© 2017 Leatherhead & District Local History Society

Online Archive Project

Leatherhead & District Local History Society

Oral Histories



Kate Sayers was the daughter of Charles Brewer, a mainstay of the Leatherhead Brass Band in the early years of the 20th century. Born locally she lived most of her life in the town, enjoying a poor but happy childhood, then a hard working life and ultimately suffered a deep and lasting tragedy.

Interviewed so long after the event, she was mistaken in her memory about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. See Clip 14, Lost on the Titanic. It was not Herbert Stenning who died on the ship but  another local resident, Harvey Collyer, whose wife and young daughter were rescued. In fact Herbert Stenning had been drowned at sea but on the London and South Western Railway packet Stella many years earlier. That sank en route for the Channel Islands on Maundy Thursday, 30 April 1899. Mr Stenning had just topped the poll in the local council elections and gone for an Easter weekend holiday. The Stella was racing a rival ship to reach St Helier harbour. She struck the Casquets reef at full speed, sinking almost immediately. 105 lives were lost, 112 saved. The Stenning family received £6200 from the railway company in compensation. Herbert's son Edward invested part of this in the building of St Nicholas Hill, in partnership with his friend the builder W.H. Brown. Herbert's widow, Louisa, and her daughters lived there in Overdale (now demolished and replaced by a new road The Limes). After Louisa's death the 'Misses Stenning' ran a home for unmarried mothers there.

Interview date: 5th August 1981

Location: 14 Magazine Place, Leatherhead

Interviewer: Edwina Vardey


  >> Kate Sayers

   > Early days

   > Schooldays

   > Leatherhead Brass Band

   > River Mole Flooding

   > New Year Celebrations

   > Childhood Fun

   > Winter

   > End of WWI

   > Horse Drawn Fire Brigade

   > Bathing in the River      

   > Living above a Bank

  > Working for Beaverbrook

  > Historic records

  > Lost on the Titanic

  > Working in Service

  > The Swan Brewery

  > Meeting husband

  > Tragedy