Glossop Heritage Trust

Joseph Dempsey Doyle, Alderman, Mayor and Freeman of Glossop.

The Obituary of Alderman Doyle below was taken from a cutting from the Glossop Chronicle of 10 June 1964.

Joseph Dempsey Doyle
Freeman and former Mayor of Glossop dies

Outstanding figure in Glossop's civic life, Alderman Joseph Doyle, of Hague Street, Glossop, died on Saturday, aged 81, in Wood's Hospital. He was admitted to the hospital during the previous week, having previously been a patient there some months ago following a deterioration in health.

Native of Hayfield, Alderman Doyle was the last survivor of the town's seven Freemen. He had been a member of the town council for over 40 years, was Mayor in 1928-29, and until his retirement had been a magistrate for several years.

At the age of 16 he walked to work at Glossop. He had a long association with the Cooperative movement, being employed for many years in the shoe shop at Glossop.

An official of the British Legion he helped ex-servicemen and war widows after the war. He had been chairman of the Disablement Advisory Committee and took a great interest in this work.

A dour debater Alderman Doyle had a saving sense of humour. Forthright and sometimes even blunt he never refused help or advice.

The opening of a new grammar school in Glossop saw the realisation of an ambition he had cherished the many years he had been interested in education.

Alderman Doyle played a major part in helping to bring about a happier life, better housing conditions, and brighter chances in life for the people of Glossop.

He was chairman of Glossop Grammar School governors for 25 years, retiring in 1952. On his retirement he received a gift of three volumes of classical history from his fellow governors and the headmaster (Mr Lord).

Alderman Doyle also served as chairman of the governors of Glossop secondary schools and of the north-west division executive. He was also on the County Education Committee when a member of the Derbyshire County Council.

Alderman Doyle used to travel to the education executive meetings at Buxton. Having no car, the strain of three hours’ travelling in all kinds of weather finally compelled him resign from the committee and the county council.

In the inter-war years, when Glossop Council carried out very little building, he advocated more building between 1928-9 when economic conditions were at their worst. He was chairman of the council’s Housing Committee and brought to bear on housing problems the same careful thought which characterised higher public service. Lately he had been chairman of the council's Public Halls and Libraries Committee.

Alderman Doyle was elected to the town council in 1922.

He was a member of the Education Committee from 1922 until 1944.

Alderman Doyle was appointed chairman at the first of the Education Committee in 1926 and was re-elected on seven further occasions.

He took a leading part in the reorganisation of Glossop elementary schools when they were “all age” schools and it then fell to his lot to pilot the scheme through.

As a result, the reorganisation of Glossop schools was amongst the earliest in the country, and when the Education Act of 1944 became operative, Glossop already had two modern secondary schools with 15 years experience behind them.

The two new secondary schools were placed under the control of a joint board of governors. In 1930 Alderman Doyle became its first chairman. After the institution of the Divisional Executive separate boards were instituted, Alderman Doyle being chairman of the Hadfield Castle Board until 1954 and of the West End Board until 1955.

Alderman Doyle took an active part in pressing forward the scheme whereby the council, with the assistance of the unemployment grants committee, tackled the wholesale conversion of Glossop’s pail closets to the water carriage system.

He was closely connected with the scheme to purchase Glossop Hall and grounds.

Alderman Doyle, up to two years ago when his eyesight began to fail, had contributed weekly to "Watchman’s" column in the Glossop Chronicle and used to write regularly for the Co-operative magazine.

His health deteriorated in recent months but he insisted on staying in his hill-top home which looked out over the town he loved.

The funeral was yesterday (Wednesday) at Glossop Cemetery following a service at Glossop Central Methodist Church.

Mr John Roper, prospective Labour candidate for the High Peak, told members of the High Peak Labour Party at a dinner-dance following its annual meeting at the Palace Hotel, Buxton, on Saturday, that he had learned a great deal from Alderman Doyle.

Alderman Doyle was a man who had built the High Peak Labour Party along with other pioneers like Mr Vernon and Mr Waterhouse, and to him the members owed a great deal.

“If we win the General Election this year our victory will in a large part be due to the work of Joe Doyle, Mr Vernon and Mr Waterhouse in laying the foundations of the party” he said.

Pugnacious, Courteous and Gay.

Councillor S Burgess has contributed the following appreciation of the late Alderman Doyle:—

“One must assume that Joe Doyle's Irish ancestry explained the extraordinary charm he exercised despite a manner which was often brusque. His lively intelligence scorned the easy victories which his native wit and ability allowed him to win too readily against those less gifted than himself.

This natural pugnacity was, however, tempered by an equally natural courtesy. When any problem was to be discussed. he would allow one a few opening sentences to define a positive attitude and then take an opposite view to ensure adequate examination.

If it then appeared that the cause of truth could best be served by the parties to the discussion changing sides, then Joe would accomplish this skilfully. Only afterwards did one realise that he had forced one to make up one's own mind after a thorough and impartial review.

He abominated woolly thinking and negative attitude. His integrity was so obvious and his loyalty so unquestionable that he could and did compel one to review realistically every problem. No doctrinaire solutions for Joe. But in controversy he could take it in as well as give it out and a few minutes after a first class barney he would be completely affable over a drink.

A Derbyshire man through and through he nevertheless, when local government reorganisation was first discussed after the war in 1947, supported the inclusion of Glossop in the area then suggested for a new form of regional government centred upon Manchester. Always one of a minority, he engineered real reforms by rousing the dilatory or inducing his opponents to think that they were originating them.

The help Alderman Doyle gave to all and sundry who approached him could never have be recorded or fully appreciated. Individuals with absolutely no claim upon him at all could and did seek his aid with their personal problems of all kinds.

Everyone could be certain of his courteous attention and his kind and helpful advice and guidance. He would and did fight tenaciously to secure pension rights and grants. Once convinced that a cause was just he never gave up until justice was done, and many people must be very grateful to him.

Joe Doyle was a craftsman and a master of the difficult art of communication. In his written work he would not scorn to use hackneyed phrases, saying forthrightly that he wished to be simple and understandable. In this he succeeded completely.

In a sense all his work was educational. The details of his services to formal education are recorded elsewhere in this issue. His knowledge of local history and his ability to impart it were unrivalled.

Have I described a somewhat formidable figure. If I have this is wrong. Joe Doyle, despite his accomplishments, was essentially a simple soul who loved to walk the countryside with his beloved wife, to cultivate his garden, and to play a hand of solo with his cronies.

He was not ponderous or pompous and strove unsuccessfully to conceal an impish gaiety which his Irish wit could make quite fascinating. The worst thing one could do was to agree with him and we shall always remember him in his prime complete with bushy eyebrows, bow tie and walking stick.

The last phase of the battle Joe could not win was distressing to his friends because of his tenacity and independence. After a severe illness he insisted upon returning to his own home where despite some very devoted help he could no longer exercise the full mental powers he retained because of falling eyesight and speech.

When this situation again worsened recently, it was possible only to wish that he should depart in peace and one rejoiced that he was able to do so surrounded by devoted care in Woods Hospital on his native heath. Posterity should remember with gratitude this famous Freeman of Glossop."

Although the report describes him as a "Native of Hayfield", census records show that Joseph Dempsey Doyle was born in Openshaw, Manchester. The family subsequently moved to Hayfield when he was a child.
In his youth he was Secretary of Glossop Independent Labour Party (the forerunner of the modern Labour Party) and one of the founders in 1906 of the Labour Club.

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