Personal information about William Harrison

Below is all the information we have about William Harrison. 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:
   William Harrison
Burial register image
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Age at death:
Date of burial:
   15 January 1929
Abode at death:
(according to burial register)
   9 Craven Road, Newbury
Burial register information:
Book number: 1917
Page number: 131
Record number: 10641
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

William Harrison
Article source:    Newbury Weekly News
Date of source:    17 January 1929
Copyright:    © Newbury Weekly News








A Record of Fine Public Service


The death of Mr. William Harrison , which took place on Friday at [no.9] Craven-road, removes a familiar figure and a notable character from town life.


William Harrison was the son of Mr. Joseph Harrison, builder, of Bartholomew-street, and had lived in Newbury practically all his life. He reached his 78th birthday last Wednesday, and his tall, burly figure had been very familiar in Newbury for the last sixty years. He was something of a rough diamond and occasionally his manner appeared to those who did not know him, to be uncouth, but he was a man of sterling worth, whose word, once given, could be relied on to the uttermost. “Bill” Harrison, as he was familiarly known among his friends, was a great favourite with children, being kindness and gentleness itself.


In Newbury, his life’s work was with the Newbury Volunteer Fire Brigade, He was one of the original members, being among that band of young men who took over the duty of fire fighting in Newbury after the old Borough Brigade gave up. That is exactly fifty years ago, and with the exception of one short break he kept up the connection to the end. He was 28 years of age when he joined, his birthday falling on January 9th. He took a very keen and comprehensive interest in all connected with the Brigade, and at the commencement was one of the staunchest supporters of Captain Brice Wilson, the first skipper. He made himself highly efficient, and it is safe to say that no better fireman has been produced from the Newbury ranks. Bill quickly rose to the rank of branchman, his knowledge of building construction making him an ideal man at the front, and afterwards, under Captain Albert Church, he was promoted to sergeant. He was on duty at several of the largest local fires, including Stanford Dingley, a two days’ job; Elliott’s Works, at the second of which fires icicles yards long were formed, and the men were covered in ice: also the fire at the Town Mills.


Photograph of Mr. William Harrison taken by Dudley Finn


His fame as a fireman was more than local, as in 1881 he obtained the first award at Aston for one-man manual drill, a handsome gold medal, which carried with it the title of champion of England for the year. He held the local challenge medals, but was also successful everywhere he competed. Among his other awards were at Birmingham International Fire Brigades’ Competition in August, 1879, a silver medal for four-men drill. First prize medal at Smethwick in 1880, Stafford in 1889, and was the recipient of a medal from the inhabitants of Newbury commemorating the winning of the first prize at the Agricultural Hall. So great was the prowess of theNewbury men that in 1881, when a competition was held in Shaw Avenue, they could not get sufficient entries until the local brigade decided not to compete. Bill also took part in the celebrated gathering of brigades in Oxford in 1887, when squads, and steam and manual engines were present from the whole of the South Midlands.


On retiring in 1902, after 23 years’ service, he was presented with a silver mug and a long service medal The mug was inscribed with the following names: C. Adey, H. Biddis, R. Birch (surgeon), F. Bagge, H. Booth, F. Bennett, A. Church (captain), E. Cave, R. Canning, F. Cosburn, W. Cooke, W. Edwell, R. Freebody, J.C.R. Hallen (lieutenant), D. Finn, J. Hassell, T. Langton, A. Lane, A. Lucas, W. Boyer, E. Martin, W. Pocock, A. Purdue, J. Stradling, H. Scroggs, E. Staples, J. Smith, J. Watson (surgeon), G. White and P. Westcombe.


Bill took up a position with his old fellow fireman, Fred Bagge, in Barcelona in 1902, but did not stay long, and was soon back in Newbury. He afterwards sustained a severe leg injury, which effectually prevented him from moving at any pace, but his interest was keen to the end, and at every competition practice he was there coaching and clocking, besides accompanying his team to the actual events, where his advice was always welcome. He was a well-known personality, wearing his old uniform cap, and was one whose opinion was valued. In harness to the end, his last job was to fashion a handle for a fireman’s axe. The members of the Newbury Brigade, past and present, followed him to his last resting place with sad hearts, but with lasting and happy memories of one who was a true friend to each and all of them.


Firemen attend Funeral


The members of the Volunteer Fire Briagde paid honour to their late comrade by attending the funeral on Tuesday afternoon at the Parish Church. They manned the engine, on the front of which was a floral design bearing a fireman’s helmet. The Brigade lined the pathway to the door, and stood to attention as the body was borne into the church and doing the same at the close of the service. Mounting the engine, they followed the funeral procession to the Newtown-road Cemetery. The Rector (Rev. L.R. Majendie) conducted the service in church and at the graveside.


The mourners were Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Archie Harrison (sons and daughters-in-law), Mr. B. Harrison (son), Misses M. and K. Harrison (cousins), Mrs. Harold and Miss Skinner.


Long list of those attending follows plus a list of those sending wreathes.




“Old Bill” was the famous title during war-time of a motor-bus which rendered splendid service, and of a mythical Tommy who was to be found in every trench and camp. Newbury has just lost its “Old Bill” by the death of ex-sergeant William Harrison, who for fifty years had been in active association with the Volunteer Fire Brigade. He was a notable character, performing deeds of valour in fire-fighting and prize competitions. William’s manly chest was not broad enough to carry all the medals he had won. A man of great strength and remarkable vigour, he was a handy man at heavy lifting or long hours of endurance. When an accident limited his activities, he took great delight in training the young foremen, by whom he was always known as “Old Bill.” It was a term of affection, and he enjoyed the familiarity. An old colleague of many years standing writes: “Sometimes apparently rough in his manner, his heart was of the kindest, and for a pal in a tight corner no better could be found than Old Bill Harrison. Few men deserve more credit for having done their bit for the town and neighbourhood as a volunteer than he.”


Newbury Weekly News 17 January 1929


Not in Mrs P.


Buried 15 January 1929 Bk 1917 p 131 no. 10641

This obituary entry is awaiting verification.

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