I was interested to see the photograph of Chapmans Yard, as part of your series of items from the Watford Museum archives, as a branch of my family lived there in the 1920s.

Joseph Hopkins, my grandfather’s younger brother, was born in Sarratt in 1884 and worked as a foreman, or ganger, in railway construction. According to the 1911 census he and his wife Emily, nee Moore, were living in Brightwell Road, but 1913 saw him working away from home on the East Kent Railway. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in June of that year when he died as a result of an accident on the railway at the relatively young age of 29.

Life must have been incredibly hard for his widow as she was left with four children, including a new-born baby. By 1921 she was living at No 22 Chapmans Yard and earning her living as a charwoman. Sadly, she died four years later in the Watford Workhouse but her daughter Lily and son in law Robert Shears continued to live at No 22 until at least 1930.

I first learned of Joseph and Emily’s existence some 30 years ago but it is only in the last couple of weeks that I have been able to piece together their story, thanks to the recently published 1921 census and the assistance of Sue Carter at the Watford Museum.

John Hopkins

Langley Road, Chipperfield