Ida Mary Downing

Ida Mary Downing (nee Johnstone) was born in Harborne, Staffordshire on 8 Oct 1871. Her father Alfred Johnstone was a Manufacturer and Metal Refiner. She married Thomas Lee Downing on 27 July 1893.

Ida Downing in about 1917

Ida Downing in about 1917

She worked with the BBC in its very early years in the 1920’s and became involved in Children’s programmes and writing poetry. In particular she was a close collaborator with Percy Edgar in the early years of BBC West Midlands (5IT), and indeed left money to him and his family in her will. She published two books of Poetry – “Close Downs and other Poems” Munns and Allen, Birmingham, 1925 and “The Twilight Book” Birmingham, 1926. The “Close Downs” were poems read at the end of broadcasting on the local radio station. Her children’s broadcasting included playing Mother Goose in the popular ‘Children’s Hour’ programme.

We have in our possession her collection of Victorian children’s books. See the Books section of this website.

She lived in a large house at Stourton Hall, Kinver. Latterly this property and land was sold and she retired to the family holiday home at Tan-Yr-Allt, Llandudno. We know from the numerous photographs that she was also a frequent visitor on the ‘shoots’ with her husband and William Edmund Downing, her brother-in-law – both at the Beacon and Ratlinghope in Shropshire on the Welsh borders.

After her husband’s death in 1936 she lived a further ten years in North Wales. She died of breast cancer after a long illness on 8 March 1946 in Llandudno. Her obituary was published in Llandudno Advertiser.

Sources and Notes

  • The will of Ida Mary Downing is dated 9 Feb 1943 with a codicil on her deathbed dated 1 Mar 1946. It contains a long list of bequests to her nephews and nieces, colleagues, professional people and servants.
    • Bequests included £2000 each to Mary Simpson, John Johnstone and Philip Johnstone; £500 each to Jack Grazebrook, Nancy Webb and Glyn Williams; Percy Edgar £1000, Barrie Edgar £200 and Mrs Edgar £100; Molly Sowter £200 and Frances Kendrick £100
    • The Trustees and executors were John Wood Massey and Lloyds Bank (reference to the annuitants of the will of Thomas Lee Downing all finally wound up in 1964)
    • The residual Legatees were her late husband’s nephews, Thomas Kendrick and William Noel Downing. Thomas Kendrick, soon to be Director of the British Museum was given the option to buy ‘Tan-Yr-Allt’, which he declined.
Last updated on 12 February 2021 by JJ Morgan