Saturday, 24 December 2016

Charles William Gedney:Part I Journalist and Author

Charles William Gedney was born at Aldwick Sussex and educated a private school. At the age of 14 he became a naval cadet and served with distinction as a Midshipman under the captaincy of Captain William Peel V C aboard HMS Shannon 1855 when he formed part of the  naval brigade at the relief of Lucknow dragging guns overland to defend and fortify the garrison under siege.
He also sailed up the Yangtze River in 1857 when he was one of 46 injured sailors in the Battle of Canton (1857). This injury ended his career at sea and he returned home to take up journalism working for two years as journalist on the Daily News.
In 1865 he arrived in Bromley and began to publish the "The Bromley Telegraph" printed at 25 Market Square, a house at the south east corner of Market Square which Horsbrugh describes as:
"a secluded house with an ample forecourt containing lime trees and enclosed by wooden railings". It had in the 1801 census of Bromley been home to Edward Broad and subsequently occupied by Miss Anne Broad "a very select dressmaker,many of the county families from the surrounding neighbourhood being her patrons."
Gedney had a printing office on the ground floor which is sometimes referred to as "Telegraph" Printing Works Bromley.
Gedney became famous for his "highly seasoned" local reading which under his pseudonym "Idler in Local Gossip" criticised the way that local affairs were organised. This pungent outspoken critical attitude to authority's was to lead him to defend 20 actions against him in the High Court. He later joked that he lost only two which " I should have won and won one which I should have lost".
Despite this reputation locally described by Horsbrugh on his arrival in 1881 in Bromley as "a dangerous iconoclast and doubtless would have been dubbed a Bolshevist had that appellation existed" Horsbrugh became a personal friend and  described  a kind and jovial disposition encouraging others to enter journalism. He was somewhat ahead of his time in that those in public positions were unaccustomed to criticism.
He was a snooker player at The Liberal Club in Bromley and a supporter of Liberal politics in the town.
He was angered by the Local Board of Guardians refusal to admit journalists to meetings at the Workhouse and was also dissatisfied by the diet of inmates at what he referred to as The "grim and grey Great House".
In Part II I will pursue his action against the manner in which the Workhouse was being run.
In 1896 Gedney printed and published
This publication was successful and shows Gedney at leisure as a Fly Fisherman travelling to Ireland Scotland and Wales by train to enjoy his sport. The book is still read in various formats available online.
For many years he wrote the "Circular Notes "column in Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.
In 1902 he sold his printing business to the proprietors of the Bromley Chronicle and for ten years from 1902-1912 the BromleyTelegraph and Chronicle was published.
After retirement he cared for his wife Annie during a lengthy illness until her death at their Glebe Road home on 17 October 1906. She was buried at the London Road Cemetery on 22 October 1906 when Charles was accompanied by his three sons at the funeral described by The Bromley Record obituary.
As we will see in Part II his kind and jovial disposition was to bless many lives throughout his long years of public service.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2017