Basildon Borough History

Basildon Borough History

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Basildon, Essex, England

Est. 2015


Next door, but one, to Victoria Villas is Guinea Pig Hall. There is now a modern built house between the two. Guinea Pig Hall was the home of William Bewers, the father of Ada Bewers who married Frank Carter in Wickford, 1898.


Guinea Pig Hall had been built in the 1700's and is also Grade II listed.  William Bewers (my Great Great Grandfather - James) had moved in to Wickford from Woodham Ferrers during the first decade of the 20th Century.

The man in his slippers is William Bewers (1835-1912). Next to him is Ada Mercy Carter (nee Bewers) the wife of Frank Carter.  With them is William John Cornelius Bewers (1876-1916). 


Uncle Will had joined the Royal Navy in the 1890's and by the outbreak of World War One had been a submariner for a number of years.  He was serving aboard HMS E22, as Chief Petty Officer, an experimental submarine which had been fitted with a casing that held two Sopwith Schneider seaplanes.  If a Zeppelin was spotted heading towards the mainland these would have been floated and then take off to attack.  The planes were too flimsy and would break up in rough seas.

On the door of Guinea Pig Hall in this photo is a horse brass which was attached to one of the submarines William served on.  This is still attached to the front door of Guinea Pig Hall.


Around midday on 26 April 1916 E22 was on surface manouevres in the North Sea, off the coast of Great Yarmouth.  German U-Boat UB-18 hit the British submarine sinking it with the loss of 31 of the 33 crew, including William.


Wiliam is remembered on the Wickford & Runwell War Memorial, St. Catherine's Roll of Honour and the Naval Memorial in Chatham.

The baby is Queenie Carter, daughter of Halbert Carter (1875-1932) and Daisy Ethel (nee Bewers) (1883-1936).  Queenie was born in April 1910 and died three months short of her 100th birthday.

Guinea Pig Hall was the home to the rector of the Congregational Church.  The Church was built in 1811 adjacent to Runwell Road (source - 'Wickford and Beyond - Through Time' by David C. Rayment).  The cemetery still exists and sits next to the roundabout at the High Street end of Golden Jubliee Way.

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