Charles Edward Tilbury (1886-1955)

Charles Edward Tilbury (1886-1955)

Sheila Graham

  • Father:
  • Mother:
  • Born:
  • Married: 3 Nov 1921, Charles Tilbury, All Saints, Blackheath, London
  • Died:

Charles Edward Tilbury was born 1 Apr 1886, Southampton, England and died 31 Jul 31 1955 in Santa Monica, California. He married Sheila Graham 3 Nov 1921 at All Saints, Church of England, at Blackheath, London.

He was the father of Charles Graham Tilbury, who married Sally Colburn and had three daughters: Theresa (Terry), Margaret (Peggy) and Mary.

Charles attended Winchester School as a child in Southampton on a scholarship and was accepted as a chorister. He was preceeded by two brothers, George (Fred) and James (Jim). He replaced his brother Jim, who had sung from age 9 to 16. When a choirboy's voice changed he was released. Thus, there was a Tilbury in Winchester Cathedral choir from 1882 to 1902, 20 years. Three other brothers, Edward (Ted), Augustus (Gus) and Ernest were choristers in the Winchester College Chapel choir as well from 1892 to 1904, a total of 12 years. Charles sang a solo before the elderly Queen Victoria in concert in approximately 1900.

1901. Charles (15, born Southampton) was boarding, along with 14 other boarders, at 27 & 28 Colebrook St, Winchester.

1904. At the age of 18 Charles set off for South America where he worked as a clerk in the goldmines of Minigeras (sp?), a few miles out of Rio. From there he went to Philadelphia where his brother Edward (Ted) found him a job in the travel department of a Philadelphia newspaper. He was later with Raymond and Whitcomb.

1910. Charles travelled to America from Brazil. Later he served in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I and was stationed in France. For this service he received his American citizenship.

1923. Charles moved to the Los Angeles area with his young wife Sheila, settling in Southern California.

1925. Son Charles Graham (Graham) was born. In business life he became known as "Chuck".

Charles owned and established "Biltmore Travel" in the new Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. His offices were off the lobby. He later opened offices in Beverly Hills on little Santa Monica Blvd., as well as one in the El Mirador Hotel in Palm Springs, California, "during the season". These offices closed.

1936. Charles specialized in deluxe travel for some of the wealthiest Southern California families, much of it before the beginnings of air travel. He specialized in steamship travel, making the Atlantic crossing himself numerous times as well as to the Orient. One of his most successful promotions was the organization of a tour group, which was to have attended the coronation of the Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII. Unfortunately the Duke of Windsor abdicated, the Coronation was rescheduled and after volumes of paperwork, the group of 30 clients sailed from New York and attended the coronation of George V in 1936 instead. The tour was a great success. Sheila joined the group later in Paris and they returned aboard the Normandy.

1939. Charles opened Beverly Hills Travel in the Beverly Hills Hotel, Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills.

1941. World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 marked the end of the leisure travel business as Charles had known it. Discretionary travel came to a standstill. Charles disbanded his offices and became the Night Manager of the Beverly Hills Hotel and maintained a desk in the lobby during this period.

1945. After the war was over Charles reopened the agency. He had retained his appointments with the steamship and airline companies under the name "Beverly Hills Travel". His son "Chuck" worked for him part-time while in college and upon his graduation from Loyola University, Los Angeles in 1950 he joined his father full-time at the lobby desk with two chairs.

Charles remained in this office until his death in 1955. As partners they opened an office in the arcade area of the hotel with two desks. Chuck (Graham) retained the Hotel Office until 1983. By then there were five branches of the agency. For 44 years there was an office of Beverly Hills Travel in the Beverly Hills Hotel.

?1972. The first branch office was opened on Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills and the rest is history. Beverly Hills Travel became a California Corporation in 1965 [1975?], with Chuck as President.

1986. The corporation was sold to Maritz Travel Company, St. Louis, Missouri. Chuck stayed on as Vice President until 1990, at which time the agency had over 200 employees. (See Chuck's bio) [??]

One of the pleasures of Charles' later life was the birth of his first granddaughter, Terry, and his second, Peggy. He was a doting grandfather. Unfortunately, he died one year before meeting his third granddaughter, Mary. Nor did he know his six great-grandchildren, Jessica McNulty, Justin McNulty, Elizabeth Orr, John Orr, Simon Levy or Jane Levy.

Charles could never have dreamed the agency he began - a travel business with one desk - would, though interrupted by war, someday become the premier agency in Southern California, with five offices and 200 employees. Charles was an elegant and dapper gentleman. He is remembered with great fondness by his wife, son, daughter-in-law and his eldest grandaughter.

[Sources: 1993. Sally Tilbury (daughter-in-law), Sheila Tilbury (Charles' widow), James Tilbury's autobiography]

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