Winifred Farrant, originally from Suffolk, married in Braintree in 1925. By 1931, when her son was born, she was living in Chelmsford, with her husband working at the town’s Hoffmann’s bearings factory. She, along with her son, was killed when their home in Coval Lane was destroyed by a German bomb in May 1941.
Winifred GOWEN (nee FARRANT), Civilian
Killed in an air raid on Coval Lane, Chelmsford. Aged 39
At 12.50 a.m. on 21st May 1941 she and son were two of six people who died as a result of a heavy calibre bomb dropped by a German aircraft onto the block of flats. What the intended target may have been is unclear. The resulting explosion demolished the flats. Sleeping residents, many of them elderly, were buried in the debris.
The rescue services, consisting of three stretcher parties, four ambulances, a sitting case car, police wardens and fire brigade were quick to arrive on the scene. Five seriously injured and three slightly injured people were rescued from the wrecked flats. However, five bodies were recovered and a sixth was to die in hospital later. Some 244 properties in the area suffered some degree of blast damage.
Winifred’s husband Arnold was called to the scene from work at Hoffmann’s and waited for an hour before being told that his wife and son had been recovered dead.
The other deaths were Esther Meggy killed at 18 Coval Lane, Lucy Emma Coulcher killed at 22 Coval Lane, Winifred Kate Stokes killed at 28 Coval Lane, and William Howard, who was injured at 28 Coval Lane and died later in hospital. Ellen Barritt of 24 Coval Lane died on 29th May 1941 having been buried in her home until rescued..
Despite the large number of deaths in the Coval Lane incident and that at Marconi’s New Street factory two weeks earlier, none of the emergency graves, which had been dug in the Borough Cemetery for such contingencies were required.
The Coval Lane bombing would prove to be Chelmsford’s last major bombing incident for more than a year. Indeed there were to be just three more occasions when bombs would fall on the whole Chelmsford district in the rest of 1941.
Winifred and her son were buried at Braintree Cemetery on 27th May 1941 (grave: 7997).
Winifred was born in Haverhill, Suffolk in 1901, the youngest daughter of Robert Farrant and Sarah Elizabeth Farrant. Winifred's siblings included Lily Esther Farrant (1888-1944), Daisy Farrant (born in 1894), Harry Robert Farant (1898-1966) and Victor James Farrant (1899-1959).
In 1911 the census found nine year-old Winifred living with her parents and four siblings at 12 Mount Road in Haverhill, Suffolk. Her father was a mat weaver; her mother a sewing machinist. The three eldest siblings were a clerk, shirt button holer and warp winder.
On 11th April 1925 Winifred married Arnold John Gowen at St. Michael the Archangel’s Church in Braintree. At the time both were aged 23. She was viewer living at La Boiselle in Rayne Road, Braintree; her spouse was a turner living at 8 Church Street in Sudbury, Suffolk.
The couple had a son, Barry John Gowen, born in the Chelmsford District in 1931. The family are pictured left.
By 1941 Winifred, her husband and son were living at 26 Coval Lane in Chelmsford, one of ten flats in a block on the road's western side. Her husband was an employee at Hoffmann's ball-bearings factory in Chelmsford.