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An end to Water

When their father died in in 1910 his younger brother Jacob had taken full control of the McKie water business Northumberland Road. 

Both James Junior's sons, my grandfather and his brother, had become Electrical Engineers, abandoning water forever. 

Jacob died in 1922 and the mineral water business disappeared.  I haven't been able to find out when. 

The land alone would have been valuable then and worth a fortune today, it's right in the heart of the commercial district.  Maybe it was sold when Jacob died.  In any case it's not there any more.  Maybe it didn't survive the Great War or the following depression. 

But I wish I had been handed down a few dozen crates of something, because the bottles are now collector's items.   A bottle recently changed hands in an on-line auction for £280.37 - and it didn't even contain ginger beer.

By the 1911 census my grandfather, James William Lawson McKie, was a 31 year old electrical engineer living as a boarder with the Hall family, at 30 Albany Gardens, Whitley Bay, Northumberland.  

At number 29 lived a young private school teacher, Margaret (Madge) Domville. 

Margaret Domville-
Margaret Domville

 

Was it love at first sight?  Compared to their parents a generation earlier and their siblings, they were both on the shelf.   James was already over 30. 

They were married in 1914, immediately before the start of World War I.  He was 34 and she was 28.

The Domvilles seem to have been surprisingly well off given her father's job.  Madge's father Joshua, another of my great-grandfathers, had joined the North Eastern Railway as a clerk in the office (around 1866) when he left school.  He remained a clerk in the accounts department at each census return and when he was old enough Madge's brother, Jacob Stephen Domville, got a job there too. 

Maybe their combined income allowed them to live in Albany Gardens that was, and still is, a very good middle class address.  They were the sole occupants, except for servants, and were probably the owners.  The houses there have a present value of well over a million pounds, very high for the north of England. You can see some in the real estate pages but not in Google street view.   It is possible that Elizabeth was well off as she and her sister were clearly well traveled and liberal thinkers.  

Great grandfather Joshua's first wife was Elizabeth, possibly Smith, and they had four children. She died giving birth to Madge or soon after.  Not long after her death Joshua married her younger sister Jane. 

The Church prohibited this in England so they travelled to Sweden to be married. 

Although I can't understand why, this was regarded as scandalous, particularly in my mother's family, and spoken of darkly, in hushed tones: 'she was brought-up by her aunt you know'; and the suggestion that this was somehow improper.  I presume that the younger sister is thought to have 'had eyes on him' before her sister's death or that the 'proper thing' would have been for her to occupy another bedroom as a maiden aunt.

Anyway, the impropriety obviously didn't concern James, who's own upbringing had been a little unusual, to say the least.

There is a possibility that Joshua or his father came into a remote inheritance on the Domville side.

When I was a child there was some suggestion that the Domvilles were related to other, better known Domvilles.  It's quite an unusual name so there may be some connection. There are the Domville baronets of St Alban's one of whom was Lord Mayor of London and an Army colonel Domville who was a contemporary as well as the Admirals mentioned earlier but any link is tenuous.  Joshua's father, John Domville, came from Thorne, South Yorkshire and worked in Darlington, Durham as a warehouseman when Joshua was born. Maybe he was a black sheep.

James and Madge has sufficient resources to buy a house at 58 Queens Road, Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, also a good address, and after two years began a family.  Again there may have been a child lost during this period because, according to family lore, neither parent was lacking in libido.

58 Queens Road Monkseaton 2
58 Queens Road, Monkseaton today (Google Street View)

It was the middle Great War.  James was a bit too old to serve.  And in any case he was engaged in fitting out ships, coal mines and factories with electricity - very much a critical reserved occupation.  The business was booming and very soon had around 500 employees.

 

James Lawson McKie and Margaret
James William Lawson McKie and Margaret McKie (Domville)

 

James Domville McKie, my Uncle Jim, was born at home at the end of 1916. He was followed by my father, Stephen Domville McKie, born in December 1917.

Then came Margaret Domville McKie a year later, as the Great War came to an end, followed by Joan Domville McKie in 1920.

 

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