The History of Saint & Co. – Part Three

The History of Saint & Co. - Part Three

A Roll of Honour: The War Heroes of J. Jackson Saint & Co.

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in 1914, few could have predicted the seismic impact of that single bullet. The long, bloody war that followed affected almost every aspect of life in Britain.

Companies like J.Jackson Saint & Co lost their youngest, fittest men to the front line in Europe and the Far East. Some never returned.

Being the owner’s sons, JB and Roland Saint were possibly the highest-profile absences, but they were not the only heroes at the Lowther Street offices. Here we remember just some of the war heroes of J. Jackson Saint & Co.

Sydney Cartmel Heron (1898 – 1968)

Sydney Heron was just 14 when he joined Saint & Co. in 1912. Five years later he would become involved in one of the bloodiest, hopeless battles of the First World War.

The son of a stone-cutter, he grew up in a small house in Denton Holme with his parents, three sisters and a brother.

In 1916, the teenage clerk enlisted to the army, joining the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Remarkably his record of service has survived and it reveals some incredible detail about the young private from Carlisle.The History of Saint & Co. - Part Three

At 19, he stood at 5ft 8” tall and skinny – the girth of his chest measured 33 inches. He joined the 4th/5th (territorial) battalion and arrived at Le Havre, France with his comrades on February 13, 1917.

It is likely he took part in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War – Passchendaele, officially the Third Battle of Ypres. During a three month battle, often in deep mud and heavy rain, the Allies accumulated more than 300,000 casualties only to advance their front line by five miles.

Sydney appears to have survived that battle relatively unscathed, but his luck changed on October 22, 1918. Now part of the 1st/4th Battalion, he was badly injured. A contemporary account reported that the battalion moved into billets at Froidmont in Belgium on October 21. It continued:

“At 2 am on the 22nd, we relieved the 1/4th King’s Own in the outpost line – C Company on the right, D on the left, A and B Companies in support.

“We attempted to advance, but were unable to do so owing to heavy machine gun and artillery fire, five other ranks being killed, 14 wounded, and one missing.”

He suffered a shoulder and chest injury on that battlefield, suffering 30% disablement, according to the official records. After being treated at the Kitchener Hospital in Brighton, he was discharged on April 4, 1919, on a weekly pension of 8s, 3d.

Exactly 19 days later, he returned to J.Jackson Saint & Co in Carlisle. As a 15-year-old office boy, he had received 5/- a week. Now a war veteran aged 21, his salary was increased fourfold – to 20/- a week.

Little more than a year after he left the battlefield for the last time, he secured a government grant which enabled him to train as a chartered accountant. In the early 20th century, it was rare that men from such modest backgrounds could secure such precious funding.

It meant that Sydney Heron could afford to be articled to JB Saint for three years and nine months and it stood him in good stead for the rest of his life. He married in 1937 – by then he was living in Cockermouth, a qualified accountant. He was eventually made the manager of Saint’s Workington office.

Clara Fazackerley (1901 – ?)

The History of Saint & Co. - Part Three

For many, the First World War provided opportunities that would have been unthinkable just a generation earlier. In 1919, one young Carlisle woman seized an opportunity that was to take her to the other side of the world.

Clara Fazackerley was born in Upperby in 1901, the youngest child of Tom, a railway guard, and Mary Jane. Their life together had been difficult – by 1911, four of their eight children had died.

Her brothers and sisters had all secured employment by the time they were 15. It is likely Clara was a similar age when she joined J.Jackson Saint & Co, one of an increasing number of women in the workplace, eager to contribute to the family finances.

Her time with Saints is recorded in an old employment ledger found at the firm’s current office. In it, it states that her wage increased to 16/6 in the first half of 1918. But it also notes a brave and life-changing decision taken by this forward-thinking young woman.

On March 15th, 1919, almost as soon as she turned 18, she took up a posting with the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF). Employed as a shorthand typist, she had secured one of the most lucrative jobs in this newly-formed branch of the military, earning 36/- a week.

At a time when women over 30 had only just been given the vote and ladies who wore trousers were considered “fast”, it was a courageous move by the Cumbrian teenager. Not only did she give up a secure job, she was also required to move away from her family and her childhood home in Beaconsfield Street, Currock.

Clara would have had to undergo a rigorous and complex selection process before she was recruited as a “penguin”, so-called because women were initially not permitted to fly. As a “member”, rather than an officer, she formed part of the backbone of the service.The History of Saint & Co. - Part Three

Like her colleagues, she would have adhered to a strict code of conduct which, amongst many other things, forbade smoking in the street. These high standards led them to be viewed as the most professional and disciplined of all the women’s services.

But Clara’s role in the WRAF was short-lived. With The Great War at an end, the service was being wound up and on September 26, just six months after she was recruited, she was de-mobbed.

She appears to have impressed her superiors during her short time with the force: both her work and her personal character were “very good”, according to her certificate of discharge.

It is unclear what Clara did immediately after leaving the service but in 1922, she married Percy Thomas Cecil Mowbray, the son of a railway signalman, in Oundle, Northamptonshire.

Three years later her life was to change dramatically – again. On November 25, 1925, her 32-year-old husband sailed from Southampton to Uganda to take up employment as a works foreman.The History of Saint & Co. - Part Three

Ever-adventurous, Clara, 25, followed her husband around the world and she embarked on the same long journey, alone, little more than three months later.

During more than a decade in East Africa – where they welcomed a son, Trevor – they helped establish a modern infrastructure in a country that was previously dangerously dependent on one crop – cotton. As a foreman, and later an overseer earning up to £500 a year, Mr Mowbray is likely to have been involved in building hospitals, colleges and drainage systems.

Herbert James Rigg (1891 – 1976)

A small man, with a slight speech impediment, Herbert “Wigg” was often a figure of fun at the J. Jackson Saint’s Lowther Street offices. Despite that, by common consent, he was a brilliant accountant who commanded respect from his colleagues and staff.

He was eventually to rise to partner of the firm, but the young butcher’s son began his career as an articled clerk just before the outbreak of war.

He was one of seven children brought up by George and Elizabeth Rigg, at the turn of the century, first at 115 Denton Street and later at 61 Dalston Road. His elder brother, George, followed his father into butchery, while another brother, Thomas, became a watchmaker. His sister Ruth was a school teacher.The History of Saint & Co. - Part Three

In 1914 he joined the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry as a corporal, and he joined the frontline in France on July 25 the following year.

He quickly rose through the ranks in the military: by the end of the war, he was a lieutenant with the Lothian and Borders Horse Yeomanry. He returned to Carlisle with decorations including the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star, and on taking up his old job at Saints in 1919, he commanded a salary of £250. But this hefty wage was not enough for the clever and ambitious Mr Rigg. A note under his name in the ledger of employees reads:

“Decided to take up an appointment abroad in Buenos Ayres but reconsidered his decision on having his salary raised to £350 p.a. and a promise of a partnership on becoming a Chartered Accountant.”

True to their word, within a few short years Herbert Rigg became a partner alongside John Boustead and Roland Saint.

He occupied an office on the first floor of the Lowther Street office, where he would walk around the building with a pipe almost constantly hanging from his mouth.

Contemporaries have described their fond memories of him introducing himself to prospective clients as “Herbert Wigg. R-I-G-G.”

Les Robson, an office boy for J.Jackson Saint & Co during the 1939-45 war, remembers Mr Rigg as a “fearsome” man who “ruled with a rod of iron”.

He enforced a strict policy of working from 9am-1pm, and from 2-6pm from Mondays until Fridays, and from 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

And despite his own tobacco habit, he refused to allow staff to smoke in the office – a policy that only started to change after the Second World War when some ex-serviceman were given special dispensation by the partners.

When Andrew Grainger returned from serving with the RAF, he approached Mr Rigg to ask permission to smoke at his desk.

The accounts clerk, who at more than 6ft tall towered over his superior, recalled that his boss looked up at him from behind his desk and said: “No Mr Grainger, I think it might stunt your growth.”

Furious, he handed in his notice the next day. Andrew Grainger went on to become one of the most successful businessmen in Cumbria, establishing one of the county’s first travel agencies, Cumbria Travel, and the accountancy firm Grainger and Platt.

Herbert Rigg retired in the mid-1950s and he died in 1977.

When his Thursby home went on the market shortly after his death, Mr Grainger bought it. He said: “I thought to myself, I’ll buy the bloody thing and I will smoke there.

“So I did.”

Mr Grainger is now a committed non-smoker.

The History of Saint & Co. – Part Two

The Saint brothers, on the battlefield and the sports field

Upon the death of John Jackson Saint in 1918, the accountancy firm was passed to his sons John Boustead and Roland Cyril.

However, prior to this, the brothers already held near-celebrity status in Cumbria during the early decades of the 20th century. Accomplished cricketers and rugby players, John Boustead, the elder brother, and Roland, three years his junior, both represented their city and county in both sports. And all while learning their trade as articled clerks at their father’s accountancy firm.The History of Saint & Co. - Part Two

Roland, the most naturally gifted of the brothers, was just 17 and a pupil at Carlisle Grammar School when he scored a try that helped the city team lift the Cumberland Rugby Cup in 1910.

The local newspaper described him as a “half of uncommon ability” who “won praise from every quarter of the field”, including the team’s vice-captain – his elder brother.

A Sporting Life

Their many achievements are documented in a bulging scrapbook of press cuttings, collected by their mother, Charlotte, and treasured by the family ever since.

In 1911, both brothers were selected to play for a “North” team against a visiting Springboks side. Their performance was praised in the press:

“Although Cumberland had only two players taking part in the second North encounter against the South Africans, the display given by the brothers Saint did them every credit.

“[Roland] timed his passes beautifully, and gave such a display as will cause his career to be watched with close interest by England’s selectors.

“[John] was somewhat at fault over the Colonial’s first try, but the way in which he hauled down Mills or threw him into touch when danger threatened was as fine as anything one could wish to see.”

Despite those early predictions, Roland was never picked by the England selectors – an unfortunate result of his home in Carlisle, according to one commentator of the time:

“Were he in a south country team, R Saint would be reckoned one of the ‘geniuses’,” he wrote.

For King and Country

The History of Saint & Co. - Part Two

Roland was just 21 when war broke out in Europe in 1914. Both he and his brother put their sporting ambitions to one side and quickly signed up to serve King and country.

John and Roland served with the Border Regiment during the First World War, with both achieving the rank of Second Lieutenant. Their day-to-day life is documented in a series of letters to each other and to their mother in Carlisle, that have been preserved by their descendants.

While John was posted to Burma, his brother served in France. Rather than detail their role in the war effort, their messages home contained accounts of the troop’s cricket matches and requests for home comforts.

In one indiscreet letter to Roland, John reveals that he had been doing the accounts for the Mandalay Race Course. We have reprinted this letter at the bottom of this blog post.

Hard Hitters

The History of Saint & Co. - Part Two

On their return, cricket came to replace rugby as their major passion. Roland became legendary for his hard-hitting at the Carlisle club, where he was part of a team that regularly drew thousands to the banks of Edenside.

He was “an exceptional player”, according to Tom Hamilton, who recalled the golden days of cricket in an article for Carlisle’s News and Star in 1994.

“His arrival at the crease after the first wicket down was always eagerly awaited by spectators. He kept the bank alive with his fabulous driving and lightening scoring.

“More balls than we could count landed in the River Eden – feats of distance we never see today. Other great hits lodged on the hoods of cars parked within the enclosure. The adjacent tennis courts and the Edenside bowling green also testified to Saint’s massive driving.“

In 1926, he was one of an invitational XI selected to play a touring Australian team at Edenside. More than 5,000 spectators streamed onto the banks to watch the match and, to this day, it remains the largest gathering of first-class cricketers ever seen at the ground.

Both brothers were clearly passionate about their sports, but a speech made by Roly upon his retirement as captain of Carlisle Cricket Club reveals the sociable side of his nature.

One newspaper reported Roland’s words:

“Cricket, to his mind, was one of the best games. It inculcated unselfishness, reliance, and self-control. It also helped people to acquire one of the best things in life, that as friends.

“He had been up and down the country and had made a tremendous number of friends throughout England. He would treasure the gift so long as his memory enabled him to recall the very happy times he had had in connection with the club and so long as he could remember the many sportsmen he had met on and off the field, and who he hoped he would always be able to call friends.”

An Epilogue

It is perhaps all the more tragic that this supremely fit man was just 48 when he died in 1940, having been struck down by a bout of appendicitis. He left his young wife, Kathleen, and two very young children, Oliver and Joceline.

This must have been a devastating shock for the whole family, not least his brother and business partner, John Boustead. People who worked with the elder Saint brother described him as a “gruff” and serious man who rarely left his office on the ground floor of the Lowther Street building.

But he was well-respected around Carlisle and in the accountancy industry. A long-standing resident of the small village of Wreay, to the south of the city, he was also known for his charity work as one of the Twelve Men of Wreay.The History of Saint & Co. - Part Two

Following his death aged 72, in 1962, The Cumberland News ran a glowing obituary. It read:

“In his professional capacity Mr Saint audited the accounts of many city firms and had seen the rise of many of them from small beginnings.

“During his long career he saw the growing importance of his profession in modern business and industry and he assisted by wise advice on financial matters to many local firms. He also undertook the audit of many local charities.”

He was survived by his wife Beryl, and his daughters, Jennifer and Ann.

John Boustead’s letter to his brother Roland, dated 22nd January 1916.

D. Company
¼ Border Regiment
Jan 22.16

Dear Roland,

Last week’s mails, contrary to what the Post Office people told us, went down in the SS Persia and this week’s are four days late, not being due until Wednesday night.

Yesterday I got the accounts of the Mandalay Race Course posted together with a report on them, which amount to five pages, and of which I was quite proud. I have to check the a/cs in connection with a sweep which that have on every race and as there are over 50,000 books to examine it will be rather a big job. They make a nice profit out of this – 62,000 Rupees this year – in fact if it was not for this sweep they would make a loss of over 16,000 Rs a year.

Two items I came across in doing the vouching rather amused me, they were:

  • To Coolie bringing steam roller to race course – Rs1.
  • To Coolie getting steam roller out of mud – Rs3.

Of course it did not say whether it was the same Coolie or not, if it was, he had a good eye for business.

Most of the invoices were in English but among them was one in Chinese and several in Burmese; the latter I had to get one of the boys to translate. What else could I have done when figures such as… Stared me in the face? It seemed very like shorthand but I was told they meant Rs83, 22/8 and 6.

Last Sunday we had another game of cricket and like the previous week only three of us were wanted – Halstead, Jimmy and I. The match this time was “The Volunteers” v “The Rest”, Jimmy played for the “Volunteers” as they were a man short. They started jolly well, a chap called Harper Knocking up 50 in no time and about 4 o’clock they returned with 167 and only four wickets down. W.S.C. had gone in first and made 18 before he was caught.

We had an hour and a half before us, in which to knock off the runs. I was lucky again, getting 39. Liest Uruston, a very amusing chap who was in with me, got 50 odd in about 30 minutes. Guy Heelis got 6 or 7, Beuole (who is growing as fat as a pig) got a blob and Haldstead 1. We eventually finished up just as the bugle in the Pioneer lines blew retreat (5.30pm) with 168 and two wickets to fall.

There is nothing more to say, and a letter with a lot of questions would be most acceptable but as it is not forthcoming I will close.


WordPress Image Lightbox