William Stephen Gandy

Grandfather William Stephen Gandy

Ike Gandy not only left his first wife Elizabeth behind in Widnes, but also their son – my grandfather – William Stephen Gandy. He lived in Widnes all his life. In the 1901 Census he is age 23, occupation coal merchant and living at 19 & 21 Marsh Street, Widnes with his grandmother Mary Stevens (Elizabeth’s mother), widow, publican age 81 and her son Thomas, Elizabeth’s older brother, joiner, age 46.

William Stephen Gandy
Grandfather William Stephen Gandy
William Stephen Gandy
Older William Stephen

That same year, 1901, William married Mary Agnes Murphy and they had 15 children, including my father Harold Gandy.  William Stephen and Mary Agnes had 15 children in all, of whom four died when children(*). There were eleven surviving adults, including my father Harold Gandy:

William Steven 1902, Mary Elizabeth 1904 – 1905*, John George “Jack” 1906, Harold 1909, Harry 1911, Isaac 1911, Thomas 1913, Agnes 1916, David 1918 – 1918*,James 1918 – 1919*, Edward 1920, Frederick 1924, Eric 1924, Wilfred 1927 – 1927*, Lily 1928.

Grandmother Mary Agnes Gandy
Agnes Gandy
Grandmother Mary Agnes Gandy in 1951

Mary Agnes’ family – the Nicholsons – came from Ireland, place unknown. Mary Agnes’ parents were John Murphy and Mary Ann Nicholson, grand-parents John Nicholson and Mary Byrne. So far I know no more about her background. Mary Agnes was Catholic, but not William Stephen. Records of Gandy births, deaths and marriages can be found in several different churches in Widnes, both Catholic and Protestant. Youngest daughter Lily for example got married in Anglican St Paul’s Church, Widnes.

Lily Wedding
Wedding of Lily Gandy. L-R Eric Gandy, MInnie Gandy, Grandma Mary Agnes Gandy, Agnes Rimmer, Betty Rimmer 1951
Simms Cross

William Stephen and Agnes lived first in Church Street, West Bank, and then 20 Midwood Street, Simms Cross, Widnes. Grandma’s and grandfather’s house at 20 Midwood Street was a focal point for the family. Two of their children with families also lived in Midwood Street. I remember visiting Grandma with my Dad and the house was always full of kids, mostly family but a few strays from the neighbourhood.

Midwood Street
Midwood Street, Widnes, 1969. Photo Peter Moran

Midwood Street was a compact terrace of back-to-back, two up – two down brick houses with a common back alley.

Simms Cross 1968
Back alley in Simms Cross 1968. Photo Peter Moran

The above  picture from a local newspaper had the caption:

“The very essence of Victorian England, when Britannia ruled the waves and the working class was housed in terraces hastily built to accommodate the rapidly expanding populations in industrial areas. Many fall far and away below the existing modern standards laid down in the Housing Acts; the majority are fit only for destruction”.

Midwood Street can no longer be found in Simms Cross. Date of demolition unknown.

Grave in Widnes Cemetery

William Stephen (1877-1946) and Mary Agnes (1883-1956) are buried together in Widnes Cemetery:

Grave WS & MA
Grave in Widnes Cemetery. Photo Barry Appleton