This life has taken me an age to research and write up, and computer failure didn’t help matters. Neville Hobson was one of the biggest names in Beverley at one time and a quick search in Find My Past’s newspapers returned 1500 results. Normally most wouldn’t be relevant, but about 90% of these were actually him. I was able to dismiss many of them as being just a mention of his name, such as council meetings, legal adverts etc, but I still downloaded more than sixty that were relevant to him as a person.
It is the first time I’ve had to write a timeline just for the newspaper snippets I’ve found, then there were all the other usual documents. Anyway, this is, at last, the story of Neville Hobson:
The name of Neville Hobson is well recognised in Beverley. His association with our town was so close that it earned him the name of “Mr. Beverley”.
Neville Hobson was born on the 13th of April 1886, the third child of Charles William and Louisa Elizabeth (nee Brigham) Hobson. Charles William was a solicitor and the son of Frederick Hobson, a gentleman of Beverley. Louisa was the daughter of William Brigham, a Beverley merchant. The couple had seven children altogether, Dora and Osric, Eva, Fred, Phyllis, Victor and Neville himself. Dora’s twin brother Osric died aged just five weeks.
Neville started his life as a social figure in the town at an early age, the age of two to be precise, when he and his siblings and cousins attended the 1898 Beverley Assembly Rooms children’s night in fancy dress. All six of the Hobson children were there and, along with their cousins, were dressed as a clown, Jack Tar, autumn, a fairy, battledore and shuttlecock, Little Red Riding Hood and Bo Peep. Neville was attired as an Irishman.
In 1900, Neville had his first taste of the magistrates court. He was only fourteen years old when a man of twenty, Aaron Revell, assaulted him on the Westwood, in order to steal his football. Revell was fined 10s for conduct the magistrate condemned as “unworthy of a British lad”.
Neville was educated at Beverley Grammar School and later at Bridlington Grammar School. In 1904 he passed the Intermediate exam of the Incorporated Law Society whilst articled to Dr. Aske of Woodhouse, Aske and Ferens of Hull.
In 1908 he was invited to head a branch of the Church Lad’s Brigade (C.L.B) in Beverley. He was still actively involved with the C.L.B right up until his death and received much praise and recognition, with the Brigade regularly reported on in the local press.
Only one incident has marred his record with the C.L.B, the accidental shooting of a member in 1913. The Brigade was on a route march and passing through Flemingate when a carbine, carried by one of the lads, accidentally discharged and shot another member in the leg. It was not discovered how or why the rifle had been loaded with a single “dum-dum” bullet, even after an investigation by Neville Hobson and Mr. Moore, the chief constable.
Despite this one terrible accident it is perhaps this one single organisation that he is most well remembered for, and many old members kept in touch with him their whole lives, though Neville Hobson had very many more feathers in his cap.
He was an avid and varied sportsman. He was the captain of Beverley Town Football Club and a lawn tennis and table tennis champion. He played bridge and chess, cricket and bowls, excelling in all of them. In 1911 he played for the Champions of the North football tem against the South of England. In 1940, whilst playing cricket at Blackmill for the C.L.B against a mixed team of amateurs and soldiers, he was hit on the forehead by the ball and knocked unconscious. He was indisposed for about a week, but the C.L.B won the match.
Throughout his life Neville Hobson was an intricate part of the workings of local government with his expertise being recognised nationally. He was throughout his life a member of many boards and committees. He was the Clerk of the County Council, was given the Freedom of Beverley in 1958 and, in 1966, made Mayor of Beverley, despite not being a councillor. He was a member of the National Advisory Council on Physical Fitness for England and Wales and in 1937 was sworn in as a magistrate and in the same year was installed as a diocesan lay reader by the Archbishop of York, Dr. Temple. In 1938 he was appointed, by the Minister of Health, to serve on the Departmental Committee to consider unfairness regarding allegations made about the application of rates and valuations. Later that year the Minister of Health appointed him a member of the Railway Assessment Authority, to evaluate the undertakings of main line companies and the London Passenger Transport Board, for rating purposes. In 1940 he was made a member of the Royal Sanitary Inspectors Examination Joint Board and was a member of the Executive Council of Rural District Councils’ Association, which he would go on to be made vice-chairman and eventually chairman of. He was a member of the Royal Sanitary Institute and the vice-president on the Beverley Branch of the British Legion. During the Second World War he was the Food Executive Officer and was appointed chairman of the Beverley Retail Milk Delivery Scheme.
In later years he was to advise locally and nationally on road maintenance and the business of setting and collecting rates, even writing a paper on how to evacuate the civil population in 1939.
When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Neville Hobson joined the 5th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment as private 1880 the very same month under Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, along with twelve other C.L.B members, after a request from Captain Pearce of the Beverley Territorials, leaving the Reverend F.W. Piggot, assistant chaplain, in charge of the C.L.B.
By November 1914 Neville was a Sergeant Major and being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant attached to the King’s Rifle Regiment. Two years later, in June 1916 he was made a Captain and transferred to the 2/19th Battalion of the London Regiment and went to France just before the Battle of the Somme. After France he saw service in the Balkans, Egypt and Palestine, where he was promoted to the staff of the 60th Division.
During General Allenby’s campaign in Palestine Neville acted as Forward Reconnaissance Officer, being one of the first to enter the Holy City of Jerusalem, crossing the Jordan with the leading battalion. He was later mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross, along with both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
After the war, on the 4th of February 1919 he married Sarah Kathleen “Kate” Darneley, second daughter of Mr and Mrs E.M. Darneley of Hull, at St Stephen’s Church in Hull. Together they had three children; Paul in 1921, Janice in 1922 and, in 1924, Christopher Neville, known as “Kit”.
Neville Hobson became a prolific writer, publishing eight books including legal references and inspirational pieces, some of which are still available today. He travelled the country giving lantern lectures on his war years and talks on local government.
1933 saw the death of Neville’s father. He had been a solicitor, Clerk to East Riding Visitor Committee, Clerk to Skirlaugh Rural District Council and Clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes for four of the East Riding divisions and Superintendent Registrar.
Two years later, on Valentine’s Day 1935, Neville’s mother collapsed and passed away at the age of 75 at Bridlington Train Station whilst her daughter Dora went to the booking office for tickets. She was buried in Queensgate and a service was held at St Mary’s church.
When war once again descended upon Europe in 1939, Christopher Neville Hobson followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the army as a Lieutenant. In 1944 he was wounded whilst in action on the Western Front. He was returned to England suffering from shrapnel wounds in the leg and shoulder but recovered and went on to live a long life, passing away at the age of 86 in 2011, after being awarded an M.B.E is 2008 after a lifetime’s work with the C.L.B. He too, like his father, was a solicitor.
In 1943, one of Neville’s employees, George Hunt, was killed in action in the Middle East. He was 32 and had been in the army for three years, a Corporal in the Queen’s Bays Regiment.
Neville’s wife, Kate, passed away in 1965 and such was the respect in the town for Neville “MR. Beverley” Hobson that, when he himself passed away at the Nuffield Nursing Home in Hull on the 2nd of July 1975 at the age of 89, the flags of Beverley Minster and St Mary’s church, where he had been an active member all of his long life, were flown at half mast for the whole of the week. The Beverley Guardian gave over most of it’s front page to his obituary the following week and the entire back page was filled with tributes to this remarkable man.