William Edward (Ted) Groom was an employee of the South Metropolitan Gas Company, but was also an agent for the Belle Steamers, operating from the front room of his house in Lewisham, London. During his lifetime he collected a magnificent assortment of steamer guides, posters, newspaper articles and the like, as well as taking many photographs of the Thames and Isle of Man steamers. Happily, many of the negatives and glass plates still survive. He proposed to his wife on PS Clacton Belle and salvaged Clacton Belle's makers plate, log book, ships bell and other items from her and other steamers when they were broken up.
Ted Groom aboard one of his beloved paddle steamers.
The ownership of most of the collection, which dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, still survives in the private hands of Ted Groom's grand daughter and includes some interesting items salvaged from some of the old paddle steamers. Other items from the collection, including the contents of the PS Royal Sovereign wheelhouse and paddlebox emblem (below), original photographs of the Koh-i-noor, lifebelts and wooden fire buckets etc, can be viewed at the Felixstowe Museum at Languard Point. They were donated to Mr H Collard Stone after Ted had passed away. Mr Collard Stone then passed them to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS), who now are the custodians and owners of this part of Ted's collection. A letter from Mr Collard Stone to a Mr Kelley has recently been shown to me by Mr Kelley's son Steve. Steve's grandfather was the Captain of PS Royal Sovereign and Steve has kindly allowed me to reproduce the letter on this site. The letter explains how this part of the Ted Groom collection passed to the PSPS and a copy of the letter can be seen by clicking here.
Ted's 1938 Isle of Man Steam Packet Co Ltd Season Ticket (which says to be given up upon expiry!)
Pictures courtesy of Victoria Groom
Ted Groom's life story has now been published in a book by his grand daughter Victoria.
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