Tribute to man who helped shape our town

A proud moment for Jack, right, at the opening of the Bayes exhibition
A proud moment for Jack, right, at the opening of the Bayes exhibition

HE called Todmorden “a gem” but in John S. - Jack - Taylor MBE, Todmorden had a gem too.

He literally shaped the town through his work as an architect, where his designs for the Harley Wood (his favourite) and Harvelin Park estates still provide homes for hundreds of townspeople, and he promoted Todmorden at every ingenious opportunity, the driving force behind the establishment of Todmorden Tourist Information Centre which was opened by Todmordian and TV weatherman John Kettley in 1988.

Like his wife Barbara, who gave him great support, Jack went to Roomfield School and then Todmorden Secondary School before he went to study at the School of Architecture at Manchester University.

His studies were interrupted by the second world war and, over four years serving with the Royal Engineers, Jack landed in the second wave on the Normandy beaches at D-Day and was later wounded in the campaign, receiving the King’s Medal.

After “demob” he completed his studies at Manchester and returned to Todmorden to join his uncle’s Bridge Street practice, remaining there for 45 years before retiring from what was then the John S. Taylor partnership.

He and Barbara, who had also studied away from Todmorden, reading zoology at University College, London, met again at Todmorden Lawn Tennis Club and they married at Christ Church, Todmorden, in 1952.

Inspired by the interest in tourism in Hebden Bridge, Jack said he thought Todmorden had just as much to offer and after the TIC, of which he was Trust chairman for 18 years and later honorary president, opened, it was sometimes the venue for his superbly researched exhibitions which ranged from the Making of Todmorden exhibition staged at the town hall to the last major one he undertook, as a key committee member, the Bayes exhibition at Todmorden Community College.

He was immensely proud of the latter, uniting the northern and southern collections of art works by several generations of the Bayes family, who originally came from Todmorden.

Jack developed the Town Hall tours, worked with Todmorden 2000, was a founder member of Todmorden Civic Trust and a member and former president of Todmorden Rotary Club. His own sight failing, he often recorded pieces for Todmorden Talking Newspaper. Years before he had made a television programme about cotton and weaving mills - he once said he had re-roofed many of Todmorden’s - which was distributed to grammar schools and also a radio programme about the Fielden family.

Always interested in the town’s famous mill-owning family, he set up the Fielden Association in the 1990s and in later years his work still continued apace, giving ideas and service to organisations including the War Memorials Trust and Todmorden Pride’s tourism and promotions committee.

Among social occasions he enjoyed, he often attended the Veterans’ Day events at Todmorden Royal British Legion.

He leaves his wife Barbara and daughter Katharine and son Christopher and their families. His funeral service will be held at St Mary’s Church, Todmorden, at 1.30pm on Tuesday, November 1.