Tuesday 7 January 2014

I was speaking with my mum today about family and history and blah blah blah when suddenly the conversation got rather interesting...

After his return from Burma in World War II, my Grandfather took up a job in Wythenshawe as a cabinet sprayer for Ferranti, a defence contractor involved in manufacture of early computers and rocket guidance systems. 
The greatest news he ever arrived home with, was a personal invitation from his boss, Basil De Ferranti, to travel to Woomera in Southern Australia for 3 months, on Company expenses with all wages paid direct to his wife in the UK. He was to go and watch the launch of a rocket the company helped design the electro-mechanical inertial navigation systems for, Ariane 4.
His wife said No and that was the end of that discussion.

Over the next few years, Christmas was a time of affluence and abundance. The gifts below the tree were more than could be afforded by a simple paint spryer, as were the luxurious hampers of food and drink which were dutifully carried into the council house by men, suited and booted and looking Very out of place.
Basil De Ferranti was a regular visitor to the house, as was Jack Lord and a few of the "management" from work.

Several years down the line, my mum was given an interview for a secretarial job at Ferranti, which she attended to tell the Company she had no wish to be under her father's constant watch. My uncle successfully completed his apprenticeship at Ferranti and went on to become a very successful salesman/civil engineer within Defence and Security.

When my Granddad died in 1984, Basil De Ferranti flew into Wythenshawe in his private helicopter, along with his right hand man Jack Lord and several other imposing gentlemen, some of whom my Mother recognised from her childhood as regular visitors to her home she shared with her father, brother and step-mother.
They all stood across the grave from the family in their black hats and long black jackets, paid their respects and left.

Not long afterwards, Edith, my Grandfather's wife was given a lump sum of money and told it was the Company Life Insurance payout from the time my ganddad had worked for them.
She then set about selling off the family estate in Mount Pleasant, Merthyr Tydfil.

The first question this family history raises is - wtf would Basil De Ferranti be doing flying in to a paint sprayers funeral.
That's before you get to the fact they were living in a council house in Manchester when there was (by all accounts) a mansion in Wales, with its own grounds which had been passed down following my great grandmothers death in or around 1969.
Her funeral too, was attended by imposing gentlemen in black hats and long flowing coats. Men of power, money, stature. Quite an honour call for an unmarried concert pianist whose career was untimely ended by a bastard child.
Then comes the question of - well why would they offer to fly this paint sprayer half way around the world, paid, for 3 months.
The answer shocked me, I must admit.
My Grandfather, Edward Heighway (commonly known to friends as Ted) was a Freemason.

So many seemingly small details are so out of place, it strikes me as odd to say the least and I would appreciate any help anyone can offer in the pursuit of tracing my family skeletons.

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