I expect like many other residents,, Sveta and I have wondered who Charles Ley was. Naturally I asked the then Court Manager, Sue Harvey nee' Sutherland (1940-2013), who thought he was something to do with the Royal British Legion in Blackfield. Enquiring at the local club, I discovered and met his daughter Betty Locke, who allowed Sveta and I to peruse and copy the Charles Ley Memorabilia Collection. Copies are available for a donation to the British Legion Fawley, from Terri & Sveta @ 17. Our search has taken us to Portland, Weymouth. Bridport, Exeter, Bristol and Gloucester Record Office. What we hope to do, this year is to publish on the internet and self-print a small more detailed booklet of this ‘local hero’ of Fawley Parish.
On the 18th March 1902, Charles was born to Frank and Martha Ley in London, though records show they were domiciled in Bristol. Charles school certificate shows he attended the Hannah Moore School until 1916 and lived at 2 Churchill Place, Castle Street in the Bristol City Centre. Charles is recorded as working as a clerk and warehouseman before joining the Gloucester Regiment in 1919.
Charles served nine years with the colours, of which seven months were served in Germany, for which he received a General Service Medal. Charles left the colours at Portland with an exemplary certificate of character and started work in Weymouth for Cosen & Co on the 'SS Alexandra' and then later for the Great Western Railway, Marine Division.
In 1929 Charles moved to Bridport Workhouse as Labour Master and Porter and in 1931 moved to the Ashurst Workhouse where he met his future wife, a nurse at the workhouse, in 1934 Charles and his wife Ivy moved back to the Bristol Area.
Early in 1939, with the WW2 starting in Europe, Charles prudently loaded his family into his car and moved down to the Waterside, to avoid the foreseen Bristol Blitz. Betty Locke recalled a story from her mother. Driving through Marchwood, Charles saw a dilapidated, empty house just past the White Horse PH, he stopped and enquired of the neighbour's as to the owner. Charles found the owner and made an arrangement to live rent free, in return for refurbishing the property, until he found employment..
When the war started Charles was recalled to the colours to serve with the Fawley (Forest) Battalion, Home Guard at Hythe, where he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and was secretary to their social club and a member of the Fawley and Exbury Defence Committee.
The Court is named after Charles Ley, who joined Fawley British Legion in 1934 and has served as President, Chairman and secretary for many years and was a member of the benevolent committee. He was awarded a Gold Medal and a lifetime membership for services rendered. Charles was also an active member of the Blackfield & Langley Juniors Football Club and the Langley Lions Cycle Speedway team.
A 'local hero' who has been honored in many ways during his lifetime and remembered in the anniversary celebration by the residents of the Court on several occasions. Most notably on the 30th anniversary of the opening of Charles Ley Court, with a specially decorated cake. -click to start typing