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Calderdale Methodist Circuit : John Hargreaves

Heptonstall church

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Although I have strong Methodist roots on both sides of my family in Burnley, I was baptised and confirmed as an Anglican, but following my marriage to Susan at Marsden United Church, when she moved to Halifax to train as a midwife, we joined St Andrew’s Methodist Church. We have been members at St Andrew's for almost forty years, where Susan is Junior Church Superintendent and where I responded to my call to preach in 1976, becoming fully accredited in 1979 and where I have served two terms as a church steward and also trained junior church teachers.

Our four children, Anne, Helen, Paul and Stephen, were all born and bred in Halifax but all completed their degree courses in Lancaster, where both our sons met their wives. We have three grandchildren, Joshua, Adam and Naomi, who have shared holidays with us with the Scripture Union Holiday Mission at Abersoch each August, where I regularly lead the adult Bible Studies. Susan and I have been linked with the mission since 1984 and treasure the fortnight we spend on the beautiful Llyn peninsula as a rich time of refreshment and renewal. We love walking in the Welsh mountains and climbed Snowdon with our eldest grandson last summer on the wettest day of the holiday arriving at the summit drenched.

Another delight is also swimming daily in Cardigan Bay, weather permitting!

After graduating from Southampton University, I taught in Wigan, Huddersfield and Batley, retiring from a career in full-time secondary teaching in 2006, in the course of which I taught a former British ambassador to Bosnia and Europe’s current foreign minister. I love teaching and continue to do some part-time teaching in secondary, adult and higher education. I also lecture and write extensively on aspects of local and religious history. I have written a full-length history of Halifax, edited the annual Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society since 1992, and scripted three DVDs.

I am currently jointly editing a book for the University of Huddersfield, where I am a Research Fellow in History, on the campaign to end child labour in textile factories in the Industrial Revolution, and writing a new history of Huddersfield. I am working on an edition of the Wakefield Manorial Court Rolls for 1812 for the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and writing a history of the Halifax Choral Society.

I have also written three dozen articles for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography including articles on Dr Dorothy Farrar, who preached memorably at my recognition service as a Local Preacher, the Revd Bramwell Evens still remembered by folk in Calderdale as the Methodist radio naturalist, Romany, Eric Treacy, the Railway Bishop, Harry Corbett, the creator of Sooty, Wilfred Pickles, the actor and broadcaster, Jane Tomlinson the charity fundraiser, Percy Shaw, the inventor of catseyes and a host of other Yorkshire figures.

I have represented West Yorkshire Methodists in the recent Treasures Revealed project and written on the historical interpretation of Halifax Minster, where Susan and I are members of the Friends, and Mount Zion.

I have taught recently a WEA course on the social history of religion in Calderdale entitled Church, Chapel, Mosque and Minster which in the summer term included visits to four historic sites in Halifax including the Minster and Mount Zion and speaking at an annual event for parents and children at the Halifax Central Mosque.

I also serve as General Secretary of the Wesley Historical Society and Co-ordinator of Oral History for the Methodist Church with an interest in interviewing as wide a range of people as possible for the project about their experience of Methodism.

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Page updated: 30th September 2012