The Foster Line

The above photo is of Ingleborough, it is from this part of the Yorkshire Dales that the Fosters originate.

Our connection with the Foster Line begins with our father, Henry Leeming Foster (Harry).

I don't know a lot about Harry because he and my mother split up when I was a baby. They were divorced in January 1954 and later that year Harry married Emily O'Malley; he had three children with Emily; so I have two half-sisters (Sue and Nina) and a half-brother (Ian). My brother Stephen knew we had half-siblings but he never met them.

I am able to give an overview of Harry's life thanks in part to my aunts Dorothy and Jenny, whom I met not long before they died, and to my half-sisters Nina and Sue.

After my brother, Stephen, dropped dead in 1999 at the age of 53 years, similar to Harry dropping dead at the age of 53 years, both from a heart attack, I renewed contact with my aunty Dorothy (I had met her once before, in 1980) who talked about the Fosters and Hamers and gave me some photographs.

Aunt Dorothy also told me that my younger half-sister, Nina, had enquired after me several years before; she gave me Nina's address. I have since been corresponding with both Nina and Sue (and we have met) who have given me more information and photographs of our father.

Harry Foster was born on 13th February 1925 at 14 Cambridge Road, St Anne's on Sea. The year before had seen the first Labour government elected.

His father was Henry Foster (a dairyman) and his mother Jane Foster (nee Hamer). His older sister was Jane (Jenny) and younger sister, Dorothy.

Here is a photo of Harry when he was a lad:

In 1939 World War II broke out. Harry was 14; here is a photo of him about this time (left) next to one of my brother, Stephen, at a similar age which shows how alike they were:

I know Harry didn't fight in the war as he was a farmer but the marriage certificate says he was in the Manchester Regiment when he married my mum on March 19th 1945 at St John's Evangelist Church in Darwen. Here is their wedding photo:

In fact, this is the only photograph we ever had of our dad for many years. Here is one that my aunt Dorothy gave me - I cried when I saw it partly because they look so happy and partly because I realised that it must have been about this time that I was conceived: aunt Dorothy, dad, aunt Jenny, mum, Stephen.

I know Harry and his family lived for a time at a farm near Jack Keys Lodge, but I think they might have moved to a farm up Bury Fold when he met my mother. I remember my mum saying she used to help out at hay-making time. She also told me she went for a walk with Jennie Foster by the Print Shop, which is fairly close to Bury Fold when she and my dad were having problems, just before they separated. Here is an old photograph of the Print Shop:

Image from Darwen Days

Here is another photo given to me by aunt Dorothy of her wedding in 1952, dad is on the left, then grandma Foster, aunt Dorothy, grandad Foster, aunt Jenny. But mum and dad had already separated by this time:

Anyway, Harry married Emily in 1954. They lived in Preston. Here is one of our dad on a motorbike, probably about this time or maybe a bit earlier. In fact I have very vague recollections of someone coming to visit us in Redearth Road on a motorbike.

My half-sister, Sue, was born in 1955 and here is our dad with her, probably at her Christening:

Here he is, with Ian, perhaps about 1960:

And here he is with Sue again, but also with his adopted son, Elliot:

This next one is about 1965 and he is in the pub he ran with his wife, Emily. Nina gave me this photo, along with all the others. I am guessing it was about 1965 because this is the time that me and my cousin Barry went to see him. It is the only time I met him and this is what I remember him looking like.

I remember he told me my grandma (Foster) had died. After going to the toilet and having a cry, I realised there was live music on in the pub that night so I borrowed a guitar, went up to the microphone and sang. This seemed appropriate at the time.

According to Nina, these are both from about 1977, one is dad with his car near where they lived at the time, the other speaks for itself:

Here is the last photo of Harry taken in 1978 when he was on holiday in Scotland, he collapsed and died at a shop in Kirkham on 18th August 1978.

Here is a compilation of the photos of Harry Foster.

And here is the Foster Line from Harry's father, Henry: