Lettice Harris (21 May
1916 - 31 July 2010) age 94
There is also a
tribute on the Women's Institute website. Follow
Friends and Relatives of
the late Lettice Harris (nee Wilding) of Chorley and formerly of
Withnell Fold gathered at Withnell Fold Methodist Church on Thu 12th Aug
2010 for a Service of Thanksgiving to say goodbye to a very dear friend.
Lettice Harris (nee
Wilding) was born in Chorley on Sunday 21 May 1916 to William and Ann
Wilding. At the time she had an older sister Margaret and brother Colin.
In the following years she was to have three more brothers; Alan, Ken
and Roy. She did very well at school and was hoping to go on to further
education but her Mothers ill health meant that she needed to help out
round the home and bringing up her younger brothers.
She was a young lady with many interests such as the girl guides,
church, swimming, walking, dancing and later cycling when she met
Walter, her future husband. She learned to swim before Chorley had its
own public swimming baths. The nearest indoor pool was Brinscall and in
the 1920s she would walk there from Chorley with her older sister
Margaret. In those days the Chorley – Blackburn railway line was a very
busy passenger and freight railway but in spite of this they would walk
along the railway track to save time.
in the Girl Guides
Lettice at her Confirmation in 1931
At 14 she attended
her first job interview and in 1930 was appointed as a clerk and
assistant accountant with an insurance company in Anchor Chambers,
St Thomas’s Road, Chorley.
She attended Church regularly and was confirmed by the Bishop of
Whalley at St Peters Church Chorley in February 1931 and attended
her first Holy Communion in March the same year. Her faith was very
important to her and would help her through the rest of her life. In
the 1930s she met Walter Harris and they would head off for long
cycle rides on a tandem. Walter was already a keen cyclist and a
member of the Chorley Cycling Club. Their regular cycle rides
started around Chorley then would go further afield to explore the
Yorkshire Dales. In 1938 they decided to embark on a long distance
adventure and cycle to the British Empire Exhibition in Glasgow,
staying in Youth Hostels on the way.
Walter and Lettice on their tandem
somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales
At the time Walter was working in the office at Common Bank Bleach Works
as an assistant cashier. He then successfully applied for a similar job
in the office at Withnell Fold Paper Mill. This was to be a major
turning point in both their lives. The mill had its own recreational
centre known as the Reading Room. There was a stage for theatrical
productions and also a custom made dance floor where people would come
from miles around to attend the famous dances. Lettice and Walter would
travel from Chorley to Withnell Fold on the bus to spend the evening
dancing. They would then walk the 6 miles back to Chorley along the
At the outbreak of War in 1939 Walter was in what was known as a
reserved occupation, meaning that his work was so important that he
would not receive call up papers to join the forces.
Lettice on the way to Glasgow in 1938
Lettice and Walter
decided to make the ultimate commitment and were married in 1940.
However, Walter was very uncomfortable about remaining in England when
most other men were going off to join the forces. He decided to do his
bit and joined the Royal Air Force. At first he was stationed in the UK
but soon went overseas and was to remain in West Africa for the rest of
the war. His younger brother Billy also joined the RAF but sadly, while
on a mission over Germany, became one of the thousands who were listed
as ‘missing in action’.
While Walter was away Lettice worked in a mill office in Brinscall and
would commute daily from Chorley on the train.
After the war Walter was able to return to his job at Withnell Fold
Paper Mill. In 1948 a mill house became available in Withnell Fold
village. At the time he and Lettice were living in Shakespeare Terrace
Chorley with their baby son Boyd.
They moved to no 23 Withnell Fold and started another chapter in their
Lettice immediately joined the newly formed Withnell Fold Women’s
Institute. This was the first of many organisations she was to support
for the rest of her life.
After 2 years at Withnell
Fold they had another son Dean.
Her husband Walter died in 1979 but Lettice continued with her
voluntary work and if anything devoted even more energy to her
At the age of 94 she was still an active member of the Women’s Institute
and attended her last meeting a few days before her death.
She always committed herself totally to any organisation she joined and
would rarely miss a meeting. Her voluntary work in the area took up much
of her time. When able she helped in the Prison Service by looking after
children at visiting times and revelled in her main activity of ‘doing
the teas’. Some other activities include the Friends of Astley Hall,
Women’s Fellowship, Hollins Head Street Keep Fit group, Chorley Gospel,
U3A, and her local Walking Group.
Lettice died peacefully at here home in Chorley on Saturday 31 July. Her
sons Boyd and Dean would like to thank all her friends and relatives for
the many cards, letters and phone calls of sympathy.
A service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the life of Lettice was held at
Withnell Fold Methodist Church at 12:15 on Thu 12th Aug 2010. The
Committal followed at Pleasington Crematorium.
Lettice in 1947
the service of thanksgiving was held
at Withnell Fold Methodist Church