He altered the face of Brighouse

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THE funeral will be held tomorrow of Mr Willie (Bill) Jennings, a former chief public health inspector for the Borough of Brighouse who played an important role in slum clearance and smoke control programmes in the town.

Mr Jennings died at his home in Rastrick at the age of 92. He was educated at the former Victoria Infants School, Rastrick Common School and Rastrick Grammar School, leaving in 1934 and joining the Borough of Brighouse’s health and cleansing department as a clerk. During the five years that he was there he furthered his studies at Bradford Technical College and Leeds Technical College, gaining professional qualifications.

During the second world war, Mr Jennings saw service in India with the Royal Engineers. He was seconded to the Indian Army and served with Queen Victoria’s Madras Sappers and Miners which provided the engineer units for the Indian Southern Army. He was promoted to Captain and served as Company Commander and Acting Adjutant of no 22 Engineer Battalion, Forward Airfield Engineers of the Indian Army.

Before and during the war he worked as a public health inspector for the City of Birmingham authority.

After the war Mr Jennings worked in Batley and Knaresborough, returning to Brighouse Borough Council in 1956. After a short spell as deputy, he was promoted to chief public health inspector and cleansing officer, a post he held until local government reorganisation in 1974.

He was on the North Eastern Regional Council of the Association of Environmental Health Officers and the Institute of Waste Management and also served on other bodies concerned with the environment. For some years he was a member of the general council of the Institute of Waste Management.

In Brighouse he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of the council’s 15-year programme to tackle smoke pollution, steering it through to its completion in 1974. He also prepared and was responsible for implementing the council’s 25-year slum clearance programme and the housing improvement grant scheme which together resulted in the demolition of 1,500 homes and the improvement and modernisation of other properties. All three of these policies changed the face of Brighouse.

As cleansing officer he was responsible for refuse collection and disposal. At the time Brighouse Council had a high reputation in the cleansing world, dating back to 1924 when its ground-breaking salvage plant came into service and operated for the next 50 years.

Mr Jennings was for some years a member of the church council at St Matthew’s, Rastrick, and a sidesman. He was founder chairman and for several years secretary of the Calderdale branch of the retired members’ section of the union NALGO, later Unison.

He was a life member, past chairman and past speaker finder of Brighouse Probus Club and a member of Halifax Probus Club.

His wife Esme died in 2005. The couple had two children, Margaret, who lives in Kendal, and Peter, who lives in Outlane, and four grandchildren.

His daughter Mrs Margaret Jones said: “My dad was very proud of his work for Brighouse. His interests included gardening and DIY and woodcarving was a hobby for many years using reclaimed oak furniture. He was an early computer user prior to email and at the age of 92 he was still very active, attending weekly Probus Club meetings. He was totally independent and managed to keep up with on-line banking, emailing and texting.

“Dad will be dearly missed by all members of his family.”

Mr Jennings’ funeral will be at Huddersfield Crematorium, Fixby, tomorrow at 11am. Donations will go the Hindu Kush Conservation Association, a charity close to Mr Jennings’ heart. He sponsored a child through the charity and kept in regular touch through email.