Personal information about James George Hann

Below is all the information we have about James George Hann. As far as we know, the information is correct. However, if you find any errors or have additional information, certificates or pictures, please contact us so that we can update this page. Thank you.

Burial Information

Name on burial register:
   James George Hann
Burial register image
Click image to enlarge
Age at death:
Date of burial:
   15 November 1922
Abode at death:
(according to burial register)
   Bartholomew Street, Newbury
Burial register information:
Book number: 1917
Page number: 074
Record number: 10187
Official at burial:
   L.R. Majendie (Rector)
Source of information:
  Burial Register

Memorial Details

No memorial information available at this time.



Obituaries and Newspaper announcements

Notes on motor cycling competitions mentioned in Hann NWN article
Article source:    cemetery research
Date of source:    13 May 2010
Copyright:    © David Ellis





Jim Hann

The Edinburgh trial, Lands End trial and Exeter trial he took part in were and still are organised by The Motor Cycling Club, their web site has a wealth of info about the history of the events. Back in the 1920's these trials were very hard going, over 100's of miles with basically crappy unreliable bikes with very unreliable lights riding on bloody awful road surfaces.


The first bike mentioned is a 'Reading Standard', nothing to do with Reading in Berkshire, these machines were made in the USA, the one pictured has electric lights, a 3 speed gearbox and V twin engine, capacity is 1170cc, probably a fast machine. In 1922 the general manager stated that they would continue to make only this one model, as they had for the last 5 years, so I think this has to be the machine James Hann was riding on the night see.


The second, a New Imperial was made in the UK; this company made a huge range of bikes and the one owned by Mr Hann could have been any of them.



David Ellis





This obituary entry is awaiting verification.
Newbury Motorcyclist Crashes into Motor Lorry
Article source:    Newbury Weekly News
Date of source:    16 November 1922
Copyright:    © NWN









A motor-cycle fatality occurred at Theale on Saturday night, resulting in the death of James George Hann, aged 19, son of Mr and Mrs Tom Hann, of 1, Bartholomew Street, Newbury, The deceased collided with a motor lorry on the Bath-road, and was killed instantaneously.


Tragic Features

There were several tragic features about the sad affair. The deceased, who was working at a motor engineer’s at Theale, had motored from his lodgings early on Saturday evening to Hungerford to see his fiancée, Miss Phyllis Huxley. After spending the evening with her, he came back to Newbury, had supper at his home, and shortly after 10 o’clock started off on his bicycle for Theale. A little more than an hour had elapsed before a motor cyclist called and broke the sad intelligence to his family that he had been killed. The bearer of the bad news was a fellow motor-cyclist, who wad returning from Reading and had seen his dead body by the side of the road. The deceased’s sister was attending a dance attending a dance in the Corn Exchange when she was told what had happened.


A Fearless Motor-Cyclist

The deceased was a lad of fine physique, and was a fearless motor-cyclist. He had ridden on the rack at Brooklands, and had taken part in long-distance road trials to Edinburgh and Land’s End. He had the reputation in the District of being a very fast rider, but he was such a clever and expert motor-cyclist that things that he did were not dangerous as in the case of a less experienced rider. There is no doubt, however, that at the time of the collision, he was travelling at a very fast pace, for the force of the impact that his body carried away the petrol can rack on the lorry, and his bicycle was smashed to pieces. The doctor who was called to the scene said the debris was scattered about all over the road. A minute later he would have been safely at his lodgings, for the point where the collision occurred was within 200 yards of the house.


Lorry Driver Not to Blame

The driver of the lorry was in no way to blame. It was what is known as a “Four Wheel Drive Lorry” with a trailer attached , belonging to Messrs. Ashman of Thatcham and was proceeding in the direction of Newbury. The evidence was quite clear that it was on its proper side of the road. In fact witnesses said that it was even cutting grass at the side. The driver of the lorry, who is a Newbury man, named Charles Henry Leslie Brown, of St Georges-avenue, said he saw the  motor-cyclist approaching apparently on e his proper side, and then when he got near the lorry seemed to swerve across the road and the smash occurred. What caused the smash was not elucidated at the inquest and never will be. Several theories were advanced. One of them was that Hann had shut off his engine, as he was accustomed to do about that distance from his destination, and in doing this the cuff of his coat , which was torn became hitched in the controls and caused him to swerve; another was that the machine skidded on some horse manure, but this was not borne out by the facts;  a third was that a part of his motor cycle broke.


Affecting Scenes at the Inquest

The jury at the inquest, after hearing the evidence, without a moment’s deliberation came to the conclusion that the deceased met his death accidentally, and exonerated the driver Brown from all blame. In this the deceased’s father, Mr Tom Hamm generously concurred. He got up and publicly expressed to Brown that he had nothing to carry on his conscience that he was at all responsible for his poor boy’s death. Brown who felt his position keenly was much affected, and the deceased’s fiancée, Miss Huxley, who was present at the enquiry, broke down when the evidence of the accident was being given.. Sympathy was expressed at the inquiry for Mr and Mrs Hann and their family in the great grief in which they had been so tragically plunged and in this the townspeople generally will wish to be associated.


Deceased’s Motor-Cycle Records

Allusion has already been made to the deceased prowess as a motor-cyclist. On Boxing night last year he took part in the London to Exeter and back reliability trial , gaining a silver medal. He was then riding a New-Imperial sidecar combination. He was also one of those who started out on the London to Land’s End run, but on this occasion broke down on the well-known Beggar’s Roost Hill. Then in the Isle of Wight hill climbing competition he made the fastest time of the day. On the London to Edinburgh run, where he was accompanied by Mr J C Wheeler of Speenhamland, he gained a silver medal and the only thing that stopped him getting the gold medal was running out of petrol at one point of his journey. He took part at Brooklands with the crack racers Le-vack and Temple, and though his machine had everything on he was lapping at 62 miles an hour. When the fatal crash occurred , he was riding an eight horse power Reading Standard machine, and it was his intention to ride this solo in the forth-coming London to Exeter and back trial next Boxing Day.



The inquest was held on Tuesday morning at the Parish Hall, Theale by Mr Paine, the County Coroner, while Mr Angus Marshall of the firm of Messrs Charles Lucas and Marshall, solicitors, of Newbury was present to watch the proceedings on behalf of Messrs Ashman of Thatcham.


The Father’s Evidence

The first witness was Mr Tom Hann, the father of the deceased, who gave eveidence of identification. He said the deceased was 19 years of age and for the last six weeks he had been working as assistant to Mr Pinchin, motor engineer, of Theale. He was there to get experience with the idea of starting in business on his own account. He had a considerable knowledge of motor cars and cycles, and was an expert motor cyclist. The machine he was riding at the time of the accident was an 8 hp Reading Standard. It was quite a new bicycle and he had only had it a few months. He was riding it solo and there was no sidecar attached. Witness saw him about 7.30 on Saturday evening, and later about 10 o’clock. He had supper at home and left Newbury at 10.5 to return to Theale. He was riding alone. He was in his usual health at the time.


The Lorry Driver’s Story

Charles Henry Leslie Brown the driver of the lorry with which the deceased collided, said he was employed by Messrs Ashman & Co of Thatcham, and had been driving for six or seven years. The lorry he was in charge of was a Four Wheel Drive with a trailer attached, and on Saturday night he was coming from London to Thatcham. It was a journey he did frequently and he knew the road quite well. Harry Franklin who was employed as a loader, was sitting by his side. After passing through Theale he saw the light of a motor cycle coming towards him. Witness said that the wheels of his lorry were cutting the edge of the turf on his proper side. His pace was roughly about eight miles an hour and he had one oil lamp on the off side at the front and the usual rear lamp. The motor cyclist was riding on his proper side but as soon as he got alongside he seemed to suddenly swerve and crashed into the lorry. The lorry was damaged by the collision, the petrol tank being torn off.

Questions by the Coroner

The Coroner: can you form any estimate of the pace the motor cyclist was going?

Witness : It is very hard to judge a person’s speed in the dark but he seemed to be going very fast

Was there any other traffic just there?

None at the time.

You didn’t alter your course? No; I was on the side of the road the whole time.

What sort of night was it? It was quite a clear night

What was the road like, was it greasy? – No; it was fairly dry.

Did you form any impression that the motor cycle skidded? –No; I didn’t form any impression at all because I didn’t know what happened.

Witness went on to say that he pulled up within a yard or so of the collision and they found the deceased with his head towards the far side of the road and his feet and the machine in the centre of the road. It was his opinion that he struck the side of the lorry and then rebounded into that position. They put a cushion under his head and left him in the road until a policeman came. They could see he was badly hurt and sent at once for a doctor.

The Foreman: Did you say you only had one headlamp? Yes one side lamp on the off side.

Is it usual to go about like that?-Yes

The Coroner: there need only be one lamp as long as it is on the proper side.

The Foreman: You have not formed any idea as to the cause of the swerve?- No

The Coroner: Did he seem to wobble as he came towards you? –No he came quite straight.

Mr Hann (father of the deceased): Can you tell me the position of your one light?- It was measured and it was about nine inches in on the off side.

Mr Hann: I understand it was 10 or 12  inches in from the body of the lorry- It was not so much as that.

But should it not be on the outside of the lorry?- It was in its legal position.

A Juror: Did you see any excessive amount of horse manure at the spot? I have had some bad skids occur through that cause. – I did not see any.

Mr Marshall: I take it you had a good light on your lorry? – It was quite a good light.


The Speed of the Motor Cyclist

Can you give us any information as to the speed of the motor cyclist? You said it was difficult to tell the pace in the dark, but can you give us a rough idea? – It seemed like a flash of lightning.

Was the pace greater than usual for a motor-cycle on the road? I would think it was somewhere between 40 and 50 miles an hour.

Do you know the time exactly when the accident happened, because you know when he left Newbury – I should say I was about 10.30.

The Foreman: That would make it 25 minutes after he left his father’s house. That would not account for 50 miles an hour, because according to that he took 25 minutes to go less than twelve miles.

The Coroner: he may have stopped somewhere else in Newbury after he left his father’s house or on the way.

Francis Henry Franklin of Pleasant View, Ashmore Green, who was with the last witness on the lorry, corroborated this evidence.


Killed Instantaneously

Dr Alfred Tinder of Theale said he had just gone to bed on Saturday night at 10.40 when he heard a violent ring on the bell. He put his head out the window when someone asked him to come up the road as quickly as he could as there had been a bad accident. He went at once without stopping to put on his hat and coat. He found the deceased lying with his head on a cushion on the right side of the road looking towards Newbury, with his feet sprawled out in the middle. The road was strewn with the debris of a smashed up motor-cycle; there were hundreds of pieces. The man was dead. Apparently the body was uninjured except for a cut on the side of the neck. There was blood coming out of the ears, and he concluded that he had a fracture at the base of the skull.. He saw no signs of any skid marks. Death must have been instantaneous.


An Onlooker’s Story

Harry Boxsey, who lives on the Bath-road, said he was going home with his brother and a man named Blake. A lorry passed them on its proper side and was right up against the grass. About 120 yards up the road they saw a bright light coming towards them, and this was followed by a heavy crash. Hurrying to the spot they found the deceased with his head by the side of the road. He seemed quite dead. He simply gave a gurgle and that was all. When the lorry passed them it was not going more than eight or nine miles an hour.

Police Sergeant Elsbury, who was called very shortly after the accident, spoke as to removing the body of the deceased to the house where he lodged. He corroborated the driver of the lorry as to the damage caused by the collision. The petrol rack was completely knocked away and the petrol tins were on the ground. He looked for a likely cause of skid, but could not find anything. The road was straight where the accident happened, and the width about 20 feet.


The Coroner’s Summing Up

The Coroner, in reviewing the evidence said there seemed to be agreement that the motor-cyclist was travelling at a fast pace and the lorry slowly. What caused the deceased to swerve across the road into the lorry had not been cleared up by the evidence, and was not likely to be. The evidence was quite clear that the lorry was on its proper side and he did not see how the driver could be held responsible for the collision.

The Jury without deliberation returned a verdict that the deceased was accidentally killed and they exonerated the driver from all blame. The foreman said they would also like to express their sincere sympathy to Mr and Mrs Hann and family.

Mr Marshall said on behalf of owners of the owners of the van, he would like to join in with the jury’s expression of sympathy, and he personally hoped they would have health and strength to bear their great grief.

The Coroner also associated himself with the remarks that had been made, and Mr Hann thanked him, and said he should like before the enquiry closed to express publicly that he did not the driver of the lorry was in any way responsible for his poor boy’s death.

A Large Crowd at the Funeral

Impressive scenes were witnessed at the funeral yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, a large silent crowd gathering in Bartholomew-street when the mourners left the house for St Nicholas Church. The latter was considerably more than half full for the service, whilst the attendance at the Old Cemetery for the burial was exceptionally great. The coffin had been resting in the church overnight, the body being brought from Theale on Tuesday and was received by the Rector (Rev L.R. Majendie) when a short and simple service was held. Yesterday’s service was also conducted by the Rector and the hymns sung were “Days and moments quickly flying” and “Peace, perfect peace”. The 39th psalm was read as the lesson. Mr Bernard Ramsey Mus.Bac. was at the organ. The congregation included a great number of personal friends and sympathisers of the deceased. The funeral procession to the Cemetery was marked with much respect, groups of people standing bareheaded at shop doors and street corners. Motors and other traffic pulled up to allow the procession to pass silently along. Eight carriages followed the hearse. Then came 25 members of the Newbury Journeyman’s Butchers Club, walking in double file, finally a motor car heavily laden with beautiful wreaths. The Rector officiated at the graveside where the group of mourners  and personal friends were surrounded by a large assemblage.

The mourners were Mr and Mrs Hann(father and mother), Doll and Judy (sisters), Phyllis (fiancée) [long list continues……]

This obituary entry is awaiting verification.

Pictures and photographs

Click to enlarge
Wheel grave of Jim Hann

©Ros Clow
Wheel grave of Jim Hann


Biographies & History

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