OBITUARIES: Tom Tomlinson

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The Independent Online
Tom Tomlinson was the first National Park warden. He was appointed in 1954 by the planning board of the Peak Park, in Derbyshire, and in the course of his work tramped the moors of Kinderscout and Bleaklow every working day for nearly 20 years. His job included helping lost or injured walkers off the mountain, preventing vandalism and aiding farmers to recover sheep buried in the snow. As the other National Parks were established the new wardens would visit Tomlinson to find out how he did the job.

He was born in Rossendale, Lancashire, in 1908 and started work at a local slipper factory at the age of 12. He hated this work and went to night school where he learnt enough French and Spanish to get, at the age of 16, a job as a foreign correspondent to a firm which imported hides. At 18, after reading a book called God in the Slums, he went to work with a Baptist minister in the East End of London and later, after college training, he became a minister himself. For two years he played First Division football for Burnley and at the weekends he loved to walk on the moors above Edale. He took part in the mass trespass on Kinderscout in 1932.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 he appeared before a Tribunal as a conscientious objector and was directed to work on the land. After the war he and his wife Hilda, a Quaker, ran the youth hostel at Edale for eight years before he became the warden of the Peak National Park.

This strenuous life however did not absorb all his energies. He served as clerk to both the Hathersage and the Outseats parish councils. Later he became interested in local history, especially in the 19th century, when Hathersage became an industrial village with five factories producing wire and pins of various sorts.

He went to extra-mural lectures on history and archaeology, and carried out his own researches in the Sheffield City Library and the County Records Office at Matlock. He wrote more than 20 booklets with titles such as The Mills of Hathersage and Querns, Millstones and Grindstones. They were much used in the local schools.

In retirement he was employed for some years as a part-time teacher by the Sheffield Education Committee to conduct field studies in local and natural history from the Mayfield valley school. He was invited by the chairman of the Nottinghamshire Education Committee, Fred Ridell, to do similar work with the children staying in the field centre in Hathersage. So much was his work appreciated that an extension to the centre was named after him.

Tom Tomlinson had the gifts of a born story-teller. He always had an amusing bit of local history to relate and he held groups of children spellbound as he told them stories from the past.

Tragically, he went suddenly blind one night in 1988; he lost his wife Hilda a few years later.

John Pemberton

Tom Tomlinson, park ranger: born Rossendale, Lancashire 6 February 1908; married 1939 Hilda Crabtree (died 1993; two sons, one daughter); died Hathersage, Derbyshire 30 May 1995.