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Leslie Lowes: A Family Man

A Family Man

By Leslie Lowes
September 2004,
A digital story from Who Do You Think You Are?

"This is my grandfather, Willie Lowes, and this is his family. As a boy, I knew everyone in this picture, except Willie and his wife Jennie. They left us long before I was born. Willie looks very proud of his family. He had a lot of reasons to feel proud. This is the second family Willie had raised.

This is Lodge House Farm, Willie's father John was a cow keeper. With six children including twin boys and all the milking, it was a tough life for a farmer's wife and Willie had to be farmed out to live with his granddad, a railway clerk, with a house that came with his job. Willie was being groomed to take over. Prospects were good, but then disaster struck, Willie's mother died. She was just 35. The verse on the funeral card says it all - "Love my children for my sake." Three years later, her husband John, also died.

Willie was now head of a family of five children. He was just sixteen, with grandparents in their seventies. He brought his brothers and sisters to live with him here, at Prospect House. This was Willie's first family. He cared for them for ten years.

When they were grown and left, Willie married a schoolteacher, Jenny Hogg, and started his second family. Here they are in 1911.

Willie never forgot his first family, even when raising his own children. He writes to his sister Pollie on her birthday saying that time is slipping away so fast; he is beginning to feel very old. He was just 41, but it had been a very tough life.

Willie wanted careers and security for his girls. Two of them became head teachers because Willie had put them through college and university. In the 1920's there were no grants. On a railway clerk's pay that can't have been easy.

Willie was a good father to two families - "We loved them all and gave them a route from poverty to much a better future." In the times he lived in, this was no mean feat. From the comfort of now, I can look back and feel proud of what my grandfather Willie did for my family."


Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Consett, Co. Durham and became a teacher and eventually a BBC Producer. Now retired, I live in the Shetland Islands.

What's your story about?
My story is about my paternal grandfather Willie Lowes, who lived at the now vanished railway village of Waskerley, Co. Durham. Willie died fifteen years before I was born, but I knew all his children.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
I was surprised to learn that Willie had brought up his own brothers and sisters and I admire him for that, and for giving his own children a good start in life on only a modest wage.

Any additional comments?
It was astonishing to make Willie's story live in this way, using such useful technology. I am grateful for the opportunity to have done this - I'll be back!

Your comments

"Message for Leslie: I am George Robert Lowes's grandaughter. It was nice to see the Wasterly story in print. My mother often talked of Wasterly, as did Eva, Lilly, Eddie,and Leslie. I assume you are Leslie's son. I'd love to hear from you." Jennifer Puttock

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