Henry Bradford was born in Gravesend, Kent, in October 1930. His father had been a regular soldier in the Queenâ€™s Own Royal West Kent Regiment during the First World War, serving in the trenches in France and Belgium, until he was wounded in the battle of the Somme on the first of July 1916.
Mr Bradford met Henryâ€™s mother, Jessica Reynolds, in Colchester, Essex. They were married in the village church of Pebmarsh, Essex, and settled in Mr Bradfordâ€™s home town of Gravesend, where they had nine children, Henry being the eighth child.
As a child Henry had a sparse, primitive education, as did most children of that era, because of poor teaching methods, and also because he was evacuated twice during the Second World War, once to Dereham, Norfolk, on the third of September 1939, then to Totnes, Devonshire, on the fourteenth of June 1940.
In Devonshire, Henry was injured in a farm accident that turned to septicaemia and necessitated his having to spend a year in Torbay and Exeter orthopaedic hospitals, before his being discharged in July 1941, when he returned home to Gravesend with what became a lifelong permanent disability.
On his leaving school in September 1944, at the age of fourteen years, Henry was employed in numerous jobs before following his grandfather, father and brothers into the port transport industry in March 1954 as a Registered Dock Worker with the London Dock Labour Board. Then, after having been seriously injured in a shipboard accident in April 1960, Henry attended night classes for two years (at the behest of the LDLB welfare officer, Mr D. J. Foley J. P.), before applying and being accepted as a post-graduate diploma student at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
After graduation, Henry returned to the docks where, during 1964-65, he wrote a comprehensive labour employment plan for the permanent employment of all registered dock workers.
Henry married in December 1955, Iris Kathleen Mann. They had two children, Dawn and Roland. Henry retired from the port transport industry in December 1968 due to the numerous injuries he had sustained in dock working accidents, and his war time evacuation injury; he had spent thirty two years employed in the port transport industry, working in every conceivable job both on the docks and in clerical work as an Overseas Ships Tally clerk with dock stevedore companies, and as a ships clerk with the Port of London Authority.
After his enforced retirement, Henry was advised by a literary friend that he should write stories about his experiences and vast knowledge of Londonâ€™s docklands and, except for a story, â€œAnimal Crackers in Country Parklandâ€ about corruption in national and local government, his memories appear in print only in his series of books â€œTales of Londonâ€™s Docklandsâ€, that can best be described as historical tales of dock work and dock workers in the mid-20th Century.
Men of the River
Henry T. Bradford brings to life his experiences working the London Docklands with inspirational tales of friendship to shocking, debilitating injuries endured during his time as a docker.In this poignant memoir, Henry T. Bradford gives an unrivalled portrayal of life in Britain in the years followi...