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Quite a character was my dad: Arthur Unwin (1889 - 1985)

by Eva Unwin


Arthur Unwin about 1960

My father: Arthur Unwin

Dear Alan

Here is a batch of photographs you may be interested in. I should have some older ones but canít find them at the moment. Sorry it has taken so long. I have had an eyelash operation on my one good eye Ė not very pleasant. Iím enclosing a little piece about my father. Hope it helps.

The only Unwin that I am in contact with now is Frank, son of Albert Unwin. He lives in Wetwang in Yorkshire * See footnote [A] below

Love to all - Eva

Arthur Unwin

'Appy's mother: Selina Swinchatt

Selina Swinchatt

Arthur's father, Hugh Unwin, was born in 1859 in Norton in the Moors, Staffordshire, a village a few miles outside of Stoke on Trent. He married Selina Swinchatt at St Mary's Church, West Derby, Liverpool in September 1883. Her family had been market gardeners in the Wallasey area of Cheshire, although her father, Henry, had died only a few years after she was born. After his death, her mother had undertaken work as a charwoman in Liverpool. She died in 1904, an inmate of the West Derby Workhouse.

Between 1887 and 1894 Hugh worked on the building of the Manchester Ship Canal and upon its completion, he obtained a job as the driver of a big crane.

Navvies at work building the Manchester Ship Canal

Building the Manchester Ship Canal

Arthur Unwin was the third child and second son of Hugh and Selina Unwin. The other children were Henry (Harry), Eleanor and Albert. In their early days, they attended the Parish Church School in Eccles.

School photograph

Parish Church School, Eccles (1900)

College and ship building

Salford Technical College, Manchester

Salford Technical School

Wolff Shipyard, Belfast

Harland & Wolff shipyard

Arthur and his younger brother went to Salford Technical School for engineering. (The school was founded in 1896 and gained its Royal Charter and full University status in 1967). He was a bit of a rover in his younger days and worked in many places. He went to work in the shipyards in Belfast and was always in trouble for making friends with Catholics. Father said that he didnít ask what religion they were before speaking to people. When told he would have to join Carsonís Army (footnote [B]) he left and went to work at Barrow in Furness in Cumbria.

Sisters: Annie and Elizabeth Cook on holiday

Annie and Elizabeth Cook on holiday

Jack Unwin

Jack Unwin

Baby Eva Unwin

A young Eva

It was there that he met mother who was on holiday at Blackpool with Auntie Betty. He eventually went to work at Manchester Docks and after he and mother were married (in Leicester in the spring of 1917) they settled in a suburb of Eccles called Patricroft where Jack and I were born.

He worked at the docks for many years but left for some reason during the war and had various jobs before falling on his feet and going in his early 50s to work for Griffiths Hughes, Manufacturing Chemists (footnote [C]), making in those days Krushen Salts (footnote [D]) and many other products. He eventually retired about 70 and received from them a good pension. It was the first time he had holidays with pay and he made full use of the fortnight.

At work: Arthur Unwin was an engineer working for many years on the Manchester Ship Canal.

At work about 1950

Arthur and Annie Unwin

Arthur and Annie

Arthur Unwin takes a rest on a park bench

Taking a rest

He lived to be 97 and only died of old age!

Quite a character, my Dad!!

Continued in column 2...

Please contact us

emailIf you have any questions or comments about the information on this site in general, or you have further information regarding this article, please contact us at Alan. We look forward to hearing from you.

An Unwin photograph album

The following is a sample of the photographs Eva referred to above. Eva's Grandmother, Elizabeth Burditt, married Walter Cook and lived in Leicester. They had one son (George - Alan and Brenda's grandfather) and four daughters (Jesse, May Ann or Polly, Ada Anne - or Annie, and Elizabeth). They also took in Nellie Youle who subsequently married Roy Dible and had a son (Fred) and a daughter (Hilda). Jesse married Elijah Benson. George served in Malta during the first world war. He had a daughter, Hilda.

More of their stories can be found in the following articles: the story of Walter Cook's move from rural Buckinghamshire to Leicester "Too many cooks ... spoil the brats?"; Eva's autobiography: "The long and winding road from Barton to Barton"; and the story of Auntie Nellie and how she became part of the family: "Nellie Youle Swann (1894 - 1970)

Annie Cook and friend

Annie Cook

George Cook: Annie's brother

George Cook

Polly Cook: Annie's sister

Taking a rest

Nellie Dible with Hilda and Fred

Nellie Dible

Grandma Cook with Hilda Dible

Grandma Cook

Elijah Benson: Annie's brother in law

Elijah Benson

Jack and Eva Unwin

Jack and Eva

Jack Unwin and Hilda Cook: George Cook's daughter

Jack and Hilda

Jack in Royal Navy uniform

Jack Unwin RN

Corporal Eva: Royal Corps of Signals

Eva: The author


[A]. Frank Unwin

Frank Unwin was one of two sons born to Albert, Arthur Unwin's brother. Frank's older brother Albert was born in 1918 and died in Withington, Manchester, in 1998. Frank was born in 1924. He died on February 23rd 2008 and was buried at St Nicholas Church, Wetwang, East Yorkshire.

Sir Edward Carson

Sir Edward Carson

[B]. Sir Edward Carson (1854 - 1935)

Edward Carson was an Anglo-Irish politician committed to the preservation of the union of Ireland with Great Britain. He was elected to Parliament in 1892 and became Solicitor General in the Conservative administration between 1900 and 1905. He organised a private army "The Ulster Volunteers" in 1912 in direct opposition to the Home Rule Bill, threatening that Ulster would establish its own provisional government. It was at his insistence that the North of Ireland including the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone (remained under the British Crown when southern Ireland gained Home Rulew. He continued to campaign for Ulster interests after the First world war. He was knighted and ultimately made a Baron.

[C]. Griffiths Hughes, Manufacturing Chemists (1)

In 1851 Ernst Schering, a qualified dispensing chemist, opened a pharmacy in Chausseestrassesin the north of Berlin. In what he named the 'Green Pharmacy' he started making his own chemicals, making it his policy only to sell items of the highest possible purity. In 1925 a British subsidiary, Schering Limited, was founded which during the war years was taken over by the Board of Trade. In 1941 it was taken over by Griffiths Hughes Limited, and continued to trade Schering products under the name British Schering Limited. By 1967 the Company had reacquired the name Schering AG in the UK, and the Company as a whole was trading under the name Schering Chemicals with interests in pharmaceuticals, electroplating and industrial chemicals. The Company has been known as Schering Health Care Limited since 1987.

[D]. Krushen Salts

A tin of Kruschen Salts

Kruschen Salts

This product is still available. According to a recent pharmacy catalogue, Kruschen is described as an excellent aperient and diuretic, helping to maintain the balanced salt content of body fluid and body cells, which is so important for healthy and normal functioning. It is indicated for constipation associated with sluggish liver and rheumatism and for sick headache, dizziness and indigestion due to constipation. Some years ago it was claimed to have weight reducing properties.

The active ingredients are:
Magnesium Sulphate (3.2g), Potassium Chloride (0.04g), Potassium Iodine, Potassium Sulphate (0.22g), Sodium Chloride (0.4g) Sodium Sulphite (0.8mg)

The Diamond Jubilee edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2001) (2) notes that the slogan for Kruschen salts, Ēthat Kruschen feelingĒ, became a catchphrase of the 1920s to indicate a feeling of vigorous health.


1. Schering AG UK; http://www.schering.co.uk/content/global/about_updated_version.asp
2. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations http://www.askoxford.com/worldofwords/quotations/quotefrom/jubilee

Page added: September 20th 2005
Last updated: April 6th 2012

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