Jack Kesterton on his wedding day



I was asked to write a piece about this very enjoyable talk for the web-site. Where to begin? As the speaker did perhaps? My start in life was very similar to John Martin-Jones’s, born and bred in Birstall but very much intertwined and influenced, as his was, with Belgrave St Peter’s. Like John, I had been a bell-ringer, at Birstall St James. Like John I, too, was not a singer, so I was a disappointment to my father, who was in St Peter’s choir for over 50 years. Not having seen John or his parents since the late 80’s/early 90’s, I was therefore determined to come and listen to his talk.

What a fascinating, interesting and insightful one it was too about church life. He rolled back the years with photographs and exciting stories of looking after both the clock and the bells, climbing up to the church tower via very steep ladders, definitely not for the faint hearted. John concluded with how, what had once been the heart and hub of the community in so many ways, both spiritually and socially for everyone and their families had sadly declined to what we have left today.

The audience of members and visitors certainly had a wonderful entertaining evening full of nostalgia. Oh my goodness how it jogged memories for many of us, so much so that the chatter and reminiscing continued well after John had finished talking and unfortunately we had to leave.

John had mentioned past tower captains, I remember Roland Barrows but in particular I was very fond of Jack Kesterton, so the next morning I went on the hunt for old photographs in the attic. I was very excited to find one of Jack and his wife Freda on their wedding day in 1948. They were a lovely couple and my late father Jack Shilton was his best man.

Many thanks again John for a really memorable evening, please come again!

Jane Welch (Shilton)


Jack Kesterton on his wedding day
Jack Kesterton on his wedding day