Friday, 22 January 2010

Winifred Margaret Downs
born September 14th 1901
I have shown you some of the treasures
I own which belonged to my Great Auntie Win
so I thought I'd show you and tell you about the great lady herself.

The drawing is by my mother's cousin Joan Morton
showing Auntie Win looking out to sea
at my mother's house on Anglesey

Born to ( Hannah ) Mary Smith and Eli Downs,
Auntie Win had two brothers - a younger one, Eric
( who later became The Mayor of Southport )
and the older Gordon - my Grandfather.
Mary was a Yorkshire lass and Eli a draper from Glossop.
They met in a Southport boarding house on holiday with their respective friends
and moved there sometime later where Auntie Win and her brothers grew up.

So the family story goes Eli wanted to marry Mary's sister Aida
but their father insisted that he marry the eldest Mary.
Aida and a third sister Fanny also moved to Southport
and ran a boarding house together in Bath Street.
Neither ever married.

They were not rich or posh
but lived by good hard working family values.
Winifred & Gordon were members of a tennis club which is where he met Molly his wife to be
Molly, daughter of Rosa Hannah Edwards and Harry Whitehead of Manchester
The three were great friends
and Auntie Win was a bridesmaid at their wedding
( standing on the right )

Below are the holiday snaps taken in Largs which I mentioned in my previous post
and a hand written copy of a poem called
A boy about Largs
Let others sing of distant lands
written by John M Hill 1868
I just loved Auntie Win's handwriting
Molly, my grandmother's was very similar.

Winifred's great friend was Peggy Lithgo who had a terrific sense of humour
once when mum & I were staying with Auntie Win in Southport
mum rang Peggy to arrange a meeting
she answered the phone & put on a funny voice and said
" Yellow Top Taxi Cabs "
That was just her kind of humour.

Photos below of Win & Peggy together
and bottom right
Win and Molly

Auntie Win worked in Ladies' Gowns in Marshall and Snellgrove, Southport.
She was very smart & fashionable herself
always trimming a hat or collar.

I don't know anything about the voluntry work
she did in the second world war war
but she was obviously some kind of nursing assistant.
Winifred never married though she did have suitors
judging by the formal invitations hand written in the form of a letter
dance cards and Valentine's Cards

She adored watching horse racing
and loved gardens & would never miss a Southport Flower Show.
She behaved a bit like the Queen Mother at these events
a woman whom she greatly respected

Below is my favourite of all the old photos I own
I have had it blown up and given as gifts to family members many times.
It shows ( left to right )
Molly's mother ( my Great Granny ) Auntie Win,
Peter ( Molly's eldest son- my uncle & Godfather now in his 80s )
and Molly. It is taken at a beach hut they hired on Pagham beach in 1931.
Unseen but in the background is my mother a baby in a basket

Here is Winifred in the beach
with my mother Rosemary Winifred Downs
( she says she never had her own name ...
Rose from her Maternal Grandmother, Mary from her Paternal Grandmother
and Winifred from her Aunt ! )

Mum was very very fond of Auntie Win
and so in turn was I

Auntie Win was so " with it " and up with the times.
She was so interested in what we did
Here is a note from her to me
The card was designed by Joan and it
is just how I imagine Auntie Win walking along Lord Street Southport
When I sent her a picture of an out fit I wanted to copy for our VI form leavers' dinner,
she sent me a silk blouse & lace to trim it.
It looked exactly like the New Romantic style I was trying to copy.

Later she sent me several cardboard bundles of lace
but sadly they were lost to me forever when we moved back to the UK from Spain
I have Auntie Win's writing case though.

Here she is with my own daughter at my Mum's house
on Anglesey in the summer 1993 aged 92
she thought my daughter was such a hoot playing with her walking stick !

So proud to have known you Auntie Win
I know you wanted to make it to 100 and get a telegram from the Queen
but you did have a grand 94 years


  1. Ah that's lovely Penny, really lovely. Sue x

  2. Penny that is a wonderful, fitting tribute for what sounds like a fantastic lady. I love all the strong womans names in the family.

    As I have said before it is lovley to have all these things to link you to your familys past.

  3. I love her too now! What fantastic keepsakes. xxx

  4. I am amazed by all that history! I don't really have anything like that about anyone in my family... mum and dad used to have some old photos in frames in the bedroom but I didn't even know who they were actually.

    I love the beach hut picture - it's like something you might see in a magazine or Joules catalogue these days!

    And then I scrolled down to the next post and saw her wooden rabbits!!!


    Love Charlotte

  5. That drawing is truly amazing! I so enjoyed the wonderful history of this post. Lovely! suzie. xxx

  6. my mum's cousin is a very talented artist. She did some paintings while staying at mum's lovely home on Anglesey. The draing is EXACTLT what Auntie Win looked like.

  7. Lovely post, the photos are superb! remember how you said you weren't sure what you wanted to do creatively?? well now... look what you have at your fingertips, what about a keepsake journal?? the letters would make great backing papers with lace and buttons and photos oh oh oh!!! all you need is a quick trip to the copy shop(I never use originals altho tempted) and you're on your way! Mx

  8. Wow! What fantastic photos you have....... Lucky, lucky you! I have some which I shall post tomorrow, but they are nothing like the collection you have...... serious photograph envy going on here!

    (Loved your comments re your cats, by the way!)

  9. Margaret I always planned to use family photos as I have heaps. What I really want to do is print them onto fabric and do a fabric journal. But I don't know how to nor have a printer.

    Thanks for the encouragement - one of these days I'll get started when I'm not blogging or digging - first I have a house to " Spring clean " as it has got beyond a joke !

  10. How absolutely fantastic that you have all these photographs, treasures and memories Penny.
    Very beautiful indeed!
    Carolyn ♥

  11. Greetings,

    This is my first visit to your blog and i am very pleased to have come across this post. The reason why I say this is because I have been collecting old photographs for over a decade.

    Most of these that I have came from retirement homes as well as private residences as apartment buildings, where people have died with no surviving relative.

    In the end, much has been thrown away with some reaching places where recycled items are resold.

    When I come upon a number of photographs at these locations, I cannot help but feel pain. Pain because now a persons life has been erased and now I hold what is left in my hands.

    Many times I do not know their name, but I now treasure these photographs and any possible documents not for what some might call monetary value, but because they enrich my life.

    In return it has been my plan to write a short story about a picture or a series of images because of what it tells me.

    So hold dear what you behold and cherish it dearly.

    Warmest regards

  12. So as I was reading that I did not want the post to end! So glad that you have all those amazing pictures, they speak to a life well lived!

  13. I loved reading this post! What a great story and such wonderful memories - and all those wonderful old photos!!