REGINALD VIVIAN MARTIN (1898 - 1998) and MABEL IRENE COLMAN (1899 - 1996)

He was born on the 21st November, 1898, the youngest of three boys, the sons of William Martin (2) and Sarah Elizabeth Abbott. He spent his infancy in Higham Ferrers until his father's retirement, when the family moved to Bedford. He recalls living at North End, the large walnut tree there and the Feast with the yearly Fair. With his brothers Max and Guy he entered the Bedford Modern School.


He was captain of his house rugby team and captain of the school 2nd XV, leaving school aged 18 from the sixth form to join the Army in 1917.


He served in France as a Corporal in the Royal Fusiliers for just one year during the First World war.



During the war his parents moved to Ampthill, Beds. and it was from there following his discharge from the army that he obtained his first job in the advertisement department of the Derby Daily Express.


After a brief period he left to join the advertisement staff of the Manchester Guardian, where he remained for some three years. He became Sales Manager of John Rylands & Sons, a large Wholesale warehouse in Piccadilly, Manchester, where he carried out fire watching duties at night during the Second World War as well as being a member of the Wilmslow Home Guard.

In Manchester he became a Freemason and ultimately the Master of his Lodge - Hardy Lodge and he also joined the Manchester Y.M.C.A. and more importantly married Mabel Irene Colman, the eldest daughter of Sidney Hall Colman and Beatrice Eveline Timothy, at Holy Innocents Church, Fallowfield on the 3rd of September 1927, he remembers missing a few rugby matches!

His address at the time was 9 Lancaster Road, Fallowfield and her address was 11 Roda Street, Moston, Manchester, her Father was given as retired though he had been a Poor Law official at the Manchester Workhouse later Crumpsall Hospital. Their only son, Vivian Bryan Guy was born on 28th June 1932. On joining the Manchester Y.M.C.A. he resumed his sporting activities and became captain of the Rugby XV and representative on the committee of the Lancashire County Rugby Football Union.

He served on this committee for several years, becoming the senior vice-president, but owing to personal and business reasons he had to decline the Presidency. Whilst an ordinary member of the Y.M.C.A.. he was invited to join the Board of Management and after serving on this for several years was elected a Vice-President. With his wife and young son he then moved home to a house he had built in Broad Walk, Pownall Park, Wilmslow where later on the death of his mother in 1934 he was joined by his father, who died there in 1937 and was buried with his wife Sarah Elizabeth in Higham Ferrers Cemetery. He was a keen member of the Pownall Hall Tennis Club and later a member of the Alderley Edge Golf Club.

In 1958 he was invited to become a Governor of Cheadle Hulme School, a large co-educational day and board school and a trustee of the School Charity. He severed his connection with the school in 1988 when his advanced years made travelling to the school difficult.

He later moved to Poynton, having a bungalow build on Anglesey Drive near Poynton Pool and later he and his wife spent their closing years sharing "Willshaw" the home of his son, daughter in law and grandson in the Derbyshire hamlet of Whitehough near Chinley. He died suddenly, aged 99, in Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport on 8 January 1998 and was cremated at Macclesfield Crematorium on January 15.

What kind of a man is he?

He says that although coming from middle class parents, in his later life he met on easy terms, both titled people and millionaires. He was very much a Mans man, who limited the number of his friendships so that those he did make became close and persisted over the years. He was not blind to his own faults either as a husband or father and allowed the experience of the passing years to diminish them.

1901 Census Sarah Marten (Martin) Town Yard, Higham Ferrers, wife, aged 34, born Northants Daventry, Max Marten (Martin), son, aged 8, born Singapore LL (SS), Guy Marten (Martin) son, aged 5, born Singapore LL (SS) Vivian Marten (Martin) son, aged 2, born Higham Ferrers & alice Stimpson, relative,aged 17, born Higham Ferrers, Shoe Machinist
William was back in Singapore by then.

1911 census William Martin, Head, 60, Married, Retired Gaoler, Straights Settlements, born Falcut, Northants - marrried for 19 years.
Sarah Elizabeth, Wife, Married, 44, no occupation, born Daventry, Northants
Guy Stanislaus, Son, Single, 15, School, born Singapore, Straights Settlements
Reginald Vivian, Son, Single, 12, School, born Higham Ferrers, Northants

Not much has been recorded about his wife, Mabel Irene's early life, other than she was the eldest of five children, Nina Grace, who probably died at an early age, Olive Constance, Frank Vincent and Vivian Hall, ( always known as Bud). She was born at Brookfield Street, Cheetham, Manchester in 1899. Her mother, Beatrice Eveline Colman nee Timothy (see greater detail under TIMOTHY family) had worked as a nurse (as later did her daughter Olive Constance) at Crumpsall Hospital, known as Manchester Workhouse in those days.

1901 census, Mabel Irene Colman, at 16 Queen St, North Manchester (Cheetham Hill?) with SHC & BEC, she was aged 2, born Manchster, Lancs and also with Nina G, sister, aged 2 months & George A Colman (stepbrother?), aged 12 possible child of SHC & Alice Perry (Colman)

Her father, Sidney Hall Colman, who had been married before, as there was a half sister Bertha Colman, was in charge of about 300 non medical staff, such as porters, cleaners etc. at the same hospital. It is said that he wore a blue uniform with gold braid. Her birth certificate records her father as a Poor Law Official. They later lived at The Lodge, one of the entrances to the Workhouse, which had extensive grounds. My mothers step-sister, Bertha Colman, left her house at Huntley Road , Higher Crumpsall, Manchester to me, on her death in the 1960's. Mabel Irene, prior to her marriage, worked as a photographic retoucher, colouring sepia photos, at Kay's, the well known Manchester society photographers.

She was taken ill with pneumonia on 14th Dec 1995 and died in Stepping Hill Hospital on 2nd January 1996, aged 97.

She was cremated at Macclesfield Crematorium on the 8th January 1996, and by her own request only close family (Husband, Son, Daughter-in-law, and Grandson) present.

The committal service was conducted by the Rev. Colin Smith, Methodist Minister for Chapel en le Frith, Derbyshire.


From a letter he wrote to BBC  ‘Down Your Way’

My Father

He used to live in Ampthill and attended Bedford Modern School;
- his family moved from Bedford to Ampthill "for health reasons" when he was 12 and he left Ampthill for the Army when 19;
- they lived at Maydencroft in Dunstable Street, opposite the Crown, his father (William Martin) was a local councillor and Poor Law Union Guardian, on Christmas Day they would visit the Workhouse and help the master, Charles Wolveridge, waiting on the inmates;
- he was a chorister at Ampthill church and they had one lady singer, Mrs.Seabrook "who sang well but was tucked away in a rather inconspicuous spot";
- the cobbler was Charles Stanisford who had a small shop in Dunstable Street opposite Stearns the tailor and nearby was Woods the hairdresser and tobacconist; "Charlie used to listen to my prattle as I sat on his counter but he was deaf which was doubtless an advantage", Woods owned a motorcycle and sidecar;
- Miss Osborne lived behind the writer's family, a doctor lived next door and his house and grounds were later council property; another doctor, Ambler, had a son called Joe who owned a tame jackdaw;
- Ampthill Park had horse chestnuts which children used to collect whilst evading park staff and a small pond which offered illicit fishing.
- he visited Ampthill Brewery after World war One with Customs & Excise officer "those visits were distinctly unofficial nevertheless we sampled the beer!";
- his brother's name appeared on the town's War Memorial - Guy Stanislaus Martin MM, Corporal in 5th Divisional Signals Company, Royal Engineers, died 25 Aug 1918 aged 23 and buried in Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension.

- Oliver Street was a dull place but led to Hetley's Iron Works which ceased operations just before the Great War, Septimus Hetley was about the writer's age and "had several very good looking sisters";
- he also remembered Marks the butcher, Mrs.Crozier who owned Ampthill Steam Laundry, Mrs.Dunkerley who owned a small sweet shop, Edward Coleman & Sons, the drapers in the Market Square and Anthony Wingfield "whose llamas occasionally promenaded through the village as did Mr.Wingfield's agent. He appeared to be the best dressed man in the village and his figure was such that it was rumoured, no doubt falsely, that he wore a corset.