Watercolour house portrait painting - and a little Cowes History

Another house portrait finished.

This is a typical Victorian townhouse built around 1900 in Mill Hill Road, West Cowes, initially inhabited by Harry Sheath, a worker at J Samuel Whites, the shipbuilding firm based in East and later West Cowes.

Back in 1871 in Whippingham just outside of East Cowes, young Harry Ernest Sheath was born to parents Thomas Sheath (1840-) and Emma Eliza Sheath (nee Jolliffe Mursell) (1835-). Thomas, the eldest son of blacksmith (George Sheath) followed his father’s trade, whilst his younger brothers worked as shipwrights. Emma, from West Cowes, had married Thomas in December 1860.

By 1881 the Sheath family had moved to West Cowes and lived in Arctic Road, but they moved to Mill Hill Road and by 1991 they lived at 2 Yarborough Villa. Thomas was a foreman blacksmith, and Harry then aged 19 was a boiler maker apprentice.

Harry married Elizabeth Emma Farmer from Medina Road, Cowes in the summer of 1893. She was the daughter of a French polisher George Farmer from Carisbrooke. By 1901 they had moved to a newly built house, Lerwick in Mill Hill Road, West Cowes and Harry continued to work as a boilermaker (plater).

They had three children, Mabel Lilian (1894-), Thomas George (1895-) and Marjorie Annie (1900-) and in 1901 a lodger Frank Mason, working in insurance also lived with them.

Elizabeth just a year younger than Harry, died in 1901 aged just 29.

Harry continued to live at Lerwick and on 21 Dec 1905 he married Ethel Louise Meech (1877-), a dressmaker from Pelham Road. They continued to live in Lerwick with the three children and by 1911 Thomas was working as an electrician apprentice on-board a ship.

In 1908 aged 36 whilst working as a plater for J B White & Co Ltd, Harry signed up to the Territorial Force and joined the 8th Hampshire regiment, he had served in the volunteer forces since 1888. As a Col. Sgt. & later a Warrant Office Class 1 he served in the Mediterranean including Egypt where he spent some time in hospital and was decorated with a War Medal. His discharge papers describe him as fair with blue eyes and dark brown hair working as a foreman boiler-maker.

Harry and Ethel later moved to small bungalow in Park Road, Cowes where he died on 22 January 1953, Ethel died just three years later in 1956.

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