The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

Posthumous MBE for 'Mr Snow'

By Tim Soles

This article was published in the March 2000 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society. 


As far as I know, we do not seem to have many notable Soles in the Society's records, but please do tell me if you know of any. So I am privileged to be able to tell you about my Uncle Roy who was the youngest of seven SOLE children born to Thomas Soul and Winifred Lily Pulham in Great Rollright, Oxfordshire. There were 4 brothers, Cecil, Gerald, Frederick (my father), and Sidney and 2 sisters, Nina (who died as a baby) and Dorothy.

The interesting feature of the surname is that the spelling has changed three times in three generations. Although my grandfather was a SOUL, his children were christened as SOLE, at least to start with. Apparently, my great grandfather, also a Thomas SOUL, was a difficult man to deal with. At some stage my grandmother had a serious argument with her father-in-law and vowed that she no longer wished to be associated with the SOLE family. At this time an 'S' was added to the end of the surname and used by the family, even though the four oldest boys had been christened SOLE.

My Uncle Roy was a highly regarded man and this is a tribute paid to him by his local paper:

From the Banbury Guardian 31st January 1997

A man who died a day before his 76th birthday has been awarded the MBE for his outstanding service as a senior highways engineer for Oxfordshire County Council.

Roy Soles, born in Great Rollright near Chipping Norton, and who, apart from his war service, worked in Oxfordshire all his life, was famous for masterminding clearing work in snow and ice in the Chipping Norton area.

From his depot in Banbury Road, Chipping Norton, he organised fleets of gritters, snow-ploughs and contractors' machinery and worked around the clock clearing drifts, spreading salt and keeping the public informed.

During the severe winters of 1964 and 1983 he was dubbed "Mr Snow" by the press for his hard work.

Away from work his interests included a strong passion for hockey, cricket and rugby and he played hockey for Oxford Hawks from 1948 and was still umpiring well into his 70's!

He played for the county from 1949 to 1958 and again in the 60's and was patron of the club for five years.

"He was a marvellous man" said county council engineer Colin Carritt. "He really gave his life to Chipping Norton and the surrounding area."

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