Ellen Emily Alice Dowsett was born and lived her whole life in Chelmsford. She was the daughter of an iron moulder and remained a spinster. In 1943 she was living in Duke Street, Chelmsford. She was killed in May of that year during the 'Chelmsford Blitz' when her home was devastated by a German bomb which fell behind the property.
Ellen, born in Chelmsford 1887, was the daughter of George Dowsett (1860-1937) and Selina Annie Dowsett (nee Philpot) (1865-1939). Her parents had married at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 18th October 1884, at which time her father was a 24 year-old iron moulder, His bride was four years his junior, and both lived in ‘Writtle Street’, today’s New Writtle Street.
She was baptized at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 3rd September 1887, when her father was an iron moulder of New Writtle Street, Chelmsford.
Ellen was one of four children who included Louisa Beatrice E. Dowsett (1885-1962) and Harold Victor Dowsett (born in 1895).
The 1891 census found Emily, aged three, living with her parents and sister at 4 Baker Street in Chelmsford. Her father was a labourer for Chelmsford's Council. A decade later the census listed 13 year-old Ellen loving with her parents and two siblings at 13 Church Street off Roman Road in Chelmsford. Her father was an iron moulder. The family were still there in 1911 when the census recorded 23 year-old Ellen living at the property with her parents. Her father was a packer at Hoffmann's ball-bearings factory in Chelmsford, while she helped her mother.
Ellen’s father died on 31st March 1937, aged 76. Her mother died on 19th February 1939, aged 73. Both are buried at Springfield Holy Trinity churchyard. Chelmsford newspapers reported:
"Veteran Brotherhood Man - Mr. George Dowsett of 128 London Road and formerly of Orchard Street, died at his home on Wednesday at the age of 76. Deceased was a moulder by trade, working for Messrs, Coleman and Morton. Afterwards he was employed by the Hoffmann Co. for over twenty tears, He was an ardent worker for the P.S.A. and Brotherhood attending regularly until his health borke doen. He was a member of the Foresters' Court Peace. He leaves a widow and two daughters."
"The Late Mrs. George Dowsett. The funeral was held on Thursday at Holy Trinity Church of Mrs. Annie Dowsett, widow of Mr. George Dowsett. Mrs. Dowsett, who was 73, was a native of Chelmsford, and lived for many New London Road, Since the death of her husband she had resided at 180 Springfield Road, where she died on Sunday. She had oeen in indifferent health for some time, and recently developed phlebitis, from which she died rather suddenly. The two daughters have the sympathy of a large circle of friends. Mr. Dowsett was formerly employed at the Hoffmann Works, and previously was with Messrs. Coleman and Morton iron founders."
By 1943 Ellen was living at 74 Duke Street in Chelmsford. In the early hours of 14th May that year Chelmsford experienced what was to prove to be its heaviest air raid of the war. In a sharp attack that lasted for just over an hour, the German air force, the Luftwaffe, dropped a large number of high explosive bombs, incendiaries and parachute landmines which caused extensive damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties in the town, and led to the deaths of more than 50 people.
Ellen Emily Alice DOWSETT, Civilian
Killed during an air raid in Duke Street, Chelmsford. Aged 53
Among the dead was Ellen, killed by a 250 kg high explosive bomb which fell close to County Hall, 45 feet south of Duke Street and 248 feet from Market Road (today’s Victoria Road South).
The blast demolished Ellen's home, several small assembly shops, belonging to the County Council’s Land Agent’s Office and numbers 75 & 76 Duke Street.
Next door, number 75, housed Flexman’s radio specialists premises while number 76 was occupied by the optician Philip Parkes.
Following the raid Mr. Parkes was to relocate his business and share with Loveday & Wilson at their High Street practice.
Two other properties, 70 & 71 Duke Street, occupied by Hilliard & Ward and Stunt & Sons respectively were seriously damaged. All the stained glass windows on the Cathedral’s southern side. were destroyed by the blast.
The aerial photograph below, taken from the south towards Duke Street in 1946, shows the wrecked rear of 74 Duke Street, three years after the raid. The building bottom right is County Hall, while the three-storey brick building to the left of 74 Duke Street contains the offices of Leonard Gray & Company (72 & 73 Duke Street). 74 Duke Street was later rebuilt.