Baddow & Galleywood

11 - 2019 November - Al Capone

On 8th November we welcomed back Kate J Cole whose talk was ‘Al Capone’s gangster car and the Kursaal in 1930s Southend'. We were pleased to have with us some friends we hadn’t seen for a while, members of other groups and members of Chelmsford U3A.

Kate told us about her maternal great-grandmother from the Welsh valleys who ran away to America to join the circus! She worked with Barnum, Buffalo Bill and Houdini as ‘Thauma the half woman’.

She worked doing that until she was in her late 40s! [And had had three children!] By 1911 she was living in poverty and her elder son, Harry, paid for her to travel back to England and then to Wales This brought us to Harry’s story – Together with the owners of the Kursaal he bought ‘Eric the Whale’ in America, transporting it back to England and eventually to Southend where it attracted thousands of people to view it and to sit inside it!! https://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/17435950.vintage-photos-show-when-eric-the-whale-visited-southend/. Harry’s next entrepreneurial venture was to buy Al Capone’s gangster car which was displayed in the Kursaal’s ballroom.

If you want to see Kate’s great-uncle Harry and the car in Southend – there is a short film here - https://www.britishpathe.com/video/al-capone-s-killer-car.