William Anderson Walker : Obituary

Manchester Grammar School


Amongst those who lost their lives by the foundering of the S.S. “ Titanic ” was the subject of this little notice, William Anderson Walker.

Those whose recollections go back to the “ Seventies ” may recollect him, and I am paying this last tribute to my schoolfellow and life-long comrade in the hope that it may catch some sympathetic eye and re-awaken memories of a man whom to know was to admire and esteem.

Walker was of North of Ireland extraction, and came to the School in the early seventies. His was an unobtrusive but compelling personality. Above the medium height, slim yet muscular and graceful, his aquiline features and dark brown eye no more indicated his Irish extraction than did his quiet and retiring demeanour. Yet without any apparent effort he was one of those men who “ get there.” His savoir faire was remarkable, but it was always allied to a genial, calm, unruffled, self-confidence which never gave offence nor invited undue familiarity of address. His genius was essentially practical, and though he had a cultured and cultivated taste in art, music, and literature, he allowed himself no flights of rhetoric or imagination. Like so many of us, he was “ to fortune and to fame unknown,” and his school days were unmarked by startling success or failure.

After being “ form mates ” at school, by a piece of good fortune we were enabled to enter the counting house of Messrs. Louis Behrens and Sons, of Portland Street, and so for a further term of years we were daily and hourly associated in the closest intimacy of friendship. At Messrs. Behrens’s we found three other schoolfellows in the persons of the late W. S. Legge, E. W. Place and T. Kingdon, and later on we were joined by J. H. Roebuck. We thus formed a small O.M. [Old Mancunians] Society, and never was there a more harmonious brotherhood. At business Walker’s talents, ability and industry soon made their mark, in what was a first-class school of commerce.

After a successful career of some seven or eight years, during the latter part of which he travelled extensively in France for Messrs. Behrens, he was recommended by Major Emil A. Behrens—the present head of the firm—to Messrs. Mandleburg, of Albion Works, Pendleton, and went to the United States on the latter firm’s behalf. There he built up an extensive and successful business, and Messrs. Mandleburg deeply deplore his untimely death.

With the exception of an annual visit to this country the rest of his life was spent in the United States; but had he remained in Manchester I believe his great worth and ability would have brought him to the front of our commercial and civic life. He was for a time an ardent member of the old “ First Manchester ” Rifle Volunteers. He was no mean oarsman, and whilst opportunity served Mark Addy’s boats had no better patrons than the amateurs from 41, Portland Street. Walker was stroke of the “ Office ” Four, and never have I (as yet) dipped an oar into such a Stygian stream as then had to serve us.

Years ago Walker and I went to visit, for the last time, another Grammar School chum upon whom the Great White Plague had laid its compelling hand. The victim after a long and vain struggle, kept up heroically against heavy odds to help a widowed mother, and was cheerfully facing the sunset.

It was in the Grey Room of a Manchester Warehouse, and as he said Good-bye he remarked, almost gaily, “ Well, boys, we don’t measure life over a five yards table, do we? And I have really lived a long time, and been very happy.” Like Rdnan he was thankful for his passage through Reality, and if the offer came would accept it again; but he added with a sigh, “ I think it is a lot cheaper for a poor man to die.” As we came away Walker said : “ Well, old man, when we have waded as far into the Dark River as Frank, I hope we shall face it as bravely as he does.”

In my own mind I am certain he did, and though the ‘noiseless tenor of his way’ ’ ended in sudden and black eclipse, his brave soul would not be found wanting. Heroically he died amidst a band of heroes, and it is well for our School to keep such a memory green.

Vale atque vale.

John B. Bardsley

This item appeared in the May 1912 issue of Ulula the Manchester Grammar School magazine

Related Biographies:

William Anderson Walker


Manchester Grammar School Archives (Rachel Kneale, Archivist)


Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) William Anderson Walker : Obituary (Ulula, May 1912, ref: #459, published 1 May 2021, generated 4th May 2021 08:25:19 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/william-anderson-walker-obituary.html