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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:21 pm 
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http://www.burnleyexpress.net/burnleynews/Thomas-Whitham-Sixth-Form-is.4179826.jp

Thomas Whitham Sixth Form is new name for sixth form centre

A HEROIC Burnley soldier is the inspiration behind Burnley Schools' Sixth Form's new name.
Thomas Whitham Sixth Form will adorn the entrance to the sixth form centre in Barden Lane when pupils and staff move into the new building in September.

Governors considered a number of names before selecting Thomas Whitham, a soldier born in Worsthorne in 1888. He served as a Private during the First World War and was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery at the battle of Passchendale in 1917.

He was given a gold watch by Burnley Council and a clock from Worsthorne Parish Council before he died in 1924 aged 36. His medal, watch and clock are displayed in Towneley Hall.

Governors chose his name as they believe his story demonstrates the sixth form's ethos – everyone can fulfil their potential regardless of background. Thomas Whitham's great-grandson Jean Pierre D'Anjau, an eye surgeon in Sunderland, is thrilled with the news and will come to look around the centre soon.

He recently appeared on a Channel 4 documentary called "Not Forgotten", presented by Ian Hislop looking at former heroes forgotten over time. Jean Pierre appeared on the show talking about his great-grandad.

The sixth form centre will be one of the first new buildings in the multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future scheme to come into operation when it opens in September.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:30 pm 
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1891 Census - RG12; Piece: 3372; Folio 32; Page 13
18 Gospel Road, Worsthorne
Catherine Whitham, Head, Widow, 40yrs, b. Scotland
Jessie Whitham, Daughter, 16yrs, Weaver, b. Scotland
William Whitham, Son, 15yrs, Nipper (Brickman at Reservoir), b. Scotland
John Whitham, Son, 12yrs, b. Scotland
Harry Whitham, Son, 10yrs, b. Yorks, Skipton
Sarah A. Whitham, Daughter, 8yrs, b. Skipton
Margaret Whitham, Daughter, 5yrs, b. Worsthorne
Thomas Whitham, Son, 3yrs, b. Worsthorne

VC - http://www.shinycapstar.com/whitham.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:57 pm 
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Another article on him here http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/bur ... ttamvc.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:34 pm 
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He is buried in Wheatley Lane cemetery do you know. I remember my Auntie taking me to Towneley Hall when I was small, and as we stood in front of his portrait I remember her saying that he was distantly related to us, whether this is true or not I can't say, but I have as yet not traced him back to us, but my Auntie was'nt a fibber, so who knows I might come across something sometime.

Stephanie.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:40 pm 
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I find it ironic that the programme is entitiled Not Forgotten. My recollection of the story of Thomas Whitham is that that was exactly what happened to him.
It was even the subject of debate in the House of Commons 9 March 1994:
3.39 pm

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Blackpool, South) : I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to regulate the public display or exhibition of decorations for gallantry ; and for connected purposes.

The Bill would give the Secretary of State for Defence the ultimate decision-making power over where the highest awards for gallantry are displayed to the public in cases of dispute. I bring this matter before the House because I have been contacted by one of my elderly constituents, Mr. William Whitham, who is now in his late 80s and is the son of the late Private Thomas Whitham VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the trenches in the first world war.

For nearly 40 years, my constituent has been trying to arrange for his late father's Victoria Cross medal to be displayed at the Coldstream Guards museum--the regiment to which his late father belonged--instead of at a museum in Burnley, the medal's current location. The Coldstream Guards museum already has on display all the other 12 Victoria Crosses won by members of that most gallant regiment, and my constituent and the surviving members of his family would dearly like his late father's medal to be displayed there as well.

The regiment has supported Mr. Whitham in his campaign, as have many people over the years, including my parliamentary predecessor Sir Peter Blaker, who also raised the matter in the House. Mr. Whitham feels particularly strongly that it is not appropriate for the medal to be on display in Burnley because of the history of how it came to be in the hands of Burnley council, and how his late father was treated by that council. Immediately after my constituent's father had won the Victoria Cross, Private Whitham's home town of Burnley said that it was very proud of him ; his portrait was painted ; presentations were made ; and various civic ceremonies were held during the last year of the war.

When the war ended, however, and Private Whitham returned to Burnley and to his young family, sadly he had no job to return to. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will recall that this was supposed to be the
"land fit for heroes to live in", when the troops returned.

Former Private Whitham VC wrote to Burnley corporation, asking if he might be able to work for it in the humble capacity of a manual worker. The letter of rejection that he received--a copy of which I have read--only a year or so after being fe ted as a local hero was, to say the least, curt and humiliatingly dismissive.

As we are all aware, jobs were hard to come by in the early 1920s and Private Whitham VC and his young family lived in harsh and reduced circumstances. My constituent, who, as I said, is well over 80, has never forgotten the sense that they all had that the town of Burnley had rejected his father.

Tommy Whitham VC was forced to leave his young family to seek work elsewhere. His Victoria Cross medal was pawned on two occasions to raise money for the family, and eventually, only six years after the war ended, Private Tommy Whitham VC died in penury.

Once my constituent reached adulthood, he sought to have the medal returned and, on one occasion, in 1948, he nearly succeeded. Burnley council passed a resolution saying that the medal could be returned to my constituent

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:56 pm 
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Can anyone find the Whitham family in the earlier census? It would be nice if Stephanie could prove the relation.

(ancestry is not working for me at the moment)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:59 pm 
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He was treated very shabbily, he died a pauper. After all that he did for his country, he must have felt abandoned. :cry:

Stephanie.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:21 pm 
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What a shame we were not aware of this soldier when we visited Wheatley Lane Kris. We could have looked for him.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:18 pm 
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Wheatley Lane Inghamite Church

In Loving Memory of
A dear Mother
Fedora WHITHAM,
Wife of the late
Thomas WHITHAM. V.C.
Died 17th Sept. 1955,
Aged 66 years.
Also Joseph PARKINSON
Loving son-in-law of the above
Died 17th Dec. 1990,
Aged 76 years
Loving Husband of Dora.
Also
Fedora Astrap PARKISON
Daughter of Thomas and Fedora
And Beloved wife of Joseph,
Died 27th March 1988,
Aged 77 years.
http://www.briercliffesociety.co.uk/Gra ... kinson.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:40 pm 
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I can't find them Kris. It's possible they're on the Scottish census - from the ages of the children they seemed to have moved south around 1880 - 1881. Still looking but the relationship seems unlikely in view of Whitam's Scottish parentage.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:43 pm 
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Thomas Whitham's grave can be seen here - http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10744956


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:45 pm 
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portia wrote:
I can't find them Kris. It's possible they're on the Scottish census - from the ages of the children they seemed to have moved south around 1880 - 1881. Still looking but the relationship seems unlikely in view of Whitam's Scottish parentage.


Thanks Maureen. I will also have a look later.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:48 pm 
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Found 1881:
Embsay Cum Eastby, York, England Piece 4310 Folio 85 Page 31



John WHITTAM Head M Male 27 Scotland Stonemason
Catherine WHITTAM Wife M Female 27 Scotland
Jesse WHITTAM Daur Female 5 Scotland
William WHITTAM Son Male 4 Scotland
John WHITTAM Son Male 2 Scotland
Henry WHITTAM Son Male 1 m Embsay, York, England

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:51 pm 
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Location: Near Chorley
1881
Name Age
Catherine Whittam 27
Henry Whittam
Jesse Whittam 5
John Whittam 27
John Whittam 2
William Whittam 4

John was a sstonemason and they were living in Embsay, Skipton.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:56 pm 
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A possible death for John

Name: John Whitham
Birth Year: abt 1852
Year of Registration: 1891
Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun
Age at Death: 39
District: Burnley
County: Lancashire, Yorkshire - West Riding
Volume: 8e
Page: 180

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