George Loader was a member of an old-established family found for generations in Berkhamsted and the surrounding district. George, a cordwainer, could be said to be a worthy representative of local trades people who in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth devoted their lives to public service.
Born in Berkhamsted on 28th June 1839, he was a representative of the first generation to benefit from educational opportunities and had attended the National School at the Court House. His father, also George, was a cordwainer too. The family lived in Castle Street. There was an elder sister, Sarah, who was a dressmaker and a younger brother, John, who was an apprentice carpenter. By 1861 George senior was a widower, employed five men and one boy. In the spring of 1866 he married Sarah Margrave, schoolmistress at the Bourne Charity School. In 1867 George Loader junior married Isabella Bamford, born in Little Gaddesden. By 1871, aged 31 he was a master bootmaker employing seven men, in the High Street.
As well as running a successful business in the High Street George was actively involved in the affairs of the town. Both father and son served on the School Board for Berkhamsted – ‘one of the first in rural England’ – set up as a result of the 1870 Education Act.
George Loader died on 25th April 1908 following a severe attack of pneumonia. The Bucks Herald on 25th April reporting his death summarises his various achievements over the years. He had recently been re-elected Chairman of the Berkhamsted Urban District Council (BUDC) after having been Chairman for eight successive years. He had taken an active part in developing and improving the town. He was one of the representative Governors of Berkhamsted School appointed by the BUDC and Chairman of the local managers of the County Council Schools as well as the senior trustee of Bourne’s foundation.
A memorial to George Loader, incorporated into the wall in the former Victoria Girls’ School, states ‘In Memory of George Loader, J.P., for many years Governor of Bourne School, to whom is largely due the erection of these schools (the Victoria Schools). He died April 25th 1908 aged 68. The tablet was placed here by his fellow Managers.’
George was a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party and Honorary Secretary of the Berkhamsted and Northchurch Association for twenty- four years. He was a regular worshiper and active member of the congregation of St Peter’s, served as a sidesman and was the lay representative for some years on the Rural Diaconal Council as well as serving on the Parochial Church Council. A fine memorial in the south-east window in St Catherine’s Chapel was installed in 1909 in his memory.
His Chairmanship of the BUDC covered the period of the death of Queen Victoria, the proclamation of Edward VII as King and the arrangements for the Coronation ceremonies.
‘In spite of the inclement weather’ a wide section of the community turned out to pay their respects at his funeral. This included members of the BUDC, the RUDC, Parish Councillors, representatives of Friendly Societies members of the Fire Brigade and Bourne Scholars, Dr Fry and other masters, Sir Richard Cooper, Bart. There were about sixty wreaths.