The Wallis's ~ The Complete Story
This chapter is taken from an interview given by Dorothy Neal in 1993. Dorothy was a first cousin of Constance Covington, Pamela’s mother Dorothy was the younger daughter of James & Marie Pass. James’s sister was the Stella (Sarah) Pass who married Fredrick William Covington the parents of Constance Beatrice Covington, my wife Pamela’s mother.
Dotothy’s grandfather, was Charles Pass, born in 1750. He had lived in Salisbury Street in London and worked as an Oilman. He later moved to 20 Tottenham Court New Road. My grandfather was among the first of the Oilmen selling paraffin oil that was used for lighting. Gas and electricity had not yet come on the market and before that candles had been used. Obviously there was great demand for paraffin, but he also sold paints and other decorating materials.
He apprenticed his son with a company called Littlewoods Bros.; they had many branches all over London. In 1875 he opened his own ‘Oil and Colour merchants’ in Brewer Street, off Tottenham Court Road. Here he made all his own varnishes, paints and ink and other things besides. In 1890 the lease of the Brewer Street shop expired and he moved out of town and into, what was then, the country. He settled in Sudbury, which later became Wembley, Middlesex.
Her grandfather had the shop in Brewer Street for ten years and during that time the new shop in 4 The Mall, Wembley was built. Her father, James Pass was attending the Windmill school in Soho at the time. At the age of twelve he was sent to manage the shop while his father transferred everything from Brewer Street.
There were three sons and three daughters all of who had to work in the shop. Dorothy’s mother Marie married James Pass in 1900. Marie had been born in North Wales and attended school in Barmouth. Her grandparents paid two-pence a week for her education but nevertheless she also had to work in the shop. This was quite a different way of life from what she had been used to. Her mother continued to work until my grandfather died at the age of eighty-four.
Her parents met when my mother came to London to stay with an Aunt who owned the shop next door to James Pass’s shop in Brewer Street they later married. In those days coming from Wales to London was like going to the moon! The whole village of Barmouth turned out to see her off. Marie travelled a lot by train in those days and Dorothy recalls the seasoned traveller who commanded the porter’s attention with the flick of her fingers. A porter was always available to carry her case.
Train travel was quite luxurious at the time and one could order lunch on the train. She used to travel quite often to stay with our welsh grandmother.
Dorothy was born in Wembley in 1916, the youngest of four children. She lived over the shop until 1927 when her mother Marie bought a house in Wembley. The area was growing fast especially after the 1925 Exhibition.
Dorothy’s older brother and sister had married their mother let the house and she returned to live over the shop. Her younger brother had died when he was seventeen.
Dorothy can remember her father weighing out pounds of soda and wrapping it in newspaper for twopence. Customers would come in for a penny piece of ‘Whiting’, which was put in a bucket, stirred with water and used to paint the ceiling.
This was also priced two pence! Coal blocks made from compressed coal dust sold for a penny each. And were put on the fire to keep it going a bit longer. She
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