Continuing the Maternal DNA Trail of Formidable Females
1902 – 1982
Although not exactly ‘formidable’, Nana, Winifred Alice Tranter certainly didn’t take any nonsense, but she was fair, sensible and had a great sense of humour. As a child I often overheard, Nana and my mother relating amusing stories of family, many of which descended into hysterical giggles.
Winifred, or Win as she was always known, was born 7th January 1902 at 116 Great Church Lane, Hammersmith, to Florence Caroline Frost and Frederick Tranter a Grocer. An older sister had died before her birth, and five younger brothers were born by 1911, one of whom died as a baby. As the oldest and a girl, she was charged with helping to care for the younger brothers – something she continued to the end of her life as she looked out for youngest brother Fred.
My memories of ‘Nana’ begin in 1970, on our return from three years in Malta. She had visited us twice in that time, and we had a return visit in 1969. Nana lived in a relatively modern bungalow near Grantham during my childhood.
My two Grandmother’s were born twenty years apart (perhaps equivalent to one generation). Whilst my paternal Grandmother had a modern outlook on life, Nana came from an older generation. I never knew her to wear trousers. She furnished her bungalow, with her older style furniture including a very old wireless and wardrobes which carried the smell of mothballs. Although the new home was modern, Nana and her house, always felt to be, from a different era.
Win married Charles William Harvey (Charlie) a butcher, on January 9th 1927 at St Paul’s Church Hammersmith, and had four children. Gordon Charles 22nd July 1929 -2018, Brian John 14th January 1932 – 2021, Malcolm 9th October 1936 -2019 and CWH 1941. At the time of marriage, she lived at 1 Worlidge Street, Hammersmith.
Following marriage, Win and Charlie lodged with her Grandfather William Tranter (famous in the family for living to be 100 years, 1848 -1949). Apparently this was not a lot of fun, as although they were paying rent, she was also expected to do the cooking and cleaning, and William was considered to be somewhat awkward, fussy and ‘careful’ with his money.
The family moved into 162 Cranford Lane, a new house in Heston, about 1930.
In 1941 Charlie, although aged 40 and beyond the age of conscription, felt it his duty to volunteer to serve his country during WW2. He enlisted in the spring that year but was actually called up into the RASC just as Cynthia was due to be born. He was given 6 days compassionate leave following the birth of his only daughter in November before returning to his army training in UK. In May 1943, following embarkation leave, he was sent to Sicily, and Italy to fight, returning in 1945.
(In his young days Charlie had striking auburn hair but by the time he returned from the war his hair was grey so this was how Cynthia always remembered him. She was mystified as a child when meeting some old friends of his to hear them say “Oh hello Ginger”).
Details of Charles Harvey’s Army service can be found by following this link ‘We will remember them’.
With dad at War, Win was left at home (like so many other women), to care for three growing sons, and a new born daughter. In 1943, Winifred decided it might be safer to evacuate her family, so she, Brian, Malcolm and Cynthia were sent to Shepley in Yorkshire. Gordon remained with Winifred’s parents, Florence and Frederick Tranter, as he was at Grammar school. After a few months it was decided that the family really needed to be together, whatever the outcome, so they returned to Cranford Lane.
Following the war, family life returned, although it was considered that there were two families – the ‘before the war family’ of Win, Charlie and three sons and the ‘after the war’ family of Win, Charlie, Malcolm and CWH. Brian joined the Navy aged 15 in 1946, starting his training on HMS Ganges. He married Joan in 1955. Gordon, started National Service in the army. He was posted to Gibraltar and met wife-to-be Maribel, marrying her in 1953. He joined the Admiralty as a lecturer with Gibraltar as his first posting after marriage.
With Gordon, Maribel and family living in Gibraltar, the extended family gained the opportunity for some foreign travel.
Charlie returned to his work as manager of a butcher shop in Buckingham Palace Road, and just Malcolm and CWH were left at home.
Malcolm married Pat in 1960, emigrating to Canada in 1961. In 1962, the family suffered a devasting tragedy, when Charlie was involved in a fatal railway accident on his way home from work. This left Win alone again, to deal with the effects of the accident, and a changing life. Cynthia married David in 1964 and Win had to make a difficult decision regarding the future of the family home.
As London and its environs continued to grow, the need for housing was ever increasing. 162 had been built under what became the Heathrow flight path. A request was received, to purchase 160 and 162 Cranford Lane, along with parts of the gardens of surrounding properties, to build new houses. As the extended family were moving away from Heston, Winifred took the decision to sell the house.
She initially went to live in an upstairs flat in the house of her brother Fred who had inherited the house from their parents. This situation didn’t prove very satisfactory and in 1966 she bought a bungalow in Ancaster near Grantham. This was 2 doors away from Gordon, who had joined the RAF and was stationed at nearby Cranwell. She enjoyed having her independence and was able to spend a lot of time with Gordon and his three girls.
Winifred was an excellent knitter, and made many of the family ‘woollies’. Also knitting my Christening blanket, and fulfilling various requests for school jumpers and the like. She taught me to knit, and gave me the opportunity to teach myself crochet.
She travelled to visit various family members, by now spread in the UK and around the world – Uncle Brian on the south coast, Uncle Malcolm and family in Canada, Uncle Gordon’s family in Gibraltar and our family in Malta.
In 1977, Uncle Gordon retired from the RAF and his appointment at Cranwell, and took a new job in Chorley Lancashire. As Nana didn’t want to be left far from family, she decided to move closer to him and Auntie Maribel. She bought a small flat in Southport, with sheltered accommodation.
In 1978, Nana came to stay with us in Shropshire, to look after us, as our parents went house hunting in East Anglia. Whilst Nana was with us, she had not been feeling too well, and when she returned home visited the doctor. Although it was never mentioned at the time, she had developed stomach cancer, and very soon, underwent major surgery. She made an amazing recovery, although was never as robust as she had been before.
She continued to live in her flat until late 1981, when her health began to deteriorate again. She came to stay with us in Wymondham, Norfolk so that Cynthia could care for her. This was a particularly difficult time, as my father was retiring from the RAF, and my parents were in the process of opening a toy shop.
Over Christmas, Winifred put on a brave face and kept up her sense of humour, celebrating her 80th birthday with family on 7th January. Mum had help from my paternal Grandmother to care for her.
Winifred died on 6th February 1982. Her funeral was held in Wymondham Abbey and she was buried in Wymondham cemetery on 11th February.
Nana had a great selection of sayings, mostly the usual ones for her age and background. The particularly memorable one being, “don’t talk to me about …….. ( relevant subject)”.
Two of these have particularly tickled our family, and are often quoted.
“Don’t talk to me about Gone with The Wind” …. when she went to the cinema to watch this film with The Aunties, about 1980. They didn’t realise how long the film was, and never managed to get to the end of it.
“Don’t talk to me about Amaryllis “………When she was bought an Amaryllis bulb as a present, the leaves grew and grew, but no flower ever appeared.
One that has intrigued me, and I still can’t see what it means “I have had an elegant sufficiency“, when offered more to eat, but not requiring any.
When asked the time, she would give the answer as, for example, “five and twenty past three.” Everyone else, would say ‘twenty five past’.
Angela and Cynthia June 2021.