The PITCHER family – Gunner PITCHER, Leonard Amos (1891-1954) and Gunner PITCHER, Harold Vincent (1897-1933)

Leonard Amos Pitcher
Leonard Amos Pitcher, in uniform

Amos Pitcher (1866-1936) and Clara Lucas (1859-1934) had children Leonard Amos (1891-1954), Edith Mary (1888- 1970), Elsie Dorothy (1893-1970), Harold (1897-1933) and John Gordon “Gordon” (1899-1953).  Elsie, Harold and John were all born in the house and shop premises at 54 Highcross Street, known as “Highcross Bakery,” where Amos was a baker, confectioner and pork pie maker, and they all took some role in the family business.  Amos was sidesman at All Saints in 1892 and at St Martin’s from 1904-1931.  Amos and Clara were both members of the PCC at St Martin’s during the 1920s.  Their connection with St Martin’s seems to have begun around 1897, when Harold Vincent was baptised – previous children having been baptised at All Saint’s.  John Gordon was also baptised at St Martin’s.

 

Pitcher 54 Highcross St 1

54 Highcross Street

Leonard Amos Pitcher was baptised “Amos Leonard” at All Saints on 2nd August 1891.  After working with his father as a confectioner, Leonard was also a gunner in the Leicestershire Regiment between September 1909 and July 1912, training at Oakhampton and on Salisbury Plain, but was discharged due to a large abdominal hernia.  In 1912 he developed appendicitis which caused acute general peritonitis, and was given an operation.  He re-joined in 1914 and served as a private in the Leicestershire Yeomanry and the Corps of Hussars.  Leonard disembarked in France on 14th March 1915 and served in the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge in May of that year, which was part of the Battle of Ypres.  The front line trenches were totally obliterated and there was extensive use of gas by the Germans.  Leonard was discharged medically unfit on 31st January 1918, though whether from sickness or wounds is not clear.

 

Leonard married Mabel Frances Collin (1890-1975), who was then working as a clerk for a boot manufacturer, at St Martin’s on 1st June 1916 whilst on leave.  A special license had to be applied for as there was no time to read the banns.  Leonard’s father Amos was a witness to the marriage.

After the war Leonard and Mabel had a daughter, Peggy Olwyn (1919-), who was baptised at St Martin’s on 26th October 1919.  They went on to also have Betty (1924-) and Hazel (1928-). Leonard entered into a short-lived partnership with Jack Southin, establishing a motor engineers and van repairers business at 107 Victoria Road East called “The Gopsall Motor Engineering Company”.  This partnership was dissolved in 1921.  He then went into business with Richard Fewins at 364 Humberstone Road, registering a patent in 1924 which he called the “Apex”, for manufacturing and constructing hollow concrete blocks and slabs.  This partnership was dissolved in November 1925.  Leonard remained at 107a Victoria Road East and was presumably responsible for the new “automatic bakery” which was now there under the Amos Pitcher umbrella along with another at 10 Sparkenhoe Street (and which sold dog biscuits in 1939, as well as pork pies and sausages).  This business remained until the early 1950s, shortly before Leonard died in 1954.  Mabel lived on until 1975, dying in Leicester.

Harold Vincent Pitcher was born on 23rd May 1897 and baptised at St Martin’s on 25th July.  Like his older brother he served as a Gunner, in Harold’s case in the Royal Field Artillery.  He joined up at the very start of the war on 7th September 1914, entering France on 17th Aug 1915.  He was discharged as permanently unfit due to sickness on 19th September 1918, aged 23.  Harold received the Silver War Badge, which was awarded to soldiers who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness.

Harold married Flora Grace Seaman (c1892- 1973) in Leicester in 1922.  They had two sons, Peter James Vincent Pitcher (1923-1944) who died on active service during the second world war, and Terence Amos (1926-1951).

Harold died of influenzal pneumonia on 6th February 1933 aged 36.  This may have been due to effects of poison gas exposure during the war.  His address at the time was 1 Cyril Street Braunstone and he was a confectioner (journeyman).  Flora remained a widow and died in Leicester in 1973.

After the war the family business expanded from just one baker’s shop in 1922 to three between 1925 and 1937, and yet another automatic bakery at 8 St Nicholas Street in 1938.  But perhaps the second world war affected business, perhaps the deaths of Clara (1934) and Amos (1936) made it difficult to carry on, or perhaps they had over expanded, because by 1941 there was only the original baker’s shop in Highcross Street and the first automatic bakery at 107 Victoria Road East.  The family business was continued by younger brother John Gordon until the early 1950s.

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