Fred Evans & daughter Nellie circa late 1920s

Only known picture of FREDERICK DAVID WILLIAM THURLEY EVANS.  The woman with him is his second daughter, Nellie.  Judging by her clothes this photo was taken in the twenties.  It may even be her wedding photo (date unknown) since they were not a family for taking pictures and this was probably a special occasion.

Frederick was born in London in 1863 in what was then Palace Street; its name was changed to St Silas Place in the 1930s.  His parents were DAVID EVANS and ELIZABETH THURLEY.  (The Thurleys were inn-keepers in ABINGTON PIGOTS in Cambridgeshire, with various branches of the family running the ‘local’ over the years, including Elizabeth’s father at one point.)  Fred had two sisters  – Louisa E and Lottie E – nothing known about them.

Frederick had a basic education, his parents paid a nominal sum each week (either sixpence or one shilling) for him to learn reading and writing at a church school in Kentish Town Road.  Name unknown but the building later became the cap factory for G A DUNN and Co.

Frederick was a bus driver and this is probably how he met his wife ROSE HIGGS, as her father was also a bus driver.  He and Rose married in St Barnabas Church in Kentish Town and spent most of their married life in ST LEONARD’S SQUARE, Kentish Town where they raised 8 children.

Frederick started out driving the horse-drawn buses in London (Denis donated a picture of him to the London Transport Museum some years ago).  When petrol-driven buses were introduced he left as he didn’t think he could learn to drive.  He took a job in a piano factory but used to come home with his back raw where he’d been heaving heavy planks of wood all day. Rose made him go back to the bus company where he learnt to drive and spent the rest of his working life on the buses.

His first petrol buses had an open cab with a leather (?) apron that went over the driver’s knees to keep him warm.  Denis remembered seeing his father come home in the winter with his moustache frozen solid and standing over the cooking range to de-frost it. The wealthier customers could be demanding – going up to the driver’s cab and telling him which house to stop at in the road as if it was a taxi! The drivers always complied because they were afraid they’d lose their job if the customer complained.

Frederick was a very quiet man.  His biggest passions were his chickens and his garden.  The chickens lived in a run at the bottom of the back garden in St Leonard’s Square which was white-washed every year; plus he kept a smaller wooden box with drop-curtain near the back door where sick or broody hens could be nursed (and heaven help anyone who made a noise near it, since Fred used to sit outside smoking and guarding the box).  Whenever Rose went up to the market, she was always told not to forget the bran for the chickens’ feed.  A cockerel was raised and killed for Christmas Dinner.

The garden was full of chrysanthemums and nasturtiums, the seeds of the latter collected carefully each year for re-sowing.

Fred died in 1938 after a short illness where he was nursed at home by Rose.

Denis Evans talking about his father keeping chickens in the 1920’s