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
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
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.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water