Canal hero
100 years after the Leeds & Liverpool Canal opened, one local boatman gave his life for his country. Wilson Spencer was born in Windhill in 1879 and at the time of the 1901 census he was living alone on the barge ‘Sarah’ moored “somewhere on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between the basin with the Bradford Canal and Bingley.” Ten years on and Wilson was still working as a canal bargeman but was now living in a three-roomed house at 68 School Hill, Windhill with his wife Eliza. The couple had been married nine years and Wilson appears to have taken in children, Mabel and Allan Binns from Eliza’s earlier marriage. They also had two children together John Wilson Spencer, aged 4, and Esther May Spencer aged three months. It appears that two more children had died. Wilson joined the West Yorkshire Regt to fight for King and Country and was killed at the battle of the Somme on 14 July 1916.
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