FOLLOWING the recent death of Halifax Judge James Pickles it seems an appropriate time to recall his father’s service to the town over more than 30 years as councillor, alderman and Mayor.
Arthur Pickles was born in December 1901 at 24 Conway Street, Halifax, the eldest of the four sons of builder and stonemason Fred Pickles and his wife, Margaret.
Fred was a fun-loving man with a gift for story telling, and Wilfred Pickles (1904-78), the broadcaster and TV personality, was Arthur’s younger brother.
Much of the boys’ leisure time was spent in People’s Park until they moved to a cottage at Warley Town in 1913. Arthur attended Parkinson Lane School and then won a scholarship to Rishworth School.
His father joined the Royal Engineers in World War I and Arthur enterprisingly submitted a number of his dad’s letters from the front to the Yorkshire Post and some were published. But the family’s limited income meant that Arthur had to leave Rishworth early, at age 14, and go to work.
He was level headed and businesslike and his working life was to prove remarkably successful. For many years he ran an architectural development company, although he had never formally trained as an architect.
Elected a Liberal councillor for Warley in 1932 he served on Halifax Borough Council for 34 years. He was appointed a magistrate in 1939 and during World War II he was chairman of the civil defence committee; in recognition of this work he was awarded the OBE in 1944.
In 1945 he became chairman of the housing committee at a time when municipal house building, so long at a standstill, swung into action in the face of huge demand for homes.
Arthur’s efforts were channelled into building houses and his devotion to the task, despite all the postwar difficulties, won acclaim.
In 1949 Arthur was elected an alderman and following year he stood as Liberal candidate for Halifax at the general election but was unsuccessful.
At different times he served as president of Halifax Liberal Association, Halifax Rotary Club and Halifax Cricket Club.
In 1951 Arthur became Mayor of Halifax. He was also chairman of the youth executive council and during that summer he and the mayoress made a special journey to Aachen to visit a party of young people from Halifax.
One special event which Arthur had to perform as Mayor occurred on February 9 1952, when he read the proclamation of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II from the purple-draped lower balcony of Halifax Town Hall, three days after the death of King George VI.
The following day the Mayor led a procession to Halifax Parish Church, where he took part in a special service in memory of the deceased king.
For another 14 years Arthur continued to serve Halifax. He was much liked and was regarded as an especially good debater in the council chamber.
At the age of 62 Arthur set up his first unit trust and went on to found Ebor Securities, which controlled several other such trusts.
Ebor was later involved in a multi-million pound deal with Save and Prosper. Arthur proved a remarkably shrewd investor, making a fortune, although he had no financial qualifications.
In May 1966 Arthur retired from the council to spend more time away on business, often in London.
He said: “This will be a great wrench. I have spent a whole working life on the council and found it a most absorbing job. I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Arthur continued as chairman of the Halifax Bench till 1972 and also remained chairman of the disablement advisory committee. He helped set up and finance several Cheshire Homes in the North of England.
Arthur died suddenly at his home, The Hill, Warley, on April 3 1984. Former Mayor of Halifax Harry Ludlam said Mr Pickles had been an “excellent servant to the town”.
In 1924 Arthur had married Gladys Crampton, daughter of William and Margaret Crampton. They had one son, who became Judge James Pickles, and four daughters.
In 1957 Gladys Pickles bought Neaverson’s china shop in Russell Street, which she ran until 1970. She was president of the Women’s Liberal Association and president of Halifax Inner Wheel.
After her husband’s death she continued to live at The Hill and died in July 1989, aged 88.
One daughter, Christine, attended RADA, later moving to America. She changed her name to Christina and took US citizenship, becoming a well-known TV actress, appearing notably in the sitcom Friends.