Edgar Brenton 1882-1959
Husband of Alice Mabel Rebbeck
Edgar Brenton was one of 13 children born to Frederick Jonas Brenton and Selina Jones. Edgar, like his future father-in-law, served his time in Royal Navy. He was a "stoker" the naval term for an engineer. When he said that he was courting Mr. Rebbeck's daughter, his parents told him he would have to" pull up his socks" and make his way in the Navy. He was no slouch and made the rank of Petty Officer before his marriage in 1916. He retired as Chief Petty Officer (Stoker) - a rare rank - and took a job with Wellworthy's in Ringwood before joining the Royal Mail.
Always clever with his hands, Edgar made a present for his wife, Alice - a pair of miniature boots and a pair of miniature shoes in the latest fashion (Edwardian). These were made from brass shell cases and silver plated.
He taught driving and maintenance of vehicles as well as being a working postman. Driving was his forte - but even the best can be beaten by the weather. One day in very foggy conditions he lost his way. Pulled his post van over and sat out the fog. When it cleared many hours later he found he had driven into Richmond Cemetery, Bournemouth.
After reaching retirement age and leaving the Royal Mail he took a job at Walker's Dairy processing and delivering milk. He hated having nothing to do. One year he imbibed one too many "for the road" on Christmas Day (milk deliveries still happened on Christmas Day then) and was brought home in a state of intoxication by Mrs. Walker in her car; his final customer having brought him and his milk cart back to the dairy. Alice was not impressed by the fact that he was unable to eat his Christmas dinner.
Notwithstanding the above - he was a respected and well-liked member of the community and seemed to know everyone. He was known to many people as "Bronc". Where that name came from is not known but he had the ability to meet people on their own level and could converse with the old countrymen in the Queen's English of the first Elizabeth, 400 years earlier. His son-in-law William Hale was completely mystified when he accompanied him to the local pub one day - he could not understand a word that was said.
Eventually he stopped delivering milk but would make a point of cycling into Ringwood to collect his morning paper. One day the Newsagent had a problem as the delivery boy had failed to turn up for work. Edgar offered to deliver the papers. Newsagent was horrified, "Oh no, Mr. Brenton, you cannot possibly…." The newspapers were delivered, not just that day but regularly. As previously stated he hated having nothing to do. Not that he sat around at home as the house in Manor Road had a large garden and he grew vegetables of all kinds. His daughter, Elsie, grew up believing that beetroot came out of the ground hot as he would pull beets, wash them and put them on to cook. All she knew was that he had gone down the garden for beetroot.
Yes, he did the gardening although he never claimed to be a gardener. The garden was the place he disappeared to if he needed some "space". Living with his wife, four daughters, father-in-law and, for a while, his brother- and sister-in-law too, made for a crowded house. The garden was where he let off steam when things got too tense. He was a quiet man but even the most patient people need some outlet. Gardener or not, he grew all manner of vegetables for the house and the shallots he grew in that garden were the biggest ever. They were usually about the size of a medium onion and were extremely hot. Granddaughter Susan acquired a taste for shallots when she visited for holidays as a child - supper of homemade bread, cheese, beetroot and freshly pulled shallot was a ritual she enjoyed.
Edgar was a fighter. He was diagnosed as having cancer of the stomach in the 1940s. Surgery and a long stay in hospital followed and the surgery was successful but later was found to have incurable Hodgkin's disease and died in 1959. He knew that he would not see his granddaughter reach her twenty-first birthday and when she was still very small he gave her his lucky charms. While in the Navy he had acquired a pair of Chinese porcelain figurines only an inch tall. These two little dolls - one black and one white - had been kept in a walnut shell and were his mascots. He also gave her his mother's portable writing desk and a set of tea knives and spoons that he said were also to have been a 21st birthday present. She was then about 5 years old and was rather puzzled, but was still only 11 when he died.
Susan Hale Leake writes of her Grandfather
When I was very young I loved visiting and helping him in the garden. He seemed to have inexhaustible patience. The greatest pleasure was helping pull beetroot and shallots. He would wash and cook the beetroot and later in the evening we would share a supper of beetroot, very hot shallot, cheese and bread. Unlike my mother, Elsie, I knew that beetroot were not brought hot and steaming from the garden!
I would run up the road to meet him coming home on his bicycle and he would dismount and put me on the saddle and give me a ride home. Needless to say I was too small to reach the pedals but I loved it.
His boots fascinated me - high boots that laced all the way up his ankles. He had boots for gardening and "best" boots but always boots. I don't think I saw him wearing shoes often, although he had them as the photo proves.
Note:- His younger sister, Margaret "Maggie" celebrated her 100th birthday in 2001
Page last amended January 2004