Obituary: Sir Maxwell Entwistle

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The Independent Online
John Nuttall Maxwell Entwistle, solicitor and local politician: born 8 January 1910; qualified as a solicitor 1931; Notary Public 1955; Councillor, Liverpool City Council 1938-63, Leader 1961-63; Kt 1963; Councillor, Cumbria County 1979-82; married 1940 Jean Penman (died 1993; two sons); died 10 February 1994.

GO BACK a few generations and you will find that the fortunes of most great Liverpool famiies are rooted not in slavery (as political incorrectness insists) but hard work and enterprise. The Entwistles - good Lancashire name - came to Liverpool from the Bolton area, where only a generation earlier Maxwell's father had made his fortune with Entwistle's Patent All-in-One Biscuits, writes Fritz Spiegl.

It was almost customary for prosperous local tradesmen's sons to go into law and local politics, but Maxwell became a gentleman politician, never a demagogue: his former political opponents all speak with affection of his courtesy and helpfulness. It was also characteristic of him that his many charitable, educational and artistic benefactions were carried out unobtrusively. As City Council leader (created Alderman just before that office was abolished) he saw the traditional Tory majority disappear from Liverpool, yet redoubled his efforts to maintain some prosperity in the city.

The abandonment of the Holford and Shankland plans and of the Inner Ring Road, all of which had been close to his heart, was a disappointment to him; but with the benefits of hindsight it must be said that it proved a blessing in disguise now that Liverpool looks to tourism, not industry. Nor was it his fault that the high-rise housing developments he fostered were not a success. In the 1960s he was advised by a distinguished Chief Planning Officer who had been brought up on the Continent, where gardenless workers' flats were always successful. One by one the tower blocks have been demolished, including The Braddocks (named after Jack and Bessie, Entwistle's political opponents but personal friends) and the Entwistle Heights, named after him. It should be recorded that, because of these tower blocks, his name is perpetuated in Liverpool street slang: 'tall, long-legged girls who accentuate their height by wearing short skirts and stiletto heels' are known as 'Entwistles'.