Life Stories - Walter Bannister

Bannister's van, c 1921

Walter Bannister

1888  - 1961 

Walter Bannister was the second of three generations of the Bannister family to run a carrier business in Ditchling.  He was born at Wales Farm in Plumpton in 1888 and would have been about 3 years old when he moved to Ditchling.   

Walter became the first motor carrier in the district but, like his father before him, in the early days he worked with horses and was out in all weathers making deliveries.  In 1927 an entry in Clarkes Directory describes his business as ‘motor carrier and contractor offering furniture removals and van hire’.  His services also extended to the village and at weekends Walter would often transport the football and cricket teams to away matches.  Similarly, he would transport the Ditchling Players when they performed in neighbouring villages. 

Ditchling resident Peter Cribb remembered Walter as a ‘Dickensian’ character who was ‘a constant attender at auction sales in the area.  My father had only to mention to him that he wanted some particular item and within a short time Bannister would bring it into the shop.  So we acquired warming pans, copper frying pans and other oddities’. 

In World War I Walter served in the Royal Marine Artillery and in World War II he was a member of the Ditchling Home Guard.   Between the wars he was Captain of the Ditchling Volunteer Fire Brigade.