Earlier in this series of posts, I mentioned that I would expand on the difficulties of researching working-class lives especially the women. Future historians will surely bow down in gratitude to parents who ensure their baby girls bear unique names because it is so easy for w-c women to become anonymised. Most women at that time were known in adult life by their married surnames and sometimes it is difficult to trace them back to their birth names – and all is made more problematic when their names are common to thousands.
In fact not many of the women driving for the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service in Chelsea were w-c – the vast majority were middle or upper class.
To balance things up I chose to look for Margaret Blake, who in 1939 was aged 70 and lived at 37 Cadogan Place, and described herself as a cook/housekeeper for the Auxiliary Ambulance Service (she prepared and served meals and ensured the station had supplies of towels, toilet paper etc). In the 1939 Register (a census) she was down as single but the only Margaret Blake I could find in Chelsea who fit the the profile was a widow with 7 children whose dates did not quite fit with those given. Did the 1939 enumerator make a mistake and mark her as S rather than W for Widow? Did Margaret forget her own birthday and make one up? Did someone else answer the census questions for her and get things wrong?
Who was Margaret Blake, that stalwart of the ambulance station kitchen?
The photo is not of her… or perhaps it is. We will never know and Margaret remains out of our reach.