Walter THOMAS, Mill House, Tring,




Walter Thomas was Estate Engineer for Lord Rothschild, of Tring Park


Walter Morris Thomas was born in Kent in 1860. In 1861 he was living with his parents Morris Thomas (a Shipwright born in Wales) and Mary-Ann (born in Woolwich, Kent) together with one older sibling, at 22 Coleman Street, Woolwich, Kent. In 1871 he is living with his parents in Chatham, Kent together with his younger brother John. In 1881 Walter and John are listed as lodging in Lewisham, where Walter is recorded as an engine fitter.
Walter married Mary Sutherland (born in Edinburgh in 1854) in February 1886 and had three children Phyllis Margaret in  1888, Rhoda Elizabeth in 1890 and Doris Sutherland in 1891, all born in Plaistow, Essex, where in  the 1891 census Walter was employed as a marine engineer living at 10 Plashet Road, Plaistow.

In 1872 Lord Rothschild acquired Tring Park and the associated estate which included the Silk Mill on Brook Street, and the Mill House, which was built in about 1812. The silk industry was in decline and Lord Rothschild finally closed the Silk Mill in 1898.  Walter came to Tring in 1895 and was in charge of removing the top two floors of the mill. which is said to improve the view from Tring Park.  The remaining buildings were used to house the Tring Park estate management department. The waterwheel of the mill was use to drive a generator which was used to charge a bank to large lead-acid accumulators and supply electricity to Tring Park. Walter Thomas was in charge of the laying of the electricity cables to the Mansion for this.

The changes to the mill were designed by the local architect, William Huckvale, and the operation and overall control of the former silk mill were the responsibility of Walter Thomas, who moved into the Mill House, Brook Street, with his family.


The picture shows the Mill House  in about 1896. [Tring Silk Mill]


In the 1901 census Walter is listed as a electrical engineer, living in the Mill House with his family, and a single live-in servant, Alice Emery (19, born Tring).

In 1910 his daughter, Doris, was baptised as an adult, confirmed, and admitted to holy communion in Tring Parish Church.

By 1911 he was listed as Estate engineer, with the family. Phyllis, now 22 was listed as a "student at school" and was presumable a student teacher. Rhoda, 21, is listed as having no employment, and Doris 20 is recorded as assisting with the housework. There was also a live-in servant, Elsie Potter, 14, from Weston Turville.

From 1912 until his death in 1946 Walter Morris Thomas was listed as living at Mill House, Brook Street.

Mary Thomas was buried at Tring  on 12 Feb 1938, aged 83  while Walter Morris Thomas was buried at Tring on 11 Oct 1946  aged 86.

July 2013   Page created
February 2015   Biography corrected