I’ve had a lot of emails recently from Beatles fans asking for more information on Eleanor Rigby….this follows on from my previous blog The REAL Eleanor Rigby.
So in response I thought I’d share these images of my grandfather Thomas Battle.
Eleanor Rigby's husband- Thomas Battle Original photo taken mid 50's
Thomas met Eleanor on a bicycle trip to Hale Village, not far from her home in Speke….he was an Irish ‘Journeyman’ and joiner (carpenter) The word “journeyman” comes from the French word journee, meaning the period of one day; this refers to their right to charge a fee for each day’s work. Thomas spent his time as a journeyman (Geselle), moving from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops, an important part of the training of an aspirant master of his craft.
Eleanor Rigby's husband- Thomas Battle B&W digital restoration 2010
Thomas was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1885, and was a good 15 years older than Eleanor.
He was ‘known’ to be a ‘jack of all trades’ and could fix anything, make anything and was generally ‘good with his hands’
For a living he would mend the wooden wheels of hand carts and trucks; fix bicycles and build sheds and out houses. It was a poor living with very little money to spare. In these photos the shed on the left and the pigeon loft in the background where all built by Thomas.
Eleanor Rigby's husband- Thomas Battle Colour digital restoration 2010
I only remember meeting my grandfather once or twice when I arrived at 105 Kemble Street, Prescot. I was greeted by two enormous over enthusiastic Alsatian dogs, Rex and Nelly…only being three, I was terrified, but as I later found out the dogs where friendly and became good companions.
The year was 1962
By that time Thomas was living in the shed (the one on the left in the photo). I remember him being an elderly gentleman sitting in front of a roaring coal fire. For this was no ‘ordinary’ shed. Thomas had built a chimney stack that made for a proper fireplace. Immediately to the right as you entered was a long wooden bench full of bits and pieces, old bikes, metal files and wooden vices. The bench ran the entire length of this very sizeable space. To the left was a large cast iron bed where grandad used to sleep and the walls where decorated with old bicycle wheels, parts of motorbikes and so on….to a young child it was like entering an Aladdin’s cave. Although quite dark inside, the place was lit by dashing and dancing fire flames. By the side of the fire were old anvils and soldering irons.
Even as a young boy I remember thinking this was just magical.
Thomas died in his bed…in the shed within a few months of my arrival at Kemble Street. I don’t think I was ever told and all I seem to remember was that he just disappeared one day and was never seen again.
Taken from ‘How I became Chalk Boy’