The Slaugham Archives

Bombardier Billy Wells at the Red Lion
The Slaugham Archive
Bombardier Billy Wells at the Red Lion

“Bombardier” Billy Wells (1889 – 1967) was landlord of the Red Lion during the 1930s after an illustrious career in the boxing ring. He was the British heavyweight champion from 1911 to 1919, defending the title 14 times. In December 1918 he defended both the British and British Empire titles successfully against Joe Beckett. There was a rematch in February 1919 and on this occasion Beckett won both titles by a knockout in the fifth round.
Wells won his next five bouts and was given the opportunity to regain the heavyweight titles from Beckett at Olympia, Kensington on 10th May 1920. Wells lost by a knockout in the third round and the above photograph captures the moment dramatically.
Being well-built and debonair, Wells became the third man to strike the famous gong at the start of the J. Arthur Rank films.
As a young lad my father, Roger Ray, recalled being chased by Billy Wells over the tennis courts at the rear of the Red Lion, but otherwise he kept well out of his way.
Select Large Version to read more about Billy Wells and Joe Beckett as put together by my father, Roger Ray, on his ancient typewriter many years ago.

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Picture added on 23 December 2012 at 11:38
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Pubs - Handcross
Billy Wells was my grandfather.
I think I have some pictures of him standing outside the Red Lion. When I come across them I will post them to your site.
Added by Rinty Goble on 24 May 2013
My grandad boxed with Billy in WWI.
He was presented with a silver cigarette case.

Added by G Williams on 06 August 2013
Another granddaughter here! I have a picture of my mum with grandpa outside the Red Lion.
Hi Rinty, Frances here. It would be great to connect.
Frances Coyne Smith
Added by Fran Smith (Canada) on 08 August 2015
I have now found more information on Billy Wells and Joe Beckett as put together by my father for one of his regular articles for the Parish magazine. Select Large Version above to view.
Added by Barry Ray on 11 October 2015
I have now found an article in The Illustrated London News on the big match between Joe Beckett, heavyweight champion of Great Britain and “Bombardier” Billy Wells, former heavyweight champion held on 10th May 1920.
Select Open Document to view the seven pictures with accompanying text.

Added by Barry Ray on 08 August 2017
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