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William Wilders – Carrier of Quorn

William Wilders was born in Quorn in 1838 and died in 1893. We are lucky to have this picture of him, as photography was still in its early days for the ordinary working person.

An article about William appeared in the Loughborough Echo in the 1990s, and this is reproduced below:

“William Wilders stands beside his pony and trap. His career gives us an insight into the uncertain world of the later nineteenth century.

Mr Wilders began work in a local quarry . His health was undermined by the arduous nature of the job and he had to find a way of making a living in some other way. In those days there were no insurances or pensions available for ordinary people who lost their livelihood.

Quorn was quietly prospering and William Wilders saw an opportunity by opening a greengrocery business. Specialisation of this kind did not take place outside of the very large urban centres until the early 1880s. By this time more people had money to spend on a more varied diet and even in a village like Quorn there were many families who lived in cottages with very small gardens and nobody available to look after an allotment.

Greengrocers bought produce from local suppliers with a surplus of fruit and vegetables and augmented their stocks by going to the markets at Loughborough or Leicester. In these larger towns once rare and exotic fruits like lemons and oranges were becoming plentiful and cheap. Probably the most spectacular fruit to enter the popular market was the banana in the 1890s which moved from being an expensive treat to a regular part of the fruit display within the decade. Doubtless the rapid spread of beliefs that bananas had hidden aphrodisiac powers boosted sales. Undoubtedly Fyffes became a household name in this era.

At first William Wilders took a lease of a cottage next to the White Hart and from here he moved to a cottage on the Banks next to Disney’s shoe shop. It was not uncommon for people who rented property to move premises so we cannot speculate about the particular reasons for this change.”

To augment his income Mr Wilders decided by the late 1880s to make use of his pony and trap by offering the public a carrying service from Quorn to Loughborough. He described himself as a common carrier and provided a regular service on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. At this time a number of common carriers plied for business in Quorn operating from Quorn and from neighbouring towns and villages. For villagers the carrier took or collected parcels and messages to and from places on the route. It was normal to call at well-known public houses and, if space and weight permitted, to take passengers in and out of Quorn. The pony probably had a hard haul at times. The children on the trap may have been members of the family or neighbours. The thrill of a trip on wheels, even to the carthouse and stable, was not to be missed. In the days before motor transport and when railway travel was comparatively expensive, the carrier was a boon.”

 view larger image
 Submitted on: 2017-02-10
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman
 Artefact ID: 1973
 Artefact URL: www.quornmuseum.com/display.php?id=1973
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own (new browser tab).

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