Rev John Wilcockson
Chairman of Farnworth Urban District Council: 1930-32 (Labour)
Mayor of Farnworth: 1939-40
Born: Manchester 8 April 1872
Died: Worthing, Sussex 10 April 1969
First Mayor of the Municipal Borough of Farnworth.
He came to Farnworth in 1915 as Vicar of St Thomas' Church, Dixon Green.
He started a 'sanitary crusade' in 1916, opening a campaign against dirt, disease and bad housing. He became involved in politics because of his belief that it was a parson's job to look after the welfare of his flock in all its aspects, not just spiritually. It was his dynamic personality and political career that made him a household name in Farnworth and District for almost 30 years.
He was first nominated as a Labour candidate in 1919 and soon demonstrated he was a man of action as well as words. Housing and Health were his main concerns and he chaired both Committees. It was due to his initiative that Farnworth became the first local authority in the country to clear slums under the 1930 Housing Act and embark on new housing developments.
When he was appointed Chairman of the Urban District Council in 1930 he refused to wear the Chain of Office stating that 'had he wanted decorations he would have joined the Freemasons or Oddfellows and would therefore have had plenty of decorations.'
He was President of Farnworth and Kearsley Cooperative Society in 1931 and Chairman of Bolton Board of Guardians in 1935. He was also Chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee and Chairman of the local ARP Committee.
He was unanimously elected as Charter Mayor in 1939 and became the first Church of England clergyman in the country to be Mayor of a Borough. He was the Mayor in the most important year in Farnworth's history, when it was granted Borough status by King George VI and received its Charter of Incorporation from Lord Derby.
He left Farnworth in 1943 citing the War and all its consequences as his reason for leaving, as well as the fact that he felt he could achieve no more. He retired to Worthing and died in 1969 aged 97.
He is buried in Farnworth Cemetery.