William Chinn, known as Bill to his friends, was married for 65 years to Miriam Smith of Shirrell Heath.

He had three brothers and one sister. Brother Frank and sister, Catherine, both died in infancy. Brother Victormoved to Australia where he was part of a road-building team in the 1930’s, and Reg lived in Somerset for most of his life.

Bill had four children, Rosemary, Sheila, Arthur and Barbara.  He also had four grandchildren, Jacqueline, Lee, Justin and Kelly and six great-grandchildren, Josh, Patrick, Georgia, Tilly, Jack and Sam.

Work Life

Most of his adult life, William was a market gardener in Twynhams Hill, Shirrell Heath, where he and Miriam lived.

He worked for Tom Churcher as a labourer then at Park Place.  In 1932 he worked at Edney’s, Chesapeake Mill, Wickham.  At that time, William had a band called the Roosters.  Their theme tune was, “Let’s all sing like the birdies sing”.

On leaving the RAF, Bill spent a short time working for Mr Roberts at Frith Farm (where his wife was a milk-maid). However, when Mr Roberts told him off for talking too much to the girls, he made up his mind to work for himself.

Using the land around his house and renting allotments nearby, he and Miriam became Market Gardeners, and brought up a family of 4 children from the money he made!


William enjoyed playing billiards, was good with his hands and, although the work wasn’t always perfect, it stood the test of time. He made toys for the kids, snowballs in the snow, fireworks for Bonfire Night and an assortment of wooden bowls, door-stops and egg cups.  He laid cement paths and floors, dug trenches for water pipes and anything else people asked of him. He ploughed fields and sowed seeds, reaped crops and sold them at Hampshire Growers or on his vegetable rounds.

He rode motorbikes well into his 70’s and took part in competitive trials during the 1960’s and ‘70’s.  He made a scramble track at the bottom on his field and ended up in the hedge on more than one occasion.  He loved speedway, deep-sea fishing and air displays.  His great love of hunting and shooting continued into his later life and filled the family cooking pot for many years.

His generous nature, whistle as he walked and maroon beret, his bowl of sop and love of corned beef, his harmonica and accordion, his loathing of ivy strangling trees and his love of the countryside made him a memorable character in Shirrell Heath.

Family History Website