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John Taylor obituary

Elaine Taylor
·2-min read

My Dad, John Taylor, who has died aged 90, was a quietly devoted family man and a loyal husband.

Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to Amelia (nee Benson) and Fred Taylor, John lived in the mining town of Hemsworth until the age of eight. His father, sick of working down the pit, then relocated the family to Southport, Lancashire (now part of Merseyside), where Fred worked at the fairground and later as a builder. When the second world war began, Fred enlisted, and the family took in evacuees and later Jewish refugees.

In its heyday this seaside town was paradise for a small boy, with a world of books to read from the Atkinson library, an enviable toy soldier collection at the botanic museum, boating and fishing on the marine lake, swimming in the Victoria baths or off for adventures on his bicycle to Scarisbrick woods, with his dog, Billie, perched on the frame. John developed a lifelong fascination with history, especially the Napoleonic period and the Roman world.

However, he felt his life truly began when he met Eve McNally on the dancefloor of the Moulin Rouge in Ainsdale. They married in 1963, and had two children – my brother, Ian, and me.

Well-read and intelligent but without the advantages of further education, John had a succession of jobs after leaving Meols Cop school, and continued working until the age of 78. He had been brought up in a house without electricity, but taught himself about electrics and heating maintenance. He started out as an apprentice upholsterer, then worked as a gardener, factory worker, retained fire officer, storeman, and maintenance engineer, for Southport Police, Fire Service and Magistrates Court. He did all he could to provide for his family.

Gardening was a great joy to him. In the 1960s his handiwork could be seen in the colourful borders of Rotten Row, edging Victoria Park, the home of the Southport flower show. At home he loved to spend winter evenings sorting through seed packets and planning dazzling, seasonal displays of floral colour to please Eve and to rival the neighbours. He retained a double allotment until the age of 80.

John was quietly enthusiastic about many subjects: books, history, music, pets, furniture making, gardening, art, cookery and nature, but he had only one passion and that was for his family, especially for Eve. Gabriel Oak in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd summed up perfectly John’s view of married life: And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be — and whenever I look up, there will be you.

He is survived by Eve, Ian and me.