Springs 1922Sir John Wormald - Corporate Entertainer

Based at the firm's London Office as a Director of the celebrated engineering company, Mather & Platt Ltd., Sir John Wormald made available his home and grounds - at 'Springs' in North Stoke near Wallingford - to the company's London personnel and their partners for days of relaxation and recreation on a number of occasions. One particular gathering was reported in the company's Journal for August 1922 and is reproduced here with images adapted from that same article.

"In spite of the absence of any real summer weather, (no change there then) the staff of our London Office has had an enjoyable time this year. On June 17th, every member was invited by Sir John Wormald to spend the whole day with him at his home in Oxfordshire. Favoured by fine if somewhat cold weather, a thoroughly enjoyable time was passed.

'Springs' makes an ideal setting for such an occasion, with its black and white half-timbered house filled with fine examples of old English furniture, Chinese porcelain and brasses, and other Art treasures collected by Sir John from every corner of the earth, in all of which the visitors showed great interest.

Then there were the grounds with the charming lake, the grass walks, tennis lawns, the cricket field and the gardens, in which to stroll about - and last, but not least, the quaint Billiard Room, lined with the great oars and other rowing trophies won by his son, Captain Leslie Wormald, in many a historic struggle at Putney and Henley.

We noted amongst the winning oars three for Oxford against Cambridge in the Varsity Boat Race, three for the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley and another for the World Championship at the * Olympic (1912) Regatta.

In the same room are two magnificent heads of the Russian Elk, shot on the borders of Lake Ladoga, by Mr. John Baddeley, who for many years was our representative in St. Petersburg. One of these is the largest recorded in the British Game Book.

Making an early start from Paddington, the guests arrived at Springs at about 11am. No time was lost in getting down to the serious business of the day. Play in some of the later rounds of the London Office Lawn Tennis Tournament was begun at once, and an American Tournament started, whilst those not taking part in any of these events strolled about and enjoyed the house and grounds, boated on the Thames - down to which the grounds extend - or tried their luck at clock-golf.

H.R.H. King Edward VIILunch was served at 12.30 in the Village Hall (built by Sir John in 1911 as a memorial to the late King Edward) and, when that was over, the great event of the day commenced, a 'rag' cricket match between teams of unlimited number, one composed of ladies and the other of men - Beauties versus Beasts - the latter having to bat, bowl and field left-handed. The Ladies' side was captained by Mr. Frank Wallers, appropriately attired in female garb, whilst the brunt of the bowling was borne by Miss Newell, who made a most enthusiastic cricketer and took lots of wickets.The umpire worked hard to encompass a win for the ladies, constantly giving quite inexcusable decisions in their favour and insisting upon four being scored for every 'wide' bowled by the men. But, in spite of all his efforts, the Beasts won, after a close and exciting finish, by nine runs.

Tea was served at 4.30 in the House, followed later by supper, after which the guests, a merry, smiling crowd, departed to catch their train back to London."

* Leslie Wormald was a member of the record-breaking British Olympic gold VIII of 1912 in Stockholm. Britain had to wait almost another 90 years before this level of achievement could be replicated - which it was, in Sydney, at the 2000 Games.

The 1912 VIII Boat:
Edgar Burgess, Philip Fleming, Arthur Garton, James Gillan,
Ewart Horsfall, Alister Kirby, Sidney Swann, Leslie Wormald, Henry Wells.

Leslie Wormald was also a member of the Oxford crew (1911) that sank during the Varsity Race!

John Wormald Biographyle