John Eric Richardson Rushworth: [Heath 1917–1923]

John Eric Richardson Rushworth was born in Halifax on , the son of a Wholesale Woollen Cloth Merchant. He attended Miss Bedford’s Private School and Holy Trinity before being admitted to Heath in 1917. He would later talk regularly about playing rugby on the pitches in Kensington Road and also playing Fives on the court at the school.

He left in 1923 eventually finding a job at Rippon Bros who were the Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealers for Huddersfield. He was all set to be a vehicle mechanic and started an apprenticeship, but travelling by train each morning and evening to and from work cost 10s 0d whereas he only earned 7s 6d a week; so he was out of pocket to the tune of 2s 6d a week!

At 19 he suffered with appendicitis and did not return to work in Huddersfield but started his own Private Hire taxi business. Living on Skircoat Green with his parents at 328 Skircoat Green Road, he was able to obtain a reasonable amount of work from the residents of the district and around Savile Park, many of whom were company and business owners.

One of his regular jobs, perhaps obtained because his father was was a sidesman at Halifax Parish Church and a member of the Church Council, was to be the driver for the then Vicar of Halifax, the Rt Rev George Horsfall Frodsham, who’d been the Bishop of Queensland in Australia but was a Manchester man by birth. The Bishop had returned to England having found the climate of Australia not to his liking and also disagreeable with his constitution. For this he submitted a monthly account for the work that he’d done rather than being paid a weekly wage.

Ten years later, in February 1937, he sold the taxi business to a friend and fellow taxi proprietor and returned to the Motor Trade as a salesman selling small Commercial Vehicles for a garage in Huddersfield. This lasted up to the outbreak of War in 1939 when the supply of civilian vehicles dried up due to the firms turning over to War production.

He married his first wife in December of 1938 but unfortunately the marriage broke down during the war and he was divorced in 1949. Shortly after this first marriage, he suffered a bout of pneumonia from which he recovered and he worked for one or two garages in Halifax as a salesman up to receiving his call-up for the RAF. His medical examination uncovered the fact that he had heart disease; so he was graded ‘C’ and rejected for Military Service.

He worked for a while on munitions at Firth’s Carpet Mill at Bailiffe Bridge; they were assembling bomb release catches which were to be fitted into Lancaster Bombers at the shadow factory which was next door to what is now the Leeds-Bradford Airport. He also joined the Police Force as a Wartime Special Constable based at Brighouse Police Station.

The area he was assigned to cover was around the Hipperholme crossroads where he spent more time arresting drinkers who’d had a drop too much in the pubs of the district; traffic control and point duty on the crossroads were regular occupations as the traffic lights that we know today were not there during the war years.

In 1943, he obtained a job with Mr Harold Mitchell in his Gent’s Outfitters shop in Crown Street where he worked until the early 1950s when the shop was sold to Greenwoods due to Mr Mitchell’s retirement. Other jobs, which only lasted for a few months in some cases due to him suffering with more poor health and heart problems, took him up to early retirement on Doctor’s orders in the late 1950s.

He married again in 1950; his wife was a Ward Sister and became the Surgical Nursing Officer at the Halifax General Hospital up to her retirement in 1981; she died aged 83 on January 5th 2005. A second bout of pneumonia occurred in the Autumn of 1950 and again he recovered but only through his wife’s diligence and professional expertise.

He knew many Directors, Managers and Business owners in Halifax along with just about every Solicitor and Accountant because he had been at school with them. His diaries recall his involvement with Heath Old Boys Association, the earliest entry being for Wednesday, January 14th 1948 where he’s written, ‘Heath Old Boy’s Dance, Alex Hall.’ This was of course the Alexandra Hall in the centre of town where all the reunions were held through the 1950s and into the 60s. He also records a meeting on Monday October 4th, one on Wednesday, December 15th at the White Swan Hotel and one on Thursday, January 6th 1949. There are no more entries until December 22nd 1958; so perhaps he had decided to cancel his membership and never bother with it again.

With having heart trouble he never played any sport after this childhood but took some interest in the fortunes of Halifax Town Football Club, strictly from his armchair. With his wife having been in nursing since the age of 18, she kept an extremely tight rein and a microscopic eye on his health and, if she thought that some days he’d overstretched himself and done too much, then for the following week he was told to rest and do virtually nothing.

John R Rushworth