The Snows And The Godwins

Thomas Henry Snow Ethel May Godwin
Thomas Henry Snow and Ethel May Godwin
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Thomas Snow Senior was a loco engine driver, born in Werrington, Northamptonshire in about 1850. Whilst still a very young man he moved to London, starting out as an engine cleaner. By 1881 he was driving trains and living in Greenwich with his young family. In 1877 he had married Phoebe Haines at Rotherhithe and they went on to have eight children altogether, the last three being born in Epsom, which dates their arrival in the town to about 1886; they lived in Grosvenor Cottage in Victoria Road.

Phoebe died in 1896 and by the 1911 census Thomas was living at 16 Miles Road, Epsom, with two of his daughters, Caroline Ada and Annie Beatrice, a two-year old grandson named Harold Stanley Snow (presumably the son of one of the two girls) and his sister-in-law, Jane Haines. He died in 1935.

Thomas Henry Snow was the eldest son, born in 1877 in New Cross, Deptford. By 1901, when he was 22, he was already working with bicycles and in 1904 he married Ethel May Godwin, daughter of a late manager of Epsom gasworks. Ethel was the seventh of twelve children born to William Godwin (born 1840 in Alton, Hampshire) and Jane Sherwood (born c.1844 in Twyford, Berkshire). William had been a labourer in Wandsworth at the time of their marriage, but in the mid-1870s the family moved to Epsom and by 1881 he was a gasworks foreman; he subsequently became manager. Despite having had a dozen children, the family must have been reasonably set up in the 1880s, living in East Street, very near to the Plough and Harrow Public House, which at that time belonged to the gas company, so it seems feasible that the Godwins lived in a company house.

Epsom Gasworks
Epsom Gasworks, view from Gas Company window
Photographed by L.R. James in November 1969
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

Everything changed for the Godwin family on 5 September 1887 when William died, leaving personal estate of £266 (about £30,000 in present-day terms). By 1891 Jane was living at 5 Adelphi Road, with seven of the children still in residence, taking in laundry to make ends meet. In 1901 she was at 21 Adelphi Road. By 1911 she was living with daughter and son-in-law, Ethel and Thomas Snow, at 40 Adelphi Road; she died in 1912.

Grave of William and Jane Godwin in Epsom cemetery.
Grave of William and Jane Godwin in Epsom cemetery.
Image courtesy of Gravestone Photographic Resource

I am not sure when Thomas Henry Snow opened his bicycle business at 58/60 East Street, but it was certainly there in 1915, at which time he was also an agent for motor-cycles.

An advert for Snow's Cycles in the Epsom Herald 12 Nov 1915
An advert for Snow's Cycles in the Epsom Herald 12 Nov 1915

Thomas and Ethel had three children, who were Beatrice Ethel Jane, known as Trix, (1905), Frederick Thomas Godwin (31 December 1908) and Ronald Jesse (1916). Young Frederick assisted his father in the business, but sadly died at the age of only 21 on 2 April 1930. The photo below, showing Thomas and Frederick, is of unknown date but was probably taken in the mid-1920s.

Tom Snow with his son Frederick in an undated newspaper photograph
Tom Snow with his son Frederick in an undated newspaper photograph

Thomas was active in the life of the town, becoming a local councillor in the late 1920s, a member of the Order of Buffaloes (a charitable organisation) and chairman of the Allotment Committee.

On 24 August 1931 Thomas was giving evidence as a witness in a case at Epsom Police Court, when he suddenly collapsed and fell from the witness box, striking his head. Attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead. He had given no sign of being ill. His funeral was attended by many local dignitaries. Thomas was buried with his son, Frederick, in Epsom cemetery and they were later joined by Ethel, who died on 17 April 1968.

Interior of Epsom Magistrates Court c.1919
Interior of Epsom Magistrates Court in 1919
This photo was taken at the award ceremony following the Epsom Riot in 1919
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The business of T H Snow continued in the family under the stewardship of Ronald, who died in 1980, and was still around as late as 1973.

Snow's Cycles at 60 East Street, Epsom.  Date not known
Snow's Cycles at 60 East Street, Epsom. Date not known
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Snow's cycles sales leaflet
Snow's cycles sales leaflet
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Snow's Cycles at 92-96 East Street, Epsom.
Snow's Cycles at 92-96 East Street, Epsom.
Photographed in June 1968 by L.R. James.
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

The Snow grave in Epsom Cemetery.
The Snow grave in Epsom Cemetery.
Image courtesy of Gravestone Photographic Resource.

Beatrice 'Trix' Snow married Walter James Waters in 1925 and they had two children. Sadly she died in 1932, aged just 26. Walter remarried in 1934 and died in 1954.

Linda Jackson
November 2012




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