John Walker was born in Broadway in 1877, the son of Melville Walker, a tailor, and Jane Walker (née Knight). John was educated in the village at Broadway National School (St Michael’s National School) whilst William ‘Billy’ Timms was headmaster. After leaving school, John went to work as a groom for Francis Davis Millet at Russell House and later Lady Northwick in nearby Blockley.
John married Rose Louisa Hyatt in Great Wolford, Warwickshire on 5th May 1900, and the couple moved to Erdington, Birmingham, where John worked as a groom for John and Fanny Yates at Glenthorne, Kingsbury Road. Their daughter, Ethel May Walker, was born in Selly Oak on 17th April 1902.
After four years in Birmingham, John and Rose moved back to Broadway. John furthered his love of horses and worked for the North Cotswold Hunt under Sir John Hume Campbell and later Mr Beale. John was also employed for a time at Kite’s Nest as groom for Mr Swallow.
In 1914, a couple of months before his 38th birthday and shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, John joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He enlisted in Stratford-upon-Avon on 14th December 1914. At the time John was living and working as a coachman at Prior’s Manse. John served with the 10th Battalion Royal Warwicks for three years and later after the end of the war, was a founding member of the Broadway branch of the British Legion.
John was a lifelong member of Broadway Congregational Church of which he was a Deacon. One of his interests was local history and he was known locally as having a remarkable knowledge of Broadway and the surrounding area.
John’s wife Rose, died aged 54, in 1931, and she is buried in St Eadburgha’s churchyard. John died on 18th October 1951. A tribute to John’s memory was paid by Rev. A. Wakelin at his funeral (which was also officiated by Rev E.J. Price with Mrs McLean at the organ). Rev. Wakelin said:
I have known him for more than 18 years and insofar as it was possible to sum up a man in a phrase I would describe him as as decidedly friendly. His forte lay in meeting individuals and in giving many little services which other people are apt to neglect.
One of his delights in later years was that of visiting old, and neglected people and giving them help when needed and many will remember his diligence in waiting at the church door in all kinds of weather and making strangers feel welcome at the service.
The mourners at his funeral included; Mr and Mrs A.E. Collins (sister and brother-in-law), Mr and MrsJ. Turner (sister and brother-in-law), Mrs E. Knight and Mrs Fairfax (cousins), Mrs Fuller, Mrs Taplin and Mr Austin Knight (cousin). John was buried in the churchyard at St Eadburgha’s Church, there were no flowers at his request. The bearers were L. Keyte, F. Dowdeswell and T. Wilkes.
18 October 2021