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The Grant Family

Photographer's ashes will be left at lost village of Tyneham

Dorset Echo Wednesday 20th January 2010 by Dan Goater

Photographer Arthur Grant, who has died at the age of 87, in his native Tyneham

ONE of the last residents of a Dorset village that was abandoned during the war has died.

Photographer Arthur Grant was raised in Tyneham, which is now part of the Lulworth firing ranges.

Beginning life as an average village, Tyneham was reclaimed from its residents by the Government during the Second World War to be used as a training ground.

Despite assurances from the Government of the day, the village was never returned to its residents and remains a military training ground to this day.

Mr Grant’s parents moved to Tyneham in 1924 when he was two after his father Harry accepted a job as a woodsman at Tyneham House.

Arthur Grant would not leave the village until he was 13, when he went to work as a salon boy for the Union Castle shipping line.

As an enterprising child, Mr Grant copied a trick employed by a local farmer of charging motorists sixpence to open gates for them as they passed through.

He sang in the local church choir and also learned to play the church organ.

After Tyneham’s school closed in 1932 due to dwindling numbers, Mr Grant joined other children from the village on bus journeys to school in Corfe.

After leaving school, Mr Grant took his first job as a pantry boy at Tyneham House and later as an under footman, polishing shoes and cleaning knives, and moved into the house.

He was later introduced to a captain on the Union Castle line, and began his merchant navy career, meaning he missed the enforced evacuation of Tyneham.

Mr Grant’s ship was bombed off the coast of Ireland during the war and it was during one of Mr Grant’s visits home that he learned that Tyneham’s 40 homes had been abandoned.

As a merchant seaman, Mr Grant travelled from Southampton to South Africa. After the war he worked as a steward on the Quantas Empire airline, flying between London and Sydney.

He once met the Queen on a Royal flight in 1954 and took his young wife Grace to Australia before becoming a professional photographer in the 1950s, with much of his work appearing in local and regional newspapers.

Mr Grant travelled the world but spent his final years in Wareham with his wife, with whom he recently celebrated their golden wedding.

Mr Grant’s son Geoff said: “He was the original, big friendly giant and a gentleman in all respects.

“He was hugely loved by not only his family but by everyone who came to be touched by him.”

Mr Grant passed away peacefully earlier this month, aged 87, and leaves behind his wife and children Geoff, Annette, Tanya and Mike as well as grandchildren Jamie-Lee, Saffron and Poppy.

A remembrance service for Mr Grant will take place at the Church of Lady St Mary, Wareham on Monday.

His ashes will then be interred by special permission of the military at Tyneham’s old church.

Last former resident of D-Day 'ghost' village to be buried in home churchyard

The Times 22 January 2010 by Simon de Bruxelles

The last former resident of a “ghost village” occupied by the Army since the Second World War is to be buried in its churchyard. Arthur Grant, who has died aged 87, grew up in Tyneham, Dorset, and was one of 250 villagers who were forced to leave in 1943.

Mr Grant was also the last surviving pupil to have been taught at the village school. The village was used for training before D-Day and the villagers were never allowed to move back.

Today Tyneham is in the middle of the Lulworth firing ranges and littered with scrap metal used as targets. Although it is open to the public at the weekends it is closed for safety reasons the rest of the week.

In 1943, the War Department issued clearance notices on 106 properties in and around Tyneham. Villagers were given a month’s notice and gave up their homes and were relocated elsewhere.

Sunday school teacher Helen Taylor pinned a hastily-scribbled note on the church door, reading: “Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free.

“We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.”

Mr Grant’s parents had moved to Tyneham in 1924 when he was two. He left school at 13 and was taken on as a pantry boy and then under footman at nearby Tyneham House where his parents were in service.

By the time the Army took over Tyneham he was serving in the merchant navy and missed the evacuation. He learned that the village had been occupied when he returned home after his ship was bombed off the coast of Ireland.

Mr Grant went on to work as a steward on the flying boats and for Quantas and was even part of the crew which flew the Queen to Australia in 1954. He married his wartime sweetheart Grace and the couple lived in Wareham, Dorset.

After leaving the merchant navy he became a professional photographer and retired in 1990.

He died at home last Tuesday and is survived by his wife Grace and his children, Geoffrey and Annette, and three grandaughters.

Lingering ghosts of a long-dead England

Tyneham in Dorset was already a museum piece when it was shut down during the Second World War. It never reopened

The Independent Sunday, 24 January 2010 by David Randall

Tyneham's houses are crumbling after it was evacuated by the government in 1943 to help the war effort. No one was allowed to return after the war

There'll be another burial in the village next week. Arthur Grant's ashes will be interred in the churchyard at Tyneham in Dorset. He left more than 60 years ago, but now the last of him will return to the village that laid down its life for the Second World War.

In 1943, the army needed Tyneham to expand its Lulworth firing range, and so everyone was shipped out. Ever since, the only way of becoming a resident again is to die and be buried here. Arthur is believed to be the last of them. Now there is no one with any memory of this curious place which did not wither or change but simply shut its doors and went away.

Even for the time, Tyneham was a period piece, albeit an ambiguous one. For romantics, it was, in its old ways, a keepsake of a once-unchanging England. For modernists, it was, with its broken roadways, its single telephone, and the Bond family owning all the land, an affront to progress.

But, to a few hundred people, it was home. In the early decades of the 20th century, there was Mrs Manktelow, the widow at Double Cottages, the schoolmistress Mrs Pritchard, old Charlie Miller, the Knights, including Fred and his father, coachman to the Bonds at Tyneham House; Charlie Meech, the odd-job man up at the big house; and Mrs Taylor, the village wise woman.

There were two villages here, really. Down the Gwyle, the coombe that led to the sea, was Worbarrow. Then there was Tyneham proper, with its fields of sheep and its Elizabethan manor house. Closer to the green was St Mary's church; the rectory, home to parsons grand enough to make use of the tennis courts; Dorset stone homes; the one-roomed school; and The Row, the line of terraced cottages punctuated by the village's only shop.

By the late 1930s, there were cracks in its chocolate-box façade. The school had closed in 1932. There was no pub; Worbarrow's coastguard station had closed; there was no electricity, no piped water and no development – unless the Bonds sanctioned it.

Then came the war. A radar station was set up on Tyneham Cap, and, to staff it, the Women's Auxiliary Air Force arrived. They requisitioned Tyneham House, and airmen were billeted in homes. In November 1943, every villager received a letter. "It is necessary," it began, "to move you from your homes." By 19 December, all 225 were gone. Many were under the impression they would return, but in 1947 they were told there would be no coming back. Compensation was paid in 1952 and periodic campaigns were mounted to wrest back the village.

They failed, but concessions were made. In 1975, burials were allowed, and the army's guns are muzzled on 134 days a year so ramblers and curious civilians can once again come to Tyneham. The manor house was demolished in 1967, and thatched roofs have fallen. But the church is preserved, and the school is a museum. In it are the clothes pegs of pupils, and one bears the name Arthur Grant. His ashes will be in the churchyard, but the memory of him, and some of the spirit of the place he once inhabited, lives on.