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Parents met at Bakers boot factory office in the 1930s

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 20, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Bakers works party at the Star and Garter Hotel, Wolverhampton, March 9, 1932

  • Arthur Cooper and Nancy Stokes on the day they were engaged

  • The office at Bakers boot factory, Wolverhampton, in the early 1930s. Arthur Cooper sits at his desk on the left

  • Another early 1930s Bakers party at the Star and Garter Hotel with the mayor and mayoress of Wolverhampton in attendance

  • Arthur Cooper's medals from both world wars

  • Arthur Cooper, back row second right, in the Home Guard

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LYN Atkins of Tipton read the story in our March 13 edition on the well-known Wolverhampton boot-making firm Baker's and was inspired to look through her collection of family photographs. She brought along this selection that shows some of the company's employees at that time.

It could be said that Lyn owes her existence to the old firm as her parents first met when they worked there in the 1930s.

Her father Arthur Frederick Cooper worked there as a bookkeeper and her mother, Nancy Lilian Stokes trained staff in the typing pool.

Our main picture was taken on March 9, 1932, at a works party at the Star and Garter Hotel, Wolverhampton. Nancy and Arthur are sitting together on the floor, arms linked, both wearing party hats, Arthur's with a checked pattern and Nancy wearing a dark coloured dress.

Another picture was taken at the hotel on a different occasion and it seems that the mayor and mayoress of Wolverhampton were in attendance. Perhaps it is Alderman Joseph Haddock who was mayor 1930-31 and also manager of the Star and Garter Hotel – can anyone confirm this?

A third photograph shows Arthur sitting at his desk in the Bakers office – does anyone recognise any of the other workers?

Lyn has a photograph of her parents on the day they were engaged. It is somewhat unusual in that it was taken by a photographic shooting gallery. Arthur aims a gun at the target and by hitting the bullseye the photo was taken. This was on May 7, 1932, at Bingley Hall in Birmingham. Arthur and Nancy were married in 1933.

In the First World War Arthur served with the Lincolnshire Regiment and for a time his family believed he had been killed in action. In fact, a misidentified soldier was buried in a grave under Arthur's name and regimental number.

This came about when Arthur was shot in the left arm, a wound that left him permanently with one arm shorter than the other. As he made his way through the lines to the field ambulance he came across a soldier who was dying. Arthur stopped to comfort him and gave him his jacket. Later the dead solider was found, still with Arthur's jacket, with Arthur's paybook in the pocket.

The mistake was discovered in 1920 and Arthur received the following letter from the war office:

"A grave has been found between Guedecourt and Le Transloy, Somme, France, which bears a cross shewing [sic] your late regimental particulars. No information has been obtained as to the identity of the soldier in this grave. It is thought that the soldier in question may have been in possession of some documents or equipment which belonged to you and this led to him being buried under your name.

"The soldier buried was identified by an Army Book 64 and a wallet."

In the Second World War Arthur served in the Home Guard and was fire-watching the night Lyn was born.

Can you name any of the people in these pictures? Contact dshaw@blackcountry bugle.co.uk or write to Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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