Lieut-Colonel William Henry Fry R.E. (T) was appointed as Surveyor to the Gosport and Alverstoke Urban District Council on 30 January 1881 and continued as surveyor until 1897. His salary was reported to be £225 per annum in 1897. He retired to ‘Guestling’ at Catisfield.
His father was Philip James Fry, a ‘Gentleman’. On Oct 26 1882 Lieut-Colonel Fry married Sophia Rose of Stoke Road Gosport. At that time he was living in Portland House, Bury Road, Gosport, previously owned by Samuel Turner Blake the Gosport Brewer. Their son, also William Henry Fry, whilst a Captain in the Hampshire (Fortress) Engineers, Royal Engineers, was awarded the Military Cross in the Birthday Honours list in June 1916 for his service in France. During this time he was twice mentioned in despatches. He rose to the rank of Lieut-Colonel. R.A. and died January 27 1951.
During his tenure as Council Surveyor W.H.Fry undertook the numbering of houses in Gosport Roads and the naming of many of them using Minton Tiles, some of which survive today.
As Surveyor to the Council W.H.Fry designed Gosport Park, which opened on 18 June 1891 and noon after which nearly 5,000 people were present. According to a report in the Portsmouth Evening News on 18 June 1891, the park was constructed on Ewer Common, described as ‘a trackless waste of twenty-seven acres covered with furze’.
It came into the possession of the Alverstoke Local Board, conveyed from the Ecclesiastical commissioners, for a sum of less than £100, to whom it formerly belonged. A piece of land ‘that was useless, except as a camping ground for gipsies’, was transformed into a well laid out recreation ground with a cycle track and running path. The egg-shaped track was about three laps to the mile with the curves making easy sweeps. An unsightly gravel pit was turfed to make excellent courts for tennis, the sloping sides of which were to shelter the players and keep the balls from straying too far. A spacious carriage drive ran around the whole ground. The estimated cost of laying out the ground was £3,000. The Alverstoke Board had the power to close the park for 14 days each year so that they could hold race meetings, flower show as and other entertainments from which ‘gate’ money could be taken. the plans of the park, the cricket ground, cycle track and running path were designed by mr. W.H. Fry surveyor to the local board. and ‘everything reflects the greatest credit on him, especially the ingenious construction of the cricket ground and cycle track’. An avenue of trees was planted at the entrance and the ground was laid out with trees.
For a short while after 1920 a World War One Mk IV tank with accompanying field guns were on display in Gosport Park.
Gosport’s War Memorial Tank
On Saturday 16 April 1898 the Hampshire Telegraph reported that Mr Fry had produced three sets of plans for Mr T.N. Blake’s proposed Isolation Hospital. These plans became ‘valueless when Mr Blake took the work out of the hands of the council. The Isolation Hospital Committee awarded Fry the sum of 50 guineas for his services.
W.H. Fry died at ‘Guestling’ Catisfield at the age of 62 on Friday 1st September 1922 and was buried at Ann’s Hill Cemetery on Tuesday 19 September 1922. His wife Annie Sophia died Sept 25 1935 and is buried with him in a well maintained grave.
Following the death of Sophia, wife of Colonel W.H. Fry, on Saturday 24 July 1937, 25 freehold properties were listed for sale as part of his estate:
167 Forton Road – Double fronted shop
169-171 Forton Road together with extensive freehold land to the rear consisting of Nos 1 to 16 White’s Place Forton with a frontage of 65ft and a depth of 266ft. All to be demolished.
7 Beach Street – Freehold shop and dwelling house with nos 1 to 7 Harlem Place at the rear, all to be demolished.
The Making of Gosport Park
various editions of:
The Hampshire Telegraph
The Portsmouth News