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Alice Marion Webster [we.12.5]

Alice Marion Webster was the fifth child of William Webster & Elizabeth Winder born August 22nd, 1859 at Dorney & christened September 18th, 1859 at Burnham, Bucks.

In 1861 & 1871 she was living with her parents & sisters at Dorney Wood Farm.

Alice married John Bradford, a carpet manufacturer, on June 15th, 1880 at Burnham Church. Witnesses at the wedding were Fred H Jennings & William Webster.  John was born April 5th, 1854 & christened May 3rd, 1854 at Holy Trinity, Clapham, Surrey, the eldest son of Arthur Edwin Bradford, a silk mercer & landowner, & Emily Barnett. Emily Barnett was eighth child of Thomas Barnett [b.2.1].

In 1881 Alice & John (known as Jack) were living at Wormwood St, London & John was a carpet warehouse manager.

Alice & John had a son, Ronald Arthur, in 1890 but sadly he only lived for 1 day.

By 1891 they had moved to Hambleden, Bucks & Jack was now a market gardener.

An outing to Burnham Beeches c1900

Standing far left is Jack Bradford & seated second from right is Alice Marion

(For further identification see Kate Webster [we.12.3])

In 1901 Alice was visiting her father William who had retired & was living at the High St, Burnham. With him at the time of the census was also granddaughter Maud E Bayley (25), daughter of Alice’s sister Elizabeth Webster who had married Maurice Bayley. At this time Jack Bradford was living at The Chestnuts, Shepperton, Middx & described as living on own means. He was recorded as being married to Amy, aged 48 born at Chiswick, Middx, however no marriage record could be found. The 1891 census shows Amy living with her widowed mother, Anna M Gwilt, in Fingest House, Hambleden, Bucks.

The Referee of September 7th, 1902 carried a report concerning John Bradford’s Gypsy houseboat lying off Taggs island.  Jack entertained crowds on pleasure boats night after night with music from his gramophone.  The owners of these pleasure boats presented Jack with a handsome cigar case & holder in appreciation.

By 1911 Alice was living with her sister, Elizabeth Bayley & her husband Maurice Bayley at Middle Park Farm, Eltham, Kent. Alice, who was still described as married (for 30 years) was a maternity nurse. Elizabeth's daughters Maud E Bayley & Violet M Harrison were living at the farm & son Arthur John Bayley was working on the farm.

Alice's husband Jack Bradford was again found with ‘wife' Amy at the time of the 1911 census. Amy was recorded as having being married for 16 years. They were living on Jack's houseboat called ‘Gipsy' on the River Thames at Taggs Island, Hampton, Surrey. Jack was described as a musical composer & he & Amy had 2 servants. Amy was in fact Amy Gwilt, a historical painter, the daughter of John Sebastian Gwilt, a famous architect.  Amy died on October 4th, 1911 on the houseboat Gipsy, Taggs Island.  Her probate record shows that she was in fact a spinster & was of Chestnuts, Shepperton-on-Thames, Middlesex & her effects were £9,657.17s.10d.

A regatta was held each year on the Thames at Molesey.  In 1910, in order to raise funds for the regatta Jack had the idea of selling small flags to the public at half-a-crown each.  This proved highly successful & benefited the regatta funds to the tune of £80.

The author R.G.M. Baker wrote a book entitled ‘Thameside Molesey' & the following is an extract from this:

Tagg's Island, too, was yet another convenient anchorage for the ubiquitous houseboat. From the 1880s the perimeter of the island was fringed with ranks of these exuberant floating juggernauts. A long line of vessels, their verandahs were bedecked overall with gaily striped and tasselled awnings, their railings, balustrades, and ornate carvings, freshly painted each season in rich and striking colours. Viewed from the towpath it was indeed a glittering sight. Perhaps the most dazzling of all was Mr John Bradford's Gipsy . A large houseboat, near the centre of the line as seen from the Molesey bank, it was covered all over with brilliant tiers of hanging baskets and tubs filled with vivid vermilion geraniums and other flowers of every hue

On a balmy Sunday evening, as darkness was spreading, the brightly coloured lanterns were lit, sending shafts of rainbow light streaming and reflecting across the shadowy water. The melodious tones of an old-fashioned brass-horned gramophone came from the upper deck. The very vessel itself seemed to burst into life. All around, on the Molesey towpath and in countless punts, people stopped and listened.

These free concerts continued for a number of summers and were much appreciated by the people, who used to make a special journey each Sunday down to the river to listen and to look. Unfortunately the owner of the island considered that it drew customers away from the hotel, and told Mr Bradford that he must stop giving the concerts or he would have to remove his houseboat from the island. This order almost broke the kindly owner's heart, he so enjoyed the pleasure his music gave to people. He could not bear to stop on the houseboat without playing the gramophone so he decided to sell the Gipsy and get right away from the place where he was much admired and had for many years done so much to brighten up the scene .'

Jack put his beloved houseboat up for sale in 1913.  The Sheffield Evening Telegraph of May 9th, 1913 described the boat as ‘perhaps the most palatial houseboat on the river, which was built without a single nail being used’. 

John died aged 67 on April 27th, 1921.  Probate was granted to Dorothy Maude Isabel Robinson, spinster, & his effects were £975.19s.3d.

An obituary in the Bexhill-on-Sea Observer of April 30th, 1921 described John as having ‘….a charming personality who passed away at his residence, 3 Sackville Chambers, Bexhill’  He had been in failing health for some time & died of heart failure.  John had only living in Bexhill for 4 and a half years but was well known there & enjoyed wide popularity.  He was a member of both Conservative & Constitutional clubs & was captain of the bowling club at the time of his death.  He had been a member of the west London rowing club in the 1880s & won various cups for sculling.  The obituary mentioned his magnificent houseboat, The Gipsy.  In his younger days John was a well-known performer in amateur theatricals, shining in particular in comedy parts.  He was an eminent song-writer.  John was widely travelled & the article mentioned that he was widowed – presumably referring to the death of Amy in 1911.

On August 7th, 1923 Alice was granted probate of her sister Madeline’s will in London. 

The 1939 register shows Alice Marion living at 35 College Avenue, Maidenhead at the home of Alice & Arthur Keen, a butcher.  Alice Marion was described as a secretary, incapacitated.

Alice, aged 81, died at the County Council Emergency Hospital, Maidenhead, Berks on March 20th, 1941.  Probate was granted on September 2nd, 1941 to Barbara Bayley, spinster & her effects were £137.17s.  Barbara was Alice’s niece, the daughter of sister Florence & Alfred Bayley.

The children of Alice Marion Webster & John Bradford were:

we.12.5.1 Ronald Arthur Bradford born March 6th, 1890 & christened March 6th, 1890 at Hambleden; buried March 7th, 1890 at Hambleden


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