Obituary: The Right Rev Robert Martineau

EDUCATED AT King Edward's School in Birmingham and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Robert Martineau - Bishop of Blackburn from 1972 to 1981 - was an outstanding mathematician who might well have gone on to a highly successful career in that field.

Instead he responded to a vocation to the priesthood and trained at Westcott House in Cambridge. He was ordained in 1938 and was a curate at Melksham in Wiltshire when his parochial work was interrupted by the Second World War; he served as a chaplain in the RAFVR from 1941 to 1946. He returned to parish work as Vicar of Ovenden in Halifax. In 1952 he moved to be Vicar of the large parish of Allerton in Liverpool. This was to be the longest appointment of his 43 years of full-time ministry.

A senior colleague with very wide knowledge of the Church of England considered that with Martineau at the helm Allerton was the best- organised parish he had ever met. It was a prosperous church with no great difficulty in paying its way. Its vicar, who in his RAFVR service had seen the needs of missionary work in Africa and now saw the plight of neighbouring inner-city parishes, successfully challenged the congre- gation with the teaching of Christian stewardship. Giving was doubled and the increased income given to the needy at home and abroad.

Not surprisingly Martineau became Rural Dean, was made an Honorary Canon of Liverpool Cathedral and elected by his fellow clergy to represent them on the General Synod of the Church of England. After 14 years at Allerton he was chosen to be the Suffragan Bishop of Huntingdon in the Diocese of Ely, where he also served as a Residentiary Canon of the Cathedral.

In 1972 he became Bishop of Blackburn. He was proud to be the only bishop who had in his younger days been a Lay Reader. This experience enabled him to be an excellent Chairman of the Central Readers' Board of the Church of England and to publish The Office and Work of a Reader (1970).

Blackburn with its many Church of England schools fostered Martineau's already great interest in education and led to his appointment as Chairman of the Church of England Board of Education, a post he held from 1973 to 1979.

His nine years as a diocesan bishop were the pinnacle of his working life. He had a very natural sense of authority and those who did not know him well were inclined to think of him as somewhat cold by nature. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There was, perhaps, a shyness but, as one colleague put it, "There [was] a very warm and loving person inside trying to get out." He had a quiet and subtle sense of humour accompanied by a knowing twinkle of the eye.

As a bishop he gave first-class pastoral care and wise counsel to his clergy. That is work deeply appreciated by those who were helped by it but by its very nature it never hits the headlines. Blackburn clergy soon came to appreciate their bishop's parish experience. Here, for example, was a man who had prepared many people for marriage, who could pass on invaluable tips about confirmation preparation and the aftercare of candidates, who could understand the stresses of their life at "the coal face" and who also knew when they were "trying it on". From personal experience there came books like The Office and Work of a Priest (1972) and Moments that Matter (1976).

Not every priest with such an outstanding intellect can understand "Mrs Stiggins who sits in the third pew from the back". Martineau did understand and when he produced his Lent Book, for the people of his diocese, with daily readings, prayers and resolutions, it was a model of simplicity combined with an acute penetration of the human soul. His time management enabled him to combine demanding national and diocesan duties with a readiness to be available to those who needed to talk to him.

Retirement often focuses the mind on what has been, and is, important. In his last address to the Diocesan Synod he put his finger on what he had come to see as of prime importance in society. Christian marriage and Christian family life were the foundations on which good citizens and a caring society were built. This, in his own life, came from a deep and faithful life of prayer and very much from his own marriage and family which were so dear to him.

Laying down full-time work for any priest tends to be a change of gear rather than a full stop. His ministry continued in North Wales after retirement and was much appreciated there. Why North Wales? A twinkle of the eye and "Right for my wife because she is Welsh and right for me because I can easily get to Anfield to watch Liverpool."

David Robinson

Robert Arnold Schurhoff Martineau, priest: born Birmingham 22 August 1913; ordained deacon 1938, priest 1939; curate, Melksham 1938- 41; chaplain, RAFVR 1941-46; Vicar, Ovenden, Halifax 1946-52; Vicar, Allerton, Liverpool 1952-66; Bishop Suffragan of Huntingdon 1966-72; Residentiary Canon of Ely 1966-72; Bishop of Blackburn 1972-81; married 1941 Elinor Gertrude Ap-Thomas (one son, two daughters); died Denbigh, Clwyd 28 June 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power