Who Was William Albery?

William Albery was born, 5th September, 1864 in Horsham at 49 West Street above the family saddlery business. Born to William and Ann Albery he was the youngest son with one older brother and seven sisters. He attended the local Collyer’s School where his interest in calligraphy began, a hobby he continued throughout his life.

He left school in 1876 and apprenticed in his father’s saddlery business in 1878. 

Image copyright of Horsham Museum

At 21 he took over his father’s saddlery shop and his interest in his profession extended beyond the business. He became his profession’s unofficial historian writing numerous articles about the saddlery business and becoming President of the Master Saddlery Foundation in 1935.

Albery was also a keen musician; he played the solo cornet competitively and was a founding member of the Horsham Recreation Band in 1900. Albery played with the band as bandmaster and conductor taking part successfully in competitions. The band also organised numerous fundraising concerts for a variety of local and national events. Many of the band’s colourful posters advertising their concerts are featured in this collection. The band changed its name several times and a version of it still exists today as the Horsham Borough Band.

Albery was a self-confessed socialist and member of the Labour Party. Although he joined the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of Royal Sussex Regiment in 1880, by 1900 he was a pacifist. He must still have felt a strong patriotic duty however as he joined the National Reservists in World War One. He acted on his political and personal beliefs throughout his life supporting local men down on their luck such as Henry Burtsow, an old shoe maker and well-known folk singer. Albery raised funds for Burstow in his old age through a subscription and the sale of his Reminiscences of Horsham (1907 reissued 1911) – a book Albery ghost wrote on Burstow’s behalf. Albery also employed ex-soldiers in his shop after World War One and supported local Town Crier Billy Law who won the title of Champion Town Crier of the UK in 1912.

History, the history of Horsham in particular, was a big part of Albery’s life. A member of the Horsham Museum Society, Albery successfully campaigned to become a Horsham Councillor in 1929 in order to ensure Park House became open to the public for Museum exhibits. He was a keen collector of lorinery (“metal horse bits”) which he would display in his shop - the collection is currently on display at Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum and Art Gallery. As well as lorinery he also collected documents relating to Horsham. He would often buy bundles of documents and would travel to archives at Arundel and London for more research. He wrote several books all focussed on Horsham after Burstow’s Reminiscences from the political work A parliamentary history of Horsham 1295-1885 (1926) to his final piece A millennium of Facts in the History of Horsham and Sussex 947-1947 (1947).

His legacy in Horsham from his support of the Museum Society and Museum, his collections and his literary works has now been taken even further by the Albery Poster Project, bringing his Poster collection to all through this online archive.

For More Information

Visit Horsham Museum to see exhibitions about William Albery and Lorinery.

Refer to Matthew Williams articles in Horsham Heritage Volumes 1 & 2 (available from Horsham Museum).

Contact the Community Liaison Officer to find out about talks for local clubs and societies in Horsham District.

Contact the Education Officers for information on Educational Workshops for schools.