John Brewood Bannister (1858-1939) and Amelia Hicks (1858-1936) married at Gallowtree Gate Chapel in 1881. They had children Ethel Agnes (1882-), Walter (1888-1973), Hilda Louisa (1891-1982) and Ada May (1897-1983), all of whom were baptised at St Martin’s. John was fined 10 shillings in November 1883 for neglecting to have Ethel vaccinated. The Bannisters lived at 34 Filbert Street until around the time of Walter’s baptism, when they moved to 4 Norfolk Street, remaining until around 1893. In 1899 the family moved to 13 Tower Street
and from 1905 until 1929 at 42 West Street. Father John was a hosiery manufacturer’s manager for the firm Wooding and Teasdale. He was also the first secretary of Leicester New Musical Society from 1887 until 1897, of which Charles Hancock, organist of St Martin’s, was the conductor. Mrs Amelia Bannister was a worshipper at St Martin’s in 1909. During the war she contributed to the congregational tea held in 1915 and helped with the St Martin’s stall at the Mayor’s Bazaar in 1917. Walter and Amelia lived at 114 Osmaston Road from 1929 until their deaths in 1936 and 1939.
Walter Ewart Bannister was born on 18th May and baptised at St Martin’s on 2nd September 1888. After leaving school Walter worked as a clerk for the Corporation. On 12th March 1913 he married seamstress Annie Elizabeth Johnson (1888-1958) at Holy Trinity Church, and by 1914 he was Assistant Overseer of Water Rates, living at 15 Turner Road, where he and Annie remained 1923. They had children Annie Amelia (1914-1975); Arthur Ewart (1917-) and Freda Joyce (1926-). In June 1915 Walter was granted a loan of £100 from Sir Thomas White’s and Parker and Heyrick’s Charity.
Walter joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner in 1914, rising later to Bombadier. He served in Aden, Saudi Arabia, where he faced intense sand, heat and shortage of water, fighting Ottoman troops and Arab tribesmen. He disembarked on 10th September 1915. Before the end of the war Walter was promoted to Acting Corporal, but his official rank remained Bombadier. Little else is known about Walter’s war service.
After the war Walter returned to live with Annie at 15 Turner Road. In 1923 they moved to 65 Bridge Road. By 1928 Walter had been promoted to assessor of water rates and perhaps this promotion enabled the family to move in 1929 to a brand new and bigger house – Wallandale, 16 South Drive. Daughter Freda brought her husband Norman to live there a few years after her marriage in 1946. During the second world war son Arthur worked alongside his father as a clerk and also served as volunteer ambulance driver, living with his parents, before joining the Royal Army Service Corps. Walter and Annie lived on at South Drive until they both died, Walter in 1973 and Annie in 1975.
Hilda Louisa Bannister was born on 18th March 1891 and baptised at St Martin’s on 3rd May 1891. She attended Wyggeston Girls School and passed the Oxford local examination in August 1906. After leaving school she became an elementary school teacher. From at least 1916 she adopted the spelling “Hylda” which she kept for the rest of her life although official documents used the original spelling.
Hilda engaged as a volunteer nurse with the British Red Cross on 25th May 1916 aged 24 and a single woman, still living with her parents at 42 West Street. She trained in London at the 2nd London General Military Hospital, which was located at St Mark’s, Chelsea and existed only during the first world war. By 1917 the hospital had 170 beds for officers and 974 for enlisted soldiers, including 198 for those who had suffered serious injuries to their eyes. Hilda then served in France from 23rd April 1917 until 14th April 1919. She was awarded the Victory and British war medals.
Hilda doesn’t seem to have lived with her parents at 42 West Street after the war, though her sisters did. It has proved very difficult to find out much about Hilda’s life after the war. We do know that in 1939 Hilda lived with widow Margaret Cook at Beech Hanger, Windmill Hill, Alton, Hampshire and worked as a school teacher. It was noted on the 1939 register that Hilda was registered with the Civil Nursing Reserve. It was around this time that Hilda worked at Hall Dene School in Alton.
Hilda died in Chichester on 3rd March 1977 at Whitehanger Nursing Home, Haslemere, Surrey.