Semington Lock House and the Brown Family

From before 1891 to after 1912, the lockkeeper at Semington was Edwin Brown. Edwin was maried to Rosanna and had two children, Edwin Ernest James Brown, born 2 Jan 1874, and Alberta Rosina Brown, born in 1881.

Edwin was previously the lock keeper at the botton of the Caen Hill flight. In 1881 and 1891 the family were living at Foxhanger Lock Cottage. They moved to the Lock House, Semington, some time between 1881 and 1891.

Alberta’s soon-to-be husband William Joseph Lye had joined the Royal Fusiliers but purchased his discharge before he was 19 years old. He rejoined the Army – the Royal Artillery – in September 1895. William’s first wife Emily travelled with him to Malta, and then to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. They had twins, Cuthbert William George Lye and Gertrude Elizabeth Ida Lye, in Canada in 1900, then they moved to the Isle of Wight where a daughter, Lilian Laura (also spelled Lorah) Lye, ws born in 1901. The family returned to England, and Emily died in 1903.

Cuthbert reappears in the 1911 census, but Gertrude and Lilian do not. Perhaps the girls were adopted by their mother’s family.

Alberta married William in Woolwich on the 25th Feb 1905, where William was serving in the Royal Artillery Regimental District Staff. Their first child together, Rosina Alberta Carrington Lye, was born in 1906. Their second, Constance Amor Lye was born in 1907.

In October 1907 Alberta and William went out to Hong Kong. We do not know where their children were during this visit. They may have left Rosina at Semington with her grandparents, taking baby Constance with them. They had a third daughter, Hilda Victoria, in Hong Kong in 1909, and returned to England on 21st December 1909.

On 15th February 1910, William was discharged as medically unfit (he had an aneurism) and was given an Army pension. His behaviour was described as exemplary. His address on discharge was Semington Lock.

By 1911 Alberta and William were living at The Lodge, at Barnsley Park, Cirencester, where William was working as a hallman. On the night of the census, their eldest daughter Rosina was at Semington Lock with her grandparents, but Cuthbert, Constance and Hilda were at Barnsley Park with their parents.

H W Anderson’s skiff at Buckleys Lock, Semington, in 1912. Photograph displayed with permission from the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Archive, © Jack Dalby collection.

The photograph above was taken in 1912 on the occasion of a visit by Mr H W Anderson during a journey by skiff from Byfleet to Bath. The people in the photograph, left to right, are Mr H W Anderson (from Byfleet), a man identified as a lockkeeper (perhaps Ernest, who would have been about 38), Mrs Hardy, nee Boothby (a friend of Mr Anderson’s), Mr Brown (presumably Edwin), Mr Faulkenden (a friend of Mr Anderson’s from Twickenham), Mrs Shoreland and Mr Shoreland. The children in the photograph are identified as “lock children”, and it is likely that they are Rosina, Constance, and Hilda.

The Hardys are Gertrude May Hardy (nee Boothby) from Upper Norwood, and William Eversley Hardy, manager and engineer of Bath Electric Tramways Ltd, who were married on 10 Sep 1910. The photograph was taken by Mr H W Anderson and was in an album loaned to the K&A Trust archives by Mr M W Anderson in 1987. Permission is being sought to show it here.

In 1914 William reenlisted, and was placed on reserve. By January 1916 the Lye family were living at Lower Hanger Cottage, Bremhill. William, now working as a vulcanizer, was called up to serve in the Army Service Corps in WW1. He did not list any children from his first marriage in his attestment form.

Cuthbert Lye served in the Navy from 1918 to 1921.