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The Richardson family of Greenwich

My paternal grandmother’s line was a printing and publishing family.The line certainly goes back to my great x2 grandfather, Henry Samuel Richardson (1811–1905). It is quite probable that the profession goes back further.

An etching in my father’s photo album (on the front page of the magazine) shows, who I believe to be, my great x3 grandfather, Henry Richardson, in front of his printing equipment.

My paternal grandparents were both deceased before I was born and unfortunately I didn’t start my family research until 10 years after my father’s death. Not surprisingly there are now many questions that I would like to ask him. Not least is what his grandfather’s (yet another Henry Richardson) reaction was to his father, Henry Samuel Richardson, marrying a woman much younger than himself and fathering a son at the age of 74! Although given the period of time that we are talking about this probably wasn’t actually mentioned!

The printing and publishing firm passed to my grandmother, Winifred Cozens nee Richardson who, according to my mother, was “a tough old bird with a very astute business head”. As the eldest son, the business should’ve passed to my father, Henry (but known as Iliffe), but he had severed the apron strings and forged a very good career for himself in the RAF, so his brother Ernest was expected to run it.

Unfortunately Ernest was not a businessman in any way, shape or form and preferred being an actor, and not a very good one at that. So Winifred, who had never relinquished control, sold the business in the 1950s before he could ruin it.

The business had always been based in Greenwich and during WW2 my father, who was working at the War Office prior to transferring to Bomber Command, had responsibility for armaments.

It should be noted at this point that previously he had always been ‘out on the ground’ as opposed to desk flying, before the accusation of insider dealing is levelled at him.

He knew that his family’s firm had a very long-standing contract with the War Office to print labels for armaments for the RAF, so that wasn’t a surprise. However, what totally shocked him was that the firm, based in Greenwich, was the ONLY company in the whole of the UK printing and supplying armament labels for the Army, Navy and Air Force arms and armaments.

Needless to say common sense told him that this was not good – one bomb and complete chaos would rain. I’m not sure that he was very popular with his mother and brother, but the consequences didn’t bear thinking about!

Bo the Bodger

© Bo the Bodger 2008