Born at Russell Street in Altrincham in 1880, Charles was the son of a farm labourer. Both his mother, Ellen, and his father, Thomas, were widowed. Ellen had two sons by her first marriage, so when Charlie was born he had two older brothers – Frederick and John Skelhorn. A year later his sister Emma was born (7th June 1881), followed by a younger brother, Alfred in 1883. In 1886 tragedy struck when Ellen died aged only 35 years old during childbirth, the baby dying not long after. Charles’ father Thomas brought in a woman to look after him and the children, but unfortunately it appears she didn’t take good care of them. Nine months after (11th February 1887) Charles lost his mother, his father Thomas Johnson died, aged 58, of congestion of the lungs. Before his death Thomas had been a farm labourer to Mr Collinge, Hale Carr in Altrincham, earning 18 shillings per week.
At just seven years old Charles was an orphan, and so were his four siblings. Frederick and John were old enough to fend for themselves but both Charles, Emma and Alfred were sent to separate homes. Initially Charles stayed with his uncle John Hassell (Park Road, Bowdon) while Emma stayed with her uncle and then a little later with a neighbour of her late father, Mrs Godden, at Carr Cottages, Timperley in Cheshire. However, applications were soon made to the Children’s Society to seek permanent homes for the children.
Charles had attended Timperley Church School and Sunday School for 2 years. Emma had not attended school because of ill health. She had attended Sunday School at Bowdon for five months when staying with her uncle, John Hassell.
The below pictures were taken of Bowdon in the late 1800s and are in this collection of photographs.