The Swinburn-Boothman Story

from Dave and Muriel's marriage in 1946 to 1950

The photograph above shows (l to r) Edwin & Bertha Boothman (Muriel's parents), Anne Hellawell (bridesmaid), Dave & Muriel, Ray Swinburn (brother to Dave and Best Man) Margaret-May and Tom Swinburn (Dave's parents).

Monday 24th June 1946 - Muriel (22)

Today Dave and I were married.  The wedding was at Vale Baptist Chapel at 2pm. Anne Hellawell was my bridesmaid, just as I was hers last year, and Dave's brother Ray was best man.

My outfit was a turquoise blue two piece with a matching feathered head-dress and Anne's dress was pale blue.  We both wore sprays of pink roses. 

Before the reception, which was held in Vale Sunday School, Dave and I went by car to a photographer in Todmorden. He kept us waiting for 15 minutes and when we returned from our honeymoon and went to collect the photos he said, 'Sorry I must have had a faulty film.'  We were cross and didn't believe him but that meant that we had no official wedding photographs, only snaps.

Mother, Auntie Mabel and Auntie Sissy made the buffet meal for the reception - a ham salad and home-made cakes.  Dad, being a grocer, was able to provide a few extra rations for this special occasion and everyone said they'd not had a tea like that since before the war.

It was a big do with all the aunties, uncles and cousins and many friends.  As we walked out of the chapel an old lady that I did not know gave me a small tissue wrapped parcel. It was two eggs (precious because they were rationed at the time) but I left them on the back window of the taxi that was taking us to the photographer's.

We received telegrams from Dave's work mates at Rolls Royce, a neighbour of Dave's from Ainsworth Drive and Anne's parents. The Directors of Pure Drug Co. (Boots) sent a gift in the form of Savings Certificates and a very nice letter.

After the reception we left for Todmorden station where we caught the train to Hest Bank where we are to spend our week's honeymoon in a hired caravan.

 The press cutting is from the Todmorden paper.

The photograph below shows the parents of the bride and groom and their youngest brothers - John Boothmans on the left and John Swinburn on the right. The only close family member not shown in any of the photographs is Muriels' brother Harry. I suspect this is because he took the photos!

6th July 1946 - Muriel (22)

We returned last Sunday from our honeymoon to our first home, rooms in Breedon Hill Road, near Littleover, Derby.  Dave found the place for us by looking in the Derby newspaper and although I will have to take two buses to get to work in Chaddesden, we will be quite comfortable here. 

The house is owned by an old lady and her daughter, who seem a bit unworldly. We think that they are the widow and daughter of some colonial military man who served overseas where servants did all the domestic work, as they don't seem to have much idea!  We have a bedroom and a large lounge at the back of the house and we share the kitchen and bathroom with the ladies.

We had a wonderful honeymoon although it got off to a rather inauspicious start! Our friends came to see us off at the station and, since it was a local branch line train, we easily found a compartment to ourselves. After waving good-bye, we spent the next ten minutes removing every rose-petal and scrap of confetti before changing to the main-line train. This train was more crowded and we sat opposite each other trying to look as though we'd been married for years.

Sheila (my brother Harry's girlfriend) had kindly offered to pack us some sandwiches from the wedding tea-table. When we opened our serviette wrapped parcels we closed them up again smartly: the sandwich filling was sweet peas!

We spent the week in a caravan in a field that ran down to the beach at Hest Bank, a small village near Morecambe.  We were self-catering of course, but when we first went shopping we discovered that we had forgotten our Emergency Ration Cards.  This meant that we could not buy butter, margarine, sugar, cheese, tea or meat (and coffee, real or instant, was not available in those days).  Luckily we had taken some provisions with us and we managed to get by, mostly on tinned stuff.  But then food was not very important to us. After all it was our honeymoon.

This was written for a magazine on the occasion of M&D’s 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1996.

August 1946 - Dave (21)

Our landlady here in Breedon Hill Road hasn't got a clue when it comes to domestic appliances. During the first week, she came up to see me to ask if I would look at the Ewbank carpet sweeper, which didn't seem to be working properly. She said that it wouldn't push, and sure enough it wouldn't because there was so much muck in it that the wheels just couldn't turn round. The dust compartment had never been opened since they had bought the machine and it never seemed to have occurred to them to wonder where all the dirt was going. Actually, we may have been partly responsible for the blockage as we had used the machine to clean up when we arrived and the amount of dust under the wardrobe was enough to block any Ewbank.

Today when I came home from work I was called in again, this time to see what was wrong with the cooker. The ladies complained that it just didn't seem to be getting hot. The reason wasn't too hard to spot. Yesterday Muriel made a rice pudding for us and had turned the regulo right down to give it a long slow cooking. Our landlady knew nothing of the regulo!  It had always been left on a high setting and never changed. When I pointed it out to her she said, 'Oh we never touch that!' 

I'm getting quite a reputation for being able to fix things!!

September 1946 - Dave (22)

I have just enrolled as a full time student at University College, Leicester reading for a Special Pure Chemistry Degree.  University College is not a full university offering its own degrees but a college running London external courses. This suits me as I am already some way along this track having taken London Intermediate and Subsid.

We worked the finances out carefully before I applied. I was earning 5 guineas a week at Rolls Royce and Muriel got 7 guineas per week from Boots, so we calculated that we could afford to live on her salary in addition to my grant (£60 per term). At Derby Tech they had advised me that I come into the category of someone who missed out on university education because of the war and thus qualify for a grant. I have applied for two years' grant and intend to do the degree in one year and then a second year training to become a teacher. They have advised me to take two years over the degree but it doesn't seem to me to be right for a husband to rely on his wife to 'keep him' while he goes to university and I am determined to do so for a short a time as possible.

October 1946 - Muriel (22)

I applied for a transfer to Boots in Leicester as soon as we heard that Dave had been awarded a place at the University.  Boots are very good about arranging transfers and it was perfectly acceptable to ask for another so soon after moving to Derby. It is recognised that Boots staff owe their allegiance to the firm not to the branch - I am a Boots girl so I can work at any branch, anywhere. The company takes pains to try to place people where they wish to work and as local soldiers, who were Boots pharmacists, are discharged from the forces, places are being found for them all over Leicester.

We have found digs (from a list supplied by the University) at 33, Stoughton Road, Oadsby. Our landlady is called Mrs Loasby and although we are really supposed to be self-catering she is very good to us and looks after us by doing things like making toast for our breakfasts or queuing up for iced buns with our BUs [bread units - rations]. She will also put a casserole in the oven for us to cook all afternoon so that it is ready when we get in from work.

This contemporary postcard is marked with an arrow and Muriel has written on the back - We lived here Leirum House (Muriel backwards) from Oct '46 to November '47 whilst Dave was at University College Leicester.

March 1947 - Muriel (23)

This has been the worst winter I can ever remember. The snow started in January and the footpaths have not been clear since, although we are now well into March. Here at Stoughton Road we have the upstairs front room a big room with two armchairs round the grate and a double bed. Coal is rationed so we burn wood on the fire. 

We have no furniture of our own and most of our possessions came as wedding presents:

  -    a tea service from Dave's Mum and Dad;

  -   some cutlery and an eiderdown from my Mum and Dad;

  -   coffee cups from Anne (my bridesmaid);

  -   bed linen and towels from my aunties;

  -   a Pyrex casserole and some pans from Dave's aunties

  -   and a promise, from Dave's parents, to buy us a carpet when we have our own house. [This they did - but Dave's Mum chose it!]

Dave is working very hard: at college all day with lectures and labs and studying all evening. I work shop hours and I have a fairly long bus journey to and from work so between us we do not get much time for leisure.  We do manage to get to the cinema in Oadby fairly regularly though.

Muriel sketched the room as shown.

4th March 1947 - Dave (22)

My Granddad, Alfred Swinburn died today. He lived at 19, Severn Street, Crewton, Derby. 

Alfred Swinburn - January 14th 1859 - March 4th 1947 - Biography

Alfred Swinburn was born on 14th January 1859, the illegitimate son of the 19 year old Esther Swinburn. While Esther took work in service (and never married) Alfred lived with his grandmother, Ann, until her death in 1885 and was a pupil at King’s Street Academy, Scarborough later becoming a cabinet maker. In September 1885 he married Annie Brown in Scarborough and the couple had seven children, one of whom died in infancy.

Three children were born while they lived in Scarborough but by 1891 Alfred and family had moved to Derby where they were to remain for the rest of their lives. Alfred had a new job - putting his cabinet making skills to work as a Railway Carriage Builder and at least two of his children were also employed in the Railway industry.

By the end of 1918 Alfred and Annie had lost two of their sons, one in WWI and the other in the influenza pandemic which followed the war. Annie died on 6th June 1924 at the age of 70 and Alfred survived her by 23 years dying on 4th March 1947 at the age of 88.

May 1947 - Dave (22)

I cannot say that I am enjoying my time at university. I have never felt part of university life for two reasons.  Firstly I have not had the time for any socialisation as it has been a really hard slog to try to cover all the ground to take the degree in one year. But even more than that, I feel like a fish out of water here, being both older (I am 23 whereas most of the students are 18) and married. For most of the year I've suffered from nervous dyspepsia - I especially hate gong into the dining room for lunch, which makes me quite ill.

There are a few other mature students but the only married bloke who started at the same time as me is Geoff Collier (who is doing a chemical engineering degree). Muriel and I have made friends with Geoff and his wife Madge and we spend time together (when I get any time). Geoff has a little car and we go for days out to Bradgate Park and such places to walk and picnic. We are also quite friendly with our neighbours in Stoughton Road, but Geoff and Madge are the only close friends we have here.

Photograph shows Dave & Muriel (right) with Geoff & Madge

19th July 1947 - Dave (22)

My brother Ray was married today to Monica Harrison. I
was Best Man.

Dave is standing behind the bridegroom on the left and Muriel is in the back row just to the right of the church doorway wearing a pork-pie hat. John Swinburn is next to the bridesmaid on the left with Tom, behind his right shoulder and Margaret May is behind the right shoulder of the other boy, Robert Domleo.

In 2014 Monica was able to provide a full listing (l to r) is: Joyce Brown (Auntie Hetty’s step daughter) - Auntie Hetty Athya (sister to Margaret May) - Uncle Alfred Domleo (husband to Tom’s sister Margaret) - Dorothy Pearson (daughter to Auntie Annie) - ?John Athya (barely visible at the back) - Margaret May Swinburn - Robert Domleo (the boy at the front, son to Margaret & Alfred) - Auntie Margaret Domleo (Robert's mother - sister to Tom) - Tom Swinburn - John Swinburn - Uncle Joe - Audrey King (bridesmaid) - Dave Swinburn - Ray Swinburn (bridegroom) - Graham?  (Monica’s cousin, son of Ralph and Lucy) - Monica Swinburn (bride) - Uncle Ralph - Hazel Furness (bridesmaid) - Mr Harrison (bride’s father) - May Peach (partner to Mr Harrison effectively step-mother to Monica) - Muriel Swinburn - Auntie Lucy - Peter King (bridesmaid’s husband) - Diana (Monica’s cousin, Graham’s sister) - Auntie Ethel - Friend from work - Friend from work - Auntie Fanny - Uncle Les (was married to Auntie Agnes who died, re-married to Sheila) - ? - ? - Auntie Sheila.

Although cousin Dorothy Pearson is present, her sister Nancy Pearson and her parents Auntie Annie Pearson (sister to Tom) and her husband Sydney Pearson seem to be missing from the photograph.

15th August 1947 - Muriel (23)

My cousin Alice Collins has had a baby boy - Michael.

Photograph shows Michael with his grandparents Mary and Jack Carpenter outside their home in Todmorden.  Michael died of cancer in 2014 at the age of 66.

September 1947 - Dave (22)

I have just heard that I have failed my degree. It is devastating news and means that I cannot, of course, now go on to teacher training so I shall have to rethink my future. I suppose it was an unwise idea to try to cover that 'unlimited' syllabus in such a limited time.

I still feel optimistic about getting my Associateship of the Royal Institute of Chemistry.  I sat two exams in June - the University of London BSc and also that for ARIC (Associate of Royal Institute of Chemistry). This month we have been to London so that I could go to Imperial College to sit the practical exam for the ARIC. This contributes a larger percentage of the total mark in the ARIC award and I am sure that this is to my advantage as I enjoy practical work and am generally good at it.  I shall have to wait to hear the result of the ARIC though - it will not be announced until November.

17th October 1947 - Dave (23)

I have received a telegram offering me a job at Ferodo, where they make brake linings, starting on 17th November. The post is that of assistant to Mr Whittaker in the Physics Research Laboratory where they specialise in physical chemical analysis of materials. My salary will depend on whether or not I get my ARIC.

I applied for the job last month when I heard that I had failed my degree and went along for an interview on 6th October.

I have asked about accommodation and the Employment Manager has placed an advertisement for me in The High Peak Reporter. I will also place an ad. in the Manchester Evening News. We will be leaving our digs in Leicester at the end of this month and we will go to stay in Cornholme for a while until we find somewhere to live near Chapel-en-le-Frith.

October 1947 - Muriel (23)

We have had a busy day but a very successful one. On hearing that Dave had got the Ferodo job we decided to go to Chinley Junction to see if we could find somewhere to live and a job for me. (We knew Chinley Junction well because it is on the Manchester to Derby line and we passed through many times when we travelled to see one another before we were married. It is a busy junction and we thought it looked like somewhere where there might be possibilities.) We went first to the local chemist's shop to ask if he had any vacancies or knew of any accommodation. He told us that he had no work at present nor were we likely to find a place to live in Chinley but said that if we went to Buxton we might find both. So we got a bus to Buxton and found the chemist's straight away as it was just by the bus stop. It is not a branch of Boots but a private chemist's, owned by Mr Abbot.

We asked him the same question and he said that I could start there as soon as I liked and that if we went to see Mrs Meridew (8, St James' Terrace) she might be able to fix us up with somewhere to live. She has offered us a bedroom and lounge for £2.2.6d per week and we can move in as soon as we like. So we shall be settled in time for Dave to start work in November.

17th November 1947 - Dave (23)

Sadly I failed the ARIC exam too so have started at Ferodo on £5.10.0d per week instead of £350 p.a. My work is pure research into the crystal structure of asbestos using X-Ray crystallography. I did not know much about this when I started but I am learning fast under the wing of my boss Eric Whittaker.

The only chemical analysis lab at Ferodo at that time was the Works Laboratory. They had not had anyone capable of taking a complex product such as a break-lining and analysing it chemically but my work at Rolls Royce plus the content of my degree had given me the skills and experience to tackle complex analysis. On the strength of this it was decided that the research department would encompass chemical research and, in order to accommodate this, a new research and development lab was built as a wing on the existing building.The photograph shows this lab with me on the right and Eric Whittaker in the centre. Some years later a whole new research block was built, mainly to give a much larger space for machine testing.

April 1948 - Muriel (24)

We are now quite comfortably settled in rooms with Mr and Mrs Meridew at 8, St James Terrace in Buxton. We have a bedroom on the top floor and at first we just had the front room of the house as a lounge, but when Edith and Doug moved out we asked if we could have the middle room which has a sink and a cooker, and this is a much better arrangement. The other tenant in the house is a nurse who has the other bedroom on the top floor and shares their living room with the Meridews. (We had made friends with Edith and Doug and spent time with them including, this spring, walking with them in the Goyt Valley. They are Buxton people and were on the council housing list and were lucky enough to get offered a prefab. I do envy them!)

The house is always full of music. We have a wireless, which runs on cells that we take to the garage for recharging. But Mr Meridew has a radiogram on which he plays classical music - Beethoven and Mozart. He works for the council but is always popping home for cups of tea and to play his music. [This was our first real introduction to classical music, which we came to love.]

We have made friends with the minister at the Unitarian Chapel in Harrington Road just across from where we live. His name is Bill Dyer. In fact he came and introduced himself to us after he saw our books in the lounge window, which is opposite his house (we have no bookshelf so we keep them on the back of a table against the window). He welcomed us to Buxton and invited us to join the church, which we have done. We usually go to the Sunday evening service and afterwards back to his house to chat about all sorts of ethical and religious issues.  He lent us Brave New World, which we have both read.

May 1948 - Edwin (48)

I have been re-appointed as a Todmorden Town Councillor for the Cornholme Ward.  Although I had prepared an election address, in the event no-one stood against me and so I was returned unopposed.  I was first co-opted to the council in 1944 and when elections were reintroduced after the war in 1945 I was returned, having polled 1,153 in a three cornered fight.

This information comes from a report in the press at the time of Edwin’s election to the office of Mayor of Todmorden in May 1950. The photograph shows the start of his election address.

October 1948 - Edwin (48)

Harry has gone as a Student Gardener to the RHS Gardens in Wisley.

The Journal of the RHS Gardens Club (GCJ) contains the following references to H. Boothman:

·     Named as a Student Gardener from October 1948 – September 1950 (GCJ, Vol.41 – 1948: page 19)

·     Named as a participant in the Annual Race around the Gardens (GCJ, Vol.42 – 1949: page 19)

·     Takes up an exchange studentship with the Niagara Parks Commision, Niagara Falls, Canada (GCJ, Vol.43 – 1950: page 29)

·     On leaving Wisley he takes up a position in Derby Parks (GCJ, Vol.44 – 1951: page 24)

·     Listed as a member of Gardens Club, address in Todmorden, Lancashire; entered Wisley 1948 (GCJ, Vol.46 – 1953: page 25)

The photograph shows our other son, John, with his class at Tod Grammar School.  He is third from the left in the middle row.

This photograph was printed in the Tod paper 30 years later. Edwin’s brother, Fred, spotted it and sent it to Edwin. We cannot identify the person ringed but John is to the left of him in the photograph.

December 1948 - Dave (24)

I have bought a motorbike (a BSA 250cc side-valve with a gear lever on the tank) from my boss at work, Dr Reg Parker (Head of Research Division). It cost me £10. Dr Parker had never discovered that the bike had 4 gears and always went everywhere in third!

It is very useful to be able to get about but not exactly comfortable in this cold weather. The place I park the bike is about 3 minutes walk from our rooms in St James Terrace and, in spite of my gloves, my hands are so cold when I get off the bike that I get terrible hot-aches in them on my walk home. Sometimes they are so bad that I am almost sick with the pain.

On 29th December I was best man at the wedding of my friend Alan Mallett and Sheila.


28th February 1949 - Muriel (25)

My Grandma Boothman died today. I was very fond of her and feel very sad. 

Grandma and Granddad have been very good to me. For all the time that I worked at Boots in Todmorden they made me a meal every Friday. This was not easy as they had no cooker only a gas ring, a side oven by the fire and a trivet over the fire. We often had the same meal - a rice pudding made in a pan over the gas ring and then put into the oven to keep warm while a meat, carrot and onion stew was cooked on the ring. The potatoes were cooked on the trivet over the fire. There were usually also buns to be had, which Grandma had made in the fireside oven.

Before the funeral Grandma was laid out in the bed upstairs at their house. All the Aunties (Alice, Mary and Edith) said that I shouldn't go to see her because it is bad luck to look at dead bodies when you are pregnant. But Granddad was upset and said, 'There's nothing wrong with her!' so I did go to please him.

On the wall at my Grandparents’ house is a picture of Granddad’s mother (née Rachel Myers). She is a starchy looking Quaker lady with a bun. I asked Granddad about her and he told me that she had to be hard as she was a widow with a lot of sons to keep in shape. They were all afraid of her and Granddad told me that, ‘She knocked our Joe down the cellar steps when he was in his twenties.’ She kept a pub called the Bulli’thorn which was on the road between Littleborough and Todmorden. My Grandma, originally just a little Dutch girl, was scared to death of her (see Edwin 1921).

Sarah Boothman was born Edrika Robinson in Holland on 25th November 1869. She died on 28th February 1949.

1949 - Edwin (49)

The day Harry left to go to Canada both Bertha and I were in tears. I said to Bertha, “Why are you upset?” she said, “We may never see him again!” I said, “I am crying because I wonder if we have done enough for him in every way to fit him for a life away from home.”

Harry was in Canada on a twelve months exchange from the Royal Horticultural Gardens at Wisley to Niagara Parks Commission in Niagara Falls.

4th March 1950 - Muriel (26)

My cousin Alan was married to Mary Spencer.  My cousin Eunice was bridesmaid.

Alan was the second son of Bertha’s sister Ada and Wilfred Marshall. Eunice, his sister, is on the groom's right.


Friday 26th May 1950 - Edwin (50)

Today I was appointed Mayor of the Borough of Todmorden for the next twelve months. There was a formal ceremony in the afternoon and a mayoral banquet beginning at 6pm in the Town Hall. 

Details of the Mayoral Year are on the separate page entitled

Todmorden's Mayor and Mayoress 1950-1951