At the outbreak of war in 1939 Shardeloes, the family home of the Tyrwhitt-Drakes, was requisitioned as a maternity hospital to provide mothers, mainly from the south and east of London, a safe place to deliver their babies away from the danger of bombing raids. Over 5,000 babies were born there up until its closure in 1948.

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Shardeloes Babies
A postcard featuring Shardeloes Mansion, Amersham in use as a maternity hospital

 

 

Tony Vallance

Tony Vallance & mother c 1942Born June 1941.  “Although I knew that I was born in Drake’s House in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, I do not remember my mother saying a lot about the house or her evacuation. Of course, that may be just my memory! Unfortunately, she died young and I never did get to ask her about it. In 1940 she was living in South Bermondsey and my father was in the Navy. She must have been under the Heinkel bomber in that famous photograph of the German Bomber over south London taken September 7th, 1940! The street that I eventually grew up in can be seen in the photograph with all of the houses intact. Not the way that I remember them, although I don’t think they were destroyed in that particular raid. I do just about remember air raid sirens, air raid shelters, etc. Apparently, I survived some near misses during the air raids. Later, we were evacuated as a family to Walsall in the West Midlands and I have vague memories of being there.

The photograph shows me with my mother when I was about one.
I went to Ilderton Road Primary school and then to Colfe’s Grammar School in Lewisham. I was interested in radio and electronics and after Colfe’s I did an industry-based sandwich course which resulted in a degree in Electrical Engineering. I worked for some UK electronics companies and eventually a job opportunity led me and my newly married wife, Mary, to Massachusetts, USA in 1968. Further education and very interesting work has kept us in the Boston area of Massachusetts area ever since. Retired since 2003 we now live on Cape Cod. We have two sons and four grandchildren all living in Massachusetts. We have been fortunate to have been in constant contact with family and friends in the UK and we visit the London area very regularly.
I found out about the Shardeloes Babies list and the Amersham Museum from some web searching regarding Drake’s House. A spring visit in 2016, took us to Amersham and the museum. We did visit Shardeloes (outside only) and took a few photographs. Certainly, a very impressive place to be born!”

 

Kathleen Wachholz (née Cutting)

Kathleen at one year old and now

Born at Shardeloes on September, 1944 – the 3,000th baby. Father Albert and mother Grace Cutting, evacuated from Tooting, London to Amersham.

I have a paper clipping of a visit by the then Princess Royal on September 12, when I was 9 days old.  I guess I had my 15 minutes of fame at an early age”.  I was orphaned November 18/52 – adopted Dec. 7/52 – only info. about family was from my memory at age 8 – name was changed by adoptive parents to Kathleen Dorothy Holt.

Now living in Canada.  (Information from http://www.amersham.org.uk/ww2/).

 

Margaret Wadsworth (née Bone)

Born June 1946 to parents Ronald, a seaman in the Royal Navy and Brenda Bone of Amersham, now living in Wantage, Oxfordshire.

 

Chris Waller

Born April 1946. “Father ex POW Poland or Germany.”

 

Frank Wallace

Frank’s parents in 1944
Frank’s parents, Frank and his younger brother

Born July 1944.  “My mother was a GI bride. My parents meet while my father was serving in the US army and my mother in the Land Army both of whom have long since passed on. After the war we sailed on a GI bride ship to join my father in the US, but sadly the marriage only lasted long enough for my two brothers to be born and we returned to the UK. My mother never remarried but my father did and had children whom I am in touch with today.”

 

 

Jacqueline Walsh (née Jonas)

Born September 1944.  “My dad was in the US service stationed in Southhampton.”  Now living in Michigan.

 

Keith Walters OBE

Born January 1941.  “Both parents deceased.  I lived and worked in Southwark until 2007. I received the OBE for services to Boxing in 2013 and am now President of England Boxing and Hon Sec to London amateur boxing. I have been married for 51 years and have four children and 9 grandchildren.”

 

Maureen Ann Elizabeth Webb

Born September 1942.  “I think my pregnant mother moved to an aunt’s house in Rickmansworth. She owned mustard and cress fields in Rickmansworth. I think my mother’s aunt’s surname was White.”

 

James Wells

Born November 1947.  Parents lived in Brockley in London.

 

Rory Westerby

Rory with The Wildcats
Rory on Songs of Praise
Rory with his sister

Born November 1940. “I was one of the original Rock and Roll singers in the UK. 76 years later under the name of Rory Wilde I am still singing having made many records and appeared many times on TV in shows such as The Voice, Songs of Praise and 6.5 Special.”

 

Doreen Whinfindale (née Hill)

Born September 1943. “Father fighting in Arnhem.”

 

Joseph Whiting

Born September 1941.  Father was a docker, mother was living in Bermondsey.

 

Robert Franklin Williams

Born September 1940.

My grandmother was living in East Ham and got the last train from London to Northwood Hills. This was August 1940, my Grandfather was away serving at our coasts monitoring radar as he was an electronic engineer.

My Grandmother Grace was given an address to go to in Pinner/Northwood Hills but upon arrival she discovered it had been bombed, she was 8 months pregnant and no where to go, some Nuns took her in and she stayed in a house overlooking Northwood Hills Golf course where she would watch the horizon on fire (London) with the Nuns at nighttime.

She was sent to Shardeloes to have her first child Robert who was born on 14th September 1940. She stayed there for two weeks afterwards until my Grandad got her a new home in Lyndhurst Avenue Pinner.

We live in Abbots Langley and my Uncle lives in Norfolk. My grandmother died in 2008 aged 94 years she often spoke of her times at Shardeloes.

 

Richard Williams

Born December 1946, to parents John and Elizabeth Mary (née Seabrook) of Amersham.

Mother was born in Amy Lane. Chesham from a local family Bates, during the war she worked making radios at a factory in Nashleigh Hill . Father was an ex miner from Wales moved locally to Amersham following elder brother in 1935. My father was demobbed in 1946 , When I was born in December it was one of the coldest winters last century. No buses, running and my father walked to Shardeloes telling me he must have slipped over on ice and snow at least ten times. I was in an incubator for quite a while. The midwife lived later in Chesham , where we also moved to when I was 2, and my mother used to point her out to me. She was very tall, over 6ft , very unusual for a lady then. She had also told my mother when I was born that I would be tall ( I’m 6ft 3″). I went to school locally Chesham Grammar ( tech then), and have mainly lived locally. I see my old birthplace regularly as I live very close in Little Missenden.

One very funny incident in the 80’s I picked up an American work colleague, He was fed up staying in London hotels and I asked if he’d like to stay at my house as we had plenty of room. Completely coincidentally as we were passing Shardeloes he asked me if I’d always lived in the area and where was I born? I nonchalantly pointed to the house magnificent in the Summer evening Sun and told him ” I was born there “. He looked at me oddly, and in the American vernacular said ” AREr YOU Shi,,ing me?” I assured that I wasn’t and during his stay did not let on the true circumstances.

 

Michael Willson

Born October 1945. “Parents moved 3 years after the war to a council estate in Kidbooke SE London. Dad became painter and decorator and mum a part-time factory worker At the age of 50 she got an OU degree and became a teacher at Kidbrooke school I graduated from UOL and became a chemistry teacher in several comprehensive schools and finally a science education lecturer at the University of Sussex. Married Sally in 1973 – have 2 children and 4 grandchildren two of whom are Canadian.”

 

Daphne Windsor (née Bernard)

Born November 1941.  Lives locally.

 

Gwen Woodstock (née Bishop)

Born August 1946. Lives locally.

 

Sylvia Worden (née Paxon)

Born November 1941

 

John Wright

image012Born July 1943.  “My Dad, George Wilfred Wright was enlisted with the 17/43rd Battery, 7th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. No. 1081685 – Rank Bdr. Spent 6 years with the Regiment. He was on D Day crossing, helped liberate Holland. The photo is of a five leaf tulip lapel pin (one petal missing) with a picture of Queen Julianna. This was given to the troops by the people of Holland when they went through the towns. This could be very rare today.

When my father returned to civilian life he was a changed man for a while, my Mum said. He found it hard to come home to a child in the home, (me). He went back to work at West Central Post Office in London after the war where he worked until retirement. He received the Imperial Service Medal. Dad was a proud Englishman, with high ideals and didn’t have the best of health after the war, but at least he came home.

Mum and Dad immigrated to Canada in 1976 for which they really loved. I was already living in Canada since 1968. My sister, husband and two children immigrated to Canada in 1973. So this was the reason for my parents immigrating as well. They both had the spirit of adventure and enjoyed travelling around Canada and the U.S. in their Volkswagen Camper Van. Neither of my parents are living now, but shall always remember them as a very resourceful couple, after experiencing War.

image013Mum and Dad lived in Streatham Hill, South London. When Mum was expecting me she was sent to Shardeloes which was approximately end of June 1943. I was born on July 5, 1943 on second floor the second window on the right side of building (see the painting of Shardeloes that my Mother painted). Mum said the Queen Mother came to visit. I was all very secretive. She spoke to all the expectant women. She arrived with just one security car, stayed for about an hour, then all the women wished her goodbye from the front stairs. Mum said it was a wonderful experience (see below). As the Queen Mother left, 3 planes in formation flew over the roof.

Irene Wright, John’s mother, recalled the Queen Mother’s visit: “We all fell in love with her.  She spoke to every one of us, we were just like family.  I remember looking at her shoes ….. they were scuffed and I thought, ‘She’s worn her comfy shoes’”.

John Wright (aged 10 months) with his mother, Irene
John Wright (aged 10 months) with his mother, Irene

About a week after giving birth, my Mum returned home to their flat in Streatham. We both had to sleep in the shelter under the bed during the War. In late 1958 we moved to Mitchem, Surrey. I went to Gorringe Park School until age 15 (still just a young boy), then went to Central School of Arts & Crafts, Holborn, London, trained as a goldsmith. Then got an apprenticeship with Blazy & Clements on Regent Street, which was for 5 years. Worked in Hatton Garden for a while then took a job in Johannesburg, South Africa for 2 years, back home to London and then immigrated to Canada in 1968.

Over the years business was good. I opened a retail store. Was married in 1973, have one daughter, Sarah. My wife, Lynn and I have been enjoying retirement for the past 9 years. Even though I live in Canada, I’m still British, love everything from the Old Country. I even own a 1962 Hillman Super Minx Sedan for summer use, which came to Canada in 1962. I turn 72 in July, have great memories. Where have all the years gone.”

 

John Wright 

Born December 1943.

 

Mary Wright 

Born February 1941.

 

Marjan Wydmanski

Born March 1946.  His parents lived in Islington.

 

Derek Yates

Derek and Vicky Yates
Derek and Vicky Yates

Born August 1943.  “Mother died a few years ago. Sister found me who I knew nothing about for 60 years.  My mother was a 19 year old nurse from London. Would not collect me at the end of the war, I stayed in Barnardos till I was 7 then went to a foster home of a Salvation Army lady. Married with two daughters and three grandchildren.”

Sarah Diana Yonge (née Tingley)

Born September 1940

Plan Your Visit

49 High Street
Old Amersham
Buckinghamshire
HP7 0DP

01494 723700
info@amershammuseum.org

OPENING TIMES

In view of the Corona Virus (Covid-19) the museum will be closed until further notice.

“Enjoyed our visit to this wonderful interactive museum where you are positively encouraged to touch things!”

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