Robert Long

Date published: 30/06/2014
© Newbury Weekly News






Quite a gloom was cast over the town on Saturday morning when the news

became generally known that Mr Robert Long had passed away the previous night,

for the deceased gentleman was one of Newbury's foremost townsmen, and had spent

the best years of his life in the public service. There was a tragic suddenness about

the occurrence which made the loss all the more severe, for although he had not been

in his usual robust health during the past twelve months, and had been troubled with a

racking cough, no great anxiety was felt by his friends and relatives on this account.

In fact, on the evening of his death he attended a meeting of the Education

Committee, and it was remarked by more than one of the members that "the alderman

seemed in very much better form than he had been for some time past." After the

meeting he came home to supper, and was just finishing this meal when he was

seized by one of his attacks of coughing, during which his head fell forward upon the

table. Mrs Long at once went to him and found he was unconscious. She obtained the

assistance of Mr Tom Dewe, a neighbour, and put him in a reclining position, and Dr

Hickman was sent for. Upon his arrival he at once saw the seriousness of the case and

held out no hopes for the deceased alderman's recovery stating that he had broken a

blood vessel upon the surface of the brain. Without regaining consciousness he

passed away a few minutes after eleven o'clock.

The blow to the town is a heavy one, as only those who were associated with

Mr Long in his public life can fully realise. What then must be the feelings of the

bereaved widow and children who have lost, with a suddenness so paralysing, the

kindest of husbands and the best of fathers? The sympathy of the whole town goes

out to them in the great grief which has over taken them. So sudden was the seizure

that, with the exception of Mrs Long none of the family were at home. His son Keith,

who as a vocalist is always in demand, had gone to a dinner to help with the musical

programme, and when his father was stricken down he was singing the verse of "The

Trumpeter" which runs

I the words of the song follow]

Robert Long was the son of the late Mr Tom Long, who came to Newbury

from Basingstoke and when quite a young man established the business of

ironmonger and cutler which his son carried on until the time of his death. The

deceased alderman's father took an energetic interest in all town matters and political

contests, but persistently refused to enter the Town Council, though it was said his

influence was sufficient to turn the scale in several elections. His son was educated at

Newbury Grammar School and in 1881, three years after his father's death he entered

the Town Council, being successful at his first effort. In those days the Town Council

elections were run on political lines, and in the South Ward there was a big fight in

which Mr Charles Lucas, Mr John Flint and Mr Robert Long ran against each other

as the Liberal candidates, against the late Mr Stephen Long and Mr John Bance, who

represented the Conservatives, and the three Liberals were successful. A reference tn2

the "Newbury Weekly News" of that date shows that party feeling ran high and the

Queens Hotel was used as the committee room for the Liberals, whilst the "White

Hart" was made use of by the Conservatives, and after the declaration of the poll the

Woodspeen Band paraded the streets and visited the residences of the successful

candidates, whilst torches were ignited, tar barrels fired and bundles of straw burnt in

the Market Place. Nowadays we do things rather more sedately. In his address of

thanks to the electors Mr Long assured them "that his aims would be to study in

every way the interests of the ratepayers" and in the 30 years which he sat on the

Town Council it may be truly said that he kept to his resolve. By the keen interest

which he took in the public affairs of the town and the clear thinking which he

brought to bear upon all matters, it was soon apparent that the young councillor

would prove a most useful addition to the Corporate Body. Even in those days the

drainage of the town was a burning question. From the outset Mr Long may be said to

have made a special study of the best methods of draining the town, and in later years

as Chairman of the Main Drainage Committee he was chiefly responsible in carrying

the present scheme to a successful culmination. This was indeed his Magnum Opus

and the thanks of the townspeople are due to him for safely steering the Corporation

craft through troublesome waters beset with many a shoal. He took a strong view that

the outfall works should be away from the town, and carried the Council with him on

this matter, and judging from the complaints which are now received from the

residents of Thatcham along the Bath-road, this contention was a wise one from the

point of view of the town.

It was in 1889 that Mr Councillor Long, as he was then, was first appointed

Mayor, and he more than fulfilled the expectations of his friends, and earned the

goodwill of the whole townspeople for the way in which he carried out the duties of

the office. When in 1896, the Council came to elect a gentleman who would fiIl the

office of Chief Magistrate during the Diamond Jubileeyear, their choice unanimously

fell upon the deceased gentleman. He carried out the public celebrations of that

memorable year to the satisfaction of the whole borough. His fine presence was a

notable figure in the many functions,and as the local poet put it:-

The stately figure, so erect and grand,

Shows off the robes with dignity and grace,

The whole surmounted by a pleasant face.

The late Alderman's pleasant face, genial manner and bonhomie always served him in

good stead, particularly in debates upon the Council. He was a strong man in debate,

so much so that a question which secured his advocacy was generally carried to a

successful issue, and many of the victories and points he gained may be traced to his

suave manner, which so often had the effect of disarming the criticism of those

opposed to him. At the close of his Diamond Jubilee Mayoralty his name was

deservedly added to the Commissioner of the Peace for the Borough, and in this

respect it may be said that during the two periods he filled the chair as Chief

Magistrate and when he has sat on the Bench since, he has always tempered justice

with mercy. Having been so prominently connected with the governing body of the

town for such a lengthened period, it is impossible to mention more than the

outstanding features of his stewardship. It should not be forgotten, however, that he

was instrumental in preparing a set of standing orders which have proved so useful in

maintaining the order of debates. Indeed in all matters concerning civic etiquette he

was an acknowledged authority. Upon the death of the late Mr William Hall he was

appointed anAlderman, and in 1906 he was chosen as Visitor to Moulsford Asylum

in succession to the late Mr Alderman Jackson. Then in recent years he has served

with great usefulness upon the Education Committee, being elected Chairman of the

Finance, Schools Management and General Purposes sub-committee and as

Chairman of the School Visitors. He was an exceptionally good administrator, owing

to the fact that anything he took up he always realised the importance of mastering

the details. He also served the Borough with zeal and good judgment upon the

Berkshire County Council, being elected a member of that body in 1898, upon the

retirement of Mr Walter Money, a position which he filled till the time of his death.

He was a true type of public servant, sinking his own interests to those of the public

weal. He gave the best years of his life for the good government and administration

of his native town, and it is due to the labours of such men as he that make England

the best governed country in the world.

The deceased's gentleman's duties in connection with the governing bodies of

the borough and the county were so numerous that it did not give him much time to

devote to public work, but he was prominently connected with a Flower Show in its

early days. He was a strong Churchman and for 30 years was a member of the Parish

Church Choir. Three of his sons were in the choir with him, and his son Keith was

taking the treble solos, whilst he was bass soloist.

He married Miss Cooper of West Woodhay, who was companion to the wife of

General Sir Keith Falconer. He leaves a widow, five sons and two daughters to moum

their loss.

Nearly 150 letters and telegrams of condolence were received by the family.

Lord Carnarvon, the High Steward of the Borough. Wired from North Berwick in the

following terms: "Very grieved to hear my old friend Mr Long has passed away; will

you please accept my sincere condolences. Carnarvon." Others were received from

the Mayor and Mayoress, Mr Mount, M.P., Mr F.C. Mackarness, the Bishop of

Reading, the Deputy Mayor and Mrs Turner, Mr. F.Q. Louch, Mr E.Parfitt, C.C., Mr.

J. F. Hawkins (on behalf of the staff of the Berkshire County Council), Mr E. C.

Miller, the Rev. O. Clinton, Co. J. A.

Younger, the Rev. Clifford Frend, the Rev. A. H. Newbold, the Chief Constable of

Berks., Lady Trendall, and members of the Newbury Corporation, etc.etc.




The funeral of the late Alderman Long took place on Wednesday after noon

and was the occasion of a great manifestation of civic and public mourning which

seldom takes place in the town of Newbury. The civic party assernbled in the Council

Chamber and, preceded by the mace bearers, with the Corporation maces wrapped in

crepe, walked to Bartholomew, where they waited for the funeral procession. The

Mayor (Mr Councillor Camp) wore his chain of office veiled in black, and was

accompanied by the Deputy Mayor, Mr Councillor Tumer. There were also present

Alderman Smith, Alderman Ravenor, Alderman Jackson, Alderman Lucas,

Councillors J. Elliott, E. Harris, J. Rankin, F.C.Hopson, J. Stradling, T.H. Pratt, S.

Knight, E. Gould, C.A.Hawkins, Dr A. Thompson, W. Edwards, C.E. Paice, and F.R.



[there follows a long list of County Council and County Magistrates who attended.]


The body was conveyed on a hand bier, the coffin covered with wreaths and flowers,

while arranged thereon were his alderman's robes with his much pnzed Diamond

Jubilee gold medal. The moumers followed in carriages.

fthere follows a long list of mourners]

The body was met at the west door of the church by the Rector, the Rev. L.R.

Majendie and the procession proceeded to the seats reserved for them....

[description of the service]

The funeral procession was then reformed and proceeded to the Cemetery

where the last sad rites were performed by the Rector. The coffin, which was interred

in the family grave by the side of the deceased's father was inscribed


died Sept. 1st 1911

Aged 67


There follows a long list of the members of the congregation and the floral



Newbury Weekly News Sept 1911


Sources:Newbury Weekly News September 1911

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