Man of industry who was “good with people”

Date: Friday 18th December 2009

JOHN Lawrence Halsall died peacefully at his home at Scar Top, Newbiggin, Temple Sowerby. He was 80 years old.

Born on 21st June, 1929, he was brought up and educated at Southport, but spent much of his childhood with his grandparents at Low Green, Temple Sowerby, and he always felt a great affinity with the Eden Valley. Later his parents moved to Low Green and he brought a property at Hale Grange, Kirkby Thore.

At school he excelled in all sports and carried his enthusiasm for this throughout his life, playing rugby for the RAF, soccer for Hyde United, and, later, cricket for Temple Sowerby, becoming president of its cricket club.

He left King George V Grammar School, Southport, aged 16 to become a trainee manager at Maconochie Brothers, a food canning factory in Hadfield, Derbyshire. One of his many qualities was that he was “good with people”. During his training he moved from department to department in the offices and in the factory as well as attending night school at Salford Technical College.

He was called up for national service for the RAF in 1950 and returned to Hadfield in 1952. By 1959 he was general manager for the whole site and knew every employee personally.

In 1967 the business was acquired by Rowntrees and he joined the board of the Rowntree Grocery Division, assuming responsibility for production and personnel.

As part of his work he had cause to travel to the southern states of the USA, and there he worked with members of the Peanut Board and struck up a lasting friendship with farmers from Donalsonville, Georgia. This led to annual visits to the States and the forging of many friendships and, a few years ago, he was presented with the “key to Donalsonville, Georgia”.

During the 1980s Mr. Halsall became the chairman of Glossop Heritage Centre, a role he performed until his death. He also played table tennis in the Glossop and District League, of which he became president, and he continued to play table tennis in the league until earlier this year.

In 1950 he married Ruth, a teacher who came from Hyde, Cheshire, and they lived at Hyde with their daughter, Jane, until moving to Kirkby Thore in 1973. In 1988 they moved the short distance to Scar Top, Newbiggin, where Mr. Halsall was able to pursue his interest in farming, keeping sheep and beef cattle.

Ruth died in 2000 and he is survived by his second wife, Beryl, his daughter and son-in-law, Jane and John Taylor, of Low Howgill, Milburn, grandchildren Katie, Helen, Joe and Jennie, and two great-grandsons.