Acclaimed poet Herbert Lomas

A NATIONALLY known poet whose work was said to be influential on the late Calder Valley born poet laureate Ted Hughes has died, aged 87.

Herbert Lomas won a number of distinguished literature awards and although he moved away from Todmorden after going to college, he never forgot it, still having family links here, and his 2003 collection The Vale of Todmorden brought his childhood in the town vividly to life.

He said much of credit for his talent should be ascribed to his parents, who ran the Black Swan pub on Burnley Road (now the Polished Knob) where he was born.

By 1942 he had won a place to read English at Liverpool University but his studies were interrupted by service in the second world war, where he served in the King’s Liverpool Regiment.

He was then attached to the Royal Garhwal Rifles, spending two years serving on India’s north west frontier.

Demobbed in September 1946, he returned to Liverpool, garduating with first class honours, and after a year spent teaching English in Greece moved to Finland where he was appointed senior lecturer at the University of Helsinki.

There he met Mary Marshall, who was later to become his third wife.

He returned to England in 1965, becoming principal lecturer in London University’s Borough Road College (now absorbed into Brunel University), all the while contributing literary criticism and poems to the London Magazine and other publications.

His sequence Death of a Horsewoman, in his book Useless Passion, was dedicated to Mary following her sudden death while out riding in 1994 and it was said to be much admired by Ted Hughes.

He leaves his son Matthew and daughter Lucy from his marriage to Mary and his son Jeremy from his first marriage.