Will Harris passed away peacefully after a short illness on July 19th, 2015, aged 74, at Gloucester Royal Hospital. A Cremation for close Family only was held on July 28th, 2015. The Family thanks all their Friends for their kind comments and good wishes, and they thank the Hospital Staff for their excellent care. We remember a kind husband, a dedicated father and a doting grandfather who had wide ranging interests from gardening to industrial archaeology. Donations in lieu of flowers to the RNLI.
Will was a founder member of BIAS and well known to all. He was our programme organiser from early days of BIAS. He was also associated with AIBT, SGMRG and took us on many walks around the area.
Mike Bone: BIAS members and associates will have been saddened at the passing of one of our longest-standing members and officers after a short illness on 19 July, last. We received this news just before our last bulletin was about to go to press and, unfortunately, were only able to include a brief announcement at the time.
Will’s interest in industrial archaeology began as a student and he was one of the first to join the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society when it was formed in 1967. In the spare time afforded by his profession as a social worker, Will was active on BIAS Committee during most years between 1971 and 2015, serving as Programme/Excursions Officer, a member of the editorial team, Secretary and as Vice- Chair.
When AIBT was created in 1980 by some BIAS members and their supporters to better tackle conservation projects, Will became its first chair, a position that he held until recently. In the years up to 1988 the trust worked closely with Avon County Council and the Manpower Services Commission on various schemes involving the long-term unemployed. On the demise of the MSC scheme, Will led its transition to a self-supporting building preservation trust and oversaw our work on the Somersetshire Coal Canal and its Midford Aqueduct, Saltford Brass Mill, Ram Hill Colliery, the Avon & Gloucestershire Railway (aka the Dramway) and Nailsea Glassworks, in addition to current projects at Brandy Bottom Colliery in South Gloucestershire and the Brunel Swivel Bridge in Bristol. He was also keen to get involved at a practical level and was active at Brandy Bottom until shortly before he died.
BIAS members who knew Will probably remember him most vividly for the walks and visits that he organised and led, three of which come immediately to mind. During an evening walk around the centre of Radstock to view its colliery landscapes, he briefly left us to speak to a local property owner but in doing so managed to agree the restoration of a mine powder house which was duly completed later by AIBT with the assistance of B&NES council.
Trips were always thorough and often tested our eyesight as darkness fell – I particularly remember such a voyage into the night as we walked the last part of the Avon Ring Road just before it opened to get an excellent sight of the Dramway and its conservation. Sunday visits often concluded before dark but were equally comprehensive and exhausting – many of us were duly exercised and informed during a day-long exploration of Stroud and its surrounding canals that particularly comes to mind when thinking about Will.
He will be remembered with great respect for his contributions to BIAS and AIBT and to IA in the Avon area. As a person, he was a gentle and courteous man and his friendship and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by those who knew him. Our sympathies are with his wife Lynne and his family.