Guide to Frenchay Church
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Charles Williams (1909 - 2004)

Charles Edward Williams was born in Bristol in 1909. He served an apprenticeship in electrical engineering, and always had a keen scientific mind. He seems to have acquired his first camera as he left school and started work, around 1924. He took photos both on glass plates and on film and did most of his own developing and printing. He photographed his work premises, work colleagues, and work outings - usually to Clevedon, Weymouth, Bournemouth, or Weston-Super-Mare. He also photographed Bristol, the parks and walks in its suburbs, sometimes with friends or relatives in the picture. His parents were from the Newport and Llandevaud area of Monmouthshire, so some of his earliest pictures were taken when visiting relatives there. August Bank Holiday was always spent at his aunt's home at Clehonger near Hereford, so family groups were recorded by his camera. He often made excursions from Clehonger, either into the Herefordshire countryside or into Wales.

The countryside was one of his loves, and at the beginning of the 1930s, he made at least two longer camping tours to the north of Scotland on his motorbike and sidecar. Devon and Cornwall were other, nearer, holiday locations.

He was a keen radio ham (call-sign G8DP), several times taking part in, and photographing, the Radio Society of Great Britain's National Field Day on Dundry Hill. In 1940, he moved to Liverpool, and during WW2, he worked in the Air Ministry, developing radar on Lancaster bombers. After the war, he opened an electrical business, repairing small electrical apparatus, mainly radio sets, but he was also in the forefront of experimentation with television. His last job was as a lecturer in electronic engineering at Workington Technical College, from where he retired in 1974.

He served on Workington lifeboat from 1948 to 1958 in charge of communications, but regretfully, he had to give this up when he moved inland. He was a man who could turn his hand to anything, from Higher Mathematics to woodworking, to plumbing, to vegetable gardening. When computers were first mooted, he built his own, before the days when you could buy one. He took up his last hobby, astronomy, in his late eighties, avidly reading the latest technical magazines and setting up his telescope in the garden.

The other love of his life was music, particularly church music and the organ, which he learnt to play at an early age. Church choir outings from Bristol were the subject of many more of his photos. He played on, repaired, or rebuilt, many of the church organs in Cumbria, and was organist and choirmaster at various churches. Church architecture featured in some of his photos. At the beginning of the 1970s, he bought a 35mm camera with which he photographed his grandchildren, views of the Lake District where he lived, and day trips to Scotland.

Charles Williams died in June 2004, a month short of his 95th birthday.

Biographical details provided by Jennifer Tinnion, 24 November 2004.

Copyright notice
The copyright on the photograph of Frenchay Church under repair belongs to Jennifer Tinnion.

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