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Betty Walker.

(Revised 1.5.99)

A meeting as recalled by Linda Evans.(7th April 99)

As one of the founder members of the Montgomeryshire Titanic Society, I was very excited to discover that Betty Walker, arguably the youngest of the Titanic survivors as it is believed she was conceived aboard the ill-fated liner, would be coming to speak at our April meeting to tell us how the disaster affected her whole life.

To cut a long and boring story short, I missed the meeting. I rang the organisers Brenda and Harold Beadles the following day to apologise,and since Ms. Walker was staying with them for the whole week, they invited me to their house to meet her and hear her story. They said I could also bring someone with me if I wished. I was thrilled, and that evening I gathered together all the literature etc I had been collating since our last meeting, my camera (just in case), and a book (I thought "Titanic Voices" would be appropriate, again just in case).

I got to work as usual 7.35 am, and spent the morning teasing people with ,"Guess who I'm going to see at lunch-time?".
One of my colleagues said that she would love to come too, and that was settled.

We arrived about 1pm. Harold and Brenda were at home with Betty, and we settled ourselves down to hear what she'd got to say.
A photograph of her father (
Henry S Morley) as a young man, contributed by one of her local newspapers, stands in a frame by her side.

Betty Walker & Linda Evans .
Photo is Henry S Morley.

She told us that her mother Kate Florence Phillips , born on New Years Day 1893, had just turned 19 and worked in one of Henry S Morley`s three confectionery shops. He had taken a shine to her, and they planned to elope together, leaving his wife and child behind in Worcester, England to make a new life for themselves in America. He had bought some property in San Francisco where they intended to settle.

They boarded the Titanic at Southampton under the assumed names of Mr and Mrs Marshall, making plans to spend the rest of their lives together.

Mr. Morley died on April 15th when Titanic sank, and I am given to believe that if his body was ever recovered, that it was never identified. So few of the bodies were recovered, and even fewer identified, that it seems highly unlikely he was one of them.

Kate Phillips was rescued from Titanic on lifeboat number 11, and was taken on board the rescue ship Carpathia. And then onto New York where the survivors had to stay for the duration of the enquiry. By the time she was repatriated three months later, she had discovered she was pregnant and had to return alone in disgrace to face the music. Initially living with her eldest sister in Ealing, West London.

Young Betty Walker was brought up for a time by her grandparents, returning to live with her mother when she married a man named Frederick Watson, who Betty says was very good to her.

It was at this time however, when she was about eight years old that her mother became cruel to the child, often beating her with a stick so severely until sometimes her legs bleed.

During her time living with her mother, she says there were many days and nights when she was lock in a walk-in cupboard in her bedroom in pitch darkness with only bread and water for sustenance, and a pail in which to relieve herself.

Betty Walker told me that her father's brother paid £1 per week so that his niece could be educated at a private school which she was, her first school being near Chesterfield in the Midlands

It was while she was at school, that the fact that she had weeping wounds which were making her stockings stick to her legs, came to the attention of the school authorities. Betty was called before the head and told
to remove her stockings and her knickers. It was then the full horror of her beatings were discovered. All the young child could think of was that her
mother would surely now finish her off.

There followed a court case at Ealing Police Court at which Betty`s step-father stood guarantor that Kate would never take a cane to her again, and she never did. Betty had one half-sister eight years younger.

She was taken out of school to work, the December before her 14th birthday when she became a florist's apprentice. Her mother however, took most of her money, giving her back a small allowance with which she had to buy her own clothes.

The family ran a café,at 39 Queens Street, Ramsgate, Kent, but her mother had taken to her bed which was two floors above the café and was constantly banging on the ceiling with her walking stick, wanting attention. The café was very busy, and Betty remembers one time when there were many customers wanting to be served, her mother banging on the ceiling and Betty having to climb the two flights to her mother's bedroom (the sitting room was on the first floor) yet again. She lost her patience with her mother when she found out that all she wanted was some writing paper and envelopes. She told her that she was sick and fed up with her antics and she should pull herself together. When she got back downstairs, she told her step-father how she had upset her mother and that he would surely be hearing about it in due course !

Her mother died at the age of 64. Betty inherited among other things, the watch her mother wore on Titanic which she wears herself to this day. Betty`s step-father died on September 29 1970.

Betty worked for London Transport Railway (the "Under-Ground") for a while in 1939, but on the "top side" rather than under ground, and she had to walk along the side of the tracks (which were electrified even then) to dim the signals so that German planes wouldn`t be able to spot them.

She was also a Civil Servant in the Passport Office in London. In those days, it was the only office and it was very hectic.

Betty Walker married Robert W Farmer and they had one son. Her husband was in the Military Police in Tunbridge Wells. One day when their son was about four years old, someone calling himself a Bishop's Police came to her home to speak to her. It transpired that her husband had fathered a child in Tunbridge Wells, so Betty decided that she would have no more to do with him, and she divorced him, bringing her young son up on her own for the next seven years.

She did marry again - a man 14 years her senior. She thinks she may have been looking for the father figure to replace the father she never knew. They stayed together until her second husband died. Her son married and had three daughters who between them had three daughters, but no more boys were born.

Betty says that she would never like to live her life over again, but that the Lord has been good to her.

Betty Walker was 86 last January 13th and lives alone now in Worcester, England, the home town of both her mother and her father. Recently, she had a bad fall, and cannot walk unaided at the moment, although she told me that she is going to have therapy when she returns from this trip.

Betty has a very dear friend who has recently helped her write a book which she said was on its way over from America as we spoke. She then expects to be making book-signing visits to stores throughout the UK to publicize it.

Words & Pictures ©Linda Evans 1999. (reproduced with kind permission.).

Edited by Ashley ( Runt ).

Net © "Ashley`s Titanic Homepage" 1999.


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