Ellen Greenslade Downey was born in Bristol on 7 January 1864, daughter of James Downey, Silk Mercer and Undertaker and Ellen Susan (Nee Greenslade). In 1891 she is known to have been Principle at Beech House Ladies School, Eccles, Barton upon Irwell, Lancashire with sister Bertha (1873) who acted as assistant teacher. They lived with one servant Ellen Lowry (1866)
In 1901 Ellen was employed as Principal at Modern Ladies School, Morda, working with several other women to teach pupils aged 13-17, who came from different parts of the country to be educated;
Working at the school under Ellen’s direction were:
Ethel Harris, Governess, (1875)
Mabel Roper, Governess,(1878)
Alice Bevan, Governess, (1879)
Elizabeth Williams, Servant, (1856)
Ellen Humphreys, Servant, (1882)
Lizzie Pugh, Servant, (1887)
In the 1911 census, Ellen is registered as retired, living at 24 Park St, Oswestry with Mary Ethel Curt, a Science Mistress (1882) and her servant, Margaret Levers – nee Owen (1892). Ellen never married or had any children. In 1939 she was still living at Park Street, but with only one servant only.
ELLEN DOWNEY’S WAR YEARS
During the war, Ellen volunteered as a VAD Nurse with Shropshire 24 Detachment. She worked at the Ardmillan Auxiliary Hospital from December 1915 to February 1919 as Quarter Master for Commandant Mrs Ridley Thomas.
In her middle-age, Ellen made a huge contribution to the war effort, working 4140 hours as Quarter Master. She was not paid for the work she carried out.
In her own words on her VAD card, Miss Greenslade says ‘I have not attended regularly every day but often five days in the week for the first two years. Since then my assistant has undertaken part of my work as I have not been strong enough to do so’.
Ellen Greenslade Downey died in March 1957 leaving £5867 9s 9d.
British Red Cross Archives and museum, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL