SHRIMPLIN | Reservoir Cottage, Thundersley, Essex | Southend Waterworks Company

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There were three residential properties built in the early 1900’s by Southend Waterworks Company in Thundersley, Essex, which were associated with the reservoir and two pumping stations.

Reservoir Cottage was the property associated with Burches ReservoirThe land west of the reservoir was sold off for housing c.1953, and Reservoir Cottage became 15 Common Approach

SHRIMPLIN ~ 1929-1930

George William SHRIMPLIN a Waterworks Engine Driver and family were most likely the second residents of Reservoir Cottage, moving in after the previous occupants moved out in c.1928 (George Edward CAREY and family). George’s wife Matilda Carey THORINGTON was a second cousin of George Edward CAREY (as well as sharing another ancestor), and the both families lived along the same road in Thundersley for some time (Daws Heath Road).

George William SHRIMPLIN married Matilda Carey THORINGTON in 1904, and they had one son together in 1907.

  1. Frederick George Shrimplin (1907-1998) Foreman Repair Shop Fitter & Turner Waterworks

Previous to marrying, George had been living at home with his parents in 1901 at Engineers House Pumping Station, Milton Road, Prittlewell, Essex. He was 21 and working as a Waterworks Engine Driver, following in his fathers footsteps who was also a Stationary Engine Driver as well as the Waterworks Inspector (more on his father below). Matilda also had connections with Southend Waterworks, as her father’s first half cousin was William James CAREY from the above tree, a Stationary Engine Driver in Thundersely like his father before him.

In 1911, the family were visitors of the Wilkison’s, and George was now working as a Fitter for the Waterworks Company. Their son Frederick was born in Pitsea, and all Electoral Rolls found for them between 1918-1927 also show them living in Pitsea so would guess George was working at Pitsea Pumping Station, near by to where they lived. Then in 1927, Matilda’s cousin William James CAREY died and electoral registers from 1929-1930 show they moved to Reservoir Cottage, The Common, Thundersley. Their son Frederick was involved in a motorbike accident in Southend during this time, sustaining severe head wounds.

Newspaper articles reproduced with the permission of the British Newspaper Archive and The British Library Board

The family did not live long at Reservoir Cottage, moving back to Pitsea by early 1930. Shortly after the move, on 23rd Feb 1930, George died (aged 49). Just under a year later, their son married Olive CLAYDON, and in 1936 Matilda remarried to widower George GRIGGS, a Building Inspector’s Assistant. By 1939 they were living in Southchurch, Essex, and Frederick, wife and two children were in Westcliff, Essex. George GRIGGS died in 1960 aged 79, and Matilda in 1978 at the ripe age of 93. Son Frederick also lived to an old age, dying in 1998 aged 90.

George’s Parents

George William SHRIMPLIN was born 1880 in Southend-On Sea, and was the second of three children born to John Christmas SHRIMPLIN and Susannah GARDNER. John was born in Ormesby St Michael, Norfolk where he spent his childhood, until marrying Susannah on 2nd Dec 1877 and moving to Prittlewell near Southend, Essex. His marriage certificate states his occupation at the time was Pipelayer, and by 1881 John was working as an Engine Driver for Southend Waterworks (age 27). Just after moving to the Southend area, John joined the newly formed Southend Volunteer Fire Brigade, and was actually one of its original members. Two years after the birth of their third child, his wife Susannah died aged 35 (1883).

  1. Walter John Shrimplin (1878-1931) Builder
  2. George William Shrimplin (1880-1930) Waterworks Engine Driver
  3. Robert Arthur Shrimplin (1881-1950) Hotel Proprietor

John remarried in 1887 to Emma KING, and they had one child together in 1889.

  1. Violet Mary Shrimplin (1889-1909, age 20)

A newspaper report from 1885 reveals how the family’s housekeeper Charlotte Portsmouth was charged with embezzling the sum of £1 6s 3d from him. The case was dismissed.


By 1891, the family had moved into Waterworks Cottage (aka Engineers House) on Milton Road in Prittlewell. John was still employed as a Stationary Engine Driver in 1891, but by 1901 (age 47) he was the Works Inspector. Son Walter (age 22) was working as a Butcher (a career he didn’t follow), George just turned 21 was following in his fathers footsteps as a Waterworks Engine Driver, and Robert (age 19) was working as a Commercial Clerk.

Up until this point, John had remained with the Southend Fire Brigade, but in the October of that year, he and three other prominent members (Lieut. P.F. Smith, Chief Engineer Shrimplin, Engineer Willingale and Mr W. Dowsett hon. sec.) handed in their resignations, alleging that “as officers of the brigade, had not been consulted, as they consider they ought to have been, on certain occasions”. I’ve not discovered the outcome.

In 1902, John’s eldest son Walter married Edith Lilla FULCHER, followed by George in 1904, who married Matilda Carey THORINGTON, and John’s youngest son Robert married Jessica SWAIN in 1908. Then, on 4th July 1909 tragedy struck, as John and Emma’s only daughter Violet died after a long and painful illness age 20.

In June 1910 the following year, Southend hosted the National Fire Brigades Union’s “Annual Camp”, where brigades from all over the country would train and take part in drill competitions, and manufacturers  displayed and demonstrated their equipment. The Southend Standard and Essex Weekly Advertiser ran a three-page spread, detailing the history of Southend Fire Brigade, and included two photographs from the early 1880’s (both showing John Shrimplin).

Most newspaper articles which include John SHRIMPLIN are in regards to his work with the Fire Brigade, but a couple of months after the Annual Camp there was a serious accident at the new reservoir at Southend, which was in construction at the time.

In 1911, John (age 58) was still employed as the Waterworks Inspector, eldest son Walter (age 32) was working as a Carpenter and Joiner, middle son George (age 31) as a Fitter for the Waterworks Company and youngest son Robert (age 29) continued his work as a Commercial Clerk. Walter progressed in his trade, becoming a well-known builder in Chelmsford.

Just under two years later, on 3rd Nov 1931, John’s eldest son Walter died after an 8 month illness (aged 53), followed a few weeks later by John himself on 30th Dec 1931 age 77 or 78 (his second wife Emma had died previous to him in 1926 age 75). His eldest son Robert died 12th Sep 1950 age 69, and was the proprietor of the Bull Hotel Regent Square in Northampton.

Matilda’s Parents

Matilda Carey THORINGTON was born 18th Dec 1884 in Rayleigh, Essex. She was the second of six children born to George Carey THORINGTON and Rosetta THIPTHORP. Rosetta had one child from a previous unmarried relationship, and George had been previously married to Caroline APPLETON (died 1880), with one child who may also have died.

George’s father was also called George Carey THORINGTON, and both men alternated between each surname in records throughout their lives. For instance, all of George & Rosetta’s children’s births were registered as “Carey”, yet their baptisms were under “Thorington”.

George worked as a Market Gardener and Bricklayer’s Labourer, and his father was an Agricultural Labourer & Grocer. One step back again we find another George who married the widow Mary Ann CAREY (nee HARDING) in 1837, and also find the origins of the Carey name. Mary had three son’s from her first marriage to James CAREY and two from her second (including George b.1837). I don’t know why Mary’s son had the surname “Carey” as part of his name or why he interchanged the two. Perhaps he wanted to feel closer to his older brothers? As an adult, George (b.1837) used the surname “Carey” in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses, and “Thorington” in 1891, 1901 and 1911. He married under “Carey” and was buried as “Thorington”, and seven of his eight children’s births were registered as “Carey”. This tradition followed on down to George’s own son George, who’s birth in 1856 was registered as George Thorington Carey.

George and Rosetta married on 15th Oct 1883, where George gave his name as “George Thorington Carey” and his father as “George Carey”. Rosetta was about seven months pregnant with their first child at the time, who was born on Christmas day.

  1. Alexander Carey Thorington (1883-1940) General Labourer
  2. Matilda Carey Thorington (1884-1978) Waterworks Engine Driver’s Wife
  3. Edith Gladys Carey Thorington (1886-1899, age 13)
  4. Edward Harold Carey Thorington (1887) possibly emigrated to Canada
  5. Sidney Frank Carey Thorington aka Frank (1888-1961) Carman At Dairy Farm / Refuse Collector
  6. Ethel May Carey Thorington (1889-1958) Baker’s Wife

By the time the 1891 census was taken on 5th April (the family were in Prittlewell), Rosetta was terminally ill with ovarian cancer and two of the children were already living elsewhere (Matilda was with her maternal grandparents, Edith with her paternal grandparents and Sidney visiting in Thundersley). Just over a month later Rosetta died at London Hospital in Whitechapel age 26, and to make matters worse, George died in the Rochford Union Workhouse in 1895 from a heart attack age 39.

It seems the youngest four children were living in the workhouse too, as in 1897 they were all baptised together and their residence was noted as “Rochford Union House”. More tragedy followed for the orphaned children, when Rachel (Rosetta’s daughter from her previous relationship) died in 1898 aged 18, followed by Edith in 1899 age 13.

By 1901, eldest child Alexander (age 17) was working as a Hotel Barman in South Benfleet, Matilda (age 16) was a visitor in Prittlewell, Edward (age 14) was living with his Aunt Emma and family in Thundersley, Frank (age 12) was boarding in Hockley and Ethel (age 11) was boarding in Hawkwell with a 2nd cousin and her family. Four of the five surviving children went on to marry and have children of their own. Edward is the only one I haven’t been able to trace (possibly emigrated to Canada).


Matilda Carey THORINGTON was related twice to the husband of the first occupants of Reservoir cottage, George Edward CAREY. Most simply, they shared great grandparents James John RAYNER & Frances HERSEY, making them 2nd cousins. They were also 1st half cousins 1x removed too, via Matilda’s paternal great grandmother Mary Ann HARDING, who married twice.

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