Saturday, 20 July 2013

George Butcher 1908 - 1974

Today, commemorates the death of my Grandfather, George Butcher. Born in 1908 in Wanborough he was one of 9 children who survived into adulthood from a family of 12.

My Grandfather was a man of principle, at the time of the Second World War he was working for Unigate Dairies at Guildford. His three brothers and oldest sister Rose, who was married was living at Manor Farm Guildford. Two of his other sisters was living in nearby Shackleford, Hurtmore and the second eldest was living in Essex with her husband who was a military man.

Whilst it would have been a much safer and easier option to have started working at the farm, my Grandfather joined up. He had been married under a year. My Grandmother told me she was furious, but his principle was one of things she loved about him, and he was absolutely doing the right thing.

He joined Army and after training left for over 2 years in Sierra Leone, before returning to England and then onwards to Europe. I sent off for his service record a few years ago and I am trying to piece together his life during those war years.

Upon returning from the army, he resumed working at Unigate and did so until he retired in May 1973, having been asked to carry on working for a few months by Unigate. Looking forward to retirement he fell ill and suffered from breathing difficulties, and died at Milford Chest Hospital on 20th July 1974 aged 66 years.

My Grandmother spent the next 21 years a widow, and often talked about him. I once asked her if she had ever wanted to remarry. Her response was, "you only meet perfection once and one day you will know what I mean". When I married in the summer of 1994 I knew just what she meant.

George Butcher 1908 - 1974

Monday, 8 July 2013


Trying to piece together my Grandfather's life before he joined the Army in 1940 has been slow. Frustrating, as within living memory I could have had the answers. I have been researching my ancestry since the mid 1980s and there are still questions that I should have asked.

At his marriage to my Grandmother, Lilian Edith Matthews in November 1939, George's occupation is recorded as a dairy labourer. This appears on his enlistment papers in 1940. So, where did he work?

I recall back in the early 1970s being allowed to "visit" him at work. Perhaps with my Grandmother who called in to the Unigate depot in Stoke Road, Guildford. My, the noise was dreadful and the smell of milk truly shocking. Even now I can not bear the smell of milk, especially warm milk.

My Grandfather retired from Unigate in May 1973. He was 2 months past his 65th birthday, but had been asked to stay on a couple of months as a colleague by the name of Atkinson was off sick. By then he had been employed by the company for approximately 34 years. A true job for life.

At his retirement he received the then standard, gold watch. My Grandmother was sent flowers and Mum remembers them being taken for a meal out.

Milk bottle dating to 1930
I have been plotting the history of Unigate and have found it fascinating. It seems that initially my Grandfather had worked for the Guildford based company Lymposs and Smee.

Lymposs and Smee went into Voluntary Liquidation in 1955 and from what I have been able to establish were acquired by the Home Counties Dairies, which effectively became part of Unigate.

Unigate themselves was the result of a merger between United Dairies and  Cow and Gate who were a well know Guildford business. Certainly the Unigate Company address was in Stoke Road Guildford and that is where I recall the depot being.

Lymposs & Smee, Guildford

"LYMPOSS and SMEE Limited.
(In Voluntary Liquidation.)
NOTICE is hereby given, in pursuance of sections 290 and 341 (1) (b) of the Companies Act, 1948,that a General Meeting of the above-named Company will be held at Central Buildings, Guildford, on Tuesday the 24th May, at 2.30 p.m. for the purpose of having an account laid before the Members showing the manner in which the winding-up has been conducted and the property of the Company disposed of, and also of determining by Extraordinary Resolution the manner in which the books, accounts and documents of the Company and of the Liquidator shall be disposed of. A Member entitled to attend and vote at the above Meeting may appoint a proxy or proxies to attend and vote instead of him. A proxy need not be a Member of the Company.—Dated this 19th day of April, 1955.
(255) G. M. LYALL, Liquidator."

Source - The London Gazette 22nd April 1955