Ernest Chadwick

Ernest Chadwick was born into the Harrison family in a poor terraced neighbourhood in Ancoats, Manchester. He doesn’t remember much about life in Ancoats, but can remember not having a garden to play in and the day when he and his school mates were taken from their Roman Catholic School to the railway station to be evacuated. He can’t remember having any warning about their journey, and none of the children knew where they were going.

Ernest was taken to Brown Edge after a few children were dropped off in Cheshire, and he was chosen by the son of the Chadwick family. Members of this family have since told him that on that day he was a very skinny boy, with no hair wearing a man’s long v-neck sweater over a pair of pants with pumps on his feet. He was carrying his gas mask and a bag with a small amount of sugar, milk and butter. 

Coming from such a poor background, he remembers thinking his new family were rich. They sat at a table to eat full meals with a knife, fork and spoon. He had been used to a sandwich now and then, and had never had his own cutlery. They had to teach him how to use a knife and fork and sat him on a cushion so he could see over the tabletop. He loved every minute of his time at Brown Edge. He had never seen a ball before and learnt how to box and play football. The Chadwick family kept chickens in the garden. He had never even seen a chicken, or a duck, cow or horse before. He was made a fuss of by all the villagers and made the most of living in the countryside, helping the local farmers and walking the horse up the field after milk deliveries were finished.

Ernest remembers that within the first week of life at Brown Edge he had decided he was never going back to Manchester and did not hear from his parents until they came to take him home. Listen to Ernest telling how he avoided this fate by clicking on the link below. This will open as an audio clip of his interview:

Ernest speaks about his parents wanting to take him home

Transcript of Ernest’s audio clip

He was formally adopted at the age of 18 and has always considered the Chadwicks his real family. The youngest son was born once Ernest had arrived, so for him he had always been part of the family. He never reconciled with the Harrisons, although attempts were made over the course of his life to meet and put things behind them. He still lives in Staffordshire, and considers this County his home.