James And Iris Wall


James 'Jimmy' Wall was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1876, son of Thomas, a rope manufacturer, and his wife Annie (née Janes). His parents moved to Kettering, Northamptonshire, where Jimmy went to the Grammar School and joined the staff of 'The Kettering Leader'. In 1900 he became a reporter on 'The Epsom Herald', in charge of the local office; he lived in lodgings in Station Road. Before the First World War he belonged to Epsom Cricket Club and played as an all-rounder; in the winter he liked to referee football matches.

James Wall
James Wall
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Iris Olga Thompson came from Carshalton, where she was born on 28 May 1899 to carpenter Henry Thompson and his wife Mabel Sophia (née Edwards); she was one of about ten children. In 1917 she became the first female employee of Epsom Rural District Council. During the General Strike of 1926 she walked from Carshalton to her job in Epsom. She had joined the Epsom, Ewell & District Literary Society at the age of 19: the Society was formed in 1898 and is still in existence today. Literature was a passion she shared with Jimmy, who was particularly fond of Shakespeare.

Iris as a child 1 Iris as a child 2
Iris as a child
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

As was usual in those days, Iris left the Council on her marriage and was presented with the testimonial shown below. Jimmy received something very similar from his colleagues at the newspaper. The name of Hubert Jacques can be seen on Jimmy's testimonial. Hubert edited The Herald at that time, having succeeded the original editor, his father, Alfred.

Iris and Jimmy were married at Epsom Parish Church on 28 April 1928.

Presentation Letter to Iris James' Presentatiom Card Iris and Jimmy's wedding photo
Iris and Jimmy's wedding photo and ephemera
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Hubert Jacques died in 1937, aged only 49, and Jimmy was appointed Editor of the paper, a position he filled with distinction. He was highly respected and noted for his journalistic integrity. Iris also wrote for the paper.

One of Iris's journalistic business cards
One of Iris's journalistic business cards
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Later in life Jimmy took up bowls and was a founder member of the Epsom Park Bowling Club; he was a nature-lover and keen gardener. During the Second World War most of his reporters were in the Forces, but he still kept the paper running and also did regular fire-watching. Sadly, he died in November 1945 at the age of 69. His funeral was held at St Barnabas, Temple Road (the road in which he and Iris lived at 'Tresco') and he was buried in Epsom Cemetery.

James Wall on Honeymoon
James Wall on Honeymoon
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Iris served on the committee of the Literary Society for over 50 years and was made its vice-president in 1966. She was also an acknowledged expert in local history and Secretary of the 'Lest We Forget' Association.

Iris in later life
Iris in later life

Iris lived in Heathcote Road, Epsom ultimately and died in August 1990, aged 91; she was cremated at Randalls Park Crematorium, Leatherhead.

Linda Jackson © February 2012


Webmasters note: Many back copies of The Herald are available at Ewell Library (Bourne Hall) and Bourne Hall Museum see our Local Newspapers page.


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