Memory Lane: Evacuees to Royal Windsor Eric Balchin

Eric reminds us of his days in Windsor as an evacuee in WW2, when the Blitz caused nearly 4 million to leave the

major cities for the comparative safety of the countryside.

On the 3rd September 1939 the first air-raid warning was sounded across London. At that time Harry and Clarice Balchin, with their daughter Joy and son Eric lived at 21 Lavender Sweep, Battersea, just a stone’s throw from Clapham Junction – at that time the busiest railway junction in the world. Grandfather Harry had been a signalman in the enormous signal box which spanned all the lines coming out of Waterloo. Ill health caused by gas poisoning in the first World War finally overtook him, and he died in the early 1940’s.

At the time when war was declared, Mum Clarice and we two children were in Windsor, staying with Auntie Cis (Emily Platt-Betts née Balchin), our father’s only sister. Her husband Ken worked for McMichael Radios in Slough, who carried out research and development for the Ministry of Defence, as well as producing huge radios in wooden cabinets for the general public.

Auntie Cis’s house was very modern for those times, and was positioned almost opposite the (Royal) Windsor Racecourse, for horses that is. So, we watched a lot of activity when we went from Battersea, by train via Egham, to Windsor in 1939. At that time I was 3 and sister Joy was six. With this in mind, you must consider that her memories and experiences have been better remembered than my own, and at this stage I should like to thank her for correcting my errors and filling in my mental gaps.

So, this was towards the end of the summer holidays. Good days, golden days, summer as it should be, and then on Sunday 3rd September at 9.00 a.m. Britain sent an ultimatum to Germany that expired at 11.00 a.m. and France sent a similar one that expired at 5.00 p.m. These stated that German troops should be withdrawn from Poland. No reply was received. We were at war!


Joseph Moss Balchin 1777 – 1854 and Mary his Daughter 1815 – 1851E J (Ted) Balchin

A study of the Walker tree of the Balchin Family leads one to believe that Joseph spent his life in a career

in the 6th Dragoons; but current research shows that this is not so.

Joseph Moss Balchin was born in 1777, the only son of the marriage between Elizabeth Barker

and John Balchin, Gentleman Farmer of Westcott and Cobham. John Balchin was the 4x great-

grandfather of Jenny Dixon and myself. He had two wives; the first wife, Ann Sparkes, died shortly after

giving birth to a son that was named Richard. John Balchin remained a widower with his son for three

years; he is described by John Walker as being ‘rich in the world’s goods’; and in 1773 another marriage

was arranged with Elizabeth Barker.


A Plumstead Mystery – Roy Balchin

23rd June 1916, and Frances Elizabeth Cape was to die because there was no supper for Charles Balchin – but was it murder?

There must have been many times when Charles Balchin stood in the dock be{ore Justice Lawrence when his thoughts turned to the cost of losing his temper on the night of Friday the 23rd of June 1916.

The quiet Plumstead street in South London had, on that fateful night, resounded with cries for the police and a doctor. Upstairs at number 6 Bassant Road the body of Frances Elizabeth Cape lay cold and bloody in her bed. Charles Balchin of that address was charged with her murder. The evidence was to show that she was to die because there was no supper for him on that evening of madness.

. . . Charles Balchin was found Guilty of Manslaughter, and sentenced to six month’s hard labour.


A Horsham Culinary Discovery – Susan Shafrir

Amongst the many facets of the family Gathering in September 2005 was the fascinating display of Balchin memorabilia shown by the Horsham Museum, under their heading ‘The Balchin, Gravetts, Voice Collection’, which we were privileged to view on the Saturday afternoon.

People obviously delved deeply into aspects which were of professional interest to them personally, but there were many nuggets of general interest which caught the imagination.

I discovered that Ada Balchin (daughter of Mrs M A Gravetts, Baker and Confectioner) had won a gold medal at a cookery exhibition taking place at Holborn Town Hall on May 22nd 1907. She was also a Baker and Confectioner in her own right, as was duly reported in ‘Lloyds News – Far and away the best Sunday Paper’.


Roger Balchin and his Farm ‘Gernos’ – Mrs Diana Beamish

After the Second World War my Uncle Roger (1912 – 1998) ran a smallholding in Hartley in Kent, with chickens, rabbits and a goat, but late in 1949 decided to run a farm. He bought a mixed dairy and arable farm called Gernos in St Dogmaels near Cardigan on the Pembrokeshire coast, moving there on 5.1.1950. My grandmother was very upset by the thought of their leaving Hartley, but had to be resigned to it and enjoyed her two visits there, in April 1950 and May/June 1951. The farm was situated down a very rough stony track which one could hardly have thought suitable for motor vehicles! However, my uncle managed with his, which was an old hearse!


Balchins as Innkeepers – Professor William Balchin

Founder members of the Society will recollect that two previous articles in the Newsletter have dealt with occupational activities of the Balchins. The first of these was in Issue 2 of July 1995, where an analysis of the information in the John Walker tree was attempted, and the second is in Issue 4 of July 1996 where a current membership questionnaire was analysed.