The Death of Mr William Sole of Ascot, age 93
by John Sole
This article was originally published in the July 1997 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
The death last week of Mr. William Sole (93), the founder of the South Ascot coal and coke merchant W. Sole Ltd. marked the end of an era in Ascot.
Over the last 70 years he had watched the small village of Ascot surrounded by open countryside develop into the dormitory town it is today.
In 1901 he came to Ascot as a labourer on a road gang and liking what he saw he and a friend decided to stay. With only £25 between them they decided to start a local delivery service.
Giving up their jobs on the gang they went to London's Elephant and Castle horse market and bought a horse and cart. As both men had little knowledge of horses they were thrilled with the first purchase in their business.
Returning to Ascot the horse quickly became tired and needed to rest at frequent intervals. Eventually when they had reached Virginia Water the horse completely gave up the ghost and refused to budge an inch further.
Displaying the determination that made his business into such a success later, Mr. Sole and his friend loaded the horse on to the cart and trekked the last few miles into Ascot pushing the horse.
It isn't recorded whether the villagers turned out to cheer the men home; the next thing known of Mr. Sole is that he bought two cows which he milked; bottled, the milk was delivered around the village. Later the two took on haulage jobs with now rejuvenated horse.
All went well until 1914 when Mr. Sole was called up and had to sell his flourishing business; he joined the cavalry.
In 1919 he came back to Ascot with big plans and little money. By 1921 he had a team of 12 horses and carts and had moved into coal deliveries as well as haulage.
Although Mr. Sole loved horses and used to take his sons riding in Windsor Park he wasn't slow to notice the advent of motorised transport and by the time the Second World War came most of his fleet was motorised.
At home cars were welcome also and in 1920 he bought a Model T Ford ‑ one of the first in the area. He changed cars regularly until 1939 when he bought a Rover which is still in the family.
After the war he passed the business on to his three sons but said his son George who now runs the firm "He was always boss even after he retired."
At the late Mr‑ Sole's funeral on Mondav at All Souls Church, South Ascot many villagers turned up to say good‑bye to an old friend who remembered when all of Ascot was a green and pleasant land.
William Joseph Sole was born in Kelshall, Hertfordshire in February 1878, the son of Thomas and Julia Ann Sole. He was the sixth of ten children, all girls apart from himself and the eldest, Daniel Edward.
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