Data Hunters and Story Gatherers: Arthur Walter ‘Jack’ Pearce (1892-1975)

As part of our Data Hunters and Story Gatherers project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our staff and volunteers have been researching stories and themes within our collections.

In this article, project assistant Oliver Kierans explores the life of champion horse ploughman Arthur Walter ‘Jack’ Pearce (1892-1975) using his history file, information provided by his family and his trophy collection which is now stored at Chilcomb House in Winchester, with some trophies available to view online here.

Find out more about Arthur and his life below.

Entering his first ploughing match in 1906, Arthur Walter 'Jack' Pearce would go on to win 270 first-place awards and compete into his late 70s. Through his history file, Edward Roberts’ Tapes: A. W. Pearce 1971 and collaboration with his family, we have an insight into the life of a Winchester man who became a renowned champion ploughman.

Born in Martyr Worthy Winchester, growing up, Pearce never knew his father and was raised by his grandparents who were strict but caring. Moreover, Pearce would have to wait till he was 50 before he discovered that his ‘big sister’ was his mother.

Pearce started his career caring for and feeding horses, earning four shillings for working 10-hour days for six days a week. Pearce won his first cup in 1909, aged 17 and started a highly successful career spanning 64-years.

In 1911, Pearce married his wife, Lillian May Fisher (1893-1987). Together, they lived in an old cottage which was a perk of the job along with a ‘few extra potatoes’. Soon after his marriage, the First World War broke out, causing Pearce to enlist in the artillery – heavily impacting his hearing.

Arthur Pearce and Lillian May Fisher on their wedding day, 16 April 1911.

Speaking about his success, Pearce highlighted the difficulty of Winchester’s soil in developing his knowledge, experience and skill. Yet, it was Pearce’s calm, steady and thorough approach that distinguished him as a champion - treating his ploughs ‘as though they were alive’.

Above all, Pearce was a family man, having six sons and two daughters and always used his winnings for the benefit and support of his family with any spare change being spent on travelling to matches and hiring horses. Unfortunately, during the Second World War, Pearce lost all but one of his sons.

Pearce at the Chertsey Agricultural Association Champion horse ploughman shield.

Pearce’s passion for ploughing continued into his final years as he continued to show his ability by winning the Chertsey Agricultural Association Champion horse ploughman shield in 1973, aged 79. Undoubtedly, Pearce was one of the finest ploughmen in the country and his collection is important in our understanding of Hampshire life and agriculture.

Arthur Pearce and Lillian May Fisher with Pearce’s collection of trophies.

This article was written and researched by Oliver Kierans as part of the Hunters and Gatherers project.

Special thanks to Mr. Bryant, grandson of Mr. Pearce, for providing additional information about Pearce’s life and the photographs to support this article.

To find out more about Data Hunters and Story Gatherers, click the link below.

Data Hunters and Story Gatherers | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Data Hunters and Story Gatherers: towards community curatorship is a unique project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Hunters and Gatherers is working with a new team of young volunteers to improve collections auditing and research, research significant, untold stories and develop community co-curation and engagement in new and exciting ways.

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Hampshire Cultural Trust

From museums to galleries to arts centres, we manage and support attractions across the county, welcoming over 740,000 people each year. Our charitable purpose is changing lives through culture.
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