Joseph Herbert Hopson

Date published: 06/10/2013
© Newbury Weekly News







It is with regret that we record the death of Mr Joseph Herbert Hopson, which occurred at his residence, “St Donats,” Catherine-road, Newbury, at the age of 68. Mr Hopson had been ailing in health since last autumn, but carried on and was down at business as recently as Christmas Eve. The end came peacefully during the early hours of Tuesday.


Mr Hopson was the eldest son of the late Alderman Joseph Hopson, and was born on August 25th, 1861. He was educated first at Woodspeen School, the head of which in those days Mr Corbould, and to which the leading townsmen and farmers sent their sons. Afterwards he went to Taunton School. Upon leaving school in 1876, Mr Joseph entered his father's business. Subsequently he was taken into partnership with his younger brother, Mr F.C. Hopson, and the business was carried on as Joseph Hopson and Sons at the premises at the corner of West-street, until the amalgamation in 1920, in which year the limited company of Camp Hopson and Co., was formed in which he continued as one of the principal directors.


“Joe” as he was fondly known by all his intimates, was a Newburian bred and born, and took the greatest pride in his native town. Although he had travelled widely, to him there was no place like Newbury, and he did what he could to make the town worthy of the high pinnacle on which he placed it. It has often been said that in no other town of its size in the country has a higher standard been cultivated in the music and dramatic arts. Mr Joseph Hopson has been in no small measure been responsible for this. His work for the Newbury Amateur Orchestral Union, by the numbers of which he was affectionately regarded as the “Father of the Orchestra” is dealt with in an appreciation from the able pen of “Mute,” but in passing it may be said that but for his continued support all through the chapter it is very doubtful if the N.A.O.U. Would be in the strong position it occupies in the musical world at the present day. His faithfulness to the Society was shown by the fact that he had played in every one of its concerts during the fifty years of its existence, which must be almost a unique experience.


Mr Hopson was a bit of a Bohemian with the artistic temperament strongly developed. He was delightful company. The writer treasures the memory of many hours spent with him. Mr Joseph, wearing his old velvet smoking coat, puffing at a cigarette and chatting about music, pictures, books, nature study, travel experiences or old-time Newbury. The possession of a well-stored mind, he was always worth listening to. He was never dogmatic. That was the charm of the man. He could see the other fellow's point of view as well as his own. He was not the type of reformer wishing to put the whole world straight, but at the same time by his outlook on life and his example he helped those who came into contact with him to get out of the ruts and on to a higher plane.


He had many interests in life and in anything he took up he was not content to be a mere dabbler. There were few better amateur gardeners., and he made the garden at “The Croft” where his father and mother lived for so long, a thing of beauty. He was also one of the most successful carnation growers in the locality. Then before the war he was keenly interested in amateur photography. He was no simply a “snap-shooter”, but his pictures were real art studies. There must be in his portfolio many pictures of bits of old Newbury and studies of old people which are well worth preservation. In everything he took up he got beneath the surface of things and tried as far as he could to make himself an expert. It was the same with nature study. He would wait patiently for hours with a pair of binoculars fixed on a nest studying the habits of a particular species of bird life. It was this first-hand knowledge which made him such a delightful companion and talker. Microscopy was another science of which he made himself a master.


Like his father, who never once in 48 years missed taking his young men's Sunday School class, Mr Hopson took a real interest in the Congregational Church Sunday School. He was a teacher and organist for more than fifty years. He never aspired to Municipal honours, but for very many years he did useful service as an Overseer. He was also a Director of the Newbury Permanent Building Society. His interest in music was by no means confined to the N.A.O.U, of which for many years he was honorary secretary, and a member of the committee until the time of his death, but he was always willing to help orchestras in other places. He played at Bath Abbey, Wallingford, Reading, Blandford, Bournemouth, Cirencester and Oxford, for as an amateur bassoon player he was in great demand. He was also a member of the Newbury Choral Society. He was amongst those who were responsible for the founding of the Newbury and District Amateur Operatic Society, and his advice and assistance in committee was always of the greatest help. In business he was the best of men to work with, and in fact whenever and wherever you met him he was always the same; genial, cheerful and helpful. By his death the town has sustained a great loss, particularly in its musical life, whilst people in the whole district, in all positions in life, will deeply mourn his passing.


He married the only daughter of the late Alfred Stradling of Newbury, who survives him with one son, Paul, who is a director of Camp, Hopson and Co.Ltd. His eldest son was killed in the War.


His funeral will take place on Friday afternoon, the service being at the Newbury Congregational Church at 2.30 and the interment at the Newtown-road Cemetery.


Newbury Weekly News 23 January 1930

Sources:Newbury Weekly News 23 January 1930

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