Return to Boyd's home page

Lettice Harris (21 May 1916 - 31 July 2010) age 94

There is also a tribute on the Women's Institute website. Follow this link.

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.

Lettice Harris

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 canal towpath.
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 lives.
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 interests.
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