History and Heritage

William Norcliffe Earle


Mr William Norcliffe Earle born in Uppingham Rutland in 1861 was living in Preswylfa Neath in 1911, along with his wife Florence Louisa Earle nee Grasett, who was born in Hereford in 1873. The home was described as having 18 rooms and their son Joseph B Earle, born at Port Talbot in 1905 had a governess Clara Sollas with the household maintaining several servants namely: a cook Esther Evans, 2 parlour maids Mary Eleanor Kidward and Margaret Mary Williams, a housemaid Gertrude Ethel and a kitchen maid Ernest William Knill.
The Earle's were married in Hereford in 1893 and had two other children: a daughter Gladys Marjorie Earle born 1895 and a son Eric Norcliffe G Earle born 1899.
In 1901 the family address was Craigavon House Port Talbot and this was also run by staff: Kate Kinsey the parlour maid. Gertrude Powell the cook and Amy Cooper the household domestic. A domestic nurse Edith Kinsey is also registered although their younger son was not born until 1905.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, 1st July 1944:-


The death occurred on Thursday of last week, of Mr William Norcliffe Earle, Lugge Vale Hereford, who was for 17 years managing director of the Ystalyfera Tinplate Works. He was in his 83rd year and Mr Earle is survived by his widow and a daughter, who is the wife of Mr Holderness, the present manager of the works. The funeral took place at Hereford.
The news of Mr Earle's death recalls the happy time that was experienced by the employees of the works under his management. He came to Ystalyfera when the works were at low ebb and by strenuous efforts brought prosperity to the undertaking. Warm tributes were paid to him on his retirement as a model employer. It was said that he possessed in a high degree the qualities necessary in a successful employer, namely, energy,, integrity and consideration for his employees. Differences were amiably settled owing to the fair spirit in which Mr Earle had always met the men.
On the occasion of his retirement in March 1924, Mr Earle entertained the Staff and workmen tea at the Church Hall Ystalyfera and he and Mrs L were presented with a chiming clock, a watch and a silver tea urn. The idea of marking Mr Earle's retirement had been taken up unanimously and enthusiastically; every employee had joined in the movement.
Speakers at the social said the regret at the impending departure of Mr Earle was not confined to the employees of the works. The workmen and those outside the works could not help recalling the regular and indifferent manner in which the works were carried on for many years prior to Mr Earle's advent to the place. That seemed like an act of Providence, but no sooner had Mr Earle taken over and all was changed. During his 17 years as managing director the works had been carried on regularly and steadily and had the reputation of being the last to stop and the first to restart. This was attributable to his concern for the well-being and benefit of all his employees. It was also said that he was a good manager and a good man and that he had humanised relations between employer and employees. He dealt with his men as men and not machines. When the historian came to write the history of Ystalyfera, it was certain that a generous tribute should be paid to the great part played by Mr Earle in providing regular work and thus increasing the material comforts of a large number of the inhabitants.

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