Andover Advertiser 1982
Wherwell resident, Mr Benjamin Pond, who received the last radio message from the Ill fated Titanic, died on Saturday at St Johns Hospital in Andover.
Mr Pond, who was 83, was the river keeper for the Countess of Brecknock in Wherwell. and an old Andoverian who had spent most of his life on the water.
He was the son of the former proprietor of the High Street shop, Ponds, but declined to follow the family tradition and go into the shop trade or into the family”s farm at Wallop.He yearned for a life on the sea and so took himself down to Dorset where he set up business around Poole and Bournemouth as a longshoreman. hiring his boat out to fishermen.
During World War One Mr. Pond joined the Army in the Signals Corps. This was because he was friendly with Marconi, who is generally credited with doing most to develop the radio. Marconi had a boat moored in Poole harbour from where he did experiments. He became friendly with Mr. Pond because he kept his crew out of trouble by taking them out fishing.
Mr. Pond became interested in radio through his friendship and actually received the last night’s messages of the S.S. Titanic on a receiver he had.
He knew the wireless operator and said in later years that the ship did not strike an iceberg but a huge sheet of ice covering the water for miles.
That complete set of morse code messages – surely a piece of history – were given by Mr. Pond to Marconi as a souvenir- ‘I’he friendship with the Marconi family’ continued until the present day.
Marconi’s nieces recently made a trip from Italy recently to visit Mr. Pond at his Wherwell home.
Mr. Pond lived on a house boat in Poole Harbour until the outbreak of World War Two. He was well-known to everyone in the area as “Lord Goathorn”, the name of the island in the middle of Poole Harbour. Even in recent years he had still received letters addressed to him by that name.
In 1939 his boat was confiscated as part of the war effort and Mr. Pond moved inland with a barge to become a river keeper. He went to Holdenhurst in Bournemouth and eventually ln 1962 came as the river keeper to the Countess at W’herwell.
Apart from working at Wherwell he was often ”lent” to help the fishing at Broadlands, Lord Mountbatten’s bome at Romsey. There he fished with the
Queen mother and indeed had dinner with the Queen.
Mr. Pond was working on the Wherwell Estate until about a month before his death.
His wife, Margaret, died about 5 years ago, They had two sons, Michael and John. Michael recalls his father was a great story teller and had indeed written a book about his exploits, including the time be became unwittingly involved in smuggling and was nearly caught
“He told me once he was out in his boat ln the Bay of Biscay when be saved two peoples lives who were in the water. These people said they owned two islands in the Mediterranean or somewhere and if my father wanted to come out he could have them! I could not believe it. He never went, but then he was like that. He never worried about money’. He just loved the outside. the sea and the river bank.” said Michael.
Mr. Pond’s funeral is today at 12 noon at , Salisbury Crematorium.