TRIBUTES have been pouring in for one of Bolton’s “gentlemen” who spent many years in local politics and was passionate about his family, music and life.
Brian Tetlow, who was chairman of the Civic Trust, a former local and county councillor and a father of seven, died at Bolton Hospice on Wednesday, aged 84.
He led a full and rich life and had taken an active role in politics both in Bolton, the North West and nationally.
Mr Tetlow, who has been described as a man who was never afraid of standing up and speaking out, was born in Moston, Manchester, and was educated at Xavier College in the city.
He met his wife, Agnes, and when she went to teacher training college, he became a £10 Pom and went to Australia, where he worked in a variety of jobs ranging from the civil service, in a tyre factory and later in the outback of north Queensland where he went down the copper, zinc and lead mines.
He eventually returned to England and married Agnes and became a political agent for the Conservatives.
They settled in London, but when an agent’s position arose in Bolton they moved to Bromley Cross, and eventually to their present home in Bradshaw. He later became an estate agent in Darwen.
He served on Bolton Council for many years and as the leader of the Conservative group on the former Greater Manchester Council.
He also stood for parliament twice, once in Westhoughton and later in the same year Margaret Thatcher was elected to power in 1979, in Preston South, a huge Labour stronghold, where despite several recounts he narrowly missed being elected.
Mr Tetlow had a narrow escape at the Conservative party conference in Brighton in 1984, having left the bar at the Grand Hotel just shortly before the bomb explosion.
His political career continued, but he quit the Tory party in 1993 because he claimed the Conservative government was deserting its principles and mismanaging issues crucial to Britain.
However, he upheld his political ideals and continued to campaign for the party locally, even door-to-door leafleting, well into his 80s.
He and Agnes raised seven children and had eight grandchildren.
He was passionate about his family and his daughter said: “He was so proud of us all, and was always quick to get us into the paper if we did anything noteworthy.”
Mr Tetlow was also a keen charity worker. She added: “He touched a lot of people’s lives through his public service and charity work.”
He loved music and supported the Northern College of Music, Bolton Symphony orchestra and other local music groups.
He worked closely with the Walsh’s Institute and has secured a lasting legacy in the form of a charitable trust providing bursaries for educational purposes.
He was also a supporter of a variety of organisations including the British American Association, People to People, and raised funds for a range of charities including Bolton Hospice, Cancer Research UK, and Life to name a few.
Mr Tetlow was chairman of Bolton’s Civic Trust and was instrumental in the fund raising and organisation of the Fred Dibnah memorial statue. Up until his death, he had been making arrangements for the Trust’s 50th anniversary.
Margaret Collier, of the Trust said: “As chairman for more than 20 years, Brian was looking forward to celebrating the Trust’s 50th anniversary this May. Typically, he had already written his chairman’s report for the AGM.
“At an earlier AGM, Brian organised Fred Dibnah’s fascinating talk to the Civic Trust, which many residents will remember.
“Brian was instrumental in ensuring that a statue to Fred was erected in the town centre. Bolton, and Bolton’s Civic Trust, have lost an exceptionally capable champion in Brian Tetlow.
He was a remarkable man who served Bolton magnificently. He stood up, without fear or favour, for Bolton’s architectural, cultural and social heritage.
His role as a staunch supporter of Bolton will be sorely missed, as will his unerring ability to provide an accurate, incisive and immediate comment on Civic Trust matters.”
Conservative councillor John Walsh who had known him for more than 40 years added: “He was always robust, and never afraid of standing up and speaking out when he thought he had a fight worth fighting.
Clearly he had a huge impact during his time as a Bolton councillor, as leader for the Conservatives at the Greater Manchester County Council and later in the Civic Trust.
“As such he played a huge part in the workings of the council, and he will be sadly missed.”
Mr Tetlow was also a prolific letter writer to The Bolton News and in 2008 celebrated reading the paper for 50 years by writing a piece, “An insider’s guide to Bolton’s political past”, where he chronicled his career in the town and the political figures he had met including Margaret Thatcher, Ted Heath and Enoch Powell.
Lynn Ashwell, Deputy Editor of The Bolton News, had known him for 15 years.
She said: “I will remember Mr Tetlow for his wit, repartee and charm. He had a great mind and strong views, but always a twinkle in his eye.”
His funeral will be held at St Brendan’s RC Church, Harwood on Friday, March 14 at 10am with a full Requiem Mass.