William Henry Pride was born about 1844 in Gloucestershire, England as the first child of Henry Pride and Dinah Marsh. In 1864 William arrived in Australia, marrying Martha Sheckell, four years later in Geelong, when he was 24; together they had thirteen children.
Shortly after arriving in the Colony William established his saddlery business in Geelong. In 1891 after running his business as saddler and harness maker for twenty-seven years in Malop street, next to the Victoria Hotel, William moved to a bigger premises a few doors further eastward.
It was not only his workmanship that made William’s business prosper but also his consideration of his staff and his ability to share his knowledge with them and develop them into great craftsmen. There was a mutual respect and trust in the workplace. The Geelong Advertiser reported that “the workers and boss had a great relationship for the success and prosperity of the business”. He was the first in the colony to manufacture the ladies saddle. These saddles were popular in the old country, but duty made importing them prohibitive. They had stirrup-irons fitted with a patent safety appliance in the inner, or foot part, which becomes detached should the rider lose her seat. The irons were made of newogine, which remains always bright. William’s collection of saddlery and harness for which he was presented first prize at the National Show in 1893 attracted worldwide attention. This was one of many prizes that William and his staff were presented with for their saddles and harnesses. The company supplied customers throughout the Western District, and others in NSW and New Zealand.
William was a member of the Geelong Agricultural Society and he devoted a lot of time to the Geelong Hospital Committee. He was also a member of the council of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, and acted as one of the assessors for the Bellarine ward. He also devoted time to his membership of the Torquay Improvement Association as a foundation member of the committee, and was appointed by the State Land Department as a trustee of Torquay Reserves, serving both groups until his death. William’s immersion into the community life of Torquay also extended to the recreation pursuits of the Torquay Racing Club.
As a devoted family man, William is also well known for creating a family home from the deck house of the Joseph H Scammell shipwrecked off Point Danger, Torquay in 1891. Family and friends would regularly holiday at Torquay, filling the house. Some would need to spend the night at Two Bays next door. William’s granddaughter Margaret Ganly tells us what she remembers of Torquay and of the ‘Scammell House’.
On 6th October, 1895 William died aged just 51 years.