It was with great sadness that we heard that Laura had died
of lung cancer on 22nd June 2018. I met Laura and her husband
Maurice through the Friends of Valence House and they were also one-time
members of the Barking and District Historical Society. She was a larger than
life character with a wonderful wit and great heart and it was hard to believe she
She was born Laura Langham on 23rd October 1937
and lived in Perth Road, Barking all her life. Laura married Maurice Finch in
March 1956 at the Romford Registry Office and they had two children, David and
Julie and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She had worked as a credit controller at Kitson’s of
The funeral took place on Tuesday 17th July at
Rippleside Cemetery and was conducted by Canon Pat Nappin of St. Margaret’s
The vast number of mourners testified to Laura’s popularity
with representatives from numerous organisations including Barking and District
Historical Society, the East of London Family History Society, Creekmouth
Society, Mayor’s Charity, Eastbury House, Valence House and the W.I.
Canon Nappin outlined various stages in Laura’s life and
revealed that her mother had died when she was two years old and she was raised
by her grandparents who removed all photographs of her mother so Laura never
knew what she looked like.
In the eulogy, her son David painted a very affectionate
portrait of his mother although he admitted that he felt she was a little aloof
with him as a young child and he put this down to her own unusual childhood.
He said she was addicted to crossword puzzles and Pauline
Hague later recalled Laura doing her crosswords during quiet spells in the Valence
House café. He also revealed that Laura had a catholic taste in music, but
Shirley Bassey was her all-time favourite! David mentioned her sense of humour
and said that a friend had once asked her if she liked children and she had
replied “yes, but I could not eat a whole one”.
Laura got her dying wish to be buried in the same grave as
the mother she never knew.
Laura’s maternal great
grandparents were Charles Henry Stepton (1854-1910), a general labourer, who
was born in America and Ann Suckling (1848-1913) who was born in Chingford.
They married in 1881.
Her maternal grandparents were
Daniel Stepton (9th October 1881-1961), a gas stoker at Beckton Gas
Works and Laura Rosalind Stepton (2nd December 1883- 1961) who
married on 25th December 1900. They had 14 children in 23 years. In
the 1939 census the family were living at 190 Perth Road. Two of Laura’s uncles
were employed at the accumulator factory, while a third was working with wooden
flooring. Both maternal grandparents are buried, close to their daughter Iris,
in Rippleside Cemetery [E755]
Laura’s parents were Harold
Thomas Langham (1st February 1907-1972), who was listed as a 4-year-old
adopted child, born in Plaistow, on the 1911 census living at 71 St. Mary’s
Road, Barking, and Irene Joyce Stepton (25th January 1916-1940).
They married in 1936. Her mother was recorded as incapacitated in 1939 and she
was buried in Rippleside Cemetery, plot E769, on 10th February 1940,
aged 24 years.
Laura married Maurice Finch in
Romford Registry Office, and had David, born 1956, and Julie, born 1963.