Bill Rowland interview: Background


To start, please could you give your full name, date and place of birth.

William Stephen Rowland, 17 May 1954 and I was born in Dorking, Surrey.

What were your parents’ names, their backgrounds?

My father’s name was Albert Rowland, he was an electrician but he was a serving soldier, a regular Army man who served about 20 years in the military. My mother was Jessie Rowland. She was a secretary.

Did they always live in Dorking or did you come to Wimbledon?

My mother was a Geordie and my father lived in Dorking. I lived in Dorking until I was 16 until I joined the Army. 

What was your rank in the Army?

I joined as a young soldier in the Household Cavalry, the Blues and Royals. They had just been amalgamated from the Royal Horseguards and the Royal Dragoons. I served for eight years, four years on the armoured side serving in Northern Ireland and Cyprus, Germany, and then I transferred up to London on the ceremonial side. I did six months riding school and attained the rank of Lance-Corporal of Horse which is equivalent to Lance-Sergeant and left after eight years to start a new life.

So when did you come to Wimbledon?

Before I left the Army I was on the fire strike so the first job I did was to join Surrey Fire Service. I did that for two and half years. I met a young girl who was Australian and went off to Australia to settle. That didn’t happen. I came back and didn’t have job. I saw this Ranger’s job in the Jobcentre in Kingston and came up for the interview.

What year would that have been?

1982. I came up for the interview. The interview panel said they were looking for an ex-serviceman who could ride a horse and funnily enough with fire brigade experience so when I came for the interview they took me on straight away. I didn’t realise at the time that there was accommodation provided. I was actually living with my girlfriend in a bedsit in Teddington. So they offered me the accommodation which happened to be the Windmill so it was quite an exciting day for us.  I took the job straight away.