The Auriga

This is the ship that the children’s paternal grandfather came to Britain on, from Dominica.


He arrived in Plymouth on the 14th November 1955. The mystery is that he always said he supported Liverpool FC because that was the port he arrived in, we never looked at the passenger records until after his death. Funny how you rely on people’s memories, those most unreliable of things, in their lifetimes. His address in England was in Hanbury Street, E1 – nowhere near Anfield.

The children’s grandfather’s name was Joseph Junkere and he was 20. He was the oldest, we think, of eight or nine children, all boys, born to Louis and Olive Junkere. The family saved and borrowed to send him to England. He saved and sent back money to the family in Dominica his whole life. In due course, other brothers followed Joe over. A younger brother died young and Joe became the father figure for his young nieces and nephews as well as father to his son and step-father to a daughter. He was a patriarchal figure. He did not mince his words. He was well-loved.

His son, the children’s father, has memories of playing out in Penguin Street, Camden Town in the early 1970s. Turns out it was Penryn Street. It is evident that paper records are the most accurate, but personal reminiscences far more evocative. Memories are what elevates the life of man, woman and child off the dry page of the history book and into our hearts.

He left us many things, but apart from the memories and the genetic inheritance we have his bucket. It’s a galvanised metal bucket full of tools and tricks from his day as a tool machinist. He used to calibrate the machinery to make the right kind of screws and rivets and goodness knows what. The bucket smells of oil and grease. It smells of the life of a working man living in London for fifty years. Joseph Junkere is buried in Kensal Green cemetery. A cousin of his, also called Joseph Junkere, was buried there a few years later, a few rows along from Grandad.

It’s a very long way from the volcanic island of Dominica for them both.

Posted on January 18, 2013, in Children, Genealogical research, Nostalgia, Parenting, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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