With only two days to go until the Time to Remember event on Sunday 01 May, the last instalment in our Farnham Remembers series remembers local Wrecclesham potters Harry Corrigan and Jim Nixon and their contribution to the First World War.
The Wrecclesham potteries run by the family of A Harris and Sons comprised of an 18 strong workforce at the outbreak of the Great War. Many of the workers were family members, but there were also some skilled potters and apprentices who lived in Farnham. Only the younger members of this workforce were called to serve, which meant that the Wrecclesham pottery was able to continue throughout the war.
One Wrecclesham pottery apprentice who was called to serve in the Great War was Harry James Corrigan. He joined the Territorial Army Force in 1911 and in 1914 was enlisted into the Royal West Surrey Regiment. During the war he served in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and Afghanistan. Harry was injured during his time in Afghanistan after he received a bullet wound to his right leg and was therefore posted to assist with the running of the Civil Jail in Nasiriyar until his demobilisation in 1919. Harry was awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, 1914-1918 War Medal, the Great War for Civilisation Medal 1914-1919 and the Afghanistan North-West Frontier Star 1919 for his service.
Harry returned to the Wrecclesham pottery in 1920 and was asked to make an apprentice piece of pottery. The jug he produced reflected the styles of pottery he encountered whilst serving in the war. Harry continued to work at the pottery until he retired at 84.
Another Wrecclesham potter who served in the Great War was Albert James ‘Jim’ Nixon, who was conscripted in 1917 into the 11th Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment. Although it was illegal to keep such a document, Jim kept a diary of his movements during the time he served, which records that he travelled from Colchester to Folkstone on Sept 17th 1917 and then through Belgium and France. Jim was awarded The Medaille d’Honeur des Affaires Etrangere for his efforts in holding a position and repelling the enemy as a Lewis Gunner.
After returning from the war, Jim resumed his work at Wrecclesham pottery. One of the first pieces he made was a set of two plates, upon which he inscribed the places he served with the Suffolk Regiment. He also made a hanging strap for the plates with a piece of string and two army buttons. Jim continued to work for the potteries until an injury to his thumb in the early 1960’s forced him to retire. He died, aged 81, in 1979.
Jim Nixon and Harry Corrigan worked alongside the Harris family members to produce a great number of pots in various styles and sizes. For many years they kept their tales of the war as private memories, but in recent years their families have been able to discover more and preserve Jim and Harry’s stories.
Top photograph of Jim Nixon: donated by the Cunningham family.