Grace Russ 1933-2006
(Grace Enid Baglin) By Arthur Russ 1985©
My mum, Grace Enid Baglin, was born to Florence Evaline Jenner (1901-1994) and Edward William Burgess Baglin (1906-1969) in Bristol at about 7.30pm on Thursday
27th April 1933.
Grand Pratt (Gertrude Rosa Burgess, 1874-1958) her grandmother
was living with the family at the time and had a significant influence on Grace's personality during her time spent with her grandmother in childhood and
teenage life; an influence that formed her character to life.
Eva (Florence Evelyn Jenner) always said "I never
had Grace until Grand Pratt died"; by which time Grace was married
Grand Pratt use to spend hours telling Grace of her own life as a child and teenager growing up with her sisters in Latteridge, Iron Acton, Gloucestershire, and stories of Grace's grandfather (George Burgess, Grand Pratt's father); many of these stories later being written down and which are part of the Burgess family history on this site.
Grand Pratt had a wild and free childhood and teenage life, living predominantly in the country and was independent by nature. Not a very good mix for her daughter-in-law (Eva Baglin) who in contrast has a more 'prim and proper' upbringing, and who looked after Grand Pratt (her mother-in-law) in her ailing years, the two never seeing eye-to-eye and never really getting on together; at best, tolerating each other.
Grace has often told me that she has always been independent by
nature, and found home life stifling. So, when Ernie (Ernest Raymond
Russ) came on the scene she saw an opportunity to escape!!
She was 18
at the time and although it didn't work out in the end, it was a happy
marriage while it lasted.
Grace and Ernie planned to have two children, but unfortunately,
the second died shortly after birth - Fortunately for me, I came on
the scene to make up the numbers! We were a poor family, Ernie was always
chopping and changing jobs, a couple of times trying self-employment, which never worked-out because of his bad business sense! When first
married, they lived in a caravan, shortly afterwards moving to 77 Streamside,
Mangotsfield, Bristol and became the 1000th Council tenant on the new
Council Housing Estate. I can remember my mum telling me about Alan
(her first born) when he was a baby, he stuck a knitting needle in an
electric socket and was thrown across the room. Then when he was a toddler,
to young to go to school, he used to escape! And make his way to Nan's
first memories are in 1960 - When the whole family, mum, dad, Alan and
I were walking down a country lane with hedges on either side - The
next thing I knew, we came to a green wooden gate on our left. Looking
down a path with flowers over grown on both sides, was a small cottage
like house, with a large green door and four windows - This was to be
our new home, 38 Victoria Road, North Common, Warmley, Bristol. A four
roomed house, two up, two down, each room about 8ft Square, and loose
flag stones on the kitchen floor. The only modern amenities were electricity
and a cold water tap in the Out-house. The house was bought on the understanding
that Ernie’s parents would put up the money for modernising the
place. However, planning permission was not granted because the Council
had redevelopment plans under consideration (it was over a decade before
any thing was actually started. So, Ernie made a feeble attempt to make
a cesspool in the garden - 6ft square and 6ft deep, which was nothing
more than a dangerous hole; and was never used as we had moved on before
its completion. For toilet facilities we used a plastic bucket, and
for baths, a large tin bath, which was placed in front of the coal fire
and topped up with hot water, boiled on the kitchen stove. At one point
we were so poor that we lived on nettle soup
for a while.
However, in 1966, in the dead of night, we moved on,
leaving creditors behind us. Ernie had leased a Nursery in Uley, Glos.
(Angeston Nurseries) and set himself up as a self-employed Nurseryman.
My mother, and brother (when he left school) helped run the place, but
after a while (in spite of dad's principles) mum got an independent
job, and had a taste of freedom.
years after moving to Uley, due to bad management, my father was declared
bankrupt - So we moved onto Mortimer, near Reading, where he was employed
as a Gardener - Moving on nine months later to Angus Convalescent Home,
Orpington, Kent, where he became `Head Gardener'.
Three years later the family broke up. I moved back to Bristol, and
lived with my grandmother (Eva), also living with her at that time,
as a lodger, was Iva. The following year Grace and Alan got a council
house in Orpington, Kent. That year Alan and Iva were married, and in
1976, after the birth of their first-born, they got a council house
of their own. In 1977, Grace returned to Bristol to look after her mother,
and took a job as the `Personal Secretary to the Personal Secretary
of the Lord Mayer of Bristol'. Life in Bristol was quiet and boring,
the job was humdrum. And Grace was missing her independence and London
life. So when, a year later, Gillespies wrote, asking if she would go
back, offering a £500 rise - she jumped at it and went trotting
off to London; where she felt happy and at home and could lead a
`happy go lucky' life with adventures and scrapes around every corner.