Thursday, 25 October 2012
Vera Gertrude Pullum nee Taylor (1916-2002)
Vera was a sister of my father, Eric William Taylor (1913-2003). This profile contains information from Vera’s daughter Valerie.
Vera was born on 22 February 1916 in Abbey Wood, Erith. She was the second child of William Taylor and his wife Gertrude (nee Wilkins). They also had two boys, Eric (b1913) and Ronald (b1918).
In 1919 William, Gertrude and their children were living at 51 Charles St, Woolwich, which was the address of Gertrude’s older sister Ethel Suter nee Wilkins (b1881), whose husband had died in 1914. Ethel had a daughter, Doris (b1903), and a son, Herbert (b1906).
Herbert Suter died of influenza on 12 February 1919 aged 12. A week later, Vera’s mother Gertrude also died of influenza, aged 29. They were victims of a pandemic that killed many millions of people across the world.
In 1920 William married Ethel Suter in Woolwich. He was 30 and she 39. William and Ethel had a daughter, Betty Ethel Taylor, who was born in 1921. William and his family continued to live at 51 Charles Street until 1933 although in 1921 it was renamed 16 Brewer St. The house was at the northern end of Brewer Street, not far from St Mary’s Church. The site of the house is now occupied by John Wilson Street, a dual carriageway that forms part of the South Circular Road (A205).
In 1922, when aged 6, Vera contracted diptheria and was in hospital for over 1 year. She was back in hospital aged 8 years for an operation to treat mastoiditis (a serious complication arising from ear inflammation), which left her totally deaf.
Vera told Valerie some childhood memories. She recalled sitting at the dining table with Eric and Ron eating a meal and was not aware that a row was taking place until a shoe thrown by her stepmother Ethel at her father William, passed her face! Also, Vera and her brothers were made to play in the street every day and so used to pray for rain so they could go indoors! Ethel died in 1933 aged 51, when Vera was 16.
Vera attended Oak Lodge School for the Deaf in Clapham, London, first as a day pupil, then as a full time boarder. Vera recalled that on her first day at Oak Lodge, her father took her on the bus, leaving her to return on her own. She got lost and finally arrived home to find her father standing in the middle of the road outside their house in the dark looking for her. She was very clever, despite her disability, attaining a scholarship. Vera was taught dressmaking, like all the girls at the school. She then worked as a dressmaker near Piccadilly Circus for a few years.
Vera and her family moved to 105 Brookhill Road, Woolwich in 1933, where her father ran a confectioner’s shop. The house was close to the junction with Angelsea Road. It no longer exists, its site is now occupied by the garden of a block of flats.
On 11 September 1937, Vera married Frank Adolphus Pullum at All Saints Church, Newington in South London. He was a French polisher aged 24, she a dressmaker aged 21. Frank was also deaf. They lived at 43 Bannockburn Road, Plumstead and then purchased 111 Willersley Avenue. Sidcup on 26th February 1941 for £462-7-6d.
Their daughter Valerie was born in 1944. They had another baby girl who lived only a few days (Vera also had several miscarriages). Vera and Valerie were evacuated to Leeds for a number of months in 1944 to get away from bombing in London.
Frank, Vera and Valerie c1946
Vera’s husband Frank died of bronchopneumonia in 1964 aged 51. She continued to live at 111 Willersley Avenue, with her daughter Valerie. Vera worked at the dressmakers “Rhodes”, The Oval, Sidcup until 1981, when she retired aged 65.
In May 1979 Vera moved to 126 Greenvale Road, Eltham with Valerie and her second husband. They lived there until June 2000 when they moved to Tankerton, near Whitstable in Kent. Vera died on 10 December 2002 aged 86.
Valerie and Vera in 1988
I remember Vera as a small, pleasant lady. Because of her deafness, she wasn’t able to hear her own voice, which made it difficult for her to speak clearly. However, she could lip read well and seemed to enjoy life (with the help of Valerie) in spite of her disability.