Excerpts from 

Letters From Lionel Aglio Dibdin
 to his wife 
Cecily (nee Haycraft)

General comment

I must apologize for the undue changes in tense. Reporting on letters written in the present tense and remembering that one is referring to near a hundred years ago is difficult. Editing, in the future, will sort this out.

The Key note of every letter which is not continually reported is that Lionel always says how much he misses Cecily and the children.

The suggestion is that they spent their honeymoon in Dublin in Sept 1909, my guess is that it was a working holiday as he was back there again in October and in one letter referred to the rough journey which would have made Cecily ill.

The letters are on two blocks 1909 - 1914 and then 1915 - 1917.

See Lionel Aglio Dibdin in World War 1 for the war time letters to Cecily

Insights in the back ground behind the letters has been obtained by other documents and letters to Lionel and Cecily from others.

During one of the Wartime letters he refers to working on their honeymoon.

During the working / travelling years 1909 – 1914 there are few references to indicate what work Lionel is doing. On reading the letters it becomes apparent that doing the work of a Travelling Salesman as well as Engineer.

One letter indicates that he is travelling around by car, at least in the year 1915.

What was happening, I assume was that he was responsible for obtaining contracts and doing the installation of the Slated Bed Sewerage Systems invented by his father William Joseph Dibdin.

His tone in the wartime letters was very different from those of his brother-in-law Stanley M Haycraft who was very gung-ho and seemed to enjoy life on the front as long as someone at home, namely his sister Cecily, was running around doing things for him. Lionel had been well advised by his brother Rex not to join up, but I think that Lionel felt it was his duty and made a good job of what he had to do for a year before he was gassed. This took its toll but he worked on in the army until after the war. There is evidence in the letters that business was not good near the beginning of the war and that Cecily and Lionel were short financially for quite a while.

Lionel and Cecily married on 31 Aug 1909

22nd October 1909 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
Lionel visited The Curragh which is about 5 mile out of Dublin and then met Mr Quinn who contacted an engineer called Bergin who was putting in a slate bed scheme at Sallins on the Kildare Road. He met the Mr Bergin the next day.

24th Oct 1909 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
He visited Churches and Cathedrals and went to a play called Havana but it turned out to be Hamlet.

24th Oct 1909 Wynn’s Hotel Dublin
He was worried that Cecily would be lonely but he had to stay until everything was calm.

25th Oct 1909 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
He was going to be delayed in Dublin as the slate had not left Port Madoc. After wiring Port Madoc they said they were waiting for the tide which puzzled Lionel as there is a tide every 12 hours. He went to the Camp that afternoon.

The Slate Bed Sewerage system was for Army Ordnance Department Curragh Camp.


26 Oct 1909 Gresham Hotel Dublin
He hopes to be back within the week – storms reported in the papers - feels imprisoned

27th Oct 1909 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
He had been to the Curragh and hoped to get home in a day if the weather is calm. Gave his love to all at Purleybury.

28th Oct 1909 from Gresham Hotel Dublin 
He was disappointed that the phone line to England was not working. He mentions that the slate boat Captain was ill in bed so they had to get another boat.

25th Jan 1910 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
Lionel has been to the Curragh and all is ok except for a shortage of certain slabs, a problem that he feels Cecily will be able to sort out. Lt Load is preparing the contract to complete the job in a year instead of two. He planned to go to see the works at Dundrum near Belfast. All the staff and the men on the job make kind enquiries about Cecily and Stanley.

10th March 1910 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
He had a rough crossing. He had been to Curragh. On his way back to London he planned to go to Rufford

23rd July 1911 from Gresham Hotel Dublin
He wished Cecily was with him to go over the ground they had gone on their honeymoon. Everyone at the hotel asks after Cecily and is pleased that she has a son a year old who can nearly walk. Wrote a poem about Stanley. He had been to St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast and a Church in Dublin. He was planning to go to the Curragh and then to Belfast.

27th July 1911 from Midland Station Belfast
He hopes that Cecily will have a good time at Saltburn and may drop it on her on the way home.

1912 Lionel seems to be working for the Police.

This was the year of the General Strike and suffragette demonstrations in Whitehall
Lionel was obviously a member of the police force, probably as a volunteer and spent time in Dockland supervising the movement of men to the dock across river
The Lady Jocelyn was being used at that time for housing strike breakers.


29th May 1912 From the The Lady Jocelyn a boat moored in the Thames.
Lionel was in command on The Lady Jocelyn, Fritz at Moroco Wharf , Wapping with several Sutton men and some from Croydon and London.

Jun 1912 On The Lady Jocelyn
Fritz and Jocelyn (male) were with him.
"My men have been excellent, kept under control and never flinched anything of a possible dangerous nature and all have worked hard."


4th Jun 1912 In a tug off Greenwich
He was waiting for men to come from shore to ships in docks at Gravesend and Tilbury
He thought that the strike will be over in a couple of days and then he could come home.
He wanted to see it through so that he would be the first (except for the permanent staff) to volunteer and has been on duty all the time. "If he sees it through it is something he would not be ashamed of."

6th Sept 1912 From Taylor’s Adelphi Hotel Edinburgh on the way to Glasgow.
He was then travelling back to Leeds and on to Pocklington.
He considered the people in Edinburgh to be fairly miserable and they spoke with a strong foreign accent. The telephone girls were the worst.

24th Sept 1912 from Bull Hotel Peterborough
He was on his way from East Dereham (Norfolk) to St Neots. After doing some work he planned to go on to Royston and then home. He expected that Fritz has been in touch with Cecily. Mentions Holt and Melton Constable.

18th Oct 1914 from St James’s Hotel Derby
He asked Cecily to send a letter to Mr D Rickaby Surveyor Kirbymoorside as he planned to met the council there with a view to getting the job. He thinks that this journey will bring in work which they would not have got otherwise.

22nd Oct 1914 from Queen’s Hotel Chester
While staying there he thought of their last visit. He plans to go on to Sheffield then to Kirkbymoorside. "I have had good business generally & expect to fix up several small contracts as a direct result of the tour"

23rd Oct 1914 from North Eastern Hotel Darlington
He had left a job at Stockport and had been to York, Kirkbymoorside on the way to Darlington. He plans to get in touch with Joe and meet him on the way South.

27 Oct 1914 from Market Raisen Lincs (Near Grimsby)
He has been away for a week and is homesick and wonders if Cecily could go up to meet him on the train so they could have the run home together.

25th Nov 1915 from Royal Hotel Bristol
Arrived from Bridport where he slept on Saturday and Sunday. He had motored nine miles each way to Lyme Regis.

This is the first letter that indicates that Lionel is definitely driving around the country rather that travelling by train.

See Lionel Aglio Dibdin in World War 1 for the war time letters to Cecily

This is an incomplete study of Lionel's Letter - RG Dec 2008