1933 - 2009

Colin was born in Whitworth, “up-the-valley” from Rochdale, heading towards Bacup. He had many tales about life there, especially during the war years, such as having his tonsils out on the kitchen table, and as a member of St Bartholomew’s church choir, but he always wanted to be a bellringer. Although his mother was not very keen – the ringers had rather a reputation back in those days – he learnt to ring as a 12-year-old at the end of the war, in 1945, ringing for his first Sunday Service at Easter in 1946.

Although Colin’s father had worked in one of the many quarries in the area, Colin started work on leaving school at the local Co-op. In the early 1950s he moved down the valley to work, still at the Co-op, in Rochdale. In the 1960s he became Under-Manager at Krazy Kuts, the very first supermarket in England, set up by the Co-op in Rochdale, but eventually he found “management” too stressful and not to his liking, and had a complete change of career. In 1969 he became a postman, and worked for the Post Office until his retirement in 1994, and thoroughly enjoyed his 25 years there.

In 1967 Colin married Irene, and they spent a very happy 42 years together. The one big hobby they enjoyed together was dancing, and, especially after retiring, holidaying. Holidays had always been an essential part of their lives, and the one place they enjoyed visiting more than any other was Guernsey. In fact they had visited there every year (and sometimes twice!) since 1960, and regarded it as their second home. But they also went on coach trips, and visited mainland Europe, in particular Austria.

On arriving in Rochdale he joined the St Chad (Parish Church) ringers and rang there for the rest of his life, on occasions serving as Secretary and Tower Captain. While Colin enjoyed ringing the Standard methods his favourite “occupation” was ringing the tenor behind to Triples. Altogether he rang 18 peals, all for the Lancashire Association, 13 of which were of Triples, all on the tenor. His first was on 6th October 1956, at Whitworth (in memory of his mother) , and the last at Heywood on 3rd June 1979, both of Grandsire. The other 5 were of Major. He also rang approaching 100 quarter-peals, the last being on 14th March 2009, again on the Heywood tenor to Triples. He was proud of belonging to the Lancashire Association since 1951, and the College Youths since 1959. For 64 years as a ringer Colin supported ringing whenever his work allowed, especially in the Rochdale Branch, but Sunday Service ringing at Rochdale remained his priority.

However the one thing Colin will be remembered for in the community at large will be as a handyman. He could turn his hand to almost anything! For the last 20 years or so he was a member of St Clement’s Church, almost opposite his house, and the jobs he did were legendary. If you should ever pass the church, say, going to Rochdale’s football ground (he could watch the games from his bedroom window!), or on the A680 to Blackburn, you will see the railings surrounding the church, all lovingly painted in black and gold by Colin. He even had his own workshop on the redundant balcony of the church, and turned out all sorts of objects, mainly in wood, sold for the benefit of the church. Many gardens have one of his bird tables.

Besides ringing and dancing Colin was a great supporter of local churches and organisations, such as the Friends of Bielefield, Rochdale’s German twin town, and Springhill Hospice in Rochdale. Organ recitals were a particular favourite, but choirs, brass bands, G & S operettas, plays, and many other events, all had his support.

His handiwork certainly extended to the belfry, especially to Rochdale and Heywood towers. He was a very welcome visitor to Heywood for over 50 years and greatly assisted in many projects, especially when the bells were lowered in 1971. Only a few weeks before he died he made a new treble stay. As usual he had been to Heywood’s practice on the Monday evening, and was at the Rochdale practice the next evening, having mended a neighbour’s gate that morning. He mended a form in the belfry, rang a bell up, and as he sat down suffered a massive heart attack, dying in hospital two days later.

Colin’s funeral took place at St Clement’s, the church being packed, not only with local parishioners, but ringers from many Rochdale and Rossendale Branch towers, and representatives from the many churches and organisations with which he had been connected. The Vicar of Rochdale, Rev Dr David Foss, assisted Revd Lynne Connolly, Vicar of St Clement’s, and said in his tribute “Bell-ringer Colin Taylor was a longstanding, faithful and highly-respected churchman for many decades, and a mainstay of St Chad’s ringing team. He was well-liked, loyal, dependable, steadfast and unassuming, greatly respected for all those qualities. Our bell-tower is one of the many places that will sorely miss him.” David ended with one of the last lines from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress: “So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side”. In Colin’s case, he said, it would be the bells.

To his wife, Irene, sister Rosamund and family, and all other relatives and friends we offer our sincere condolences.

As Colin had been so connected with the three churches of Whitworth, Rochdale and Heywood, it was decided to ring quarter peals at each of them in Colin’s memory. [Details given in RW.] Quarter peals were also rung at Town Church, and Vale, on Guernsey (p.1097), and peals at Middleton (p.1093) and Heywood (p.1242).


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers