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Photo of John Walter Bartholomew

John Walter Bartholomew

Birthplace Wandsworth LondonPlace of Death London Wandsworth Date of Birth: December 30, 1888 Date of Death: November 26, 1942


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : John Walter Bartholomew ( Jack Barty)
Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 30th December 1888, Balham, Wandsworth, London
Date and Place of Death: 26th November 1942, Streatham, Wandsworth, London
Nationality: English
Childhood: One older sister, father an architect,
Parents: Walter Bartholomew and Annie Augustus nee Lindsey
Parents occupations: Architect/ Surveyor
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: None known
Occupation: Actor/comic/variety artist – member of the concert party at Gretna
Place of residence at Gretna:58 Botchergate , Carlisle ( his wife’s home)
Marital status: Married to Hilda Holmes (also in database)

Children: One son
Travels: Transatlantic and World tour as a professional entertainer

None known
Positions held
None known
Trivia / any other information:

Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):


Blogs about the individual:
Websites about the individual:


Further links, notes, and comments:


John Walter Bartholomew ‘Jack Barty’1888-1942, Hilda Bartholomew nee Holmes 1891 – ? and Olivia Holmes 1895
This is the story of performers of the H.M. Factory Gretna concert party between 1916 and 1918. Anecdotal and nostalgic eyewitness evidence in a letter from Alan Shaw in the 1980s gave a first mention of a Mr and Mrs Barty , performing in such concerts. Indeed newspaper reports of the time back this up but they also include Miss Olivia Holmes, Hilda’s ( Mrs ‘Jack Barty’) sister.
Imperial War Museum inform that concert parties were created to entertain the troops and of course Munition workers and end of the pier audiences, made up of professional performers and amateurs. Newspaper reports indicate that at Gretna the performers were also workers at the Factory although it also indicates that 2 shows a day were performed.
This story has turned out to be a fascinating one of Hollywood films, Laurel and Hardy and London Palladium as well as an asylum death and a court appearance for the stealing of hats.
John Walter Bartholomew ( Jack Barty was his stage name) was born in Balham , Wandsworth, London on 30th December 1888. (Wikipedia and IMDB Jack Barty – Biography – IMDb give 31st but 1939 register gives 30th) He was the younger of 2 children born to architect Walter Bartholomew and Annie Augusta nee Lindsey.
Walter, born in Brighton and Annie born in St George’s, London, married at St Anne’s , Wandsworth on 14th August 1886.He described as a surveyor. Both father’s described as gentlemen. Dorothy Augusta was born on 31st August 1887 followed by Jack Walter on 30th December 1886.
The 1891 census places the Bartholomew family at 10 Ormeley Rd, Streatham, Wandsworth, Walter at 32 an architect and Annie now 30. Dorothy, 4 and John Walter 2 both born in Balham ( same address as above).
Interestingly, John Walter’s baptismal record indicates that this occurred on 21st October 1900 when he was 11.
The 1901 census sees the family on the same street but at number 86 Ormeley Rd rather than Number 10 as in 1891. Walter at 40 is a civil engineer for the Borough of Wandsworth, Annie is 38, Dorothy, 13 and John Walter now 12.
The Daily Echo, Northampton Wednesday February 26 1930 reports in an interview with Hilda that began “treading the boards 23 years ago”. If accurate , this means that John began his acting career in 1907 at the age of 19. It also reports that his father wanted him to be an architect like himself. ( full article is in the attached folder)
There is no 1911 census return evident for John but his parents and sister are listed at 4 Ormely Rd- another move had taken place. This is a 7 roomed house. Walter, 52 and a surveyor, Annie Augusta, 50. They have been married for 25 years and had 2 children. Dorothy Augusta , 24 is a draper’s assistant. Arthur James Wilkins , an electrical engineer is a visitor.
1913 proved to be an eventful year for the Bartholomews. Walter died on 2nd March. Probate indicates effects of £141 to his widow Annie Augusta.
On 21st June, marriage registration informs us that Dorothy Augusta married the 1911 visitor, Arthur James Wilkins, electrical engineer, both of the same address , 4 Ormely Rd, Balham.
In the same quarter of the year, no accurate date can be found, John Walter married Hilda Holmes of Carlisle at Wandsworth. We can only surmise that this could possibly have been a double wedding in theatrical style and how John met Hilda.
We can probably assume that John – stage name Jack Barty was performing in a Carlisle theatre prior to or early 1913 when he met Hilda. Hilda’s father owned and ran a General Dealer’s shop at 58-60 Botchergate, Carlisle. Hilda in 1911 was a milliner possibly in her father’s shop. We know from numerous Carlisle and Express Examiner advertisements that Thomas Holmes sold topcoats “no rubbish” at “50%” the usual price, Could Jack/John have gone to buy a topcoat? Or, discovering later that Hilda’s sister Olivia was an artiste could she have been performing in the same production and introduced Walter to Hilda.
Hilda was born on 18th July 1891 in Carlisle to Thomas Holmes , 39 a general dealer and Martha nee Brown of Wigton. They lived at 58-60 Botchergate, Carlisle described as a house and shop. Mary Sheffield Whittaker, 17, Margaret G Whittaker 16 and Martha C Whittaker 14 , stepdaughters to Thomas and all General dealer’s assistants.
Hilda’s parents were married in Carlisle in 1881. Her mother , married in 1872 was widowed in 1877, the year her daughter Martha was born. Living in Yorkshire at the time, County Asylum records show that her first husband , Archibald Wittaker, died at the West Riding County Asylum, Stanley Royd, Wakefield, Yorkshire after being there for less than a week.
Thomas , was the son of a ships carpenter from Peel, Isle of Man and at 17 census records show that he was a joiner.
The 1891 census places Thomas and family at the house and shop of 58-60 Botchergate, Carlisle. He at 39 a general dealer. The three step daughters aged 17, 16 and 14 ( the older 2 Carlisle born and the youngest born in Guiseley near Leeds). All three plus their mother are listed as general dealer’s assistants. Thomas, 9, Elizabeth W, 8, Bithiah 7 are scholars and Olivia is 3. Kate McGarr is the 24 year old servant. Although her ages does not tally on future census returns she stays with the family for at least another 20 years.
The 1901 census places the Holmes family at 58-60 Botchergate, Thomas being a general dealer, employer. Martha nee Brown is 49. Margaret Whittaker now 24, Thomas Holmes, 19 general dealer’s assistant, Elizabeth W Holmes 18 also a general dealer’s assistant, Bithiah Holmes 17, Olivia Holmes 13 also both assistants in the shop, Hilda 10 and Nora E Ellen) 6. Stephen Brown, father in law 79 and retired pawn broker from Wigton and a 40 year old servant make up the household. It appears that Bithiah is a familial Manx name, Thomas senior had a sister called Bathiah.
Four years later when Hilda was 14 and younger sister Nora only 10 Their mother died on 21st December 1905. Probate states effects of £1031 10s to her husband.
The 1911 census gives a scattered picture for Hilda and her siblings. She can be found as a 19 year old milliner at 10 roomed 58 Botchergate , 23 year old sister Olivia, single has no occupation recorded, step sister Margaret Geddes Holmes appears to be the head of house , 34 and single. Kate McGarr now 50 is still working for them as a servant.
No entry for their father can be found.
Bithiah in 1911 is now married for “under 1 year” and called Bithiah Lowater. Her return is of a residence in Stockport. Nora(h) Holmes , 16 is staying with her sister. Bithiah’s husband, Edward Morton Lowater is listed at an address in Norwich, born in New Zealand, an electrical engineer. Perhaps he went on to work at H. M. Factory Gretna. Curiously, he is recorded as being single.
Brother Thomas on his 1911 census has been married for 4 years, has had 3 children one of whom has died. He is a jeweller and antiques dealer living off Botchergate at 46 Aglionby Street. Two of his wife Lucy’s sisters , one a teacher are also living in the 7 room house.
When Gretna Township was designed ,built and completed to house the employees of “ the greatest munitions factory on earth” in 1916, entertainment and leisure were uppermost in the minds of the planners. The Border Hall and Cinema were crucial. Newspaper reports of the time indicate that the concert party performed three times weekly. A report of such a concert in April 1918 tells us that the concert party also toured the area to places such as Lockerbie. Prominent and always the first name is Jack Barty who via a public member tree we learn that this is the stage name of John Walter Bartholomew. This is where we also see Miss Olivia Holmes’ name in print for the first time. Although the person offering us anecdotal evidence described a Mr and Mrs Barty it is unlikely that Hilda performed a great deal as she had a son, Jack Lindsey Bartholomew in 1917, born in Carlisle. We can assume that ‘Jack’, Hilda and Olivia commuted from Carlisle station to Gretna to perform – her father’s home being a short walk from Citadel Station.
The later newspaper interview with “ his charming little wife “ “ he has a lot to do in the show” Daily Echo , Northampton mentions that he loves flying and wanted to join the air force but at 16 stone was told he was too large and “ would he be better in the navy?” Perhaps he was deemed unfit for service during WW1 which is how he became employed at Gretna. The full article is fascinating and gives an insight into his years ( to come ) in Panto, world tour, flying from Marseilles to perform at the Palladium and then flying straight back again etc.
We have a definite finish date for Jack at Gretna as he is advertised in the Dublin Telegraph, 14th May 1919 as new humorist at the Tivoli Theatre, Dublin.
Obviously not perturbed by adverse publicity- two of his sisters in law, Hilda’s sisters Bithiah Lowater and Olivia Holmes Courtney( artiste) appeared at Marlborough Street court, London on 7th May 1919 accused of “stealing four hats from a Walter Bourne and receiving one of the same “ They both pleaded guilty and were released on Bail for 2 years at a cost of £5. The court record also tells us that Bithiah had to pay £10 10s costs. No occupation is listed for her.
Bithiah had a son in 1914 who went on to become an actor in some famous films such as Hound of the Baskervilles 1939, Adventures of Robin Hood 1960– stage name Morton Lowry from real name Edward Morton Lowater. A filmography and photographs can be found at
Was he influenced by his uncle ‘Jack’ and aunties Hilda and Olivia? He died in San Francisco employed by Fox Films a one stage.
On 5th September 1919 , Hilda’s father, Thomas , merchant, died aged 67 in Carlisle. Probate of £10,068 0s 2d to Thomas junior. An obituary in the local paper also said that he bequested £25 to his assistant.
It is at this point that Jack Barty’s career and his world wide travel appears to have taken off. He arrives from Cape Town in May 1923, described as an artiste, the address on the listing is his wife , now spelled Hylda , Carshalton, Surrey.
The electoral register of 1928 shows that John and Hylda have moved back to Wandsworth to 26 Cavendish Gardens.
These are the years that the Daily Echo of 1930 indicate he was “in panto for the last 7 years”. On a passenger listing for September 1928 , John now 38 is described as an artiste, Hylda has nil beside her name and son Jack , aged 9 is with them.
On 11th February 1928 , there is an Australian quarantine document for all three of them. Address is c/o Tivoli Theatre , Sydney. The Daily Echo tells us that Jack had embarked on a World Tour.
There was a change for Hylda on her return listing in August 1929 when she and son Jack, now 10 sailed back from Australia. Hylda is now described as an artiste.
We know from the embedded article that Jack appeared in a play at Northampton in April 1930 and a review for the Daily Echo interviewed Hylda “ the charming little wife”. The play subsequently showed at the Hippodrome , Brighton , twice nightly according to the theatre listing for June 1930.
British Pathe hold several video clips of Jack in action from this period.
October sees the first of many Transatlantic crossings for Jack and Hylda. Onboard “SS Olympia”, in October 1930 “ variety artist with housewife Hylda going to the US for 1 month c/o Jeannie Jacobs, Broadway. This passage was paid for by himself. The contact for home given on the passenger listing is his brother-in-law in Surrey ( Hylda’s brother).
The address given for the Bartholomews in the electoral register for 1933 is 80 Belvedere, Flat 16, Balham and Tooting, Wandworth.
By the time they sail on “ SS Vancouver” to New York en route to Los Angeles on 24th August 1933, Jack at 43 describes his occupation as actor and for the first time we have evidence of HYlda being described as an actress. Their visa is valid until July 1938. The passage was paid for by Metro Golder Meyer( MGM) and they are going to Hal Roach Studios, , California. They were last in the US in 1930. Jack is 5’10” tall with a fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. Hylda is 5’1” fair complexion, fair hair and green eyes.
Their son, Jack aged 16 followed them in December 1933 in time for Christmas. He sailed from Southampton to New York , a scholar at 5’8” with a fair complexion, brown hair and green/grey eyes. He is en route to see his father, Mr Jack Barty c/o MGM studios, Culver City, California. His home address is given as 60, Kings Avenue, Clapham.
This was the start of Jack Barty’s film output including Oliver the Eighth with Laurel and Hardy. His filmography shows 3 films released in 1934, 1 in 1935, 2 in 1936, 3 in 1937, 1 in 1938, 1 in 1939 and Gaslight in 1940. The Wikipedia link includes the filmography but only one sentence about Jack. He worked in Hollywood and at Ealing Studios , London.
Jack was also involved in a regular radio show in 1935 called Jack Barty’s Party. This was featured in the Sheffield Telegraph, 1935.
The 1939 register lists John and Hylda at 36 Eton Road, West Bridgeford, Nottingham. An “ actor ( comic) Travelling. Professionally known as Jack Barty. Hylda has unpaid domestic duties.
Jack died aged 54 at 47 Christchurch Rd, Streatham on 26th November 1942. Obituaries featured in regional newspapers . The Yorkshire Post included the fact that son Jack was serving in the Middle East at the time.
Probate cited effects of £5938 7s 8d, Hylda his widow and David Heughan, film corporation area supervisor.
Hilda lived until the first quarter of 1971 dying in Cuckfield, Sussex.
Son Jack married. Nothing after 1919 is evident of Olivia. Bithiah died at her home in Russell Square, London, she will have followed her son’s successful film and theatre career. It is unclear what happened to the other siblings.

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