William Charles Arthur Smith



William, known as Dick, was the only child of William Smith (1883 - 1961) and his wife Ruth (1880 - 1914), nee House, whose farm, Reading Road Dairy Farm, was bordered by Old Woosehill Lane. Ruth died two days after Dick was born and, for the first few years of his life he was brought up by his grandmother, Mary Smith, nee Houlton (1855-1940).

After Dick left school he worked with his father on the farm until August 1933, at the age of nineteen, he enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corp in which he served in Egypt and Palestine, during the Arab Israeli unrest in 1935-37.

Dick married Francis Zonnebeke (Zonnie) Brant (1914-1986), in St Paul's Church in August 1939. Zonnie was the daughter of Ada (1884 - 1963), nee Bolton, and Henry Brant (1885 - 1914). She was one of the many children who were christened with the name of the place at which their father had been killed in the First World War. Zonnebeke in Belgium was the scene of the first battle of Ypres, where thousands of British soldiers lost their lives.

Dick and Zonnie had a son, William (b. 1943).

During the Second World War Zonnie was employed by Metalair, Emmbrook a manufacturer of emergency equipment for aircraft. Through her work she took shooting lessons on the firing range at the rear of the Drill Hall.

In the early years of the War, Dick, now a sergeant instructor, was posted to numerous training depots, the last being at 202 O.C.T.U R.A.S.C. Southend. He was then posted to the Gold Coast in September 1944 where he was attached to the Royal West African Frontier Force coy W.A.A.S.C. From there he was posted to India for the intended invasion of Japan.

After his discharge from the army in January 1946, Dick returned to Wokingham where he applied to join the local police force. Unfortunately he was deemed too old. For a short time he worked at Wokingham railway depot but this came to an end when he was found to be colour blind. He then found employment as a shop assistant and driver with Hosler Ltd., builders and ironmongers, of 42 Station Road. His next job was at the original Corner Garage at Emmbrook, opposite the Rifle Volunteer, owned by his brother in law. Finally, in the late 1950s Dick found work as a storeman for Raydne of Molly Millars Lane. He remained with the company until 1977 when he was forced to retire due to ill health.

First elected Councillor in May 1954, Dick had a 100% attendance record during his 22 years service, serving on all committees. He was also the town's representative on the Woosehill consultative committee, Wokingham united Charities and served as governor of Palmer School which he had attended as a boy.

Zonnie was elected Town Councillor in 1974 and served as Mayoress during William’s term of office as Mayor. During this period they attended a dinner party at Buckingham Palace.

According to his friend and colleague Stanley Bowyer, Dick was a very exact man. He did everything possible, not only for local people , but for the rest of the borough.

Dick suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Oxford Road at the age of 65 on the 9th of September 1980. He was buried in St. Paul’s Churchyard beside his mother, Ruth (1880-1914). Francis Zonnebeke was later buried beside them on the 12th of December 1986 at the age of 72.

After Dick's death, part of Old Woosehill Lane was renamed Smith's Walk in honour of his services to the town.


Former Mayors of Wokingham from 1947 - 1979, by J Bell.




“William Charles Arthur Smith,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed September 22, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0077.



Mayor in 1966

Related Resource

Smith Vase