Fred Thomas was the youngest son of William and Francis Thomas who had started their wholesale fish merchants business in Horseley fields in the latter part of the 1800s.
Fred, the youngest son of William and Frances Thomas is pictured in the lounge of his bungalow in Ounsdale Road, Wombourne around 1950. Fred and his wife formerly Ann Breeze, had six children, and he was a Fish Merchant throughout his life.
A STRANGE TALE told to me by a dear friend Leah Wright, niece of Fred Thomas.
Between the wars Fred Thomas, and his wife Anne lived at the old Pub in Ablow Street; of the Penn Road Pictured here on the middle right opposite Mander Street.
And at the time of my story Fred Thomas spent his working hours between his well established wholesale fish business supplying hospitals etc and also his fish stalls in Wolverhamptons Retail Market. while his wife was juggling her time spent looking after home and family and helping Fred with the business.
To ease the pressure while they where both at the market stalls, they hired a nanny to look after the children, later they both agreed it would be a good idea also, to look for someone to assist Anne with the house work.
On his way to Birmingham one day to buy fish for the business Fred got into conversation with a fellow who said he; might be able to find Fred such help.
A few days later a strange looking women arrived at Freds house in Ablow Street with a letter of introduction, apparently from the gent Fred had met on the train.
A passage in the letter spoke well of the lady and highly recommended her for the vacancy. She looked a strong able bodied person and noticing her hands, Fred could see she was no stranger to hard work.
Although, at the time he recalled, he felt she looked a little strange. First there was the queer object she wore on her head which resembled a bath cap, and then her over polite manner, with her ‘yes master’ to his every request.
A short time after her arrival Fred noticed a series of occurrences he couldn’t understand. The weekly food bill started to increase and left over food seemed to disappear from the larder, and sometimes during the night strange noises were heard.
Then the bombshell hit them. Returning from the market late one Saturday evening Fred and Anne found the door to their bedroom unlocked and the safe, which was kept there, forced open, the contents gone, and the recently hired domestic; nowhere to be found.
The police where called and as the story unfolded it was discovered that the so called domestic help was responsible for the crime.
She had let an accomplice into the house through the old pubs cellar flaps, lodging and feeding him down in the cellar whilst he weighed up the situation, which explained the noises and disappearing food.
After a search was made of her room a pair of shoes where found, a pair which Fred remembered she wore. On inspecting the shoes; both the police and Fred came to the conclusion that the female Home help had in fact been a man in disguise.
Fred and Ann Thomas, in the garden of their Bungalow in Ounsdale Road, Wombourne, show off their attractive daughter’s and grandchildren, to Fred’s sister Leah and Husband Harold, on holiday from America.
The striking dark haired lady in the centre is Joan Thomas, she married Dougie Darley from the well known local family of butchers. Doug is standing next to Annie, in the back row second from the left, whilst peeping over daughter leah’s shoulder, to their left, is her father, Fred.
Leah was also married to a local butcher Fred Kay, and his other daughter, Mary; I’m told, married George Clark, of the furniture removal company of the same name.
As I remember, Fred’s two son’s Fred and Alf, missing from the photograph; with sisters Joan and Janet were also selling fish from adjacent stalls in the market at that time.