Skip to main content

To search our directory of workers at HM Factory Gretna either enter any name, place of birth or place of death in the search box or if you know what their job was from select from the drop-down menu.

Photo of Robert Frederick Hayes

Robert Frederick Hayes

Fitter and Turner (Engineer)
Birthplace Cumberland Keswick England Date of Birth: March 8, 1900 Date of Death: December 1, 1975


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

Gender: Male
Date and place of birth : 8th March 1900 Keswick
Date and Place of Death:  December 1975 Whitehaven
Nationality: English

Childhood : One of 2 sons
Parents: Frederick Hayes and Rebecca nee Mounsey
Parents occupations: Fancy goods dealer the clerk to linen thread manufacturer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  Keswick infant
Occupation: Fitter and turner ( engineer)
Place of residence at Gretna: Eastriggs – exact place not known
Marital status : Married
Children : One daughter
Travels : None known

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:

Hogarth & Hayes – Polygrade Set (

From a pencil factory to a conference venue – Keswick Ministries

Nostalgia: Margaret Crosby on the fizziness business | Times and Star




Robert Frederick Hayes 1900-1975 

Robert Frederick Hayes was born in Keswick on 8th March 1900 to Frederick , 28 and Rebecca ,28, nee Mounsey. 

Robert’s father, Frederick, was born in Keswick in 1872 and his mother Rebecca was born the same year in Kendal. Originally from Penrith , Rebecca’s parents Charles and Sarah Jane moved to 43 Yard Highgate 16 about 1869.Charles William and Elizabeth Ann were born in Penrith, Her father Charles was a tobacco spinner. The 1871 census lists 2 other families living in the same yard at 18 and 20. By 1881 , Rebecca was the middle child of 7. Her eldest brother Charles William at 17 was a tailor’s apprentice, John 12, Rebecca 10, Edith Mary 8 and Henry 6 were scholars , Margaret was a 6 month old infant. 15 year old Elizabeth Ann was living at 5 Cliff Terrace, Kendal as a domestic servant for a William Jackson , “Painter &c, employing 13 men and 3 apprentices.”  

By 1891 Rebecca is listed as a 20 year old servant at 6 Southey Street , Keswick working for  a Margaret Wood, 56, a widow living on own means.  

Frederick in 1881 was one of at least 8 children of Robert , a pencil manufacturer and Ruth , living at  Southey Street , Keswick. The 1871 census lists Robert Frederick’s grandfather ( Frederick’s father ) as a pencil manufacturer “employing 6 men, 4 boys and 2 women”.  

Hogarth & Hayes – Polygrade Set (   include illustrations of the Southey Hill Pencil Works , a report of a Royal visit in 1900 and “ By Appointment to Her Majesties Government Offices” – all included in the attached folder and later ‘his ‘ also to “ Her Majesty the late Queen Adelaide , the King of Saxony, The King of the Belgians and the King of Brazil”. They were successors to A Wren ( clearly stated on their notices of the time ). The original factory moved to the new site in 1916 From a pencil factory to a conference venue – Keswick Ministries   later became Cumberland Pencils and now site of the Derwent Pencil Museum. 


By 1891 , 19 year old Frederick is also a pencil manufacturer- presumably working for his father. The family have moved to 13 Ambleside Road, Keswick. 

 We  know that  prior to his marriage Frederick is  was a keen, successful , prize winning member of the  Bowling club.  

The Penrith Observer , Tuesday August 17 , 1897 reported  

BOWLING TOURNAMENT AT PENRITH. The committee of the Penrith Subscription Bowling Green commenced their second tournament on Wednesday, and it was continued on Thursday. In the early days of the club these competitions were held regularly up to 1850, when they were allowed to lapse. Fourteen years later they were revived under fresh conditions, and the games extended over three days. There were then 140 entries, and as far as play was concerned it would have been difficult to have found a series of games so evenly contested, notwithstanding the very unfavourable state of the weather. The first prize went to F. Hayes, Keswick, after hard struggle. (On Wednesday there were 120 entries, with £2l for prize)” 

Other similar reports could also be found.  

The Westmorland Gazette of Saturday 19th February 1898 announced the marriage of  Frederick, of Keswick and  Rebecca Mounsey  at Kendal Congregational Church on 15th February. ( This is now the United Reformed Church on Highgate –“ IWM WW1 “) 

Two years later, Robert Frederick, their first of two sons would be born on 8th March 1900. Clearly named after his father and is grandfather Robert Hayes .We learn later that this is also the year that he started his business. The 1901 census places the young couple and Robert Frederick at 13 Lake Road , Keswick. Frederick is a fancy dealer. 

The school admission register shows that Robert Frederick Hayes was registered on 4th July 1904. His reason for leaving on 10th December 1906 was “ left the town”  

  Unfortunately Frederick’s fortune turned in 1906 when we learn from a report in The English Lakes Visitor of Saturday 15th December 1906 that he had been declared bankrupt.  

“BANKRUPTCY EXAMINATION-Frederick Hayes, fancy dealer, Keswick, attended at the Court House, Cockermouth, on Monday, before Mr E.L.Waugh, registrar, for public examination in bankruptcy. Replying to Mr Kighley J.Hough, official receiver, Mr Hayes stated that he commenced business without  capital in the year 1900. He borrowed £100. During the past two years his takings had fallen off considerably. He offered 5s in the pound to his creditors. The examination was then concluded. “ 

This ill fortune explains why  they moved to  St Bees where their second child, Eric Charles Parker Hayes was born on 3rd March 1908. Having left the the Fancy Goods business behind we learn from the 1911 census that” Fred Hayes” is now a clerk to a linen thread manufacturer, worker aged 39. Rebecca is also 39. They have been married for 13 years, have had 2 children who have both  lived  and are living in 5 rooms at 119, Main Street , St Bees, Cumberland. ( Google maps show this as a public house in 2021). 

We know from a letter of reference dated July 21st 1924  for Robert Frederick that he began an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner at Ramsay Brothers, Engineers ,Iron and Brass Founders, Millwrights, Boiler Makers, General Smiths,  Pheonix Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Works, Whitehaven on 12th November 1916 aged 16 .   

We know from a photograph taken and including an information board that he was one of seven apprentices in 1919 a Ramsay Brothers. We know that he must have been  a “  strong lad” when he began his apprenticeship as an advertisement in the Maryport Advertiser Saturday 21st November 1903 clearly wanted Two Strong Lads  at the time to work at the Iron and Brass Mouldings business.  

The letter of reference gives a completion date for the apprenticeship as November 12th 1922 when it is evident that he had “ been in our employ as Journeyman from the above date until Dec: 8th 1923”  “ He left us on account of slackness of work “ ( lack of orders) “ He is a good steady and attentive workman, we can recommend him to anyone requiring his services.” 

It is not clear but the time lapse between his last day of employ in 1923 and the date on the letter may indicate that he had a period of unemployment and that he required the reference because he had found work. 

From family anecdotal evidence we know that Robert Frederick worked at H. M. Factory Gretna , living at Eastriggs. He does not appear on the electoral register as he was too young nor on the valuation roll of 1918-19. More than likely he lived in one of the timber hostels. In 1916 he was very young to have been employed by the Ministry of Munitions  but it is possible that Ramsay Brothers were subcontracted for the construction and Robert Frederick was one of their apprentice engineers. This was certainly the case with a previous research subject, George Ernest Syms , from Ceylon, who was apprenticed as a civil engineer to a small company in Annan. 

He would have been old enough to join the army in March 1918 so it is also possible that this is what he did and was deployed to Gretna as an engineer which would have placed him there from 1918. Alternatively, along with the other apprentices he may have responded to an appeal by the Ministry of Munitions from this time. Perhaps documents relating to Ramsay Brothers , held at Whitehaven Records Office, hold the key to this mystery.  

A report following the Queen’s Jubilee in 1897 –“Ramsay Brothers of Whitehaven’s Phoenix Foundry install the latest machinery, made by W Eagles of Salford and which had been on show at the recent London Brewers’ Exhibition. “  This machinery put the fizz into what was known as Jubilee Champagne ( non alcoholic). 

Nostalgia: Margaret Crosby on the fizziness business | Times and Star  

The company also worked closely with Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners involving themselves in haulage and the shunting of harbour traffic. ( CASCAT) Papers include a reference to a complaint concerning the efficiency of Ramsay Brothers.  

The next evidence for Robert Frederick is a marriage registration. He married Robina Josephine Jenkinson at St Nicholas , Whitehaven on 24th July , 1927.  

Robina was born in Parton near Whitehaven on 17th December 1899 to John Chapman Jenkinson a Brewery labourer and Margaret Elena nee Graham of Workington. In 1901 they were one of 4 families living at Orchard Villa , Parton. Robina at the time was the youngest of  3 children. Her maternal grandmother lived with them .  

By 1911, Robina has moved to Challoner Street, Cockermouth. They are living in 5 rooms , have had 6 children with 3 surviving. She is now the middle child. Her father is still a brewery worker.  

Within two months of the marriage, on 10th September 1927 ( 1939 register) , Robina gave birth to her only child, daughter Margaret Eleanor Graham Hayes. Clearly named after Robina’s mother.  

The 1939 register lists the Hayes family at 42 Bedford Street, Hensingham, Whitehaven. Robert F – a fitter and turner, Robina -unpaid domestic duties and Margaret E G at school. All dates of birth are included. There is also a Margaret E Smith, widow born 9th December 1871 listed at the same address. Could this be Robina’s mother who had possibly remarried and been widowed for a second time? 

The 1939 register for Eric Charles Parker Hayes  lists him as Charles P E Hayes. He is the head gardener for a private estate living at Gatehouse Cottage , Eskdale. The register shows at least 3 Gatehouse Cottages. Eric’s is now called Gardener’s Cottage , a neighbouring one is Smithy Brow Cottage – the home of the researcher  ( both on Smithy Brow Lane ). Gatehouse was a large estate now the Outward Bound Centre, Eskdale. Eric is also shown as a special constable. He had married Elizabeth Steele of Bootle in 1930. They shared this dwelling with three members of the Errington family. The researcher knows that the Harrington family lived at “ Gardener’s Cottage “ – could the scribe for the 1939 register have heard Harrington as Errington in the local accent?  

We know that Robert enjoyed fishing – a photograph shows him very proudly holding a pair of salmon. He is dressed for the occasion in tweeds and plus fours and I am told that it adorned the wall of the Lutwidge Arms in Holmrook for many years. His brother Eric had moved to Irt Cottage, Holmrook.  

In January 1954 , Robert Frederick’s mother died, registered in Millom but this was the registration district for Holmrook and Eskdale.  

His daughter . Margaret who had married William Stanley Calvin of Whitehaven in July 1953 , gave birth to Robert’s first grandchild Graham Robert in February 1959. A second grandson, Tony arrived in 1962.   

Robert Frederick died aged 75, in December 1975 registered in Whitehaven. His wife Robina lived until 1981 when she died at the age of 89. Eric died in 1984.  

Related by Category

Related by City - Keswick

Related by County - Cumberland

Translate »