These are my paternal grandparents.

My branch of the family seems to have been settled in Birmingham by the late 19th Century, living in a poor area near the city centre. I don't know where they lived before that.

My cousin Clive has unearthed a copy of our grandparents' marriage certificate:
This records their marriage at St. James' Church, Ashted in Birmingham on April 21st 1902. John Thomas Allerton aged 20 married Beatrice Ellen Dewson aged 18. He is shown as a carpenter, she has no rank or profession indicated. Both were living at 14 Willis Street. Our Great Grandfathers were James Thomas Allerton, a gas fitter, and Joseph Henry Dewson. baker. The witnesses were Great Grandad and Florence Brown.

The following part of the story is based on my memory, and of things told me by my father and other members of the family, over the years. Two daughters (Beat and Gertrude - later known as Trudy) were born, and then our Grandfather went, without the family, to Canada, and spent perhaps two or three years there. He made some money, but could not stand the cold winters, and returned to Birmingham. Three sons were born following his return, Charlie, (William) Henry (my father) and Ernie.

The family appear at some stage to have moved to London, because Henry was born in Hammersmith in 1913, but the family moved back to Birmingham after this.

Grandfather acquired a small piece of land outside Birmingham, at Monkspath (near Shirley and Solihull), and began by building a tool shed. Over a period, this increased in size and complexity so as to accommodate those who visited for weekends. Planning regulations were relaxed after the First World War, and (partly because of my father's poor health) the family moved out there permanently, I believe around 1919/1920.

Part of the reason for the move was said to be my father's poor health, and he needed to get away from the air pollution in the city.

Some details and maps of the area are available here.

Charlie also lived with his family in a similar dwelling on the Mount Estate, round the corner.

This was an area that mostly remained fairly basic, the houses being built mostly of timber, and mostly by their occupants. Mains electricity was introduced at some stage, and telephones, but as far as I know, no water supply or sewerage was provided, and my grandmother used a well for her water, and the lorry would come round each week to empty her portable chemical toilet.

The roads were unmade, full of pot-holes, and there were no street lights. Around 1968, the area was compulsorily purchased for housing development, and is now unrecognisable to those who knew it previously. Grandmother moved into a bungalow in Solihull, where she appears to have become rather depressed. My parents visited regularly, and decided that she would be better living with them, so she moved to their house in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, late in 1969, where she died in July 1970, at the age of 86, from a ruptured aneurism in her femoral artery.

I believe that Grandfather held a patent or registered design for "The Shirley Truck", a workman's handcart with a system of drawers and other storage devices. He dabbled with various enterprises, never making much money out of them, and they were all of limited duration, apparently because he lost interest and went on to something else.

I was told as a child that Grandmother had to keep all seven of them on £1 per week, which she didn't always receive, if Grandfather wasn't bothering to work, or needed money for one of his enterprises.