Saturday, 28 March 2015

Walter Franklin Tomkins (Head Master 1908-1941)

Image 1912

In 1901 Lander Road Council School was getting too crowded so the council made use of an old tin hut on Scarasbrick Avenue in Litherland for a temporary school housing the Infants.  Although we often refer to it as the Tin Hut at scarasbrick ave, its Official title became Scarisbrick Avenue Council School as shown in one of the original school registers from 1907 to 1910.

Beach Road Operated An Invalid Register In 1908?
By 1905 this school was growing, there was over 300 children at the Scarisbrick site when a teacher Mr Tomkins came down from lander road to become the head master of the school.

At some stage the council decided to create a purpose built school, Walter Muspratt built it, he may have designed it.

What we do know is it opened on Monday the 10th of August in 1908 as a mixed gender Infants building and a Segmented gender Junior building.

Walter F. Tomkins was 31 when he became headmaster of the beach road boys department of the council school in 1908 and worked their up until 2 days before his death. He Died age of 63 on the 30th of May 1941. He was injured during an air raid near his home on Sefton Road while on fire watch duty and later died from injuries sustained.

Photo by Michael Jones (March 2015) Bootle Cemetery
More Information on Walters resting place and other information is available on the Find A Grave website Here. His wife is also now linked upon the site here.

We would like to thank Michael Jones for making it possible for us to finally get his resting place listed.   The original find a grave website listing was incomplete and locked when they merged 2 websites into one leaving the ability to edit it impossible and no cemetery was ever listed.
I have forwarded all the info to them and that link i posted above should now lead to it.
Note: any images on the site are credited to who took them (the persons name who added the image is only the uploader)  click the images on find my grave to view the image description and credits.

Here is how it began, where it lead and where it ends...

Our walk through history begins with beach roads first headmaster, Mr Walter Franklin Tomkins. I am going to help uncover the origins of Walter and even theorize some aspects of his life. I had been truly hunting in the dark for info researching Walters past, Ide found a lot of free websites that gave random snippets of information from varied years but most was the same info and in some cases also contradicting. I found many massive gaps in history and other random errors in the information that differed. The differences i challenged with calculated assumptions and ideas to tie the info together, some fact, some romantic notions and gut feelings. Most of which often later became fact too, when handing ideas across for verification, the ideas i had lead to actual documents.

Due to the damage caused during the war, most the buildings that held historic documents such as the Census and other parish records taken in districts were either damaged, destroyed or lost when Liverpool was heavily bombed. School records for certain time frames are also missing, be it due to the war or the school being emptied and made into a hospital during 1914-1918, maybe records got lost in transit or storage. There are missing books, logs registers, even teacher listings that web sites have for many schools, even Lander road, but most of beach road schools information is missing.

I was piecing bits together, names, locations, dates; i was even filling in boxes on websites submitting missing information and even editing and replacing errors within information. It got very daunting also landing on pay me sites like Ancestry as i kept hunting on a none budget production. Then i also realized im not just documenting anymore, im re-writing history, laying down searchable information about a historic figure and i thought do i have the right to do this?, to edit and map a life, to correct invalid information from documents online?, am i even doing this right?.

So i stopped and concentrated on what i had rather than what i didn’t, i dumped a load of images and info in a beach road school facebook group, then i made a dedicated  facebook page history timeline spanning from 1908 to 2015 of what i already had in the hopes it would bring forward contradictions and more info from pupils and then i shot off to work. With a view to check back on comments later, i began to sit back and absorb the information i already had.

The facts, the massive gaps, it all got side tracked so fast with possible paths. So while i was waiting for date ranges and names on stuff ide posted i decided to take the approach on a more personal basis. A strange comment that was made early on “Romantic Notions About The School” I figured while they all chat and sift through their heads and compare their own memories to what ide posted i went to sift through the internet and follow the people rather than the place. I figured my internet research will formulate a timeline for the first headmaster. A man from a time were no former pupils exist to help with that information, i figured Walter is the only name we have so far from a time where no one is alive to provide info.

I wanted to back track Walters wife first in the hopes she was maybe from an outer region far less bombed than Liverpool. I had too many Walter Tomkins in Liverpool and as a secular head i assumed not christened too. I figured if she wasn’t in liverpool or was religious then just maybe a chance that records still could exist outside Liverpool. Problem was i had no maiden name, so i kept looking around for info on Walter and was tying bits together about his own children going forward rather than backward when someone found the grave of Walter Tomkins and posted a photo of it, sheer side tracking me lol. 

A few days later, Vicky, one of the researchers went and took photos too which showed more detail and other names on the same grave. The stone block had 2 other names, Besides Walter on the front and Edith on the back; It also had a Margaret Constance Corris on one side and Florence J. Corris on the other side, who are these people buried with a husband and wife?

I asked the other researcher Lorraine if the Corris names rang any bells while she’d been looking around and she said the Corris name on the side of Walters grave stone was Walters wife’s sister, a widow and she was living there as Walter and Edith’s housekeeper, Florence was said to be the widows daughter. Now i had an explanation as to who they where and why they are on the stone, but i still had no maiden name, drat’s. Another dead end i assumed Corris was Margaret’s married name. 

So i had an age at death & date of death, with that an estimated dob, so i thought it’s all i have, but why are they buried together with a house keeper? So i looked her up on the off chance. Boom, Florence Corris wasn’t the widows daughter, Margaret Corris was her sister, Margaret wasn’t even a widow nor was she Florence’s mum?, In fact Margaret, Florence and Edith where all sisters, 3 of them living with Walter. So now I had a maiden name to backtrack Walter’s wife & location, o yes.
Right away i was finding information going back to a century ago and there were parts of her life before she met Walter.

Could info in Edith's timeline fill in blanks with Walters? With so many missing documents for Walter? could her movements lead to Walter? Why had the researcher sat on that name? Where did she get that name? She was a House keeper, how did she know this? Why did she think she was a widow? I had so many more questions lmfao. So off i went hunting and there it was, not too far from our own shores in church records, the three corris sisters.

Walters’s wife Edith Corris was born in Peel, on the Isle of Man in 1876, on the 29th of November. She grew up at 53 Douglas Street, she was the daughter of John Caesar Corris, i was right, records further afield outside Liverpool’s air raid problems proved so fruitful it was unreal. Edith was christened Edith Anne Corris in St Peter's, Liverpool on the 02 August 1877. Walters soon to be father in law is listed at the christening, John Caesar Corris was a lead minor from the town of peel on the Isle of Man. John and his wife Catharine Emilie Shimmin Corris used to travel over from the Isle of Man to Liverpool on business and often stayed in Saunders Guest House at 71 Shaw Street, West Derby, Isn’t that where one of the Walter Tomkins lived?, could i prove the Walter Tomkins In West Derby? Were in fact thee Walter F Tomkins, i had no paperwork to prove it or F. on sites.

Now gaps and maps are shrinking and information ive been merging is not just romantic notions and assumptions but actual historic facts painting a picture. I decide to pause on the Corris time line and divert back to Walter, but how can i do that when i can’t access information because it’s either lost or requires money to view?, Then i thought ile look for Walter’s father because i realized he’s clearly been around longer, so records are more widely distributed and stored, less chance of all burnt or damaged. There I find George Tomkins registered on the earliest census of 1891 living at 24 Norwood Grove in West Derby. 

Now i have proof it is West Derby and get my first Solid Fact to connect to the theory. There are 13 living at the address in 1891 , 2 Servants along with 11 Tomkins surnames which includes George, His Wife and 9 Children, go George...

With an address now for Walter’s father i looked into the 1901 census for the same District and found 9 at the same address, no servants listed, Walter was still listed and now with the occupation of School Master, Its him yey, but that’s a teacher, not a head master. Walter’s sister Elizabeth is also now listed as a school mistress and boom i am assuming Elizabeth is the Teacher on the left side of the 1903 Tin Hut photo AKA Scarisbrick Avenue Council School and also on the 1912 beach road teacher’s photo sitting on Walter’s left , does she not look a little like Walter bone structure wise? 
Isle of Man to West Derby, connection bridged, but how to narrow in?

I also spot on a later census that Elizabeth is now married and her surname is Pickolls (and its Walters Sister Elizabeth who was the widow) not his wife’s sister, more confirmations. I decided to jump back to Edith’s time line to work out distances from the guest house they stayed in to Walter’s parent’s previous address, at which point i found George had moved to 10 Geneva Road Elm Park by 1911 and Walter was now listed at 19 Sefton Road in 1911 with Edith, so im side tracked again.

Now i had a time frame to narrow down a wedding year too, all on the assumption that’s why they moved. So i mapped out a distance range between Walter, Edith, local entertainment and wouldn’t luck show its face when i choose the 1 church that no longer exists as where they probably met and married by my geography. Yes that’s right; the Church of Emmanuel on west derby road is gone. So i have a parish, a church, a time frame, i can prove Edith Corris became Edith Ann Corris. Off onto the freebie websites i go and i find an Edith Ann Corris may have married 1 of 3 people in that church, more damaged records im fixing online, one of the 3 names listed was Walter F Tomkins. This is information the Google search engine and many others doesn’t access, as its not valid information. They store a lot of records with marriages that name 3 possible people within a 3 month period.

Jackpot, with that partial choice of 3 months within a specific year and choice of 3 people i narrowed to 1 person, but could i get a month or even a day? Who cares, I had tracked down and located the church, the year and even found an image on Flickr of the church for 1905, yet i needed that month, i duno why. I had decided to tally when everyone moved (both home and jobs types) and picked myself an assumption date. Suddenly one of the researchers Vicky sends me a marriage listing & a certificate from a parish record that contains the church name and the exact date, i had August 1905, it was in fact the 26th of July 1905, I should of known it was July, he started in beach road in August 1908 as head, school must of started August back then?. But he also started in Scarasbrick Avenue as head, before that he was a school master, a head master would be married & clearly before school began. 

The listed church on the certificate was right, i had hopes finding a date would find a cert listing to prove what church it was and now i had the proof the other way around for once lol.
The church i had chose was next to the Olympia theatre, i chose it for one simple reason (because the male would spend quality time with himself, while the christened would seek guidance next door lol) and would you believe it, with that choice and district information? Right over the road from the Olympia and the Church (them local entertainments) was 130 West Derby Road, which just happened to be listed as George Tomkins shop, awe theirs that romantic feeling thing lol.

Now i no where they probably met, maybe Walter & John met at the theatre or Edith’s mum met Walter’s mum or Walter’s sisters at the church, new her from the shop?, Was Walter’s mum or sisters christened or religious in anyway, i didn’t look i didn’t care. All a stone’s throw from each other, one of three buildings on that road was where they met, we could assume all three places even if they were not religious due to seasonal services people attend just out of respect, we’ll never truly know for sure unless a living relative has a diary Edith or a sister may of kept, so who knows.

At this point i am miles away from the schools history, i still don’t even know the name of the architect or the year it was specifically built and built by which builders. But i am confident i can tell Walters story with the respect & clarity it merits too kick off the documentary.

I had surpassed my own expectations at this stage let alone what everyone else was expecting, i was pretty much blown away at so much information. When George (Walters father) retired at 65 and moved house around 1909 His other son Oliver took up position at the shop and Walter had already moved to Sefton Road to be closer to Beach Road School and by now married Edith. 

Back tracking i also learnt Walter was one of 11 children in total, though one died, He had 2 brothers and the rest where sisters and Walter now had 3 children of his own. All romantic notions aside this is simply fascinating and personal; i never even compared information to name the lost child or name all the children. I just knew i was ready to record Walter’s section of the documentary & some is to personal and also off topic really for the subject matter being about the school.

In the beginning from Mr Allan Johnston’s research we knew Walter worked at Lander Road School, and we now know for sure he was only a teacher at that time, and when he went to the tin hut it was to be a head master, we also know the tin hut was the size of land covered by 4 houses and not so small as it seems.

From the original registers we know the official name for that was Scarisbrick Avenue Council School, so Walter got married in July of 1905 and became headmaster in the August of that year too. So with much progress finding all this information and random help & errors from researchers and websites all intermixed and then odd documents come to light helping to confirm it all, i pops back to facebook in hopes for info on Joseph Lowe and any others. Sadly not much info’s come forward besides a few names and dates. So off i went with my camera to chat to Walter & to this day i will never forget what i found when i got there. We also know that beach roads register was probably illegal until August 1910, (edit) that said ive since seen it & the 1910 to 1916 has no school name on it's main page lol.

After the time ive put in and issues ive ran into be it life related and actually project related problems i would ask that if people want to help, that they do so, i don’t expect miracles from people, but if there’s something you have then contribute it, if you’re unsure how, ask a friend. This word document is information on 2 families ive gathered; i don’t expect anyone to go this in-depth or expect that many to understand how i did. But Scanning photos, contributing names and dates to posts and photos helps tie a VISUAL side to the research that’ll be vocally narrated.

I am good at most things i do, that’s why i choose to do what i do, save’s wasting time doing what i know i can, rather than what i think i can, but hey.. I can’t pluck visual multimedia outa fresh air, though a time machine is on my to do list lol

Ide like to thank Alison Porter and Vicky Brandwood for a lot of help with the age calculations from my erratic dates and my random assumptions of dates i needed calculating.

Ide also like to thank Vicky Brandwood and Lorraine Fairbrother for being honest and objective as i bounced theories around while sounding like a mad man.

What we learnt is go with your gut, tally the facts, and question what you have rather than what you haven’t, that’ll lead to what’s missing. You need the date of what you have to know where to look for what you haven’t, dates and districts.

Robert Goodwin (Historian and Genealogy specialist) apparently. lol
text 2015 (c) Wraith and Friends Productions

Chapter Image
Book Page

Book Page
Book Page

Tree Compiled by Robert Goodwin (Mildred is actually Milbrow)
Walters missing mum below was Annie Maria Franklin
Tree Compiled by Robert Goodwin

MISC Notes:
i can confirm for the that Edith Ann Corris did not marry Robert Clague, its also pretty obvious she also didn't marry Mary Hall.. come on.. lol
She married Mr Walter Franklin Tomkins

Though edith seamed to travel from the ile of man to liverpool and outer towns with her father,
In 1881 she was working as a nurse on the Isle of man before she moved over to Liverpool permanently in 1891. Edith lived and worked in Everton as a Clerk, oddly she told the census bureau she was 27 in 1901, but she cant of been, Edith would of been 25, 26 maximum depending on what month the census was taken in Everton in 1901.

Working on Mr Allan Johnston's project i often came across images accredited to what looks like The Alan Holsworth Collection, but its hard to tell as the names so blurred and often spelt differently with a D and without when he's credited about compiling litherland info and watermarked images. Note the probate below, could Allan Holdsworth Tyrer be the same amateur photographer & historian who in turn married one of Walters daughters? The school could of been an art gallery and museum for Sefton history.
Walter Tomkins Probate
Walter F. Tomkins And Edith Anne Corris Marriage Certificate
130 West Derby Road, The RED Dot Would be George Tomkins Pork Wholesalers
Edith To Walter Distance AERIAL
Edith To Walter Distance MAP
Saunders House 71 Shaw Street
The Church of Emmanuel & Olympia West Derby - Philip G Mayer Collection
The Olympia - From Flickr Keith Jones
Please Note This is NOT Walters Wedding, But Its Inside The Church That's Gone
Please Note This is NOT Walters Wedding, But Its Inside The Church That's Gone
Civilian War Dead Sheet
53 Douglas Street Isle Of Man
Walter and Unknown Woman Image Overlay
Could Elizabeth Tomkins / Nicholls (walters sister) actually be woman in old pics
UPDATE: It is not Elizabeth Tomkins / Nicholls in the photos.. Who she is, is Noted Here

Research Tools i used are here Also note none of them links are referral links, We have zero affiliation with any of them.

Last but not least.
It would be seriously fantastic to find a picture of the actual row of shops featuring the pork wholesalers shop. Was it a shop? was it a longer building and semi slaughter house behind it or something?  Just what else was on that plot of land opposite the Olympia & the Church?
Before George Tomkins opened that shop on West Derby Road, he ran the Butchers at 41 Great Homer Street.

On The Trail Of Walter Franklin Tomkins (pre dvd cut)
On Youtube  HERE  Also available in Mp3 HERE
63 years 11 months 5 days
or 767 months 5 days
or 3335 weeks 4 days
or 23,349 days
or 560,376 hours, give or take
or 33,622,560 minutes, give or take
or 2,017,353,600 seconds, give or take

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