Webpage created: October 02, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020
ANDREW SAUNDERS HARRIS (1823-1922)
Andrew Saunders Harris was born on February 18th 1823 to Mr William Henry Harris and his wife Elizabeth, who lived at Church Lane, Plymouth. William was a merchant's clerk. Baby Andrew was baptised at Charles Church on March 28th 1823.
No trace could be found of them in the 1841 census but in 1851 they were living at number 33 Oxford Street, Plymouth. William was a wine and spirit merchant and Andrew was a merchant's clerk.
By 1861 William was retired and Andrew had become a timber merchant in his own right. They were living at number 5 Gascoyne Terrace, which was very handy for Sutton Road.
On October 28th 1863 Mr Andrew Saunders Harris married Miss Susanna Hallett at Saint Andrew's Church, Plymouth.
At first he ran his timber, deal and tar merchant's business and saw mills, in partnership with a Mr Snell, of whom nothing is known. But when he retired on March 26th 1900 the partnership that was consequently dissolved was with Mr William James Penn.
As a businessman he knew how Plymouth was hampered by being connected to only one railway line, the Great Western Railway (GWRC), and the disadvantage of that being broad gauge when all other railways were of the standard gauge. In consequence of an agreement between the GWR and the London and South Western Railway Company (LSWRC) the latter was prevented from extending its lines to Plymouth so Mr Harris was instrumental in forming the Devon and Cornwall Railway Company, which set out to build the line from Exeter to Okehampton and Lydford. It was eventually constructed by the LSWRC.
As the LSWRC had running powers over the GWRC's Launceston Branch between Lydford and Plymouth they were able to lay a narrow gauge rail on the broad gauge branch line and run their main line trains through Tavistock, Horrabridge, and Bickleigh to their new station at Devonport.
Subsequently the Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway Company was formed and Mr Harris became a director. It constructed the independent line from Lydford through Tavistock, Bere Alston and Tamerton Foliot and joined the LSWR at Devonport Station. They also built the branch from Bere Alston to Callington and one of the two locomotives employed on that branch was named "A S Harris".
During his long life, Mr Harris was chairman of the Port of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce in 1873 and became one of the Cattewater Commissioners. He was also a long-time member of the Sutton Harbour Improvement Company, from which he retired in 1913. He was for a short time a director of the Plymouth and Stonehouse Gas and Coke Company. He was also treasurer of the Plymouth Mechanics' Institute, a member of the managing committee of the Plymouth Public Free Schools and a Sunday School teacher at the Unitarian Chapel.
For some fifty years he never missed the annual Mayor-choosing ceremony and although he served as chairman of the Town's Finance Committee for over 20 years and became an Alderman and Justice of the Peace, he declined the invitations for him to become Mayor of the Borough. He was, it was said, adverse to the publicity such an appointment would bring.
Mr Andrew Saunders Harris died on Tuesday March 14th 1922 at his home, number 3 Park View Villas, Mannamead, Plymouth. He was 99 years of age. The funeral was a private, family affair. He was survived by his widow, Mrs Susanna Harris, and their three daughters, Miss Annie Harris (who may have been married at that time), Miss Priscilla Susan Harris and Miss Catherine Mary Harris.