The life of Clara James
The Girls Rest Home at Lakeside
I am the great niece of Miss Clara James who contributed a lot to Canvey Island. In 1909 she opened a rest home for overworked Eastend girls at lakeside. Miss James was also a member of Canvey council, a J P and a school manager, and a founder member of the womens institute and was also involved in the nursing association.
I would like to know if anybody has any information or photos of her as I am trying to compile her life story with that of her siblings who equally achieved alot in life. I would be grateful of any information, many thanks,
Jill I have found this rather poor picture of Clara James. Janet
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There is a photo of Clara James wearing her hat in Geoff Barsby’s ‘Canvey Island’ photo book. Unfortunately I don’t think I have my own copy of the photo to publish here so I have included a Post Card of her Rest Home – I have quite a few more which I will gladly add if you would like to publish her history here on the website at a later date.
I managed to include two images of the house and some children in my book on Canvey history, but I remember Southend Museum holds a small collection.
One lady stands apart by the house. Might that be Clara James?
Dear Jill, My late mother-in-law often spoke about Claire (as she called her) James who was a friend of her aunt and aunt’s friend. The family built a bungalow on Canvey pre 1WW and we are wondering if this is because they knew Claire. We’ll look again through photographs to see what we can find. It’s possible she might be included. Amongst my mother in law’s (Molly Toms, later Bornat) papers is a typewritten copy of a section from Margaret Bondfield’s autobiography which describes Claire James’ early life accompanied by a photograph taken when young. If any of this is of interest, do let me know. Best wishes, Joanna
Dear Joanna Bornat, I was very interested to read your message dated 20thfeb 2010, i have only just looked at the Canvey site again[aug-2010] You mentioned a type written copy of a section of Margaret Bonfield’s autobiography,which describes claire[clara]James’ early life with a photo taken when she was young, i would be very interested in these items and anything else you might come across concerning her, hope to hear from you soon , best wishes Jill Mason
Dear Jill, It is quite by accident that I happened to be researching other family information and just thought I might google Miss James. She was a family friend for the best part of her days long before she setteld on Canvey. I spent all my childhood holidays at the Rest Home and was resident in the Swallows after WW11 -until her death. I have many photographs. Please make contact.
In case she does not see this Peter I will see if I can contact her as we have an email address. The Archive would love to hear about your time on Canvey, Miss James and photos please.
Dear Jill, I only just now (May 2020) looked at the Canvey Island history site again, with your reply to my message sent in 2010. I’m sure by now you will have located the passage from Margaret Bondfield’s book. I’m so sorry not to have checked this site since then. I can also add that a ‘Miss James’ appears on the same bill as Lenin when he spoke at Alexandra Palace at a celebration of May Day in 1903. She is billed as being in charge of a ‘gymnastic display’ on the front page of ‘Justice’ the socialist newspaper of the day.
Do get in touch if any of this is still of interest.
Hi Joannna Bornat, I have just noticed your reply from 2020, asking if I had found Margaret Bond fields autobiography which describes Clara James childhood, well I did not.. life got in the way I’m afraid and its only because I was looking at the East End woman’s history that it triggered me to ask them a question who in turn sent me back to the Canvey Website and here I am… looking at messages I missed, I would love that information if you have it and anything else you may of found.. my up to date email is on here Thankyou
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