James Richard Dakin (1874-1925)

James Richard Dakin was born to John Fisher Dakin and Ann Jolly Dakin in December 1874, the youngest of five children. They lived in Blackpool and he grew up on and around Rawcliffe Street; a street leading directly to the South Shore promenade. James was 4 when the famous Blackpool Illuminations were founded in 1879. After school James became a joiner like his father. The 16 year old James is listed as a joiners apprentice in the 1891 census. After doing his time as an apprentice he went into partnership with one Jim Porter. Jim was 3 years older than James and grew up on an adjoining street to James’, 30 Moore Street. They had a workshop at 41a Dean Street, Blackpool.

Members of the Dakin family still possess examples of James’ joinery work, these are:

  1. A circular oak framed barometer with ornate carving.
  2. A rectangular dark oak wall plaque with ornate carving
  3. A two compartment lockable tea caddy ornately carved in dark oak bearing the initials “A.D”, a gift to his mother Ann. Given to Andrew Dakin by the executors of Franks Will in recognition of the time and affection given to his grandfather.
  4. A high back stool in American oak with carved back and seat. One leg is darker (English oak) and was cut from the wreck of HMS Foudroyant one of Lord Nelson’s flagships which was blown onto the beach at South Shore. The chair bears the date 1897.
  5. A high back stool in English oak with carved back and seat bearing the date 1903 made by James for his fiancée Ellen.

On 21st June 1905 James married Jim’s sister Ellen Boardman Porter at Holy Trinity Church, Blackpool. It is likely that they, along with Ellen’s brother Jim, had grown up together as a result of living so closely. The wedding photograph, below, is the most important family photograph for images of the Dakin family at this time, and features three generations of Dakin and Porter family members. A key for identification of the family members is in the Appendices of this document.

James and Ellen moved to a new family home at 122 Waterloo Road, South Shore, Blackpool, where they had two children, Hilda, born 5th May 1906, and Frank, born 4th June 1910. Ellen died on 10th January 1916 at the age of 40, from pneumonia and heart failure.

At some point prior to 1915 James had become a Corporal with a battery of the Lancashire Royal Garrison Artillery volunteers. This was probably due to Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener’s request for Volunteers in 1914. In 1915 he received notice for call up and on 30th November 1915 James signed his military attestation papers and was appointed to the No.3 Reserve Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

Without a mother Frank and Hilda initially went to live with their Grandfather John Fisher Dakin and his family, and then later with Sarah Jane, James older sister and spinster, who lived at 62 Dean Street.

When he was mobilised he was then appointed to “B” Battery 331st Brigade Royal Field Artillery. The 331st (CCCXXXI) Brigade was a Second Line Territorial unit, although the distinction between Territorial and other units had disappeared in practice by this stage of the War. It went overseas in spring 1917 as part of the Army’s 66th Division (2nd East Lancashire) and spent the following months in Belgium near to the Channel coast. In this sector the front line was near the town of Nieuport. The gun positions were a little way behind this at Coxyde-le-Bains, almost on the beach.

James Richard DakinHis battery was a Medium Trench Mortar unit. His Military number was 707139 and he received the Victory Medal 1914-18 and the British War Medal 1914-20. He gained promotion to Corporal, the second rank of non-commissioned officers, in 1917. This role meant he was in charge of a section and Corporals were often referred to as the back-bone of the British army.

James was captured by the Germans sometime in early 1918 and became a Prisoner of War at Dülmen Camp, Westphalia, Germany. He was then moved to Group 21, Parchim Camp nearer Berlin.

During his capture he wrote to his sister Sarah Jane on a number of occasions informing her of where he was and asking for parcels of food and toiletries. It appears that Sarah Jane had to update the Army on James’ whereabouts and not the reverse!

When James returned from the war he married Edith Hughes (1870-1947) on the 29th September 1920 at their Parish Church in South Shore Blackpool. Witnesses for the occasion were John William Dakin, Ernest Hughes, and Jane Hannah Fisher. Edith lived in Balmoral Road, South Shore.

He died on the 20th April 1925, after only 5 years of marriage, from diabetes. The place of death was the County Mental Hospital, Winwick Rd, Warrington, though he was registered as living at 26 Bamton Avenue (built by Richard), Blackpool with Edith.

Date Event Comments
1874 Born Blackpool, Lancashire
1881 Census Scholar, 2 Rawcliffe Street, Blackpool
1891 Census Joiners Apprentice, 2 Rawcliffe Street, Blackpool
1901 Census Location Unknown
1905 Marriage Ellen Porter, Blackpool
1911 Census Joiner, 122 Waterloo Road, Blackpool
1915 Attestation No3 Reserve Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
1916 (3/10) Posted France
1917 (17/9) Promotion Private to Corporal
1918 (21/3) Missing Reported missing
1918 (3/6) Notice Sister informs Army Richard is at Dülmen POW Camp
1918 (7/7) Notice Sister informs Army Richard moved to Parchim POW Camp
1918 Repatriated Arrives at Leith by SS Primula
1919 Demobilisation Leaves the Army
1920 Marriage Edith Hughes, Blackpool
1925 Died Warrington County Mental Hospital
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