JIMMY Chambers, a former fireman, Eden councillor, magistrate, hotelier and Penrith Chamber of Trade president, was remembered as being a “real Mr. Penrith” following his death at the age of 72.
Born on 13th February, 1938, James Arthur Chambers, known as Jimmy, grew up in Penrith and attended the town’s Robinson’s Infants’ and Boys’ National schools before getting a job at Penrith Farmers’ and Kidd’s auction company at the age of 15.
Following a short spell in the military, serving in the Coldstream Guards from 1956-57, Jimmy joined the fire service and served in the brigade, both as a full-time and part-time firefighter, for a total of 33 years, ending his service in 1989 as officer-in-charge of retained personnel.
It was during his time with the fire service that he was chosen as the north of England fire service representative for the funeral of Winston Churchill, marching in his funeral procession. As a fireman, Mr. Chambers received a long service good conduct medal in 1982 and was also given an RSPCA silver medal for his part in rescuing calves from a burning building, near Little Salkeld.
In 1964, Jimmy married his first wife, Deidre, at Christ Church and moved into Bretby, Drovers Lane, shortly after. Together they bought the Strickland Hotel, which they later sold. They then took over the Fabric Centre, Devonshire Street, which they ran for 22 years before Mr. Chambers was forced to end his involvement in 1995 following a major heart operation.
He and Deidre had one son, Brian, a research scientist in Nottinghamshire, who is married to Yvonne with three children, Katherine, aged 15, Sophie, aged 13, and 10-year-old Harry. Deidre died in 2002, and Jimmy married Barbara Todd at Penrith Methodist Church in 2004.
Over the years, he held many prominent positions in local government. As part of the former Penrith Urban Council, he chaired the environment health, publicity, housing and markets committees, before becoming its last chairman prior to local government reorganisation of 1974, when the council was succeeded by Eden. He was vice-chairman of Eden Council between 1991 and 1995, but never went on to become chairman because of his ill health at the time. He stood down in 2003 after 36 years in local government.
He also served as president of Penrith Chamber of Trade from 1978-79; was on the management committees of Penrith Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Lonsdale Court residential home from 1973-2001 and 1973-1988, respectively; was the area member of the Gas Consumer Council from 1972-93; was a member of Penrith Civic Society; and is also a past president of the Rotary Club of Penrith.
Jimmy also served as a JP, being a member of the Eden Bench of magistrates for more than 20 years; served as president of the Janet Catherine Simmons Trust, a grant-giving charity which offers fuel payments to the elderly; and was on the committee of the Abbeyfield Society, which he had served since 1976.
As a former pupil of the Boys’ National School, he had also served as the president of the Bulldogs Association for former pupils for a great number of years.
Jimmy was remembered as being a “real Mr. Penrith”, having served on so many local committees and organisations. He took a great interest in Penrith and its future on behalf of local people and always had time for a chat and a joke with everyone he met.
He is survived by his wife Barbara, son Brian, and three grandchildren.