Grandad – George Tebb – Salvation Army Bandsman

George Tebb with his SA friends

George Tebb with his SA friends

Although a pacifist he was determined to do his bit.

Although a pacifist he was determined to do his bit.

George Tebb, born 1896 in St Helens, Lancashire was the second of seven children and is first encountered in the census of 1901 at the age of five. He was never baptised as the family were members of the Salvation Army and this is not something that is practiced in the SA. The family lived at 54 Chester Street, St Helens and he was the second child out of eight born to his mother – although Mary Elizabeth only lived to the age of 9, Herbert died as a baby and Florence May was about one when she died.

By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to 11 Boundary Road, St Helens and George was now working in the local glass factory as a glass cutter at the age of 15. For the rest of his life he worked in the glass industry mainly. He made mirrors for many of the family (one of which we currently have in the loft with blue edges) and these were of good quality with bevelled edges. I presume that the firm was Pilkingtons as this was located in St Helens at that time.

He was a member of the Salvation Army early on playing the cornet in the band and also the piano… and had earned many certificates of which some still exist. He was taught by his father and was clearly a man who loved his music.

I remember that grandad, was a small and very slight man with a dry sense of humour and a slightly nervous disposition. He was a musician of great talent until an accident at work! When he was a glass-cutter and working in Manchester he had, apparently, been carrying a large piece of plate glass with someone else when it slipped. My grandfather’s hand was so badly cut that the tendons of his right hand had to be tied together causing his hand to become rather claw-like in aspect. He could no longer play the piano, which must have caused him great sorrow, but I gather that he played his cornet for some time afterwards as the index and middle fingers were less affected by the tying of his tendons than his ring and ‘pinkie’ fingers.

During the war he decided to join the medical corps… he was a pacifist but felt, probably, that he didn’t want to bring shame to his family by not ‘joining up’. It is possible that the mental problems he suffered throughout his life were attributable to his experiences of the war. I was told that he had a number of ‘mental breakdowns’ and was, for a period, a member of the Christian Science Church, a movement established by Mary Baker Eddy during the 19th century. The church believes that healing doesn’t come from doctors and their medicine, but through God and that if one is ill then one’s spiritual core is not well and that God will put this right through following the right living of Jesus. However, he became more ill when following these precepts and returned to the S A and traditional medicine… although this was to be a repeating pattern throughout his life.

As befits many artistic people my grandfather was not a practical person and so my grandmother had to be the practical one in the household… and rather ‘mothered’ him in a bossy, practical sort of way. My father used to talk about my grandad’s driving abilities… he was, apparently, hopeless and my mother told me about a time when he got the front tyres of his van stuck in the tram lines in Blackpool and had to go all the way to the depot before he was able to get out and drive back home. My dad said that when he approached a roundabout and wanted to turn right… that he’d just turn right the wrong way around the roundabout! It’s a good thing he didn’t continue to drive or that the traffic on the roads was not as it is now! He’d have been disqualified!!

I remember a time when he had to have his teeth out, we were living with them at the time in 282 Withington Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester and his mouth must have been quite sore – but he still managed to eat a hearty breakfast of egg and bacon without too much trouble!

Grandad introduced me to crumpets… I’d left my bed to go to the toilet one night and was found by him, shivering (no central-heating!) whilst sitting on the loo. He took me downstairs and toasted a crumpet on a toasting fork on the fire… it was great!

He was always joking and saying funny little asides… he’d regularly tell me to ‘Pull your socks up and wipe your nose!’ – although when I was little I used to think that he meant for me to wipe my nose on the tops of my socks and they didn’t go up that far!

On one occasion we’d travelled from Manchester to Blackpool- quite a long journey in those days – and when we arrived at their house at 4 Pittsdale Avenue, Marton, Blackpool my mother was dying to go to the loo. She dashed out of the car and knocked on their front door. It was soon opened by Grandad…. ‘Oh father,’ she said, ‘can I go up and use your toilet?’. The reply was swift and without pause,

‘I’m afraid you’ll have to… it can’t come down to you!’

As previously stated he was very involved with the Salvation Army and played two instruments – both the piano and the cornet. For a time, though, he had work tuning and repairing pianos in Blackpool… how lucrative this was is not clear. After the bad accident at work when he damaged one of his hands… he was unable to play any longer so presumably was upset about this as music was important to him. However, I understand he still played his cornet and stayed involved with the SA to the end of his life.

On 17th November 1964 he was awarded Honorary Life Member of the National Brass Band Club for continuous service to brass bands for over 50 years. One of the signatories on the certificate was the conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent. I would imagine that he’d have been very proud of that – but typically he would have been very modest about the honour. Despite his injury he had continued to play and as the photo shows it is clear that he kept his links with the band for as long as he could. He is on the back row, second from the right wearing glasses. It is probably the Blackpool SA Band.

He died in 11 May 1969 of cerebral haemorrhage and essential hypertension after a troubled life in terms of his mental health. This is a pattern of mental health troubles for Tebbs and their descendants as you’ll see later on in this collection of lives.

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