Henry Sewell’s Pocket Watch

By Helen Cramp

This article was published in the August 2017 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

Ed: The Henry Sewell of this article, who is Helen Cramp’s grandfather, is the brother of John Sewell who was recently commemorated at Arras, see the following article, ‘Eyes on Arras’ These brothers are sons of Henry of Ashwellthorpe whose furthest back known ancestors are John Sewell and Elizabeth Stott married c. 1690.
Henry Sewell was born on the 8th January 1893 in South Shields, Newcastle upon Tyne. At the time of enlistment in World War 1, he was a coal miner at Boldon Colliery, living at 9 Fenwicks Row. He enlisted on the 3rd July 1914 and was discharged on 12th Januray 1919 due to a gunshot wound to the leg. He served with the 8th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. During his war service he was awarded gallantry medals, the Medaille Militaire and the Military Medal.
The people of Boldon Colliery, in recognition of his war efforts, presented Henry with a pocket watch. It bore the inscription:
Presented to Private H Sewell by the Workmen & Residents of Bolden Colliery on his gaining the Medaille Militaire in the great European War, 1917

Henry Sewell’s pocket watch, the face and inside engraving

On the receipt the watch is described:

Gents gold keyless English 3/4 plate watch, no.295728., compensation balance, fully jeweled

It cost 11 pounds and 11 shillings with a discount of 1 pound and 2 shillings. The inscription on the watch cost 10 shillings and the total sum was therefore 10 pounds 19 shillings. The watch was purchased from Reid and Sons, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Lining of the Watch Box
Reid & Sons Today

This business is still operating today although they have no records any more of their sales of bygone days. The business began in 1788. Reid and Sons are the only firm that used the services of the Newcastle Assay Office which are still in existence today. I have the watch for my lifetime.
Henry Sewell owned and operated a general business/corner store at 408 Maitland Road, Mayfield (now a tattoo parlour!) with his wife, Mavis Josephine Sewell (nee Burdon). They were married at the Methodist Parsonage at West Maitland on 4th May 1923 and had one child, Marjorie Mavis and three grandchildren, Peter, Ruth and Helen.

Henry Sewell in Later Life

Henry died in 1948 in Gowan Brae hospital in Samdon Street, Hamilton of auricular fibrillation and a coronary occlusion, aged 55 years.