Flt. Cadet W. Barrow

Flt. Cadet W. Barrow

Honorary Second Lieutenant William Barrow,
Royal Air Force

Interior of St Peter's Church, Hunslet Moor (Leeds Library & Information Services)

William Barrow was born in Hunslet on 4th May 1900, making him one of the youngest men to be included on the Roll of Service from Scholes.

He was the son of Percy Barrow, a locomotive driver, originally from Worcester, who later became a driver of a steam road roller, and his wife, Mary Hannah Davies, the daughter of a blacksmith, who married in August 1899 at St Peter’s Church at Hunslet Moor. William Barrow was their only child.

When William Barrow was a young child, the family moved away from Hunslet and went to live at St James’s Terrace in Wetherby. Percy Barrow died in 1916, at the age of 42, and his widow and son moved to Scholes between then and 1918, when Mrs Barrow appears for the first time on the electoral roll in Scholes. The first house they occupied was on Main Street, then known as Town Street, but by the mid-1930s they had moved into a house on The Avenue.

Officers and men parade at Duxford, Armistice day 1918 (© IWM Q 96081)

William Barrow was deemed to be enlisted when he was 17 ½ and was mobilised as a conscript on 26th January 1918, three months before his 18th birthday. Initially, he was called up for service with the West Yorkshire Regiment, and he reported to the depot, which at that time was operating at Ripon. He had to interrupt his studies at Leeds University where he was studying to become a chemist. Within a month, he had transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a Private Class 2 and had been posted to No. 1 Officers Technical Training Wing at St Leonards on Sea, about a mile away from Hastings on the Sussex coast. He remained at St Leonards for 6 months, during which time the Royal Flying Corps was merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force as a separate service, before being posted to No. 1 Training Depot Station as a Flight Cadet on 29th August 1918.

William Barrow was in training to become a pilot when the war ended in November 1918. He was sent to Clipstone Camp near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire in March 1919 to have his discharge processed. He was granted the honorary rank of Second Lieutenant on 4th April 1919.

Cross Harrison Street, where Grand Garage was (Leeds Library and Information Services)

After he came home, he returned to his studies at Leeds University, where he had worked as an Assistant Tinctorial Research Chemist between September 1916 and his call-up in January 1918.

Instead of following a career in chemistry, William Barrow became a motor engineer, and eventually became the proprietor of the Grand Garage on Cross Harrison Street, directly behind the Grand Theatre in the centre of Leeds, taking it on after the previous owner voluntarily wound up his business.

In 1928 William Barrow married Freda Mary Glasby. The couple lived on The Avenue in Scholes, along with the widowed Mrs Barrow. Freda Glasby’s brother, Charles Glasby had been killed in France in 1916 as a Lance Sergeant with the London Irish Rifles. He is buried at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez.

Scholes Village Players Perform 'Cheque Mate' (Scholes Village Players)

Since his time at Leeds University, William Barrow had been active in amateur dramatics. He wrote and performed for the University society and continued with his performances once he had joined the Royal Air Force. After the War he became closely involved with the amateur dramatics group in Barwick, writing, acting and producing many of their productions, and when the Scholes Village Players was founded, he continued there.
In an interview with a local newspaper, given when one of his plays, ‘Cheque Mate’, was picked up by a travelling theatre group to be presented in Folkestone, William Barrow said he had written the play as means of helping the Scholes Village Players. He allowed the group to perform his play without any liability for paying royalties to the writer. Normally, at the time, whenever a play was performed, the group performing it was committed to paying royalties of £5 per performance, regardless of the audience size, which often left little profit for the group. The gift from William Barrow was a great help to the Village Players and enabled them to improve their props holdings and future productions.
The Barrow Household in 1939 (1939 Register (Series RG101), The National Archives)

Shortly before the Second World War, William Barrow, who was now living in Harrogate with his wife and mother, put the Grand Garage into voluntary liquidation. During the war, the Barrow family provided accommodation for Civil Servants working in the town for the Air Ministry.

During the 1940s, the Barrows moved from Harrogate to Portsmouth. Mary Barrow died there in 1948, and William Barrow died in 1976, also in Portsmouth. Freda died in Honiton in Devon in 1991.