Sunday, 3 October 2010

Arthur Vlieland Willey

Arthur Vlieland Willey born December 1897 Exeter.
He died in 1908 in Exeter.

Arthur's parents were Henry A. and Emilie L.
In 1901 census he lived with his family at 3 Pennsylvania Park, Exeter. Father Henry A 1864 civil engineer, mother Emilie L 1863,& children: Lilian M 1890, Dorothy K 1891, Arthur V 1898 & Thornton 1900. Also at the house were a domestic nurse, a housemaid, & a cook
In the census it says that Emilie L is born 1863,
Marriage Jun 1888 BARTLETT Emilie Louise x WILLEY Henry Alfred Totnes 5b 379
Charles Vlieland was a friend of the Willey family.
The godson of Athur Vlieland Willey´s sister was Clifford Vlieland Peel .
At the wedding of mrs Willey her godson Master Clifford Peel was wearing a pretty page costume.
Henry was a Civil Engineer. There were two daughters Lilian and Dorothy and two sons Arthur and Thornton. The fact that there was a resident nurse at the house suggests that Arthur was possibly an invalid hence his early death.

About Henry Alfred Willey we can read a lot in Exeters memory´s .
Expansion under Henry Alfred Willey
H A Willey did not join the family firm immediately, but as a young man, attended Science and Art classes at the Exeter Museum, winning the Queen's prize for electricity and awards for chemistry, sound, light and heat. He then spent two years in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Italy, Switzerland and France, advancing his commercial and technical knowledge. When he returned to England, he joined his father at Willey and Co.

When his father died in 1894, Henry Alfred took control and instigated a move of the foundry from their cramped, Shilhay premises, to Water Lane, Haven Banks. Within a short time, the young Henry Alfred Willey also expanded the meter manufacturing into new premises at James Street, off South Street.

Willey acquired the rights to Stephen Simpson's patented automatic meter, the first to employ coin-in the-slot payment, and business flourished. Soon the James Street premises became too small, requiring it move down to the Basin factory.

Henry Alfred Willey was a keen early motorist. In 1902, he purchased a car in Paris, drove it to the French coast and then after the crossing to Southampton, drove down to Exeter, no mean feat for the time. He is also credited with gaining permission to build the first private garage in Exeter from the Street Committee. Also in 1902, Henry Alfred Willey had talks with the Coventry Motor Company, with the aim of starting a motor manufacturing works in the city. It was planned that the company would produce 300 cars per year at a cost of £500 each - the projected set up cost of £47,500 to £65,000 proved to be too expensive and the project never happened. At his death at an early age of 41 in 1904, the family fortune had grown to £92,000.

Memories of Willeys
"I worked for two years as a Patternmaker's apprentice from '66 to '68. It was a busy "shop", the pattern shop. I worked alongside Mick Came, Steve Lendon and Tony West whose dad worked in the office. My dad, Donald Dare was the Foundry chargehand, spending all his working life in the trade and being elected several times as Labour councillor for Whipton Ward. Both my uncles, Charlie and Harry Cropp worked in the foundry, pouring metal and fettling, or grinding off imperfections after casting. A Mr. Charlesworth, I think, used to brick up the insides of the furnaces, I think there were two for cast iron at the time. There were a lot of blokes of all descriptions there during the 60's, and we had a marvellous canteen up a dodgy wooden stair just around the corner of the patternshop run by a bloke with an enormous hooter called Ernie, - him, not the hooter.

Also, the most wonderful sports club just down water lane, made up of a couple of Nissen huts glued together. You could go there for a pint and a game of snooker. Willey's really did look after their employees, and you don't get this type of employment nowadays, where no-one's job is for life now.

I used to have pictures of my dad sitting inside giant screws they used to cast for ships during the War."

Contributed by Chris Dare

It was in 1991 that the factory building in Water Lane, the place of work for so many Exonians, was demolished to allow the area to be developed. Apart from Willeys Avenue, and the Willey's Athletics and Sports Club in Water Lane, the one other reminder of the firm in St Thomas is the the Willey's family grave containing the remains of Henry Alfred Willey, which can be found in St Thomas Churchyard, and the grave of Henry Frederick Willey and his wife, Sarah Anne, in St David's Churchyard..

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