top of page

Willie/William John Richards  Death

Portsmouth 1921

Willie died at home which now was 43 Commercial Road, (somewhere near where everything seems to meet above the centre of the map below left, and near Victoria Park which is shown in the picture below).   He died on 23rd March 1921 of bowel cancer.  I cannot quite read the exact reason for his death, but can understand enough to assume this.  So he was probably ill for a while before his death.  He was sixty six.  Maybe he was forced to retire through illness, maybe he died, like many who have dedicated their lives to work, shortly after retirement.  I think he was probably buried in the Kingston Cemetery which is shown in the photo above, and which is Portsmouth’s main cemetery.

William Richards, like everyone of his generation lived through massively changing times.  When he was born Queen Victoria was less than twenty years into her long reign and the Crimea War was in full swing.  The industrial revolution was changing the face of England and continued to do so for another fifty years.  With industrialisation and the dehumanisation of labour, began a period of huge social reforms, education for all, votes for all, the emancipation of women and the rise of socialism.  Horses were replaced by motorised transport, electricity was invented, the world was plunged into a world war and the era of colonisation, empires and the pre-eminence of the ruling classes came to an end.  Willie saw all of this and it would seem that the main aspect of all of this that had an abiding effect on him was the social reforming efforts of the Salvation Army which were one of the major reforming organisations of the time.  And yet through all of this upheaval he and his wife seemed to have lived a very stable life - same job all his life, same marriage, living in the same general area, albeit with many house moves.  It’s an interesting contrast isn’t it?  - stable personal life - massively changing world around him.  Perhaps its the stable personal life that allows us to cope with it all.

I picture Willie and his wife Annie in their old age, surrounded by their children and grandchildren, William working away at the dockyard in the draughting office, Annie being mum all over again to her grandchildren, who would all have lived close by.  And in between they would have been doing good works with the Salvation Army.  I have yet to get William’s employment records, but my guess is that he worked almost until his death.


British History Timeline - a useful brief overview of the major events in British history

bottom of page