Good afternoon. On behalf of the family, I should like to thank you for attending this afternoon to commemorate the life of our father, Arthur Vernon Armbrister.
Dad was born in 1926, a year known for the General Strike, in Seaham Harbour, County Durham. His parents, Arthur Constantine and Anne Byers Armbrister, already had two daughters, Lily and Maureen, so Baby Arthur Vernon completed their family.
Dad’s father’s employment as Colliery Engineer meant that the family moved around living in Seaham Harbour, Leicester, the midlands, and eventually Oldham when he became Chief Colliery Engineer at Bradford and Agecroft Collieries in Manchester.
Arthur attended Hulme Grammar School Oldham until the age of eighteen when he joined the Royal Artillery in 1944, as a signaller, serving in India, then in Malaysia and Japan in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Some of his experiences during his wartime service stayed with him to the very end of his life.
On returning to Oldham in 1948, Arthur joined Oldham Borough Police, subsequently meeting Joan Casson, a local school teacher. They were married in 1950 and moved into a flat on Belgrave Road. In 1953 I was born, which entitled the family to a Police house on Fitton Hill. In 1955 Jane Ann was born and I then had a playmate and ‘partner in crime’. Dad was quite strict, especially on the occasion when Jane played the saloon bartender and I was the cowboy who gained a real swagger from sampling the Christmas sherry, I was kept in for some time because of that. Although a relatively strict parent in some ways, Dad also indulged us, making wooden toys and buying us gifts. He built rabbit hutches for us too but their inhabitants became a procreative problem and they had to go. He even used to sneak us out of bed when he came in from a late shift at the Police Force, so that he could spend time with his family.
Dad loved his cars, which, because of shortage of funds were largely held together by rust and paint, but he had a special love of motorcycles, one of which he adorned with a sidecar to enable Mum, Jane and me to travel around and enjoy the outdoors. I particularly remember trips to an outdoor swimming pool near Hayfield which in a sidecar was an awful long way, but at least we had a cool, sometimes freezing dip at the end.
In 1962 John Alexander was born to complete our family but unfortunately the relationship between Arthur and Joan had deteriorated and divorce ensued, so from the age of nine my relationship with my Dad became more distant, but I was always welcomed by him on my weekly visits.