Friday, 15 May 2009

Sir Alfred Herbert's Family

Sir Alfred Herbert at home at Dunley with his third wife Nina, eldest daughter Gladys and her husband Arthur Hollick, June Vapenik (nee Hollick), Gavin Vapenik and Ian Hollick. 1953

Alfred Herbert was born in Leicester in 1866 to William Herbert (1825 - 1908) and his wife Sarah, nee Thompson (1831- 1902).

William Herbert, Sir Alfred's father

His elder brother William was born in 1850. William also became a noted businessman in Coventry, joining forces with William Hillman in 1875 as Hillman and Herbert and formed the Premier Cycle Company to make bicycles. William had two sons and a daughter - Fannie, William and Gerald, the latter born in 1884 and who became a noted racing driver. Later Hillman and Herbert formed the Automachinery Company which included Alfred on the Board of Directors.

Alfred's early life is recounted here - his schooldays - and here - his apprenticeship. He moved to Coventry on completion of his apprenticeship when he took a job as works manager with Coles & Matthews in The Butts, bought the firm (in partnership with his schoolfriend William Hubbard), and set up his own company which became Alfred Herbert Ltd in 1889.

Ellen (Nellie) Herbert nee Ryley in 1911

Alfred married Ellen Ryley (1863 -1918) on 17th September 1889 and she bore him his four children, Gladys (1890 - 1962), Beatrice (1892 -1969), Doris (1894 - 1969) and Phyllis (1896 - 1972) [see photo c.1900]. Ellen (who he called Nellie) was the daughter of the assistant manager of Lloyd's Bank in Coventry, and was born in Little Park St, just near where The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum would be erected seventy years later. Ellen, who loved singing and was greatly loved by her four daughters, died in 1918, shortly after Sir Alfred (as he had become) bought his country estate at Dunley in Hampshire.

Lady Florence Herbert, Sir Alfred's second wife
Sir Alfred secondly married  Florence Lucas (nee Pepper), originally married to a Colonel Lucas, who was a matron at the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, in about 1915. She and her family lived at Dunley and on her early death on 25th May 1930 her mother Lousia and sisters Blanche and Margaret erected a lychgate at the family church of St James the Less at Litchfield in her memory. She is buried in the churchyard in a grave she shared with Sir Alfred (following his death in 1957). At the time of her death, Sir Alfred was negotiating for the acquisition of part of the old Coventry city wall in order to build his almshouses. When these were built in 1932, they were named Lady Herbert's Homes and Garden in her memory. He also dedicated a Lady Chapel at St Barbara's, Earlsdon in her name.

Sir Alfred and Lady Nina Herbert. She was his third wife. Photo by Gavin Vapenik

In 1933, he married for the third time Nina Pugh (nee Arundel), the widow of Lt-Col Archie Pugh, who had been a solicitor in Calcutta and a long-serving commander of the Calcutta Light Horse. Nina, who he always described as an 'angel' was a beautiful and religious woman who already had five children - Archie, Owain (James), Annette, Michael and David. Nina also lived at Dunley and used to accompany Sir Alfred on his weekly visits to Coventry, where they lived in a simple flat over the works at Edgewick. She was with him during the bombing of Coventry on the night of 14th / 15th November 1940 - though fortunately they had been persuaded to stay with Sir Alfred's grandaughter June Vapenik (who's mother was Gladys Hollick) at her flat in Leamington.

Sir Alfred's grandsons, Capt Ian Hollick (1923-2004) and Derek Allen (1921-2004), both served as apprentices at Alfred Herbert Ltd and were appointed Deputy Directors.

On Sir Alfred's death in 1957, Nina Herbert led the mourners at his memorial Service in Coventry Cathedral and therafter moved to Wadwick House near Dunley (which was sold). She did much to continue his charitable work in Coventry. She opened The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in 1960 and attended the consecration of the new Cathedral in 1962. Sadly she suffered a stroke in 1963 and was confined to her home for the last years of her life before dying in 1967. She is buried with her first husband in Wales.

Return to Sir Alfred Herbert Index

1 comment:

  1. Does any one know how I can get in touch with Gavin Vapenik the grandson photographer