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Twickenham United Reformed Church
Our History: F.W.Pearce 1866-1928
From the Thames Valley Times Wednesday 17 October 1928, page 3
DEATH OF BOROUGH SURVEYOR
A Conscientious Official Whose Life was Given to the Public Service
TO-MORROW'S FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS.
Resolutions of Sympathy : Morning Service at Congregational Church Abandoned
By the sudden death on Sunday morning, at his residence in Spencer Road, Strawberry Hill, of Mr. Frederick W. Pearce, the borough surveyor and engineer, Twickenham has lost a valued public official. For thirty years he had given of his best to Twickenham in conscientious and disinterested service and with a generous heart and hand.
The sympathy of the whole town goes out to the widow and family in the heavy loss they have sustained. Mr. Pearce's life was given to the faithful discharge of his duties.
It is one painful duty to record today the sudden passing, at half-past ten on Sunday morning, of Mr. Frederick W. Pearce, F.S.I. who for thirty years had held the responsible position of surveyor and engineer at Twickenham, first to the Urban District Council, and latterly to the Town Council. He was 62 years of age last April.
A native of Somersetshire, Mr. Pearce came to London as a young man full of that boundless energy and thoroughness which characterised him all through his life. Entering the service of the Wimbledon District Council, he occupied the position of assistant surveyor, and on his leaving was made the recipient of a testimonial placing on record his valued services. He came to Twickenham in October, 1898, to succeed Mr. G. B.Raffin* who had obtained an appointment abroad [South Africa], and on Wednesday next would have celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of his work in the district.
Twickenham was at that time little more than a village, with a population of 1,600, but with the coming of the trains, the cutting through of York Street, which had just been completed and the building developments taking place on all sides, Twickenham was fast passing from a village to a town. With that development came the laying out of new roads, seventy of which were made up under his personal supervision in the succeeding ten years, the District Council of those days having wisely decided to undertake its work on a systematic basis. Richmond Road, then a narrow thoroughfare, was widened as we know it to-day. Further road widenings were made with the extension of the trams towards Hampton Court, Mr. Pearce always taking the long view, which succeeding years have proved the correct one, of wide thoroughfares for the traffic he foresaw.
Then came the acquisition of Radnor House and the raising of its grounds several feet so as to prevent the occasional floodings that would have made riverside gardens an impassability. The Teddington Lock was in course of construction, and Mr. Pearce seized the opportunity by arranging with the Thames Conservancy and the contractors to have the excavated material barged down stream and deposited on the gardens, saving the town many hundreds of pounds in so doing.
As the town grew the need of enlarging and reorganising the fire brigade was taken in hand under Mr. Pearce's personal direction. The old horsed engines were replaced by motors, the fire station enlarged, and latterly, the chief officer of the brigade installed with living accommodation on the spot.
Another important project of those days which threw a heavy responsibility on his shoulders was the construction of the sewage works and refuse destructor, the work of which was so heavy that, at his suggestion, a consultancy was called in, Mr. Fairley, of Richmond, being engaged by the Council.
With the increasing population came the need of new schools and in the construction of these some of Mr. Pearce's best work was done, for he was a keen educationist and knew exactly what were the requirements of an elementary school. The Orleans Schools, which were erected in 1910, were followed a year later by the Nelson Schools, which catered for the children in East Twickenham and Whitton areas. One of his last tasks was the building of another school at Whitton to meet the demands of that growing area.
War Time Activities
Then, with the need of an isolation hospital becoming apparent, one was erected at Whitton in 1906 from his plans and under his direction, in such a manner that when extension became necessary last year it was an easy and comparatively inexpensive matter, for he had had an eye to the future in the original building.
Then, with the coming of the war, during which the constructional work of the Council was suspended, he threw himself into the activities the Council undertook for the successful prosecution of the war, and how well he did it was nobly expressed in a few words at the meeting of the Congregational Mothers' Union on Monday afternoon. He became the fuel officer and the transport officer of the Council, but there was much that he did during this trying period that extended far beyond the limits of those offices.
To the improvement of the riverside path between Marble Hill and Richmond Bridge he devoted much personal attention, being careful to preserve the rural amenities of the walk, particularly in the neighbourhood of Marble Hill, when raising the path and filling in the ditch. Trees there were which had to go but not one was taken down in the clearing which impaired the view from the riverside or from Richmond Hill.
The purchase of York House and the coming of incorporation had placed increasing burdens and responsibilities upon his shoulders. The alterations necessary to York House were much larger than was anticipated when taking over the building, and this work, coupled with the transfer of the offices from the old Town Hall, came at a time when the surveyor and his department were working at their hardest. The Strawberry Vale and St. Margaret's road improvements were just completed. The demand for Council houses and flats was growing more incessant, the widening of King Street, the pulling down of the old Town Hall, the development of the Richmond House Estate, all had to be dealt with.
The purchase of Orleans Riverside Land, the development of the Cambridge-gardens and of the Cross Deep Estate, and the widening of St. Margaret's road, Strawberry Vale, and Cross Deep had thrown heavy burdens on his shoulders, coming, as they did, on the top of his other routine work. The Council, realising it, offered him assistance, but he never complained, and worked on cheerfully to the last.
The Church He Loved
Full of boundless energy, even when his health was by no means good, Mr. Pearce, amidst all his manifold public duties, found time for many outside interests. To the Congregational Church on the Green, of which he was deacon for eighteen years, he was a devoted member and supporter, the children, especially, having in him a supporter and friend. He was its church secretary, and it is not too much to say that its existence to-day as a church is in no small measure due to his life and influence. Whilst fully alive to the social side of the church, he never lost sight of the place the church must fill in the spiritual life of its people, and it is a tragic coincidence that a meeting to consider the deepening of the spiritual life of the church was to have been held this week, mainly as a result of the suggestions he had made.
He was a Freemason, being a member both of the Richmond Lodge and Richmond Chapter, and of the Twickenham Rotary Club, whose motto, "Service above self" inspired his everyday life.
Another of his outside activities was the Lower Thames Valley Association of Surveyors, of which he was secretary. He was also a member of the Institute of Municipal and County Engineers and a vice-president of the Twickenham Rifle Club and the Twickenham Philanthropic Society. His many activities and official duties were placing burdens upon the shoulders of the surveyor, which his health, never robust in the past few years would not bear, and of late it had begun to manifest itself and twice on Saturday there were indications whilst he was at work that he was not well. But he worked on, returning to York House in the evening after the office had been closed to attend to some work he desired to see through.
On returning home he complained of feeling unwell and his medical adviser, Dr. Rayner, was called. In the morning he seemed better, but he was persuaded to remain in bed, and almost the last thing he did was to arrange for a message to be sent to the Congregational Church so that the duties to which he usually attended could be discharged to others. Then almost with out warning, he passed away in the presence of the members of his family and Dr. G. H. Dupont, the borough medical officer who chanced to be passing the house at the time.
The funeral will take place to-morrow (Thursday) afternoon. A service will be held at the Congregational Church at 3 and will be attended by the Mayor and Corporation, wearing their robes of office, and the staff at York House and the employees. The service will be conducted by the pastor ( the Rev. J. T. Rhys), who will be assisted by the Rev. Harold Bickley, B.D., of Northampton, a former pastor of the church, who on the occasion of his visit to Twickenham a few weeks ago was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Pearce. The vicar (the Rev. W. P. Cole-Sheane), and the Mayor's chaplain (the Rev. James H. Watson), will also assist in the service.
The municipal offices will be closed at 2.15 and the workmen in the employ of the Council will leave work at one o'clock.
EXPRESSIONS OF SYMPATHY