Aubrey Edward Hames
Aubrey Hames was born Edward Aubrey Hames at 115 Greenhill Road Sebastopol on 19th January 1923, the first child of Arthur, a Railway Goods Porter, and Eleanor Hames, a pianist in the local cinema.
He spent most of his early childhood living at 14 Florence Place in neighbouring Griffithstown, and attended Griffithstown Infants and Griffithstown Junior School. Although his parents split up just after he was born, out of economic necessity, they continued to live together intermittently for the next eleven years until Eleanor left the area in 1934, moving to Southall in west London.
Initially Aubrey and his brother Russell stayed with their father in Griffithstown after Eleanor left, but within a few months they had joined their mother who by this time had moved the short distance to Hillingdon, where Aubrey attended the newly opened Swakely’s School. However, Eleanor struggled to make a living in London during her time there, and within two years she was forced to return to South Wales, moving back in with Arthur, who by this time was living in a flat above 8 Hollybush Crescent in Malpas Newport, now 373 Malpas Road.
However, within a year, Eleanor left Arthur again, moving out with one of the lodgers they shared their flat with, this time leaving the two boys behind. Struggling to look after Aubrey and his brother Russell, and with significant mental health issues, Arthur eventually had a breakdown. Much of the family responsibility for looking after Russell and to an extent Arthur therefore fell onto Aubrey after this.
Despite all the issues from his home life, Aubrey did though manage to excel at school, particularly in mathematics, sport and art. Enrolling at Brynglas Central School from March 1936, Aubrey enjoyed his later school years. He played for the school rugby, football and baseball teams, captaining the rugby team in the 1936/37 season. Representing the town rugby team in the same season, he helped them reach the semi-final of the Dewar Shield, the Welsh Schools National Rugby competition, losing their only match of the season to Cardiff. Aubrey also had an unsuccessful trial for the Welsh Schoolboys rugby team in this season.
Newport Boys Rugby Team 1936/7
Bains, Aubrey Hames, Andrews, Cotton, Alonzi, Sharpe, Gibbs, Hill, Thomas,
Mr Jones, Holland, Anstee, Whitfield, Mr Escott, Hale, Thomas, Banks, Mr Hill
Cromwell, Jones, Tippings
On leaving school just after his 16th birthday, Aubrey applied to join the RAF. Although passing the entrance exam, he later failed the medical due to deafness in his right ear, a condition caused as a direct result of contracting measles as a child. However, he later passed the entrance exams (and medical) for the army, signing up as a boy solider on 24th January 1939, just over seven months before Britain went to war with Germany.
Arthur Hames was born in Weymouth in 1894, one of two illegitimate children of Alice Hames. Like her father John, his mother Alice suffered from severe depression, and struggling to look after herself let alone two children, Arthur was therefore initially brought up by his great uncle John Hames (his grandmothers brother, whose maiden name was also Hames). At the age of eleven, his mother tried to commit suicide by jumping down a well, and sectioned to the Herrison Hospital in Charminster, died there two years later, thirty years after her father, Arthur’s grandfather, had died in the same hospital. Just one month prior to this, Arthur’s guardian, his great uncle John had died, and subsequent to this he was brought up by his aunt Kathleen, Alice’s sister. These events seemed to affect Arthur to a great degree, and he was quiet and reserved, and like his mother and grandfather was prone to periods of depression.
During his lifetime Arthur suffered several nervous breakdowns, the first one of which occurred shortly after leaving the navy at the end of the 1st World War. After suffering at least his second nervous breakdown in Newport in the 1930s, Arthur was admitted to St. Cadocs hospital in Caerleon. Over the next thirty years, he was admitted to St.Cadocs on several occasions, finally being admitted permanently, and for the last time in 1963. He died on 15th April 1977 at the age of 83.
Eleanor Hames (née) Craven-Griffiths
Eleanor Craven-Griffiths was born on 28th February 1906 in Griffithstown, the first child of Autherna and Frederick Craven-Griffiths. Despite a rich and very successful great-uncle, Thomas Cooke, a twice Mayor of Much Wenlock, and a multi-millionaire in today’s terms, Eleanor had a poor and deprived childhood, much of it spent living in London. With financial constraints forcing her parents to give one of her brothers up for adoption, and another born in the workhouse, by the time she had reached her teenage years, her parents had divorced, and Eleanor was living with her mother and step-father William Davies at 81 Commercial Street back in Griffithstown with six or seven brothers.
In contrast to Arthur, Eleanor appeared to be a confident and ambitious young lady, determined to make her own way in life. A talented pianist, she played at the silent movies in the cinema across the road from her parents house. Eleanor met Arthur when he moved to Griffithstown towards the end of 1920, renting a room out in her family home. Although Arthur soon fell in love with Eleanor, these feelings were not reciprocated by Eleanor. However keen to remove the financial burden of looking after Eleanor, she was forced to marry Arthur by her mother.
Eleanor and Arthur were married on 16th April 1922 in Dorchester, Arthur’s home town. Eleanor at just sixteen, was twelve years Arthur’s junior. Given the circumstances of their marriage, it was hardly surprising that it didn’t last, and Eleanor seemed to take every opportunity to live away from Arthur. Leaving Arthur for the last time in about 1936, she and Arthur never divorced, even though Eleanor stayed with the lodger, Archie Hopton, that she left with for the rest of his life.
Like her mother, Eleanor (and Archie) ran a succession of Guest Houses during their lifetime, eventually settling down in Paignton, Devon, near her youngest son Russell. She died in 1984, aged 78.