Pitching for a job Work is unclear, but wedding photo sorted


September 1939 is not so far away as to think that a work description, certainly one for an English job, could be difficult to understand. But what exactly might be involved in being a ‘Trinidad Pitch Pourer’, as seen in this 1939 register extract?

roberts1939_pitchpourer

After a little digging on Wikipedia, Trinidad Pitch must be the product of Pitch Lake in Trinidad {1} – the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. But was John H Roberts pouring it to make road surfaces, perhaps for roofing, to caulk boats, or what? Unsurprisingly for such a common name, his background hasn’t yet been discovered.

John and wife Margaretta (nee Watkins {2}, known as Grett or Gretta) were married in the Rhondda in 1931, by 1939 were living at Rivers Street in Bath, not too far from the river, and they moved to Plymouth according to family notes. So boat caulking could fit.

Your ideas welcome.

The 1939 register was taken at the start of World War Two, is now available via Findmypast {3}, and has elements of a standard census. Although there are quite a lot of records ‘locked’ for the privacy of subjects who might still be alive, for those that are available the dates of birth and later additions (changes in surnames) have solved one or two puzzles and helped with a few others.

Another fine muddle

The surname changes are down to the register continuing as a live database for the NHS right up until 1991. One of the previously unknown marriages which has been revealed thanks to this updating clears up one of the mysteries from ‘More of a muddle than a match‘.

Clearly a wedding group, but whose?
Clearly a wedding group, but whose?

The third of this set of old family wedding photos (reproduced above) is from another Watkins branch, the Parrys. As stated in that Cutlock article, this couldn’t be any earlier than 1951 from the girls’ apparent ages. So Margaret Webb nee Parry remarrying in Bath that year, to Frederick Perkins, is a good fit.

The photo line-up therefore reads, left to right: Morwenna Webb, Frederick Perkins, Margaret Perkins nee Parry, Kay Webb, Mary Hannah Parry nee Watkins, Bill Parry {4}.

Good to tidy up that loose end, and also note the commonality of Bath to the two Watkins offshoots.

A little frustrating to realise that the Parry family later had Trowbridge connections, the home of an even closer relative for some years until 2015. Perhaps they crossed paths unknowingly.

Notes

  1. Wikipedia also has a page Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago, which is about a company set up to exploit the resource. Perhaps the wiki editors could link the two pieces at some stage?
  2. Gretta Watkins, born 1904 Rhondda, was a great aunt. Combined family notes suggests she died in Plymouth in 1983. There is a possible match for her husband’s 1965 death reg in the city.
  3. More about the 1939 register on Findmypast. In passing, the transcription for the job here had ‘trained’ for ‘Trinidad’ – the second time in our small sample that that word was wrongly used.
  4. Mary Hannah Watkins was the oldest sibling of Gretta. Born 1889 Neath district, married Bill 1908 in Rhondda. Family notes say she lived in Bath and died 1977, but a 1969 death registration in the town seems more likely. Bill and Mary Hannah’s 1939 entry now found after initially proving elusive (both had been transcribed with a wrong initial for the middle name), at 36 High Street, Weston.

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