Robert William Hanwell 1926-2015
Donnigton Castle Chapter No.856
Robert William Hanwell or Bob as he was known to his many friends was born in Hull on 14th November 1926. From all the stories that Bob has told me about those early years, he had a happy childhood growing up and would often reminisce of those early days in Hull. Particularly going down to the quayside with friends watching the fishing fleet put to sea and then return days or even weeks later with their catch.
At the outbreak of World War 2, life changed dramatically for Bob and so many of his young friends. Bob was conscripted to serve as a ‘Bevan Boy’ and went to work at a very young age in the Yorkshire coal mines. The work was hard and dirty; Bob even joked, that at the end of the long shift, he looked like a little African boy and not a young lad from Hull!
Having finished a few years service as a Bevan Boy, Bob was conscripted to join the Army and volunteered for the Royal Military Police. He actually ended up spending most of his service in Germany.
On leaving the Army, Bob went to work as a cellar man for his Uncle, who had just taken over a large Public House opposite Kew Bridge in London. Bob enjoyed the Pub life and got on really well with his Uncle, but always had a yearning to be a Policeman. After a few years in the Pub at Kew, Bob’s Uncle was offered a Pub in Windsor, which he accepted and naturally, wanted Bob to go with him, which he did. In was whilst in Windsor, that the local Police Inspector became a good friend of Bob’s Uncle, who explained to him that Bob was really interested in joining the Police Force. Within a matter of weeks, Bob was interviewed, passed his exams and accepted into the Berkshire Police Force.
Bob’s first posting was Maidenhead Police Station and it was here that he met his great friend Tudor White, who had just finished his service with the Royal Navy. Bob and Tudor would remain great friends until Tudor’s death in 1998.
Bob’s next posting was to Farringdon, where he was to spend the next several years and where he met his wife Dorrie.
After Farringdon, Bob and Dorrie moved to Pangbourne and finally ended up living at Sulhampstead (Police Training College) where Bob was a driving Instructor. Bob served in the Police Force for 30 years and told some great stories of some of the characters he had to deal with, arrests that he had made and some of the celebrities that he had pulled over when he worked on traffic. Great stories!
After the Police Force, Bob worked for several years as a Bailiff for Newbury District Council until his retirement. By this time, Bob and Dorrie were living in their own house in Thatcham.
Bob was a very committed Freemason and thoroughly enjoyed his Freemasonry. He was initiated in the Ascot Lodge on 25th May 1974 and was Installed as Worshipful Master on 30th April 1988. Bob was very proud of Ascot Lodge and was a great supporter of the Lodge for many years. The Lodge made Bob an Honorary member in June 2014. Bob also achieved the high office of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden for the Masonic Province of Berkshire.
In other Masonic orders, Bob was a Royal Arch Mason and former member of The Hope Chapter in Newbury. He also served the Royal Arch Province of Berkshire as Provincial Grand Janitor for a number of years.
Bob also thoroughly enjoyed the Ancient & Accepted Rite and was perfected into the Windsor Castle Rose Croix Chapter meeting in Windsor, later joining the Donnington Castle Rose Croix Chapter meeting in Newbury.
Bob thoroughly enjoyed his Freemasonry and had many good friends around the Province of Berkshire. He always had a story to tell and his catalogue of jokes was second to none! How he remembered them all, I do not know. I honestly think that he must have made some of them up. One of his finest was the story about the ‘window cleaner at the vicarage’, certainly not for me to share with you today!
Bob was always good company to be with, forthright in his views and adamant that he and he alone would look after Dorrie as her health sadly deteriorated over the past several years. So much so, that Bob would not venture out of the house, apart to go shopping. Needless to say, in the last two years, we have hardly seen Bob at a Masonic meeting. But we have kept in touch with phone calls and several home visits every week. He was certainly not forgotten by his many friends in Freemasonry, who offered him comfort and support until the end.
Bob Hanwell certainly lived respected & died regretted, may he rest in peace