William Henry Simons was born in 1840 in Nottingham, the son of a glazier/plumber. In 1864, he joined the Robin Hoods – the 1st Nottinghamshire Volunteer Rifle Corps as it then was – and in due course rose to the rank of Colour sergeant. In the same year, he married Sarah Jane Abbott and the couple went on to have eight children: three daughters and five sons.
William followed his father into the building trade, as a joiner and builder, and became one of the pioneer builders responsible for the development of West Bridgford when land was released from the Musters Estate.1
Once he had moved to West Brigford, William became firmly embedded in local life, being elected to the Local Board when it was created in 1891. He was also part of St Giles, being a Churchwarden for a number of years and, indeed, signed the contract for the extension of the church building.
Sarah died in 1918 and the family donated a stained glass window to St Giles in her memory.
William and Sarah’s middle son, James Abbott Simons, born in 1870, very much followed in his father’s footsteps. In the First World War he served in the 3rd Battalion of the Nottinghamshire Volunteer Regiment as temporary Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster.2
James also became a joiner and followed his father into the family building business, which his father had established in 1881. They formed a partnership as W & J Simons, with James running the business from 1897 onwards.3 The partnership was formally dissolved in 1919 with James taking over the business, before turning it into a limited company.4 Reporting a celebration to mark fifty years of being in business, the Nottingham Evening Post reported that “all along the line success has attended the undertaking”. William died in 1928.
James served on the West Bridgford Urban District Council for many years and was twice its Chairman.5 Amongst his other interests was bowls: he was President of the Notts. County and District Bowling Association in 19326 and donated the J A Simons Thursday Cup.7
Like his father, James was also part of St Giles and supported its activities generously. In 1945, when St Giles’ was raising money for a new church building at the southern end of the parish, he and his wife donated £500.8 Then, in 1947, James donated a stained glass window to commemorate his sixty years as a chorister there.9 This was the same year that he celebrated his golden wedding, having married Alice Emily Richards at St Giles on 29 July 1897.10 James died in 1953.
1. Nottingham Evening Post 14 April 1928
2. London Gazette 22 January 1917
3. Nottingham Evening Post 1 June 1931
4. London Gazette 6 February 1920
5. Nottingham Evening Post 14 April 1928
6. Nottingham Evening Post 20 October 1932
7. Nottingham Evening Post 6 April 1939
8. Nottingham Evening Post 7 December 1945
9. Nottingham Evening Post 1 October 1947
10. Nottingham Evening Post 29 July 1947