Dad--Eugene Adolphus Blanchette
Dad was the great grandson of Thomas Blanchett 1 the Middlesex woolcomber. He was born in Asansole in 1905-- a town just west of Calcutta and still a major railway center of the old East India Railway. Established in 1845, the East India Railway Company, subsequently known as East Indian Railway (EIR), became the pioneer organisation to draw European capital to build the railway network in Eastern India. EIR is the organization which began the "apprentice" system on the India railway
Asansole has no particular history as far as I can tell. It was quite likely set up by the British in the 19th century just to service the railway. At some point the Blanchette family moved to Ajmer where my father grew up. My guess is that his father was transferred from the East India Railway to the newer BB&CI railway and the family moved to Ajmer as a result.
Dad was an apprentice at the Ajmer railway workshops when he met Mum. I suspect that Mum's family was on a higher rung of the social ladder than Dad's family. There would have been no doubt about the income disparity. Dad was a young apprentice supporting a widowed mother and several siblings, whereas Mum's father was a PWI, an "officer" grade on the railway. Anyway Dad was certainly personna non grata at the Roberts' household.
Dadís father William Lish Blanchette (b1875 m 1904 d 1923) was an engine driver for the East Indian Railway.
Dad's mother was Clemence Adeline nee Baptiste. I have quite a lot of data on her antecedents thanks to a cousin of mine. These data are in "Dad Maternal". Dad's names of Eugene and Adolphus are first found in Clemence's family tree.
When William died he left a widow and seven children ranging in age from 18-- Dad, the eldest--to my Aunt Babs, a four year old girl. Dad had finished his high school at St. George's (boys) boarding school in Mussoorie and became an apprentice on the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CIR) at the age of 18 when his father died. He lived at home and helped support the family until he married my mother when he was 27. He stayed with the railway until we left India when he was 44. When we left India Dad had reached the level of Boilermaker Inspector, having worked through Boilermaker Apprentice and Boilermaker Foreman ranks.
When Dad's father died the younger children were taken in and educated by Catholic nuns and by Catholic religious brothers in Catholic schools. This was a not unusual turn of events in that age in that society. Early death in the tropics was common, and churches and other private institutions provided what little safety net there was. The girls went to a boarding (girls) school-- Chelsea convent in Simla-- and the boys went to a boarding (boys) school --St Georgeís College in Mussoorie in the period 1918-1928.
I too went to St. Georges in 1945 and 1946. Janice and I visited the school in 1997--it is now one of the leading high schools in India. I talk about it at length in the section on boarding schools. I looked up Chelsea convent on the web. It was started in 1874 by a French order of Catholic nuns called the Sisters of Jesus and Mary and was started as an orphanage to serve the offspring of English officers. The school is still functioning, and is now called the Convent of Jesus and Mary. .
Dad was very social and quite athletic. He played field hockey for
the railway team and had several trophies for lawn bowls and billiards.
I don't recall him playing cricket or soccer. He and his siblings were
all musically gifted. Dad himself played the piano and most other
instruments. His siblings all played musical instruments and at least
one was a music teacher.
Dad was very active in the local Catholic Church in Wolverhampton as choir master, organist and general organizer. His funeral was a major event in Wolverhampton. He had lived in the same town and parish since 1950 and when he died 35 years later, he had developed a very large circle of friends and acquaintances by his music and Church related activities. There is a lot more on Dad and our life in India in the "Childhood in India" section. On to Mum.htm