Arthur John King

Arthur John King was born in 1895 in Brighton, and lived there with his family, and worked as a Rivet Lad at Brighton Station, Locomotive and Carriage Department. He enlisted as a private to the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (regimental no. 177) on 12 June 1912, at the age of 17. Arthur died, aged 21, in a bathing accident, at Littlestone on 15 July 1916. He was off duty.

Rudge-Whitworth Bicycles of the 2/6th (Cyclist) Battilion, Royal Sussex Regiment


Arthur was born in Brighton on 4 February 1895 to Samuel and Jane King who had 12 children in all, 5 of whom had died by 1911. Although Samuel was born in Brighton, he lived in Plymouth for some time, marrying a Devon girl, Jane Philp, in 1885 at the age of 29.
By the time of the 1891 census, still living in Plymouth, the couple had 2 sons and 2 daughters. Shortly afterwards, Samuel moved back to Brighton with his family and by 1901 had a further three children, including Arthur (1895) and his younger brother, Alfred Cornelius King (1899), who also served in WW1 and is also listed on the plaque.

Home life

In 1901, at the age of 6, Arthur was living with his family in Hollingbury Road in a property called St Malo and by 1911, they had moved to 22 New England Road.
Residence of Arthur John King 22 New England Road

22 New England Road (grey house, bottom left), Google Maps, Retrieved 5/16/2017

His father, Samuel, a hairdresser, had a salon at 70 Preston Road (now Preston Park Deli) which stayed in the family for over fifty years (c.1911-1969), passing from father to daughter (Ethel Maud King) around the 1940s.
Image result for preston park deli

Preston Park Deli

He had previously had a salon at 26 Market Street, at the southeast corner of Little East Street, a building which was demolished in 1960.
He lived with his parents and four siblings at 22 New England Road. Two of his siblings (Alfred and Emily) were still at school and two older sisters (Helen and Emily) were both dressmakers.

Railwaymen streaming down New England Road on their way to a hurried breakfast, in 1912. They started work at 6 am, and had a break for their breakfast between 8 and 8.30. Most of the men lived quite near to the Works, in such streets as Argyle Road, while others lived in Railway houses in adjoining roads.

Arthur had joined London, Brighton and South Coast Railway on 17 August 1910, aged 15, as a Rivet Lad at Brighton Station, Locomotive and Carriage Dept. At the age of 16, Arthur was described in the 1911 census as an apprentice boiler rivetter.  By the time he enlisted in 1912, aged 17, he was describing himself as a maker.
once the site of the locamotive works

“I’ve been documenting the demolition of the warehouses on New England Street, that were once part of the Locomotive Works. They were last occupied by Martha’s Barn, Cliffords and John’s Camping. Behind John’s Camping from the road (now demolished) leading to the Station Car park, 15/1/2004. New England House can be seen on the right; the Clarenden Centre to the left; and the viaduct in the distance.”
© Alan (Fred) Pipes

Military career

Arthur was enlisted as a private to the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (regimental no. 177) on 12 June 1912 and was mobilized after training on 5 August 1914.
His medical inspection report on enlistment described him as 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a chest measurement of 34 inches. He was appointed (unpaid) to the rank of Lance Corporal on 30 September 1915, to (paid) acting Lance Corporal on 30 December 1915, and promoted to Acting Corporal on 14 February 1916. His total service, till his death on 15 July 1916, was 4 years and 35 days.
The 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment was formed in 1912 and was one of 14 cyclist battalions at the start of WW1. They were part of the Territorial Force (TF), the volunteer reserve component of the army in existence from 1908-1920. The TF was seen as a home defence force, the cyclist battalions being employed largely on UK coastal defences. At the end of WW1, the TF was reformed and renamed the Territorial Army.
Like others in his battalion, Arthur did not see any service overseas, and at the time of his death, he was NCO in charge of the Lookout Station at Littlestone, Kent.
Arthur died, aged 21, in a bathing accident at Littlestone on 15 July 1916. Off duty, he went with Lance Corporal Frank Wooller in bathing costume and overcoat to the Littlestone front, near the lifeboat boathouse. According to witnesses, he was possibly not a good swimmer and probably fell off the landing stage in
to the water. An inquest recorded a verdict of accidental drowning.

Watch House Littlestone

Arthur John King is buried at Brighton City (Bear Rd) Cemetery, grave reference ZGV.55. He is also listed in the St Peters Memorial Book under Corporals and on St Johns Church Memorial, Preston Park. At the time of his death, his parents were living
at 24 Herbert Road, Brighton.

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