Cabinet by Samuel Shepley Jones c. 1910

Grandfather Samuel Shepley Jones (1862-1932, my father’s father), was a joiner and cabinet maker by trade, and the organist at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Ashton-Under-Lyne for 50 years.  I remember meeting his family when I went up North to Ashton soon after the war, was fed to bursting by my grandmother, Martha Jones, in a properly Lancastrian fashion, and went to cinemas – with my cousin Raymond who was about the same age – in both the morning and the afternoon of the same day.  It was very memorable, we hardly ever went to the cinema at home. Seventy plus years later I learn from Bob McDermott that the beautiful cabinet in the photo was made by our grandfather for his daughter Mary Agnes (Madge) when she married Richard McDermott of Spain House, Ashton.

Samuel Shepley’s parents were Frederick Jones, a house painter (born about 1824 in Pendlebury, Lancashire), and Elizabeth Shepley (born in 1826). I have no photo of Martha, Samuel’s wife. Frederick’s father was David Jones, a weaver from Mold in Flintshire according to my mother – he must have been Welsh, with a name like David Jones, but I haven’t traced him yet.  There were a lot of David Joneses in Lancashire early in the 19th Century.

Martha’s father was George Hulme , a ‘self-acting minder’ in the spinning trade, (born about 1832 in Gorton), and his wife was born Ellen Sharrock, in about 1833, in Wigan.  Like Elizabeth Shepley, Ellen made a mark instead of a signature on her daughter’s birth certificate.  At the time Martha was born, Ellen and George lived in Cotton Street, Ashton. A cousin of mine, who was born in 1916,  says he remembers the wave of sound coming down the streets of Ashton in the morning, from the clatter of the clogs on the cobbles. George’s father was Thomas, a hatter, and Ellen’s father was James, a spinner, but I haven’t traced either of them yet.

The Jones household at 81 Uxbridge Street, Ashton, looked like this at the 1901 Census, my father Raymond being by then an Office Boy:


Samuel Shepley Jones Head Mar 39 Cabinet Maker Born Dukinfield
Martha Jones Wife Mar 39 Born Ashton
Raymond Jones Son Single 14 Office Boy Born Ashton
Mary A Jones Dau Single 12 Born Ashton
Elizabeth E Jones Dau 11 Born Ashton
Frances Jones Dau 9 Born Ashton
Joseph Jones Son 7 Born Ashton
Samuel T Jones Son 4 Born Ashton
George Hulme [Father-in-Law] 70 Street Scavenger Born Lancashire, Droylesden

Like my father, his brother Joseph also joined the National Gas & Oil Co Ltd – in 1908, as an apprentice – but unlike my father he stayed with the company, and worked his way through the departments, finally becoming Managing Director in 1951-6.  Not only that, but he was well known to all in the gas and oil engine industry from 193 to 1960, as an innovative engineer.  Amongst many other achievements he initiated experimental work which led to the development of the high-compression gas engine. My mother had a high opinion of people who were successful in life, and Uncle Joe was one of her stars.  The other brother, Samuel, also an engineer by training, spent some years in London but moved back to Ashton.  He inherited his father’s musical talent, and followed his father as organist at St Anne’s.