The only candidate we have so far is Hilda Mary Ewart, née Hobbs, 60, (1872-1940) a draper and company director, who had taken on her father’s drapers, milliners and outfitters business, W.H. Hobbs, at 226 Southwark Park Road, SE16, where she always lived. (Today an Iceland food store). An enterprising businesswoman, though it would good to find out more about the possible links with this network. Or if there are other Mrs H.M. Ewarts who would qualify for inclusion.
She feels a bit of a long shot and of course if not a widow the H.M. would have been her husband’s initials – unless divorce meant she reverted to her own initials even if keeping the surname (as for widows). The best fit at this table is with the world of work. Are there alternative candidates?
Hilda probably would have readily engaged with all her three fellow guests, e.g. on managing a business in difficult times and on the role of women in business
WHAT’S ON HER MIND?
Running a business coming out of the depression will not have been easy.
HILDA’S STORY SO FAR
Born 29th April 1872 to William Henry and Emily Hobbs, in 1901 Hilda married Richard Hepburn Ewart (born 22nd July 1863 in Scotland), a banker’s clerk (for the London branch of the National Bank of Scotland) living in 1891 at 100 Hemingford Road, Islington, and in 1901 at 257 Rotherhithe New Road, Bermondsey. Hilda and Richard had one daughter, Dorothy Mary, born in 1st July 1902, but from the first, Richard Ewart was in financial difficulties. Hilda’s father helped him out but “after four and a half years [he] left the house and never came back”. Hilda divorced him in July 1918 on the grounds of desertion (he seems to have returned to Scotland, to the perhaps aptly named Bog Farm, Munlochy, Ross-shire.) Interestingly, Hilda’s sister married Richard’s brother, so a double marriage between the Ewarts and the Hobbs families. The records show that in 1911 their daughter Dorothy was visiting the Lambert family in Brightlingsea, Essex – the same Lamberts that Richard boarded with in Bermondsey before his marriage. Their daughter Dorothy married Robert Walter Stucker in Kensington, in 1924 and died in Bromley 60 years later, in 1984. They had a daughter and Mrs. Ewart has great grandchildren and great great grandchildren alive today.
The drapery business W.H. Hobbs was owned by members of the Ewart and Hobbs families. As from 1921 she was running the business with her brother Percy Hobbs and Emily Hobbs.
Apropos of nothing with respect to the dinner or Hilda, this opening sentence of an 1895 letter to the Southwark and Bermondsey Recorder from her father William Henry Hobbs is irresistible: “Now that we are in measurable distance of disporting ourselves in the way of boating on the enlarged lake in our local park, I thought it an opportune time to ventilate the question of a bowling green being added.”
In the early 1920s Hilda was travelling to the US and Australia on buying missions (at least on the Australia trip).
At the time of the dinner, Hilda was living at 220 Southwark Park Road, with Daisy Butler, her cook (26) and Mabel Emery, her parlour maid (22). Indeed in 1930 the prosperous business of William Henry Hobbs covered 193, 195 and 220-226 Southwark Park Road – and at time with more addresses on the street.
WHAT HILDA DID NEXT
On 1st October 1934 a Mrs H.M. Ewart was listed amongst the many subscribers (£1 1s) for a fund run by the Daily Mirror in aid of the fatherless children after the Wrexham Colliery disaster. Quite possibly the one and same woman. There are few if any listed in newspapers by that name.
Hilda died on 21st November 1940 and was buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery with her mother Emily and brother Percy. The company continued for another quarter century before being liquidated in 1966.
 Northern Divorce Case, Aberdeen Press and Journal, 18.7.1918 p5.
 Henry George James Ewart (a relation of her divorced husband) leaves the partnership The London Gazette, 15.7.1921
 Pat Kingwell Southwark Park Bowling Club 1908 – 2010
 Daily Mirror, 1.10.1934 p26
 Liquidation of W.H. Hobbs (Drapers) The London Gazette, 26.1.1966