Yeovil People

Henry John 'Harry' Spinner

Went down with the Titanic


Henry John Spinner, known as Harry, was born in the spring of 1880 at Worcester - the other major glove manufacturing town in England. He was the youngest of the six children of inn keeper and glover George Spinner (1843-1924) and Ellen née Taylor (1844-1904). George and Ellen's children were; Emma (1864-1945), George (1866-1949), Ann (1869-1935), Elizabeth (1873-1948), Albert (b1877) and Harry.

Harry appeared in the 1881 census living at Lower Cheshunt Street in Caines, Worcestershire, but would be living at 29 Friar Street in Helen's, Worcestershire, by the time of the 1891 census where his father was innkeeper of the Crown Inn. His family would later move back to Lower Cheshunt Street. As a young man aged 15, Harry rescued a young boy from drowning when he dived into the Worcester canal fully clothed and dragged the boy to safety. He was an excellent swimmer, having won both trophies and medals for swimming. Harry served in the Royal Marines during the Russo-Japanese War when he was stationed on HMS Orion in the China Seas. He was listed in the 1901 census as an unmarried soldier based in Eastney Barracks in Portsmouth, Hampshire. He later became a glove cutter, like his father before him.

In the autumn of 1907, at Worcester, Harry married Harriett Alice Walker. They moved to Yeovil after their marriage and set up home at 26 Vincent Street. Harry worked as a glove cutter. On 25 August 1908, their daughter Alice Maud Winifred was born and baptised at St John's church on 18 September 1908.

By the time of the 1911 census, Harry and Harriett, both aged 30, together with two-year old Alice had moved to Glenville Road. Harry gave his occupation as a glove cutter at a glove manufactory. Harry was noted as a "valued playing member and committee man" of Yeovil Town Football Club.

It appears that later in 1911, or early in 1912, Harry took his family back to Worcester. Already having made several Atlantic crossings in the past, in the spring of 1912 Harry prepared to make another crossing on board the RMS Titanic.

With the intention of visiting Gloversville, New York, USA, Harry joined the Titanic, sailing Third Class on ticket number 369943. It cost him £8 1s 0d (around £850 at today's value). After leaving Southampton on 10 April 1912, Titanic called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland before heading west to New York. On 14 April, four days into the crossing and about 375 miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 pm ship's time. The collision caused the hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard (right) side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea; she could only survive four flooding.

"The Titanic must have had her bottom taken nearly away from the 1st Class to the Steerage for she went down gradually, bit by bit, it was awful to watch her but worse still to see the crowds of people on board still when she broke in two, which she did a few moments before she sank, going down with a huge explosion." (letter from Yeovil survivor Marion Wright to her father).

32-year old Harry Spinner went down with the Titanic. His body was not recovered. Harriett died in Worcester in the spring of 1927, aged 70. 




Henry John 'Harry' Spinner, photographed with his father George, wife Harriett and their baby daughter Alice.


RMS Titanic departing Southampton on 10 April 1912 on her maiden voyage. Harry was on board and went down with the ship four days later.


The record of Harry Spinner in the crew records of the RMS Titanic. Harry's death was recorded as 'supposed drowning'. Note that the record states that Harry was a grocer of Worcester.


A report from the 19 April 1912 edition of the Western Chronicle reporting the survival of the Titanic disaster of Marion Wright (who was actually a Second Class passenger) and the death of Third Class passenger Harry Spinner.


A report from the 26 April 1912 edition of the Western Chronicle advertising the charity football match in aid of Harriett and Alice. A similar notice appeared in the 3 May 1912 edition of the Western Gazette.


Courtesy of Michael West

A 6d admission ticket for the Yeovil Football Club benefit match in aid of Harriett and Alice.


The result of the 'Spinner Fund' as reported in the 10 May 1912 edition of the Western Chronicle. The sum of £33 13s 9d was raised for Harriett and Alice (around £12,000 at today's value).