Beckenham History


134678 HM TRAWLER Loch Naver RN.

Died 13/5/1918 age 48, PORTMOUTH WAR MEMORIAL.

Son of James and Mary Ann Shearing of 19 Heathfield Rd, Bromley;

husband of Edith Annie Shearing of 23 Raymond Rd, Beckenham.

Alfred Jethro Shearing was born in Leatherhead in 1870 and married Edith Annie Edser, also from Leatherhead, in Wandsworth in 1903. Their sons Alfred James and Frederick Charles were born in Knightsbridge and Clapham in 1904 and 1906 respectively but Winifred Edith, Frank Edwin and Arthur William were born in Beckenham in 1908, 1911 and 1914 when they were living at 32 St George’s Rd. Alfred was a council fireman for 13 years and was subsequently housed at 8 Church Rd. 


The fire station was originally developed by Peter Hoare of Kelsey Manor in 1869 at the corner of Kelsey Square to take a horse-drawn fire engine in charge of Captain Charles Purvis. He was a tenant of Foxgrove farm where the firemen practised but in 1882 the local authority took over and adapted the stables of the manor house as a fire station. The firemen used the houses either of Church Rd or St George’s Rd until 1929 when council houses were built at the back of the fire station. Beckenham’s Fire Brigade was the most efficient in the whole London area. By 1913 it was using motorised fire engines but things were to change for Alfred Shearing when he, as a member of the RNVR, volunteered at the beginning of the war in 1914. 


The trawler H.M. Loch Naver launched in Aberdeen in 1906 was requisitioned in February 1915 as a minesweeper in the RN. Alfred became an able seaman in the RNVR and transferred to the RN where he became a PO on the Loch Naver and responsible for mine laying throughout the war. It was hard for his children who attended Bromley Rd School because they were bullied over the fact that their father was not serving at the front and was still alive. However at about 2pm on 13 May 1918, the Alexandria lighthouse keeper off Mindisi Point in the Aegean Sea reported the disappearance of a trawler in a cloud of smoke. The Loch Naver had been destroyed by a torpedo from the German submarine UC74 and all 13 hands were lost. 


He is remembered on the Portsmouth naval memorial described as the son of James and Mary Ann Shearing of 19 Heathfield Rd, Bromley and husband of Edith Annie Shearing of 23 Raymond Rd, Beckenham. Among Edith’s treasures were many cards sent from abroad during Alfred’s time at sea when he could not get home to his family. 


Alfred was Mary Hardcastle’s grandfather and Winifred Edith her mother who married John Moutrie Hardcastle in 1936. Mary was a Beckenham schoolteacher and headmistress of Worsley Bridge Rd Primary School from 1989 to 1997. She believes that there was a memorial board to Alfred in the Beckenham Town Hall which is now at the Bromley Museum but certainly his name is on the memorial behind the lectern in St George’s parish church. Alfred was the great-grandfather of another relative, Jim Shearing. Jim is a pilot in South Africa but is Mary’s first cousin once removed since he is the son of Frederick Charles’s son, Anthony Michael. 


Four of the five children of Alfred were educated by the Admiralty. The two eldest attended the Royal Naval College, Greenwich and Mary’s mother Winifred won a scholarship to the Beckenham County School for Girls where she was one of the first intake of 153 girls at the age of 10 in 1919. 


Frank missed out as the Admiralty’s generosity stopped at child three but restarted in time for Arthur to benefit at the Beckenham & Penge Grammar School for Boys, which was hard for Frank. However he proved his ability with his work at the displays of the Festival of Britain in 1951. Mary followed her mother at the County School in 1948. 






Additional Information:
Date of Death: 01/01/1918

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