TONGE, James : (1897 - 1967) Brief biographical details gleaned from
discussions with his son Geoffrey (my grand father). Stephen James
Tonge, Nov. 2006.
James Tonge (1897 - 1967)
James Tonge was born on the 7th December 1897, in the same row of cottages as
his father had been at Bottom oth' Moor in Ainsworth. He was the only
son of Albert Ernest and Elizabeth Jane Tonge (nee Street-Taylor). He was schooled at Cockey Moor until the age of fourteen when he left and became apprenticed to a
In about 1916 he was called up to fight in the war. He fought with the Kings
Liverpool Regiment in the trenches at Vimy Ridge, and later at Ypres where
many of his fellow English men were massacred. Here he suffered mustard-gas
poisoning and had one lung removed in a field hospital. He was then sent home
to Watermillock, Crompton Way to recuperate.
After the war he went into partnership and set up the sign-writing firm -
'Evans & Tonge'. The premises was situated on the corner of Deansgate and
Marsden Road in Bolton town centre. The partnership dissolved after a
On September 25th 1922 he married Jane 'Jenny' Wright at St. James, Breightmet
and they moved into 7 Priory Place, Tonge Moor. Here their two sons were born;
Geoffrey and James Brian.
Their next move took them to 55 Thicketford Rd., where they opened a grocery
store, which is still there today. Another move took them to Cromer Avenue,
Tonge Park; and then again onto 92 Bradshaw Brow, where he opened a shop
selling bicycles and wireless sets. This business was closed with the
out-break of the Second World War, when radio use by civilians was severely
restricted. Again they moved, this time to Tonge Park Avenue, when he worked
as a display artist for Lewis' at Manchester.
In about 1950 he and his wife moved down to Dartington Hall in Cornwall. Here
they worked for American millionaire Leonard Elmhurst, Jim doing art-work and
general handy work in
and around the hall, and Jenny cooking for and looking after the gardeners.
Yet another move took them to Totnes where they ran 'Brutus Studio', a store
selling gifts and fancy goods. Then on to Compton Leigh House, a very large
house at Higher Compton, Plymouth.
When his aunt, Hannah Rushton (nee Street-Taylor) died in the 1960s he was the sole
beneficiary, and with the proceeds from her will, had a bungalow built at Keverall Gardens.
On the 26th February 1967, he died at Freedom Fields Hospital, Plymouth, of
several lung related diseases which were undoubtedly aggravated by the fact
that he had been a heavy smoker nearly all his life.
James Tonge was a diabetic and throughout most of his life had required
medical attention. Long before his death, he requested that his body be given
to further medical science. Accordingly it was donated to Bristol University's