Robert Bowman (known as Bob) – was born in Cumberland (now Cumbria) in the North-West of England. He married Elizabeth Davidson and they had 7 children, 3 girls and 4 boys. Bob worked on the Carlisle to Silloth railway which was for some time an important freight route for exports and imports.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth died young and in 1930 Bob remarried to a widow called Jane (Jinnie) Lomas who already had 2 children. Jinnie owned a small house in the popular seaside resort of Silloth on the Solway Firth and Bob planned to move into the house leaving his eldest daughter, Maggie, to look after her siblings. Bob and Jinnie who went on to have 2 further children. Jinnie resented her step-children and was cruel to them both physically and mentally.
Eldest child of Bob and Elizabeth was initially brought up by her Aunty Nellie. When Bob remarried he and Jinnie planned to move into the house in Silloth leaving Maggie to take care of her younger siblings. But much as she loved them, Maggie wanted a life of her own. She married Pearson Watson in 1935. Like many others Pearson was forced to move south to get work and he joined Vauxhall in Luton. They had four children, Hilda, John, Lesley and Michael.
Eldest of the Bowman boys worked on civil engineering contracts as a bulldozer driver. It is said he turned the first turf of what was to become Heathrow Airport. George died of cancer in 1946 leaving a wife, Irene, and 2 very young daughters, Maureen and Nola. Life was tough for Irene both throughout George’s illness and after his death. Along with a number of other Brits she became a Ten Pound Pom emigrating to make a new life in Australia. She was accompanied by [ ] who had lodged with her and George, whom she later married and was a much loved father to the two young Bowman girls. There was some ill feeling on the part of George’s sisters that their brother had been replaced and the children moved away, but many years later Nola, his daughter, came to the UK to seek out her UK family and formed a firm friendship with long lost cousins.
Left home in 1931 to sign up for the army. The house in Skiddaw Street was not a happy home, and there was a large family to feed. On the low wages of a railway worker Bob Bowman struggled to feed his large family and it is said that John left because he was always hungry and in the army he would get 3 square meals a day. John agreed life was tough in the crowded household but also said that his step-mother had made a pass at him, so he decided it was time to go. He enlisted at Carlisle Castle where the regiment in residence was the Household Cavalry.
Moved to London before ww2 in search of a better life working in a machine shop rather than become an agricultural labourer in Cumbria. His job must have been a reserved occupation, ie essential to the war effort as he was not required to join the army when war broke out but joined the Home Guard. It was at a Home Guard dance event at the beginning of the war where he met Joan, daughter of fellow Home Guard, Sven Carlson. Sven was a sailor from Finland who married Hilda, a girl from the East End of London. Andy and Joan married a couple of years later, initially living with Sven and Hilda, which was not uncommon in those days. They had two sons, David and Paul.
Bob left school at 14 and found work right away as an agricultural labourer on a farm near Silloth. His eldest brother, George, was working as a bulldozer driver and arranged for Bob to join him travelling the country on Civil Engineering contracts. This took him to Shropshire working firstly on opencast coal sites and then to a place near Tibberton constructing the runways at Childs Ercall Aerodrome. Working in the canteen was a young lady, Kathleen Cartwright, who Bob went on to marry. Bob did national service but was not called up for WW2, possibly because he was working on contracts essential to the war effort. Bob and Kath had 2 children, Leslie and Sheila.
Nellie moved to Luton in November 1941 where she met and married Basil Tyler who also worked at Vauxhall. They had two daughters Jeanette and Susan.
Betty had very unhappy memories of her childhood in Silloth and would recall going to school with bruises from beatings she had received. On one occasion Jinnie sent her to the churchyard with nail scissors to cut the grass on her mother’s grave. When she was old enough she moved to Luton to be near her sister Maggie. She fell in love with Tom McLoughlin, a merchant seaman who was killed at sea during WW2. Tom's older brother, Frank, went to visit Betty and they subsequently married, Initially Frank tried to settle with his wife and children and worked at Vauxhall but his first love was the sea and he rejoined the merchant navy when the girls were still very young.. Although he came returned home occasionally he was unreliable and was always making promises he did not keep. Eventually he stopped going home at all. Betty divorced him some years later. At a time when most women would stay at home with their children, Betty had to go out to work to support her family. She built herself a successful career in catering, becoming the manageress of J Lyons in Luton.