George Alfred Bourne

12 April 2020 by Nick Hood

George Bourne and granddaughter Audrey, Common View, Letchworth, around 1933.
George Alfred Bourne was born in West Ham in 1885 and was one of the first to settle in the First Garden City of Letchworth after it was founded by Ebenezer Howard in 1903.

The family stories tell how George walked from London to the new town for opportunity, pushing a barrow of possessions before him. The Bourne family were entrepreneurial and soon established businesses including produce, grocery, transport and hospitality. George was responsible for a huge amount of the building which took place in Letchworth and his claim to fame was a very beautiful plastered ceiling in an iconic building in the town (the Spirella Building) for which he was responsible.

Marriage and family

George was the eldest of 6 children of George and Rosina (Chapman) Bourne. Most of these stayed in London; his sister, also Rosina, emigrated to Canada. George married Catherine Evans in 1904. They had three daughters and two sons.

George Bourne's daughters. Catherine, Florence and another Rosina. In the family, I knew of these women as (Auntie) "Kit", "Florrie" and "Rose", but only remember Auntie Kit and Auntie Florrie. These two married (Jack Mason and Bert Downs, respectively) and settled in Letchworth.

Kit and Rose were born in Essex, but the eldest son, George Frederick, was the first of the children born in Letchworth, in 1907, followed by Florence and, some time later, Albert.

Florence Bourne

Florence King née Rodbard about 1940.
I was contacted by a cousin who sent me this photograph of her mother, Florence King, daughter of Florence Bourne, aged about 14. This would have been around 1940. You can see George Bourne’s grocery van behind her in the photo. Florence Bourne in this account was Albert (and therefore my great-grandfather George Alfred)’s sister, and not the Florence in the above photograph. It’s such a challenge in the Bourne family to work out who is who, because of their tradition of naming the first boy and girl after their parents. There are so many Georges and Rosinas in the Bourne family, it can be easy to get confused. Florence King (in the photo) was a refugee in the (second world) war, and stayed with Albert in Letchworth, when she got to know my mother, Audrey.


Name DoB PoB DoD PoD
George Alfred BOURNE 13 August 1885 West Ham, Essex 27 February 1954 Letchworth
Catherine Emma EVANS May 1884 Middlesex 22 September 1940 Letchworth

Related Posts:

The Bourne line - December 2020
Audrey Bourne - April 2020
George Alfred Bourne - April 12, 2020 - Nick Hood