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Kaleb (Barty) Bartholomew, born in Suffolk, UK in 1898, didn’t have the best start in his young life.  The son of a farm labourer he lost both his parents at a young age, one to prison and his mother who went to seek employment as a domestic in London, leaving Barty in the workhouse until he went to find her in the big city but without success.

He was forced to scratch a living from the banks of the filthy, muddy, River Thames as a mudlark and other menial tasks until he found work as a farm labourer on the isle of Dogs.  In 1916 he joined the Army Veterinary Corps as a Private, was demobbed at the end of the war with very little money and headed back to Suffolk.

He was befriended by an old boat owner, known as Skipper who gave him work on his boat ‘Ellie May’ the two became firm friends and worked together for years during which time Barty was unwittingly involved in the “freetrade”.  Following two or three years of near brushes with the Revenue Men he returned to the legitimate coasting trade.

Eighteen years later he finds his father working at Lowestoft College and taking full advantage of opportunities as they arose he gradually progressed to become a successful business man.          

John also wrote the non-fiction book Beetroot for Breakfast: Tales from the Land Girls of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.  Available on this website.  

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John Ward


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