Thomas Paul Gallagher, Biography

14th August 1911  -  1st July 2002
Thomas Paul Gallagher was born on 14th August 1911 at 6 Tyne Vale Terrace in Lemington on Tyne, Northumberland, UK to Thomas and Ethel (nee Austen) Gallagher.  He was always known by his second name, Paul, and was the second of six children, until his older brother, Teddy, died in 1915. 

At the age of 5 he attended St Georgeís Primary School, Bells Close, which was only a mile from home.  Paul had two brothers, Alfred and Brian, and two sisters, Margaret and Liles.

In 1924 the family moved to Ryton on Tyne on the other side of the river from Lemington and near to the Spencerís Steel Works in Newburn on Tyne, where his father, Thomas, worked.  Thomas was a natural sportsman who had won a county cap at Rugby and had been an acrobat before he married.  He had met his future wife, Ethel, who was from Faversham, Kent, while performing acrobatics Ďon tourí.  However, he had been kicked in the neck while playing rugby and it was thought this could have contributed to him developing cancer of the neck and throat.  In 1925 Ethel decided the family should move to the south as the warmer climate might improve his chances of recovery, so the family went to Ash Farm, Ottery St Mary in Devon, but sadly, Paulís father died within months of the move. 

Soon after Paul's mother arrived in Devon with her sick husband, young family, and no source of income, they met the Lindsay family through the local church.  The Lindsays, were relatively well off and on learning of Ethel's predicament, they very generously paid for Paul's youngest brother, Brian, to go to the Convent School in Bridport, Dorset as a boarder, and for his sisters, Margaret and Liles, to attend boarding school also.  Meanwhile, Paul and his brother, Alfred, went out to work to help support the family. 

Paul had a great interest in motorcycles and cars.  He and Alfred shared an Ivory Calthorpe 350cc motorbike.  The brothers also bought a Morris Minor and then a 1934 Vauxhall V5  and enjoyed making day trips to Cheddar Gorge, Burrington Combe and to the seaside, on almost empty roads.

With the outbreak of war in 1939, Paul joined the Royal Air Force while Alfred joined the Army and Brian joined the Royal Navy.  His sister, Margaret, took up teaching while Liles became a nurse.  With his engineering background, Paul got involved in aircraft repair and was posted to the Far East for much of the war.

During the war, Pauls mother, Ethel, had moved from Exeter to Crewkerne for safety, to be further away from the German bombing raids.  When Paul was demobbed he joined the family in Crewkerne and soon started courting a local girl, Hilda Simms.  On 3rd August 1946, only 4 months after meeting, they were married at Chard Catholic church.

Hilda and Paul moved into a flat above the Speedwell Club at 5 Abbey Street, Crewkerne.  They raised two daughters and spent nearly forty happy years in the flat with their family.  Sometimes, Alfred and his family would visit from Bristol.  Alfred's son, David, would look forward to spending a week or two with his Uncle Paul and family in Crewkerne during the summer holidays, particularly accompanying Paul on his early morning visits to the local farms in the course of his job as Milk Marketing Board Inspector.

Paul enjoyed playing golf at the Windwhistle club, and always looked forward to the '19th hole'.  He was great story-teller and always seemed to have a new joke to relate.  He also enjoyed an occasional visit to the local pub for half-a-pint and a chat to his friends.

After retirement, Paul and Hilda moved into a small cottage across the road from the Speedwell club in Abbey Road.  Paul was heart-broken when Hilda suffered a stoke in 1997 and died in 1998.  So he finally moved up to London to be near his two daughters and their families.  Paul remained in good health for most of his 90 years, but died after a short illness on 1st July 2002.

                                             D. Gallagher July 2010

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Paul on his Ivory Calthorpe motorcycle, c1936
Hilda and Paul circa 1946

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