Former Gunner Walter Stanley Zair died on 30th March 1923 of pulmonary tuberculosis, caused by his war service.
Stan, as he was known, was born at Lindenhurst, Trafalgar Road, Moseley on 12th February 1881 and was the youngest of the nine children of whip manufacturer, George Zair (1839-1914), and his wife, Fanny (née Blackburn) who had married in Great Barr in 1865. His siblings were:
- Edith Blackburn Zair (1866-1952)
- Alfred Dawson Zair (1868-1923)
- Maud Satchell Zair (1869-1958)
- Harry Arnold Zair (1871-1874)
- Fanny Russell Zair (1873-1974)
- Lilian Froud Zair (1875-1904)
- George Percy Zair (1876-1952)
- John Arthur Zair (1879-1955)
The family moved from Moseley to Solihull in the early 1880s, living in Arden Grange (a gabled Victorian mansion on Station Road) for more than 50 years. The location was convenient for commuting by train to Birmingham, which must have been useful for George Zair whose whip-making business, G and J Zair (named after George and his brother, John) was based in Bishop Street in the city.
We’re not sure where Stanley was educated. His sister, Fanny, reminisced in later life about watching her brothers play cricket whilst they were at Solihull Grammar School when Dr Wilson was headmaster. Stan seems to have been a keen sportsman, playing for Edgbaston Cricket Club by 1899, along with his brothers. He also played hockey, and the Sports Argus 30th November 1901 reported that he was so badly injured by a blow with a hockey ball on the forehead that he had to be taken to hospital for the cut to be stitched up. By 1903 he was Captain of Warwickshire’s hockey team and, in 1906, he became Captain of Solihull Cricket Club.
Stanley’s brother, John Arthur Zair, was educated at Tonbridge School where he won the Judd Mathematical Exhibition in 1897 – £80 per year for four years, tenable at “either of the universities.” He studied at Cambridge and became a teacher, becoming a partner at The Knoll Preparatory School, Woburn Sands, Bedfordshire in 1912 until his retirement in 1949.
Another brother, George Percy Zair, who also joined the family firm of whip manufacturers, was a Commandant with the Red Cross during the First World War. His Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) record gives his responsibilities as organising the Men’s Detachments of V.A.D. Warwick/1 and notes his address as The Shrubbery, Bentley Heath, Knowle.
The last survivor of the nine siblings, Fanny Zair, celebrated her 100th birthday on 18th July 1973, and was interviewed by notable local historian, Charles Lines, for an article for the Birmingham Post. Reportedly, Miss Zair had been fairly active until the age of 99, but had spent much of her 100th year confined to bed at her home, (Dial House, Park Avenue) which overlooked Malvern Park. She died in April 1974 and is buried at St Alphege Church.
Marriage and children
On 23rd April 1912, W. Stanley Zair married Eva Bethune Tonks at St Bartholomew’s Church, Tardebigge, Worcestershire, at which time Stanley was living in Rednal Road, Kings Norton. The couple were still in Kings Norton in 1915 but later moved to Burcot, near Bromsgrove and went on to have three sons – John Hubert Zair (1914-1994), George Stanley Zair (1918-1998) and Michael Henry Zair (1920-1981). All three sons are believed to have served in the Second World War
- John was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant with 13th Frontier Force Rifles, Indian Army, in November 1942
- George served as a Captain with the Army Education Corps and was based in India at the time of his marriage in 1944
- Michael attended Bromsgrove School before studying civil engineering at Birmingham University and then serving with the Air Ministry. He was ordained as a priest and served as vicar of St Leonard’s Church Marston Green 1959-1973.
W. Stanley Zair volunteered for war service in 1915, attesting on 4th November 1915 under Lord Derby’s Scheme. Being married and born in 1881 would have meant that Stan was in Group 40 out of 46 groups identified to be called up as needed. He was mobilised on 3rd May 1917 and appears to have been posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery Depot at Plymouth before being transferred to the Reinforcing Siege Depot at Catterick in July 1917.
He then seems to have been posted to France, although he was admitted to No. 54 General Hospital in December 1917 before sailing back to England for admission to Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington, Kent, where he was admitted on 27th December 1917. He was granted furlough from 19th January 1918 until 8th February 1918, so would have been home for the birth of his second son, George, on 29th January 1918.
He was demobbed on 11th February 1919 suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis which his pension record notes was attributable to his war service. In January 1923 he was awarded a pension of 4s per week until March 1924.
In December 1921 he received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal in respect of his military service.
He died at home, Grange Cottage, Burcot and is buried at St Bartholomew’s Church, Tardebigge.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
Zair is an unusual name – our Vicar at St Leonard’s, Marston Green, was Rev Zair, and I was pleased to find that he was indeed a member of this family! Thankyou for this very interesting piece about his family. BobbieW