Another sad story from the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu pandemic

We have already told the sad story behind Godfrey’s shop – 1 Queen Street – and how the Spanish Flu affected that family. In this blog we look at another formerly well-known Brimington family – the Phipps – and how they were tragically visited by the same flu.

On 23 November 1918 the Derbyshire Courier reported that in Brimington ‘The influenza epidemic is still serious and during the past fortnight 14 deaths have occurred. The schools have not yet re-opened.’

One of these 14 deaths was that of Elsie Hannah Phipps, who died at home, ‘Glen Royd’, Station Road, on 15 November. The single cause of death given by Dr Arthur Court, of Stavaley, was influenza.

Elsie was the second of three daughters of Henry and Elizabeth Ann Phipps, with whom she lived along with her younger sister Edna Lizzie. The eldest daughter, Dora Carter, had been married in 1909 and was living in Rotherham.

Phipps’ original shop, on the corner of High Street and John Street, can be seen to the right on this Edwardian postcard. Presumably this was also the family home until they later moved to Station Road.

Henry Phipps was once a well-known figure in Brimington. He was a JP and served variously on the parish, rural district and county councils. He was chairman of the parish council throughout the Spanish flu pandemic. He was also active in the Bethel Primitive Methodist church as were all his daughters. Phipps had moved to Brimington from West Bromwich in the early 1870s working initially as a blacksmith, before moving into grocery retailing. He had a shop on the corner of John Street and High Street for some years. This was clearly a prosperous family.

All his daughters became schoolmistresses. Elsie was a pupil teacher at Brimington Central Girls’ School during the school years 1899 to 1903. She took her scholarship examination in 1903, being placed in the first division. In 1904 she went into teacher training at Edge Hill College, Liverpool. At her death she had risen to become the headmistress at Princess Street School.

After presumably spending some time living above the shop in the centre of Brimington, Phipps had prospered enough to later live here at ‘Glen Royd’, 41 Station Road. A self-made man, of some influence, Even the ‘great and the good’ were not spared the Spanish flu – whilst Phipps and his wife survived, one of their three daughters, Elsie, succumbed in November 1918.

Elsie had been very active in the religious and social life of the village, including having been a long-standing worker for the King’s Own Society, a non-denominational class for children held at Mount Tabor Methodist Church under the supervision of Mrs Clara Tissington. She had been working with Mrs Tissington and the children on a Red Cross fundraising event when she caught influenza. Elsie had also been a member of the Brimington War Pensions Committee. Prior to her burial in Brimington Cemetery on 18 November a service was held at Glen Royd, as her mother, Elizabeth Ann, was too ill to attend at the cemetery.

Elizabeth survived her illness, living until June 1928. Henry died in 1942. Elsie and her parents are buried in the same plot in Brimington Cemetery.

We’re nearly ready to publish our Brimington & Tapton Miscellany 13. Paul Freeman’s article in that edition more fully covers how the Phipps and other Brimington families were affected. It’s also fully referenced. The article due to be published is the second of a two-part article on the Spanish Flu in Brimington. The first part was published in Miscellany 12. These articles are both fully referenced.

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