Harry Warr joined his father George* in business as a plumber and house decorator when he left Clapham Terrace School aged thirteen in 1923. By the outbreak of WW2, he had become a Special Constable, and joined the Police War Reserve. In October 1943, Harry was drafted into the Navy, and the business was ‘mothballed’ until he was demobbed in 1947.
He re-opened as “H A Warr, Builder, Decorator and Plumber”, with a workshop at 167 Leam Terrace, next door to the family home. An undated archive photograph taken by Diocesan Architect Kit Smith shows Harry sitting astride the ridge of the Parish Church roof, carrying out repairs, – no scaffolding, safety harness, gloves, boots or helmet in those days. A fellow workman waits on a ladder at the foot of the slope. The photograph was taken by Kit from a safe vantage point inside the tower! The business closed when Harry died in 1978.
What is not widely known now is that Harry was also a well-known local musician and bandleader, who played banjo and guitar for dances in Leamington, Warwick, Kenilworth, Whitnash, – in fact, all over the Midlands, under different band names at different times.
Harry’s wife Edie, whose day job was as waitress and part time cashier at the Pump Room Restaurant, was also very much involved. Each time the band changed its name, it was Edie’s job to make and embroider the name on the music stand “drapes”. She also went with Harry to the gigs, riding on the back of his motorbike, in all weathers, holding on to the instruments, the music and the stands. She was overjoyed when Harry acquired a sidecar, only to find that this was set aside for the kit and she still had to ride pillion to each venue.
Fortunately, Edie was very resilient, – she lived to be over 100, agreeing to be interviewed on tape for History@BathPlace, but unwilling to disclose her date of birth. The recording can be heard elsewhere on this website.
*G C Warr started in business in Leamington in 1903
Sources: Leamington History Group Archive; Sound recording of Edie’s memories, Leamington Courier, Census Returns, courtesy of The National Archives