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Thursday, 22 March 2012

5. The End of Security.

Bert's parents were 21 and 20 respectively when he was born in 1891. Their lives were busy and physically demanding. By the time Bert won his first cycling medal in 1903 they had six children, the youngest just born. We know little of how they manufactured their mineral water but the process was demanding and continuous.

C Ruffles delivering mineral water in England 1914
We do know they made deliveries - primarily to hotels - as part of their business, using a horse-drawn dray or van, and that Bert sometimes helped his father with this task. Horse-drawn vehicles delivered most food and drink at the time - to markets, houses and shops.

In the early 1900s Bert's father developed severe angina. Bert's sister, Dorothy, known as Doll, told the story of her father having an angina attack one day at home, grabbing the curtain and pulling it down on its rod as he fell to the floor.

On 26th June 1907, their father, Albert Ray, had an angina attack while on cart the delivering mineral water. At the corner of Kneller Road and Twickenham Road Whitton, he fell from the van and was unable to be revived.  He was 38. A coroner's inquest was held on 28th June 1907 and issued his death certificate on 29 June 1907. Albert Edward Ray was buried at St Leonard's Heston on 1 July 1907.

Probate was granted on 28 September 1907, awarding Emily eleven hundred and eighty three pounds. It was a significant sum, but not enough to raise six children.  Fred, aged 5 and Les aged 3 needed to be cared for. Bert was 15, Doll was 13, Sid 11 and Stan 7 when their father died. In addition to their grief, their lives changed dramatically.Their secure Edwardian existence was based on an income from a business that depended on the physical labour and mature acumen their father had provided.

They would need to generate income to support the family. The heaviest burden fell on their mother, but the older children carried a share.

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