Frederick ALDRIDGE

Life story retold by Jane Olsson

Here is another of the Aldridge family, this time my uncle who sadly I never got to meet.

Frederick Ferris Aldridge, known as Freddie was born in the summer of 1914 in Reading. He was the son of Eleanor Ann Ferris nee Absolom (her first husband deserted her and their 2 children) & Frederick Aldridge.

Freddie’s early years  were spent with the family at 23 Flint Street, Reading. Over the years he gained five more siblings, Catherine, Cyril, George, Lennie & Sylvia, and they were a very close loving family. Little Lennie was born in 1925 with Down’s Syndrome and only lived for four years. He was buried on 27th February 1929 at the London Rd Cemetery.

When Freddie left school at 14 years old, he started work at the Co-operative store in West Street. At some point he started working on the boot department. He was a very popular member of staff and took great interest in all the sporting and social activities at the firm. He was a well known sportsman in the district and played football for the Co-operative Society Team and also cricket in the summer months.

 Freddie is in the middle, middle row. Photo from from Jane Olsson’s private collection.

In 1936 the family moved to 189 Caversham Rd, near to the river Thames. Freddie and his siblings enjoyed swimming in the river during the warm weather.

In October of the same year Freddie went out one Friday evening to a Huntley & Palmers dance. He went along with his step sister, Mae, and a friend. His other sister Cath, had to stay at home as she was unwell with tonsillitis. The following day Freddie went to work as usual and went home for his lunch. He also had a quick nap and on waking he did not feel very well but returned to his job. He was later sent home as he was starting to feel very ill.

On the following Monday the doctor came to the house to see Cath and also took a look at Freddie. He thought that it was a case of quinsy, which is an abscess in and around an infected tonsil. By Wednesday of the same week his condition worsened and by the evening he was delirious and the doctor was fetched by his father Fred. He was then rushed to the Park Hospital in Prospect Park. Freddie had diphtheria. The Park Hospital was opened in 1906 and was first used for patients with diphtheria and scarlet fever.

Freddie remained at the hospital for 6 weeks but after the third week he had a relapse and the family could only see him through a glass window. On the 11th December, Eleanor and her daughter Cath went to the hospital. They pleaded with the doctors to allow them into the room, which eventually they were allowed to do so but only after wearing white gowns and face masks. Freddie held their hands and told his sister that she was beautiful. That night Freddie, aged 22 years old passed away, and all the nurses cried.

Newspaper clip from Jane Olsson’s private collection.

The family home in Caversham Rd was fumigated and the whole family had their throats tested. Both the older sisters were found to be carriers of the disease. They were treated and never got put into quarantine. It was a terribly sad time for them all.

Freddie’s grave; photo taken on 17th December 1936 from Jane Olsson’s private collection.

Freddie was buried on 16th December 1936 at the London Rd Cemetery.

Fred is buried with his mother Eleanor Ann, who died in 1966.

Section 56, Row D, Plot 4