The Brighton connection (post 1830s)

George PLANK (1885-1965) was my grandfather.

He was born on 11th August 1885 and baptised two months later at St Peter's Church in Brighton.  In 1904 he joined the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and spent the rest of his working life there as a goods porter (latterly Southern Region of British Rail).  He married Sarah Ann STEWART on 4th February 1907.  Although Sarah came from Stepney in the East End of London they married in Brighton.  In 1901 Sarah was a domestic servant in Stepney so why did she come to Brighton?  There may have been family reasons.  Her parents were Charles STEWART & Elizabeth MIDDLEBROOK.  He was a costermonger/tinker and I have been unable to trace him post the 1891 census.  One of Sarah's brothers was raised by his grandparents.  Finally there is a family story that Elizabeth ended her days in the Colney Hatch Asylum.  This turned out to be true as 22 of her last 28 years were spent there.  But whatever the reason Sarah made the move from Stepney to Brighton and married my grandfather.

George joined the RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) on the 2nd April 1912.  He was an Able Seaman and spent most of the war (November 1914 - May 1918) on HMS Peel Castle.  This was an Armed Boarding Steamer (ABS) that, before the war, was a ferry between Liverpool and Douglas (Isle of Man).  It was assigned to the Downs Boarding Flotilla that was part of the Dover Patrol in the English Channel.  His Character was described as Very Good and his Ability as Satisfactory.  On demobilisation in 1919 he returned to his job with the LB&SCR at Brighton.

This is George & Sarah PLANK's family:

George PLANK

George was my father.  His was almost an illegitimate birth as his parents married a month before his birth on 2nd March 1907. He was baptised a month later at St Margaret's Chapel, Brighton.  George married my mother, Kate Dorothy BARTON, on 20th July 1940 at St Mark's Church, Brighton.  This was a busy year for the BARTON family as my mother, and two of her sisters, all married in 1940.

After leaving school at 14 he worked in a fish & chips shop for 6 years followed by a number of labouring jobs (eg building work, furniture removals).  At the outbreak of WW2 he was called up to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment but as he had a priority job at a power station he was exempted from service for two years.  In January 1942 he joined the Royal Sussex Regiment but because of problems with his feet he was transferred to the Royal Engineers (RE) as a sapper.  George spent two years in Italy before being demobilised in July 1946.  After the war he worked for Brighton Corporation, firstly in waste food processing and then as a dustman (business rubbish).  He retired in 1972.

Sarah (who was known as Ciss) was born on 16th October 1909.  She was baptised two months later at The Church of the Annunciation, Brighton.  She married Charles SLENDER on 15th September 1928 at St Peter's Church, Brighton.  During the next 6 years they had two children but the marriage did not last long.  After the death of their second child, aged 1, Sarah left Charles and moved to London where she spent the rest of her life.  They did not divorce.  I do not know what happened to her husband.
Frederick PLANK

Frederick died before reaching his second birthday.


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