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Photo of Harry Ainsworth

Harry Ainsworth

Birthplace Wakefield Birthplace Wakefield Date of Birth: June 10, 1883 Date of Death: October 1, 1966


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) :
Harry Ainsworth

Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 10th June 1883 Wakefield , Yorkshire
Date and Place of Death: October 1966, Wakefield
Nationality: English
Childhood: One of 10 children living in impoverished conditions
Parents: George Ainsworth and Eliza nee Land
Parents occupations: Lamplighter ( gas) and chapel keeper
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  None known
Occupation: Wire winder then Fitter at Gretna
Place of residence at Gretna: C2 hostel, Ottawa Rd, Eastriggs
Marital status: Married
Children: 4 stepsons and one son
Travels: None known
Awards/recognitions: None known
Positions held: None known
Trivia / any other information: yes


Harry Ainsworth 1883-1966

Harry was one of 13 children born between 1880 and 1904 to George Ainsworth and Eliza nee Land. 

He was born on 10th June 1883, the 3rd of 10  surviving children , 7 sons and 3 daughters. His father George was a gas lamplighter.

George and Eliza married on 9th February 1879 at St John’s Church, Wakefield. The marriage record indicates that they were both 20, George a labourer of Hope Street, the son of a miner. Eliza of York Street, the daughter of a joiner. Eliza’s sister was a witness at this marriage. George struggled with his signature and Eliza made her mark as she could not write.

The 1881 census places George , Eliza and their first child Alfred born in 1880 at Cock and Swan Yard. Wakefield had a multitude of yards where stables and outbuildings to Inns and other buildings were occupied. The Cock and Swan was the oldest of these inns being built in the 14th century. The Land family were occupants of this yard –    George is 26 and is listed as a “lab soap works”. Eliza is 24. The ages do not tally with the ages on their marriage record. 

By 1891 George and Eliza have moved to 37 Bishopsgate ( another yard running South from the Cathedral to the new Zion Chapel). They now have 6 children. George 31 is a lamplighter and chapel keeper, Eliza is also listed as 31. Alfred is now 11, Alice, 9, Harry 7 , Fred 5, Albert 4 and George 2. All the family are Wakefield born. The eldest 4 children are at school. 

The 1901 census indicates that the Ainsworths have moved again, this time to 27 Back Charlotte Street. George at 41 is a “lamplighter gas”, Eliza 41. Harry is the eldest child at home. He is 17 and a wire winder. Fred at 15 is also a wire winder. There were three wire/rope manufacturers in Wakefield at this time one of these, George Cradock and Co., had been awarded the contract to supply the ropes to the Paris Funiculare at Belleville ( ). George at 12 is working as an “ errand boy port” . The Calder had an active port at Thornes Wharf ( researcher personal knowledge of the area ). 3 more children have been born since the 1891 census. They are Percy now 8, Doris 4 and Annie 1. School is not mentioned. 

On 22nd November 1909, Harry married Annie Hudson, nee Burton, a widow 10 years his senior at Holy Trinity Church, Wakefield.  He was 26 and Annie 36. Harry’s address is given as 56 George Street and Annie’s as Bishopsgate. The marriage record indicates that both fathers are labourers. Harry’s sister Doris was a witness.

We know that Annie at the time of this marriage had 4 sons aged 4-13. 

Annie Burton was born at Lofthousegate near Wakefield on 7th March 1873. Her father was a ropemaker. The 1891 census indicates that at age 18 she was a millhand a Stanley, near Lofthousegate. 

On 14th September 1895 Annie Burton married William Nelson Hudson , a brewery Drayman, at St James Church, Denby Dale Rd,Thornes. William, 23 the son of a colliery manager, resident of Stafford House, Wakefield, Annie 22 a “ ruler” by occupation, of Denby Dale Road, daughter of a ropemaker. 

Just over 3 months later, Annie had her first son on 31st December 1895. She named him Clarence Vernon . This is fascinating as she lived opposite Clarence Park. Perhaps there is an association with the place. On 23rd February 1897 she had a second son, Joseph followed by Colin in 1900. 

The 1901 census indicates that William, Annie and their 3 sons lived at 12 Dale Street with her 67 year old parents. Her father Edwin a labourer to Board of Wakefield Charity. William is now a brewery drayman. 

Four years later, a fourth son, Gilbert was born on 15th January 1905 and just 12 months later her 33 year old husband died. The burial record is for St Paul’s Church at Alverthorpe. In 1908 Annie’s mother died. 

Harry and Annie added a son to their household, Harry junior , born 17th May 1910, less than 6 months after their marriage. Harry was baptised at the Cathedral Church of All Saints on 8th July 1910. The record indicates that they are living at 2 White Horse Yard. ( a contemporary sketch of this yard is included in the attached folder drawn by Henry Clarke, artist and surgeon to Wakefield House of Correction.)

The 1911 census return places Harry, Annie and their 5 sons at 9 White Horse Yard living in 3 rooms. They have been married for under 2 years. Harry 28, is now an iron founder moulder economiser pipe maker. Clarence at 15 is a bottle washer in a brewery, Joseph at 14 a wire winder at a wire ropery, Colin 11 and Gilbert 6 are at school and Harry is 10 months old. Harry and Annie have had 1 child. 

Harry’s parents , George and Eliza in 1911 are still living at 4 Albion Court in 3 rooms. They are now 51 and George is still a lamplighter working for the Corporation. Harry’s brother George ,2 2 is a shunter for a railway company, Percy 18 a driver for the railway company, Doris 18 a stocking ticketer at a worsted manufacturer. Annie is 11 and 2 more sons, Jack 8 and Jim 2 have been born since the 1901 census.  

We know from the Dumfries and Galloway Standard dated Wednesday 20th March 1918 that Harry was living at C2 Hostel, Ottawa Road, Eastriggs and employed as a fitter at H M Factory Gretna under the management of engineer Mr Auld. Harry’s plight was reported under the following heading:-


In Dumfries Sherriff Court on Friday, Harry Ainsworth, fitter…was charged with having defrauded the Ministry of Munitions of the sum of 14s 6d, in respect that he on 21st February, at the clocking station in the gun-cotton drying area, clocked his card at 11.23 am., and at the fitter’s shop, inside area, entered in the time book 11.23 am as the time at which he commenced work on said date: the fact being that he did not commence work until 6 pm. Accused pleaded not guilty…

It transpired in the course of the evidence that accused had received his calling up notice for the army and with the permission of the superior went to Gretna to intimate to the military authorities regarding his protection certificate. He “ clocked on” before leaving Gretna, and his time-sheet represented that he had worked nineteen hours, whereas he had only worked the ordinary nightshift.

Mr Auld, the engineer in charge of the section in which the accused was employed stated that he got the accused a ticket to go to Gretna on the Ministry’s railway, but he gave him no authority to go in the Ministry’s time ; nor would he have countenanced the practice. Evidence was brought for the defence to the effect that when men were called up  it was the custom in the Factory to go to Gretna in the Ministry’s time and that this was done with the knowledge of the superior officials. 

Sherriff Campion , in finding the case not proven said he was afraid very casual customs might prevail at Gretna. Probably they would be better of revision: but bringing up any particular individual and charging him with an offence under the regulations was not the fairest way to institute reform. Anything more unbusiness-like than this practice one could scarcely imagine, and it was little wonder that expenses ran up at Gretna if this was the way they did business. “ 

Based on Sherriff Campion’s “ strong comments” it was reported in the same paper that an inquiry into business methods at the Factory should be initiated. 

It is unclear how long Harry had been employed at Gretna but he joined the Royal Engineers in March 1918 when he was called up. 

Harry’s father died in 1928 and his mother in 1935. 

When the 1939 register was recorded Harry at 50 is a fitter’s mate at the railway. Wakefield had 2 large railway stations at the time- Westgate and Kirkgate. He and Annie are living at 8 Garden Street. 

In 1939 Alfred is a railway goods checker, Alice is married to a coal miner, Harry is unknown, Fred is goods railway Guard, Albert a general labourer living with widowed brother Alfred, George a railway goods shunter, Percy a colliery boiler fireman, Doris is married to a van salesman, Annie married to a police sergeant, Jack a motor driver heavy worker and Jim a miner. 

Harry and Annie’s children are also involved with the railway. Clarence is a loco engine driver, Joseph in the railway power department, Colin unknown, Gilbert a heavy worker motor driver and Harry junior is unknown.  

Annie died in 1950 and Harry survived until he was 83 in October 1966. 

A lamplighter’s son who manged inadvertently to instigate an inquiry into Ministry business practices. 




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