Fr. Riley’s “Cathedral Parish Church,” his wonderful carillon of bells and the incidental publicity which both have evoked, must not permit us to forget that in St. Helens is also the active, well-served parish of Holy Cross, in which Fr. Bateman worked from 1911 to the day of his death in 1928. To-day we associate the Directorship of the Apostleship of Prayer with Wimbledon Church on the hill, and in particular with the chapel of the ambulatory which stands immediately behind the high altar, known as “The Sacred Heart Pleading.” But previous to 1893 Fr. Dignam had worked long and hard at this devotion at St. Helens, and it was in this very church of Holy Cross that the first shrine was set up, being begun in 1883. The church itself had been due to the initiation of Fr. Ullathorne in 1860, though he had not at that time any thought of this important complement. Fr. Dignam collected the necessary money, and a group of Mayer’s statuary from Munich was prepared. The Sacred Heart and Blessed Margaret Mary, as she then was, presented no difficulty; but it was obviously impossible to include Ven. Claude de la Celombicre at that uncertain stage of his beatification, though a suitable niche was prepared, pending the approval of the Church, which was thought to be well within sight.

Frederick Bateman was born on April 24, 1861, at Great Yarmouth, and went to Mount St. Mary’s on September 19, 1874, with his brother Henry. Probably Mr. Henry Parker was his master; certainly the great Fr. Dykes was his Rector; but the sale survivor of that Community is Fr. Edward Sidgreaves, then Scholastic First Prefect. If he were ill, Br. Walton would have looked after him; but this was wholly inadvisable, as methods were primitive and sympathy was not abundant. Seven of that class of Poetry entered the Society; they were: F. Bateman, Alex Gordon, G. Jinks, Jno. B. Jaggar, Jno. O’Neil, J. Worden, R. Moss, four of whom kept their Golden Jubilees last September. At Manresa on the evening of September 7, 1879, he met for the first time C. Redman, G. Pye, John ‘Ward, Philip Ross, J. Donovan, and our present Fr. Socius. After his Juniorate he went to Beaumont for a year, and then, with his Philosophy behind him, he was back at the same College till the eve of his theological course. It will therefore be seen that Mr. Bateman was one of the Community who were presented to Queen Victoria at the time of the Jubilee of 1887. He had not been present when Her Majesty, submitting to the gentle importunity of the Rector, Fr. Cassidy, had arrived before the College gates soon after the shooting affray at Windsor railway station; but the present occasion was more formal, and Fr. Fred. O’Hare set the piece with great skill. An address of welcome was pronounced, and four of the representatives of the school offered bouquets of flowers. One of the four was Stonor, of the Third Playroom. He seems to have had some difficulty in reaching into the carriage in which the Queen sat; so Princess Beatrice, who was seated her, offered to make a long arm for the purpose. the child said decidedly, “It’s not for you; it’s for your mother!” How “Dizzy” would have delighted to heard that speech!

Fr. Bateman was ordained on September 23, 1894 at the conclusion of his Short Course. It was “short” in those days, lasting only three years in all, and ordination at the close of the second. Much to his disappointment, however, Mr. Bateman found that, in view of recent legislation, he would have to conclude three years before his priesthood could be upon him. No one will doubt the wisdom of this for it often happened that the “exigences of Service” deprived a useful man of the chance of completing his course.

After the Tertianship, Fr. Bateman set sail for Malta where in St. Ignatius’ he taught the Matriculation throughout his six years of stay. As, during that he was likewise Consultor of the House, he was apprised of the ultimate closing; though like the the Community he was sorry to leave that sunny isle. Now, it would never do to contrast the Hill at Glasgow with Malta; but we shall be on surer grounds when say that the ten years at the afore-named college have been begun with many baffling alterations in point of view. The Glasgow boy differs as completely his opposite number in Malta, as do the localities twenty territorial degrees of latitude apart. But Hill has always been magnetic, and Fr. Bateman felt that irresistible pull which all who have served school know so well.

In 1911 he concluded his teaching career, with years of schoolroom work to his credit, and went to Holy Cross, St. Helens. It will be remembered Fr. Tom Baldwin had a seizure in the town, from he died, almost in the street. This was in 1914; so Fr. Bateman, having done three years at the church in a subordinate post, now took charge of the parish, and carried it on uninterruptedly to the end.

In 1928 he experienced some form of stroke, but his condition didn’t seem serious enough to preclude him from active work, but it was evident that there was considerable weakening. Therefore, after about eighteen months, when a second attack of a more senous nature came on him. he went for a short period of rest to Blackpool. Early in last December he was taken back to St. Helens by ambulance, and placed with the Sisters of the Providence Free Hospital. Fr. Bateman had been Chaplain to the Poor Servants of the Mother of God; for the Convent stood in his parish, so that he received from them all that care and attention which it was a delight to the Community to render. He died on December 16th, and was buried at Windleshaw Cemetery.

Of these last active years it is impossible to speak in detail, for a parish priest’s life does not abound in important external happenings. So far as material matters went, he was able to complete the fine set of Catholic buildings which offer such a commanding appearance in Corporation Street, by adding to the church and schools an imposing Parochial Hall. Fr. Bateman was a musician of prominence, and to the end of his life took a keen and active interest in the ecclesiastical performances in the church, besides those secular concerts and social gatherings in the hall. One remembers him as a young priest with a particularly pleasant tenor voice, which enhanced his work in the sanctuary where, when singing was required, he was, in constant demand. He was one of those men, too, who continued young in spite of years. That brightness of disposition which we remember in him made it hard to believe that he .was approaching seventy at the time of his death. R.I.P.

1939-1944 A little girl in Paris

I was 6 years old in 1939. My father was mobilized and I stayed home with my mother and my brother who was 1 year old. We received gas masks and we were allocated a shelter because our house had no cellar. But life went on as far as I was concerned as usual… I suppose it was the time of the “phony war”!

In October I should have started school for the first time. I was not accepted due of a lack of school teachers. Only the pupils who were prepring for exams were allowed, that has been my first great disappointment. So my grandfather decided to teach me how to read, to write and to count and in October 1940, when I went to school, I was accepted in the second class!! I was very proud!

But by that time “events” had changed. The Germans had invaded Belgium and rushed to the North of France. A lot of refugees were on the roads and many were killed by Italian military planes. Rumours about behaviour of the German soldiers spread: they cut the boys’ right hand and injured the young girls. Most of the people who had family in the country left Paris. But to leave Paris we needed a car with petrol and of course we could not find petrol. May be it is owing to this fact that I am still alive. Because the day my mother got petrol we met the first German soldiers. They were 2 in a sidecar dressed with long rain coats, helmet, boots and special large glasses. They stopped in front of the Town Hall. The Germans were here in Fontenay, East side of Paris and 9 km from the dead center of the capital. We had not been bombed and we did not even see a tank or a gun. They had not cut boys’ right hands and not injured young girls but they organized restrictions: we received tickets for every thing: food, coal, clothes, shoes etc…

The food intake for girls of 7 was very poor and my cousin who was older then I taught me how to steal bread tickets at the baker’s.

My grandfather had a garden with lots of beautiful flowers. The following year all the flowers disappeared and he grew vegetables.

The winter 40/41 was terribly cold. We had a lot of snow – people skied in Fontenay and since I never saw that again – I had a pneumonia and we had no more medecine. So I was treated with cod liver oil… My mother one day had to queue 2 hours to buy 1kg of frozen turnips. That was all she had to feed the family… and the dog. I forgot the dog. It was a little dog which was abandonned and of course the pound did not exist any more so the policemen killed all wandering animals. My mother could not resist and took it home! I suppose it was on that day that she decided to open a shop. It was a greengrocer. Thus she could make some “exchanges”.

On the other hand my father bred rabbits. (I know you don’t eat rabbits, but during the siege of Paris in 1870 Parisians ate rats). The only trouble with rabbits was to feed them. So every week end we rode by bicycle to the country in order to gather grass. (I promised to myself at that time that I would never ride bicycle any more after the war).

To come back to German soldiers I have only 3 souvenirs:

1°- I saw them one day (It should be in September 41 or 42 ? ) marching past through Fontenay dressed with only swimming suits, helmet and boots and singing loudly! ( Recently when I explained this to former German soldiers they said it was surely a punishment?)

2°- Another day I was with my grandfather in the metro and as we stopped at a station German soldiers appeared suddenly inside the wagon taking rather roughly some people who were sitting there, then lining them up on the platform and they shot them. I still can hear the noise of the guns in my ears and the noise of the wagon door closing.

After that day we never again went in to Paris with my grandfather. Later on it was said that a German officer had been killed nearby. I discovered the existence a French secret army called “Resistance” who wanted to get rid of German Soldiers.

It was quite usual to see on the wall a displaying place with posters giving names of men who had been shot as hostages. One of these displays was just in front of my school.

3°- I remember also when they arrested Jewish people. (I saw them because I was behind the bow window).

One of my friends at school wore the yellow star but that was nothing compared to what happened to her family. All her family was sent to concentration camp except her father and her. Why ? I never knew and never asked her.

It is said that French policemen arrested Jews but there were some exceptions. In fact the lord mayor of the town was not obliged to transmit the order of arrestat if he had not signed allegiance to the French government of that time. This was the case of Fontenay’s lord mayor who did not transmit the order and that is why the arrest of Jews in Fontenay was the act of the German army.

My grandfather had Jewish tenants in a suburban house in Fontenay. I used to play with their son whose name was Guy Forget (exactly the same name as one of our famous tennis players). All the family disappeared one night just before the Germans raided the Jews in Fontenay. A few months later Germans came to move all their furniture, paintings, carpets, everything even the curtains!!

Time was passing with not very much to eat, nothing to heat the house and nothing to wear. We had special shoes with wooden soles. Fortunately my grandmother knew how to sew. So she could make “new” clothes out of old ones. From time to time we heard air raid sirens but we did not care. We knew it was RAF or US Air Force planes flying to Germany to bomb them! And except when we were at school we never used a shelter. On the contrary we tried very hard to see the planes which were so high in the sky.

Nevertheless one day a plane was hit by the FLAK (the German anti-aircraft guns) and it fell down in the fields not very far from our home. When we saw it coming over our house we could see very distinctly the men inside because the nose of this kind of plane was like a window. (according to Paul this was certainly a B17 Flying Fortress). The plane touched the ground but when the Germans arrived near it the men had disappeared and that day I realized again that “Resistance” existed. Sure the men had been rescued by members of this organisation.

Some French men were requisitioned to work in Germany. I had an uncle belonging to this category.

To come back to bombardments, only important railway stations and factories which worked for the German army were bombed. I remember one night, (it was the first time my father woke us up saying: “Take whatever is the most precious for you” – I took my 2 new combs!! – and we stayed near the exit ready to run to the shelter. The bombardment was directed against an entire German regiment ready to leave by train for Russia. A fortnight later when we went to gather grass (for the rabbits) pieces of rails were still stuck in the street. We never knew how many dead there were but I can remember that I was not feeling sorry at all!! It’s queer but even now I don’t feel sorry. Sure I am as barbarian as they were.

On the 6th of June 1944 when arriving at school I already noticed a special excitement. What was going on? Older girls were pleased to tell us “Allied troops landed this morning in Normandy”. That was going to be the end of the war I immediately thought.

When we entered the class room our teacher opened the blackboard and we could read the words of “La Marseillaise” and all together we started singing!

The end of the war really was approaching. The “Resistance” became more and more daring. In Fontenay we could see cars with FFI (French Internal Forces) written in white and with French flags, men with armbands and with guns where going without any fear.

In August things became very serious. The policemen had disappeared to join the Resistance. (We could recognize them because we knew them but they did not wear any longer their uniform. It was said that in Fort de Nogent (about 1,5 km from us) 300 SS tank men were about to leave. We feared they’d came down to Fontenay to join Paris. So the Resistance went up to fight. My father who was in the garden near Fort de Nogent explained to us it was very serious. He kept laying down between 2 rows of potatoe plants without being able to move. 27 resistants were killed but the German had other plans and left towards East.

Two days later we saw our first “libérateurs”. They were Canadian and they drove 3 half tracks and were looking for quinine because one of them had very bad fever. One or two days after (I don’t remember precisely) when I woke up the streets around our house were full of American soldiers. Two of them were sleeping in front of our door taking the first step of our outside stairs as a pillow. When I remember that even after 65 years I feel like crying.

One of the first thing I noted was their shoes. The German made a terrible noise when they walked and the American had shoes with rubber soles, very silent and not frightening at all.

That was the end of a 4 year nightmare for us. We could again find food. I was very happy to eat a piece of real bread just for the taste of it. It was also at that time I had my first coat made specially for me (because my clothes were only old ones coming from my cousin too small for her). My coat was made out of 2 US blankets which my mother had dyed. Unfortunately the dye did not come out of the same colour. But never mind the couturier arranged this difference very artisticly.

For those young men who came to save us (not “you” but “freedom” as it said one day to me an old American lady) the way to Berlin was still very long and I am sure painful and dangerous.

Long after the war I spoke with former German soldiers about the war… but this is another story.u

The Yawn

I sat on the bench to wait for the 185 bus. One lady sat there already and yawned. She smiled and said Sorry.

“Life is hard” I replied.

“No its not that, its because I stayed awake painting 5 pictures last night.”

“Wonderful” I replied. She fished in her brief case and pulled out a folder with her pastel works. The first was a nice design, then came a Jesus like figure holding a communion cup.

“oh no” I thought, I’m with a religious fanatic, but the bad moment passed. She showed me a portrait of a child, not outstanding. I concluded her love of painting was greater than her talent.

Sometimes I give them to my friends” she said, but then a 185 bus came over the horizon. The bus was full and I had to sit next to her.

She continued her story “Well I have to put my paper on the floor and lie down to do my drawing and it gives me a pain in my back.”

I remembered that I have a wooden easel left by the girls and unused for 15 years and asked her if she would like it. “How much would you like for it?”

“Nothing” I replied I just don’t need it and would give it to you gladly. I was doing my 2 stop journey up the hill and it was time to get off . That is my house I pointed out as we passed and she got my telephone number before I alighted.

What a yawn had led to… for years I had wished to find someone who would use the easel. I have a slight worry supposing she is grateful and offers me one of her pictures.

Davies / Patrick timeline

Thomas Davies family search

Earlier The Davies may have run B&B at Sutton house ? is this the davies that he later marries?

1821 Thomas Davies christening: 3 February 1822 Whitchurch, Shroshire, England birth: Weston, Shropshire, England. father: William Davies, mother: Elizth
1881 census: Billingsley, Shropshire, England spouse: Eliza Davies, children: Matilda Davies, Cecil Davies, Ada Lawra Davies, Lambert Davies

1859 James Patrick GRO Salford 10b 276/8 Q1
1859 (Sergeant GMP 21 Thomas st,Cheetham 1881 21 yrs old, proposed Emily Davies, Rose Hill, Moss Bank)
1889 records – James marries Emily Ester Davies Bridnorth June 1889 (GRO 6a 1145)
1893 Laura born 30 jan (GRO Q1 6c 725)
1881 Census Davies
1901 Census 5 Church St Eccles
1909 James Patrick buys Sutton house
1923 Bernard Bateman marries Laura Patrick in Barton q4 1923 8c 995
1926 Sybil born
1928 Benny born
1933 Laura leaves Sutton House,to buy 3 Haydn rd, Didcot
1935 Emily Ester Patrick dies in Barton summer 1935 (GRO 8c 603) 75 yrs old born 1860
1936 Laura bought dress shop 23 gilda brook rd Eccles later moves to park rd Pendleton – later to barnes rd bournmouth)
1939 Mr Patrick comes up to Manchester
1940 Mr Patrick died in Hope municipal hospital GRO Salford 5/11/1940. Probate finalised 22/8/41 £1994 3s 6d
1953 Park road big house sold in for approx £1600
1958 Charlie + Cheryl
1971 Laura dies 78yrs GRO Q1 7c 261 Poole

Sutton House





Sutton house and 25 Acres bought by James Patrick (retired Police Inspector) about 1909.
1933 Laura his daughter leaves Sutton house with her husband and children both born in Sutton House.
74 yr old George Breakwell ‘befriends’ James Patrick in 1935.
In 1936 Breakwells move in with Mr Patrick. In 1935 Mr Patricks wife dies.
In 1939 James is thrown out of his house with only clothes on his back.
Daughter Laura was not allowed near house and felt cheated out of her / our inheritance. Had house been ‘sold’ , ‘given’ or had the Breakwells just ‘occupied’ it and destroyed wills and deeds refusing to talk to Laura Bateman.



LAND REGISTRY – filed for first time 1 June 2006 for Rupert Bebb and others.

Deeds constructed but only start transactions in 1936 – no mention of previous owner ie Mr Patrick and Laura bateman (daughter). Deeds possibly ‘merged’ with other property called “sutton farm” which WAS rented by Rupert Bebb’s mother in law who died in 1935. Mortgage by George and wife relates to Sutton house farm! BUT no such property exists!!
The epitome of title shows ownership jumping from George Breakwell (dad) to daughter and possibly back again!

In 1962 some woodland was sold by Noch Deightons Auctioneers Bridgnorth ( 01746 762666 ) to Rupert Bebb current occupant probably acting for Mary Westwood and Catherine Breakwell. Robin Nettleton auctioneer of Nochs and friend and neighbour of mr Bebbs has no recollection of selling the house to Mt Bebbs.


JAMES “James Patrick of 23 Gilda Brook Rd, Eccles, Lancashire died 5/11/40 at 91 Eccles Old Rd, Eccles. Administration Manchester 22/8/41 to Laura Bateman married woman. Effects £1994 3s 6d“


EMILY “Emily Ester Patrick of 5 Church St Eccles near Manchester (wife of James Patrick) died 3 April 1935 at the Eccles & Patricroft hospital Eccles. Administration Birmingham 16 September to the said James Patrick retired Police Inspector and Laura Bateman (wife of Bernard Bateman). Effects £1679 12s 5d“

A surviving relative not involved in the ‘deception’ Jack Breakwell (born 1922) recalls gossip in village that the Breakwells are contriving to acquire Sutton House and rumour says that the deeds were set alight.


  1. Electoral register entries for associated properties
  2. Notes on epitome
  3. Land Registry extract – Sutton house
  4. Epitome of Title
  5. Map showing difference between Sutton house ( map ref 76 ) and Sutton farm ( map ref 139 )
  6. Last Will of violet bebb
  7. Letter of administration James Patrick


James Patrick born spring 1859 Salford
George Breakwell marries Jane Breakwell spring 1895 Cleobury
DAUGHTERS ( of george and jane ) –
Catherine Francis Breakwell born winter 1899 Cleobury
– Mary marjorie Breakwell born autumn 1916 Cleobury
Emily Patrick dies summer 1935 Manchester
Rupert Bebb marries Violet Mottershead summer 1936 Bridgnorth
Jane Breakwell dies summer 1944 Bridgnorth
George Breakwell possibly dies autumn 1950 Bridgnorth
Violet m Bebb dies spring 2005 Bridgnorth
South Staffordshire Building society ( later Portman B S ) probably destroyed records 7 yrs after redeemed.


Jane Breakwell of Sutton house,chelmarsh bridgnorth
Shropshire(wife of geoge Breakwell) died 24 mar 1944.
Administration Birmingham 23 October to the said
george Breakwell . Effects £1370


George Breakwell of Sutton house chelmarsh near
bridgnorth Shropshire died 22 september 1950 Probate
Birmingham 14 November to frederick Sydney Breakwell,
farmer. Effects £1020 7s 1d

Compiled by

Charles Bateman

Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux


A story for today which links past and present. Today I heard on France Culture a programme about Lascaux and it set me thinking.

In 1949 I was teaching history to a class of 11 year olds in Paddock House Grammar school, Oswald twistle ( the very name of the place is redolent of English History and Language.) They were eager to learn and I had something special to tell then about. It was a discovery which had been made 9 years before on 12 September but because of the war and the remoteness of Montignac it was known to very few.

I had heard of it on the radio so I started telling my class about the boys in the french countryside walking with their dog when suddenly he disappeared down a rabbit hole, it was a true story of Alice in Wonderland.

One boy enlarged the hole to try to find his dog, found himself in a small tunnel and then slid down into a cave. There was hardly any light but he came out telling the others that he had seen wonderful paintings of animals on the walls. They told their schoolmaster and that was how the world knew about Lascaux.

Seven years later in May 1956 I was travelling in the Dordogne with Tony, our friend Eric Jewesbury and Robin, then 8 months old. We visited the fabulous cave and saw the paintings made by cromagnan men.

Many other people came and the visits damaged the cave so much that they were closed to all but scientists in 1963. None of us can see them anymore, the wonder of masses of people was destroying them. Since then an exact copy of the cave of Lascaux has been built next to the real one. So now people go to this musem to see what the reality a few metres away looks like.

I do not want to draw a moral but it seems to me that Lascaux points clearly to the strange and destructive relationship modern man has with pre history.


Like many people here today I have known Eric all my life, and it is difficult to imagine the world without him. He was a man who had a real gift for friendship, and gave generously of himself to his friends. That makes it difficult for anyone person to say what he was to all of us. All the same I have been encouraged in that task by having talked during his illness, and since his death, to a number of his friends and discovered how much of our view of him we shared and how we all held him in the same affection.

My sister Caroline and I first knew him as children and he was a wonderful uncle. He stood out for us as someone who was quite different from other grown-ups. His arrival always brought a certain magic with it – almost literally given his fondness for and proficiency with conjuring tricks. I know that many others here share that experience of him and some of us have been lucky enough to have it repeated with our own children. 1 remember a lively exchange of correspondence between a murky figure in the intelligence service called Clune Rice – a cleverly encrypted form of Uncle Eric – and one of his agents called Leinad (another ingenious cypher). More recently Eric’s hospital bedside was cheered up by the tulips and assorted creatures drawn by Stephanie, which he much enjoyed showing to visitors.

I think that Eric renewed himself through successive generations of children, and his affinity for them showed that he never lost touch with the child in himself. Perhaps that is what we loved him for most.

But of course it is not the whole story. I can’t speak with first hand knowledge of his professional life, and will have to leave that to be commemorated properly elsewhere and by others. I will just say briefly that after graduating from Christ Church he qualified in medicine at Bart’s Hospital. He did a spell of postgraduate work in the United States where he was based in Philadelphia, but he travelled widely visiting among other places Niagara Falls and Yellowstone National Park, taking some splendid photos which he was showing us only recently.

During the war he joined the RAF Medical Section specialising in neuropsychiatry and reached the rank of Wing Commander. He did important work on flying stress among operational RAF aircrews, serving in India, the Far East and North Africa. After the war he joined the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases as a registrar, and then moved to the Royal Northern Hospital where he was a consultant neurologist for many years. I would like to quote from a letter I have received from a former colleague who writes…

And Eric maintained his professional activity long after normal retirement age with a weekly clinic at the Princess Margaret Migraine Clinic; indeed I cannot say for certain that he ever gave this up.

Eric always enjoyed the social side of professional life. A number of people have written to say what a popular member he was of the Fountain Club of Bart’s, and have particularly recalled a dinner he hosted for them at the Savile Club about five years ago. I myself remember many good dinners and concerts at the Royal College of Physicians in Regent’s Park. He also showed a fierce loyalty to the institutions he had been part of – notably Bart’s and the Royal Northern Hospital whose official history he wrote, but also going back to his earlier roots Christ Church and Charterhouse. His loyalty to Bart’s was expressed with particular passion and force when its existence came under threat from Government policies.

That doesn’t mean he was stuck in the past. I am told that at dinners of the Oxford Graduate Medical Association you would often find him talking not to his contemporaries but to the youngest person there. He showed a very wide interest in many different aspects of present-day life to which he applied the same persistent curiosity. This extended to the various forms of regular and irregular alliances. Among his papers I came across a note listing the following words:

  • Consort
  • Co-vivant
  • Sleeping partner
  • Co-mortgagee
  • Current attachment
  • Stablemate
  • Co-habitant
  • Partner

I think he was still trying to find the most suitable term.

Eric was always good company and a good host. His laughter has been described to me as “a very whole-hearted matter. He would snort and gasp and choke and have to wipe his eyes copiously. It could be quite alarming.”

The open air theatre in Regent’s Park was a favourite of his. He used to tell how, as a child, he had won a prize from Queen Mary for his display of flowers in the Park and he seems to have gravitated hack to it. I think of trips with him to the Savile and Wisley Gardens and, last September, an expedition up the river to Hampton Court (where he commented after three hours of incessant rain on how lucky we’d been with the weather). I never went with him on a fishing trip but often had a tasty reason to appreciate them.

But it was surely music which, next to his friends, was the great love of his life. As in other fields he was never content with being a spectator but was always a participant as well. This extended not only to playing the piano but also to singing with the Bart’s choir. He also took up composition quite late in life. There were no narrow limits to his range. His output includes a recording of his own version of “Susannah’s squeaky shoes” (with suitably edited words) which was much appreciated by the young person to whom it was dedicated. I also remember going with him not long ago to “Five Guys Named Moe”, a musical with a lot of audience participation in which he joined enthusiastically.

His musical activity shows one of his strongest qualities which was never to stand still or stop learning. It somehow seems fitting that the fall which eventually proved fatal to him should have happened when he was leaving his weekly music class. Eric’s music teacher, Mike Hughes (who was sorry he could not be here today) has told me that he was always looking forward, always looking for something new. Eric was especially touched by the good wishes he received after his accident from his fellow members of the Monday music class.

We loved him for all those things, as well as all the things I have not managed to express. We shall miss him terribly. I just want to say thank you, Uncle Eric. for everything. And I will end with some words which Eric himself selected for an earlier occasion. They are by William Penn and are inscribed over his own father’s tomb in Bristol:

“Death is but a crossing the world as friends do the seas, they live in one another still. This is the comfort of friends that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present because immortal.”

Now Sue Laurence who is Eric’s youngest goddaughter (and therefore my godsister) is going to read a passage from ‘The Wind in the Willows”.

Banking Ombudsman FORMAL RECOMMENDATION on passbook

bank ombudsman recommendation PDF version

I recommend that the complaint by MRS. S. E. COADY (“Complainant”) against MIDLAND BANK PLC (“the Bank”) be withdrawn without the payment of any money or the provision of any valuable consideration by the Bank to the Complainant.

Following the issue of an Assessment on 11th October 1993, I have received further detailed submissions from the Complainant and a response to them from the Bank. All of that further evidence has been carefully considered and the evidence previously submitted has been reconsidered in detail. Nonetheless, that has not caused me to depart from the findings in the Assessment which I now confirm and repeat below with relatively minor change.

  1. The Complainant maintained a series of current accounts at the Forest Hill, Fleet Street and Mark Lane branches (“the Forest Hill Branch”, “the Fleet street Branch”, and the Mark Lane Branch”) for many years.
  2. She has produced to me, bank statements from the 9th September 1968 until the 5th February 1969 and from the 28th March 1974 until closure of the last account at the Mark Lane Branch on 30th October 1984.
  3. She has also produced the relevant cheque stubs and the paid cheques from the earlier period.
  4. The Complainant had a deposit account with the Mark Lane Branch from about 1980 until 30th October 1984 and has produced to me all but the first page of the statements relating to it.
  5. The Complainant also had a deposit account with the Forest Hill Branch. (The Forest Hill Branch was closed on 19 July 1991 and all accounts were transferred to Sydenham Branch). However, that deposit account (“the disputed account”) had been opened as long ago as 1971 at the Forest Hill Branch. The last entry in the passbook (“the passbook”) for the disputed account, which is still held by the Complainant, is 13th August 1973.
  6. From 1971 to 1973 the Complainant was living in Kuwait with her late husband. However, she was at their London address from July to September 1973 with their children.
  7. Activity is apparent on the disputed account from 9th July 1973 to 13th August 1973.
  8. Despite the passbook being in the Bank’s possession on several occasions, as evidenced by the entries mentioned in the above paragraph, no opportunity was taken by it to note in it the interest which must have accrued between 19th July 1971 and 13th August 1973. __
  9. In 1975 the Complainant commenced employment with H.M. customs & Excise (“C. & E.”).
  10. The Complainant’s husband, a doctor, was tragically drowned in October 1975. Thereafter, the Complainant concentrated primarily on bringing up and completing the education of their five children.
  11. Whilst the Complainant was employed by C. & E. she joined the “Custom Fund” which gave a good rate of interest and she used it as a deposit account.
  12. With her education pay, trust the for estate left by her husband the youngest son, she was and able an to manage.
  13. Her brother and sister-in-law died within five years of her husband and she inherited some further money.
  14. The passbook, the Complainant says, had been put “in a safe place with other papers”, before the death of her husband.
  15. For the reasons stated in the above paragraphs, she says (and I well understand) that her attention was “fully elsewhere”. It was not until she retired from the Civil Service and had the leisure to go through her papers that the disputed account again came to her attention. Her current accounts with the Bank had been transferred from the Forest Hill Branch to the Fleet Street Branch in 1976, and later, when she moved office, to the Mark Lane Branch.
  16. In 1984, when the Complainant closed her account at Mark Lane, she transferred the amount standing to her credit to two different accounts, one at the Bank of Scotland, the other being an Alliance Building Society Bank Share Account.
  17. On the 9th July 1991, having found the passbook, the Complainant went to the Forest Hill Branch and asked for the interest to be calculated to that date. She said that she would then withdraw the whole amount and move it to an account bearing a better rate of interest. She appreciated that the calculation of interest would probably take some time, as 22 years interest had to be worked out. She, therefore, left the passbook at the Branch.
  18. On the 29th July she wrote to the Manager of the Forest Hill Branch saying that, “as the deposit is redeemable on demand,” she was surprised not to have heard from him.
  19. 1 On the 31st July 1991 the Senior Branch clerk of the Sydenham Branch, to which Forest Hill Branch account had by then been transferred as explained in paragraph 5 above, wrote to the Complainant saying that no trace of a deposit account in her name could be found, and that “all records were computerised during the mid-nineteen seventies”. He said that he had researched the Branch records as far back as 1978 and could find no evidence that an account was open at that date.
  20. 2 Further correspondence followed. On 19 September 1991, the Manager of the Sydenham Branch wrote to the Complainant:

    “Firstly, the Deposit Account passbook in your possession has no value as Deposit Account passbooks were withdrawn between the years 1973 and 74 and the passbook was superceded by an account number your deposit account was 53013340 ….. ”

  21. 3 On the 11th December 1991 Mr. PW of the Southbank Area Office of the Bank wrote saying that he had made “further enquiries” and that ” all Deposit Account Passbooks were abolished in 1972 and the Branch records produce nothing supporting the continued existence of your Account. As a result, I must advise you that I am unable to agree with your claim.”
  22. On the 13th January 1992 Mr. E., Manager of the Bank’s Customer Relations Department at Head Office, wrote to the Complainant as follows:

    “Unfortunately I I regret at this stage that I can only re-emphasise the content of Mr. PW’ s letter to you of 1lth December 1991, in which he stated that following consultation with our legal department, Passbooks are no longer a valid claim to a deposit and in the absence of any further proof of your claim the Bank is unable to assist you further.

I do realise the disappointment that this must bring you and that this is not the response that you would have wished for. I do, however, thank you for taking the time and trouble to bring this matter to my attention affording me the opportunity of reviewing the situation.”

  1. The Complainant then brought her complaint to this Office and produced the passbook. It shows a balance of £4,102.66 as at the 13th August 1973. The Complainant claims that the Bank is in breach of its obligations in refusing to pay her that balance together wit~accrued interest.
  2. In my view, the legal principles which apply in such circumstances are as follows:

(a) Notwithstanding the period of time which has elapsed there is no question of the Limitation Acts applying, because monies on a deposit account are repayable only on demand and time does not start to run against an account-holder in a bank I s favour until a demand has first been made. Furthermore, the Bank itself has not in this case sought to invoke the Limitation Acts.

(b) Where there is, as here, an account which has been long dormant and an issue arises as to whether or not it is still subsisting, that issue falls to be resolved by striking a balance of probabilities in the light of all the relevant circumstances of the case, as was decided in the case of Douglass v. Lloyds Bank Ltd [1929] 34 Com. Cas. 263.

(c) It is a general principle of long standing that where there is a normal and regular course of events or procedures, it is to be assumed that these have taken place or been followed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

  1. 1 The Bank is unable to state exactly when the disputed account was computerised.
  2. 2 Mr. PW of the Area Office said, in his letter of 11 December 1991, that passbooks were abolished in 1972, (see paragraph 19.3 above). Yet earlier on the 31st July 1991, the Senior Branch clerk at the Sydenham Branch had said, “All records were computerised in the mid [my underlining] nineteen-seventies.” and on 19th September 1991 the Branch Manager of the Sydenham Branch had said “between 1973 and 1974.” (see paragraph 19.2 above), therefore, clearly there are discrepancies between the dates for computerisation given by different officials.
  3. 3 Mr. NPE of the Customer Relations Department on the 13th January 1992, after he had “completed a full enquiry” could “only re-emphasise the content of Mr. [PW] IS letter of 11th December 1991”. Mr. NPE also seems to have overlooked what had been said by the Senior Branch clerk and the Manager of the Sydenham Branch.
  4. 4 Finally, in writing to this Office, the Bank has plumped for “the latter months of 1973” as the date of computerisation. Presumably this was because the entries in the passbook in July and August of that year show that the disputed account had not yet been computerised.
  5. 5 In any event, the computerisation was clearly not 1972 as suggested by Mr. P.W. and Mr. N.P.E.
  6. 6 Nevertheless, because an account number was allocated, I am satisfied that the disputed account was computerised, at some time after 13th August 1973. The Complainant suggests 5 April 1974 as on that date her current account statement reverted to “Sheet I” with a new computer format of the Sheet itself. However, though regrettable that there is uncertainty about the exact date of computerisation, nothing in my view turns on that once satisfied as I am that it took place and that it did so after 13th August 1973.
  7. It was noticed, by this Office, that the Complainant had various shares held in safe-keeping by the Forest Hill Branch which were transfered to the Fleet Street Branch. It appeared a possibility that the money in the disputed account had been used to purchase these or other investments. The Complainant has satisfied me that this was not the case.
  8. 1 The Bank has resisted the claim and maintains that the account was closed, because:
  9. 2 It I S internal procedures, full details of which have been provided to me in confidence as is permitted under the Terms of Reference governing this Scheme, state that an account may be regarded as dormant two years after the last entry and where contact has been lost with the customer. In this case, the Bank did not lose contact with the Complainant until after she closed her accounts at the Mark Lane Branch on 30th October 1984.
  10. 3 Copies of the Forest Hill Branch’s Unclaimed Balances Register for surnames with the letter C. for the period 1914 – 1991 have been produced to this Office. They have been produced in confidence under the Terms of Reference governing this Scheme because they reveal the names of other accountho1ders which the Bank is not entitled to disclose to third parties. I have, however, inspected them and the names shown do not include an account in the Complainant’s name.
  11. 4 I accept on the evidence available to me that the disputed account was computerised when the number, 53013340, was allocated to it. Moreover, the Bank says and I accept that no account under that number can be traced at any of the branches mentioned in paragraph 1 above.
  12. 5 Under the Bank’s internal procedures, disclosed to me in conf idence, Ledger Records, Account Open and Closed Books may be destroyed after ten years and, therefore, generally at the time this complaint was brought they only went back to 1980/82. The Bank has, however, been able to produce Securities Record Sheets of the Forest Hill Branch showing the transfer of the Comp1ainant’s securities for safekeeping to the Fleet Street Branch.
  13. 1 When sending this Office the bank statements referred to in paragraph 2 above, the Complainant drew my attention to the fact that sheet number 18 of the Forest Hill Branch statements showed interest on the disputed account credited to the current account. This showed that the disputed account was still in existence at the date of that statement, which was for the period the 30th April to 24th May 1976.
  14. 2 However, no other entries showing from the deposit account occurx. a transfer of in any other interest of the about the
  15. 3 The interest was credited on 3rd May 1976 and was £30.03. It was expressed to be interest to 23rd March 1976. This seemed an unusual date for interest to be paid and I queried it with the Bank.
  16. 4 The Bank informed me and I accept that the standard date of application of interest on deposit accounts in 1976 was the third Monday in June and the third Monday in December. Tuesday, 23rd March was not, therefore, a date upon which standard interest would have been calculated.
  17. 5 It, therefore, seems to me likely, upon the balance of probabi1i ties, that the disputed account was closed on or about the 23rd March 1976. It was then found that a further small amount of interest was due to the Complainant. It could not, of course, be credited to the disputed account because it had by then been closed. It was, therefore, instead credited to the Complainant’s current account.
  18. 6 This point was put to the Complainant who replied at length.

Amongst other things she said:

“To summarise no interest is shown for the 5 years 1971 – 1975. No large capital repayment is shown in these years or in 1976 prior to the entry of May 3rd.

£30.02 is too small a sum to be the interest on £4,000 or thereabouts for 5 years as the closing payments would have had to account for all those years when no interest was calculated and entered. Had the account been closed at this point there should have been an entry of a final large transfer on 23.03.76 or in the quarter preceding.”

  1. Deposit account interest is normally credited to the deposit account in question. It is only if specific instructions to credit another account are given or when such an account has been closed that it would be credited to a current account. This, in my view, is why no other entries in respect of interest from the disputed account are shown in the current account statements which the Complainant has produced. Furthermore, it does not follow that a withdrawal from the disputed account would automatically be credited to the current account. It could well have been used for other purposes. The Complainant says that this would have been contrary to her normal practice and that it was not. She has also given full details of her normal expenditure, covering outgoings on her home, chi1drens education, car, holidays, food, furnishings and entertainment.
  2. The records provided by the Complainant are indeed meticulous. However, they do not include any statements supporting the existence of the disputed account after the allocation of the number 53013340 and following computerisation.
  3. 1 Despite the confusion on the part of the Bank as to exactly when the records were computerised, I am satisfied that they had been after 13th August 1973 and prior to March 1976. In my view, on the evidence available, I think it probable that from the date of computerisation of the disputed account until the date of closure in 1976, computer generated statements for the disputed account would have been produced and sent to the Complainant. The Complainant says that she has demonstrated, by the production of the current account statements, plus school accounts and so forth, that she is a “dedicated record keeper” and it would be a “psychological impossibility” for her to have destroyed the computer generated statements in respect of the disputed account if any had been sent.
  4. 2 I fully accept that the Complainant is indeed an excellent record keeper, but even the most meticulous of people occasionally both mislay records and misrecall events of many years ago.
  5. I find, on the balance of probabilities that:

(i) Prior to computerisation it was not a requirement that the passbook should be written up when presented for a transaction. Indeed the instruction to leave it at the Bank for that purpose indicates the opposite if anything. I do not, therefore, draw any inference from the fact that up to 13th August 1973 accrued interest could have been noted in the passbook but was not;

(ii) From the date of computerisation on a date after 13th August 1973 and prior to March 1976 the passbook became obsolete;

(iii) The Bank did follow its normal and regular procedures in this case;

(iv) The disputed account was closed on or about the 23rd March 1976, after the balance had been withdrawn or transferred elsewhere; and

(v) Following closure of the disputed account an adjustment of interest due to 23rd March 1976 was made and credited to the Complainant’s current account on the 3rd May 1976.

  1. In the circumstances and for the reasons given, I cannot recommend the payment of any compensation to the Complainant. Wi th hindsight this dispute might have been avoided had the Bank (and other banks) called in all old passbooks on computerisation. They were not obliged to do so and did not. It would also have been preferable if the Complainant had not, initially, been given contradictory dates for the date of computerisation when she first brought this complaint. However, these are not matters which entitle her to compensation under this Scheme.
  2. Despite finding against the Complainant, I should like to add that I am satisfied that she has brought this complaint in the genuine and honest belief that the balance was not in fact withdrawn or transferred from the disputed account. She has presented her cas~ coherently and fairly and has in all respects been as helpful and as straightforward as she could be to this Office in the course of carrying out its investigation. It is, therefore, with considerable regret that I find I have no alternative but to reject this complaint on the evidence available to me.

The Banking Ombudsman

19th April 1994

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