West Lulworth

a Registered One-Place Study and part of the Dorset OPC network

Jonah & the Manager of the Labour Exchange

Photographs and information courtesy of Roy Martin

William Whittle was born in East Lulworth in 1886; the eldest son of George and Mary Whittle, who were from Dorchester and Cerne Abbas respectively. The family moved to West Lulworth, where, for some reason, William acquired the nickname of Jonah. It could have been worse, as his middle names were John Thomas, he was an obvious candidate for the name Willie Whittle.

During the Great War William was in a reserved occupation; we don’t why he was chosen when his brother Bertram went to war. Bertie, as he was better known, was killed in the Dardanelles on 21 August 1915, at the same time as another villager, Ernest Budden. The village had already lost two more of its sons earlier that month. William James Charles and Alfred Joseph Legg were both killed on the 10th, also in the Dardanelles. It wasn’t only the Anzacs who suffered terrible losses in that pointless campaign.

Ten years after the end of the war there were plenty of strong young men able to work the land, and for less money than Jonah and his generation. With a wife and three daughters to feed William could not afford to take a drop in wages.

He, and his wife Annie, decided to cycle into Wareham to see if work was on offer at the Labour Exchange. At that time the exchange was managed by Reginald Holland, from behind his confectionery shop in West Street. Mr Holland told them that the only work on offer was in the armaments factory at Holton Heath; he seemed unconcerned that this was several miles further on.


The Whittles decided that the daily journey was not ‘doable’ and went back home in a despondent mood. Fortunately they were told that Dorset Council had a vacancy for a road worker. William applied. He was taken on and remained working for the Council until his retirement; though at one point he was injured when his leg was trapped in a steam roller wheel and he needed a steel plate to unite the bone.

During the Second World War he joined the Royal Observer Corps. Their lookout was near the Coastguard Station on the cliff between the west headland of the Cove and Stair Hole. There is no record of there being a branch of the Auxiliary Unit in Lulworth, if there had been Jonah would have been an ideal recruit.

Reginald Henry Holland went on to greater things. He was twice Mayor of Wareham, a Director of the Swanage and Isle of Purbeck Building Society and c.1955 he was made a Freeman of the Borough

The two men only met once more. They were photographed in Wareham outside Lady St. Mary’s Church when I married June Horsham, Reginald’s eldest granddaughter.

The Hollands, outside their shop in West Street.

Proud grandfathers: ‘Jonah’ Whittle (far left) and Reginald Holland (second from right)

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