William and Amie Fisher lived in Crispin Lane in Thornbury.
Amie Ethel Wools Higgins was born in 1925, the daughter of Arthur Thomas and Ethel Higgins. She was born when her parents were working as porter and porteress in the Thornbury workhouse and the family were living in the Porter’s Lodge there.
She moved to Crispin House with her parents in 1926 and started at the Council Infants School in 1929. From there she gained a scholarship to Thornbury Grammar School.
In 1942 Amie married William Arthur Fisher, the son of William Thomas Fisher, a mason from Neston in Wiltshire. William had worked there as a painter and decorator. In World War II, he joined the 6th Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery and served as an anti-aircraft gunner on merchants ships. On 14th May 1941 he was aboard the SS Rabaul when she was attacked by the German raider ‘Atlantis’. Eight crewmen and one passenger were killed. William and the rest of the crew left the burning ship on rafts. There were many sharks in the water and the Germans machine gunned the water to keep the sharks at bay. They were picked up by the raider. He was seriously wounded and was given treatment by the Germans. Reports shows that the men were well treated and the conditions were good. They slept in bunks or hammocks strung between the decks and were allowed to exercise on deck for four hours each day. After seventeen days on this ship they were transferred to the German cargo ship, Japara, where the conditions were very bad. There were 78 prisoners jammed together in the hold, sleeping on sacks. The food and ventilation were bad. They were on this ship for 16 days before they were put aboard the Alstertor, an ex-fruit ship fitted as a prison ship where they were treated fairly. After a week, on the 27th June the Alstertor was bombed by British flying ship and approached by British destroyers. The Germans decided to scuttle their ship and the 78 prisoners were allowed to use the ship’s boats and rafts to escape. William and his fellow prisoners were picked up by the HMS Fearless and taken to Gibraltar.
William’s injuries prevented him rejoining active service and he was sent to undertake ‘light duties’ at Kyneton House. He met Amie whilst waiting at a bus stop. After the War, William joined the workforce of Tucker Brothers as a painter and decorator. He later moved to work at Hortham Hospital.
William and Amie first lived in Bath Road, in a house which became known as 7 Bath Road. The Electoral Registers of 1946 to 1954 show that the cottage was then named ‘Abbott’s Cottage’. We were intrigued by this name and assumed it might have some historical significance. However we were amused to find out that the name came from the name of a winning racehorse! By 1957 Bill and Amie were living in Crispin House.
William and Amie had one daughter, Gloria Wools Higgins born in 1943 and a son, Stephen. William died in 1968 aged only 48.
Amie finally sold Crispin House to the Blakes family in 1986 and she moved to St David’s Road. Amie died in 2016.