Billy Wilkins - Flag-staff
The flag-staff atop the
Round Tower is a wooden staff some 75 feet long, one third of
which is embedded in the masonry of the Round Tower. Every
so often it needs maintenance and the last man known to have
undertaken this task was Billy Wilkins, sometime fireman of this
Borough, who from time to time was to be seen perched upon a
3 foot long board seat and suspended by the single line used
to hoist the flag each day. Billy Wilkins is remembered by retired
fellow fireman, Phill Wells.
When I joined Windsor Fire
Brigade in the early nineteen fifties, Billy Wilkins was a member
of the Fire Brigade Old Comrades Association. I was later to
become an honary member of the same organisation. Every two or
three years or so, Billy would come into the clubroom and say
"I'll be up the pole next week! Look out for me!"
and sure enough he was.
He would attach a stronger line to the one used to haul the flag
aloft and up he would go, beeswaxing from the top downwards.
This would take several days and people all over the town could
be seen gazing upwards and pointing at the Flag Tower on the
As I recall he was at that time in his early 60s and 'fit as
a fiddle.' Billy could sink a pint or two but I don't think he
needed any 'Dutch Courage' the man was totally fearless. A great
character, was Billy. There are not enough of them about. He
was a Windsor man and may have relatives in the area.
In those days the Windsor Constitutional Club was between the
Westminster Bank and the General Post Office in the High Street.
It was a tall building and half way up the stairs was a section
of the flagpole with a silver plate bearing the date and an inscription
saying it was Douglas Fir from Canada, I'm not sure so many years
later, but I think it was the 'Button' from the top of the pole!
Windsor Constitutional Club still exists but has moved to Sheet
Street. Have they still the flagpole section?
[Editor's Note: The flagpole
was replaced in 1892. Although the flag staff may have been replaced
again in the 1900s, it is possible that this 'button' Phill remembers
dates from that time].
For more information about the
flags and flag staff at Windsor Castle see Raising