Court of Judicature on the 9th day of December 1964. I, MARGARET ANNETTE TOWNSEND of 15, Vicarage Road, Henley-on-Thames in the county of Oxford, Feme Sole, citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth, abandoned the surname of Blow.
   Dated this 10th day of December 1964.
    Margaret Annette Townsend formerly
        Margaret (496) Annette Blow."

   Margaret later elected to live in Windermere by which time she had changed her surname back to Townsend.   However she died in 1995, when she was aged 83, in Darlington, Co Durham.   For his part, Charles Blow emigrated to Queensland, living for a time in Dawson, north of Brisbane.   He died in 1986 and was buried in the North Tamborine Cemetery in North Tamborine, Queensland.   His memorial plaque is shown opposite.  The "T.D.R.A" refers apparently to the Townsville and District Rifle Association.

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© 2013   Dr A John Willmott (Malton, N.Yorkshire)
    Normanby History Group

CWGC Crucifix Corner Cemetery

Christ Church Eston

Charles Blow Memorial Plaque