A Man of Character
Death of Mr. T. C. Clarke, of Rushden
Life’s Work for Temperance and Music
Throughout Northamptonshire, and particularly in musical and Temperance circles, the news that Mr. Thomas Coleman Clarke, of Moor-road, Rushden, passed away on Wednesday night, will be received with the deepest regret. To Rushden, especially, the loss is heavy, for Mr. Clarke was one of those veterans whom people delighted to know, and was held in veneration for his kindly character, his ever-apparent vitality and his quiet influence in several good causes.
Until little more than a fortnight ago, Mr. Clarke remained in fair health, carrying his 85 years with his accustomed cheerfulness. Only a few weeks ago his remarkably good memory was exercised in a long letter to the “Rushden Echo and Argus,” describing in full detail some pictures of Temperance worthies of the 19th century.
Then illness caused some anxiety, and although hopes of recovery were frequently revived, Mr. Clarke weakened during the present week, and death took place at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The devoted wife, who is 83 years of age, has, borne her time of trial very bravely.
64 Years’ Married Happiness
Mr. T. C. Clarke was born at Raunds, from which town, also, his wife hailed. The family continued to live in Raunds while he was young, and Mr. Clarke was educated at Chichele College, Higham Ferrers. He afterwards lived for some years at Finedon, then at Birmingham, and finally moved to Rushden some 40 years ago.
His marriage took place on an extremely wintry day, on December 23rd 1866, at the Parish Church, Raunds. And in 1926, when friends pressed forward to offer diamond wedding congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke were able to say that their partnership in life had throughout been one of much mutual happiness. One of their children spoke of them as “a devoted couple and loving parents.” A telegram of congratulation was also received from the King and Queen.
Mr. Clarke at an early age entered the boot trade as a hand-sewn worker, but was always quickly in touch with the newest inventions, and was one of the first operators of the newly invented Blake sewing machine. For over twenty years he was foreman for Mr. Charles Wright, of Finedon. Later he was in business at Rushden.
An Enthusiastic Musician
Mr T C Clarke
As a musician Mr. Clarke was a distinctive figure whose influence will long be remembered. He belonged of course, to what is now regarded as “the old school,” and had a great love of the oratorios and especially those of Handel. He had a powerful bass voice and owed some of his talent as a singer to the late Mr. William Skinner, who was his first tutor. Mr. Skinner had a horror of people who sang feebly “through their teeth” and Mr. Clark followed his liking for resonant, hearty vocalism.
All over the district he was known as a soloist, and to the end he was fond of recalling the incidents at various concerts in which he took part. Much of his best work for music was done at Finedon, where he conducted the old Temperance Choir, taking them on occasions to London for participation in national contests. He also had a considerable reputation at Raunds where as a young man he was a member of the Temperance Band.
Then, at Rushden he was a notable figure, and during the war was the conductor of the Park-road Baptist Church Choir. He was in the choir during their great contesting days and at one time conducted the Rushden Congregational Church Choir. He retained his vocal quality in wonderful manner and even in the last few years would occasionally assist the Baptist Choir, though failing eyesight was a great handicap to him.
Composer of Hymn Tunes
Mr. Clarke had also some knowledge of composition, and composed some excellent hymn tunes. His church was delighted when, to celebrate his diamond wedding, he composed a tune called “Remembrance”. It was sung at the church in his honour, and has been used on other occasions. The Kettering Rifle Band, it is recalled, played the tune at a concert on the lawn of Mr. C. W. Clarke’s residence at Kettering, thus paying a graceful tribute to a revered father and a distinguished son.
Life Long Work for Temperance
Mr. and Mrs. Clarke were ever of one opinion on the subject of Temperance and have worked throughout their lives to further the cause.
Mr. Clarke was always in the forefront of these activities, and held a long and valued association with the Independent Order of Rechabites Friendly Society. He was a charter member of the Finedon Tent, which was founded in 1870, and transferred to Rushden “Morning Star” Tent in 1890. He passed through the chairs of the district and was District Chief Ruler in 1903. He has also been through the chairs of the Morning Star Tent and at the time of his death was a member of the Rushden Committee, on which he had served for many years.
In addition, Mr. Clarke was a past president of the County Temperance Band of Hope Union. For many years Mr. and Mrs. Clarke were invariable present and took part in the summer meetings of the Executive Committee of the Northants Temperance and Band of Hope Union which were held in the grounds of Mr. C. W. Clarke’s residence at Kettering. Mr. T. C. Clarke was also a vice-president and a member of the committee of the Rushden Temperance Society; and a vice-president of the Rushden Park-road Baptist Band of Hope.
A Devoted Helpmeet
In all his work for Temperance, he was enthusiastically supported by his wife Mrs. Clarke is a vice-president of the Rushden B.W.T.A. branch, and was one of its earliest members. All their children and grand-children are total abstainers.
In recent years every observant townsman of Rushden has been able to appreciate the youthfulness of Mr. Clarke’s heart. He was proud of the 3 miles walk on which he set out almost every day, and of the heartiness with which he could enter into a game of bowls. He sometimes appeared in special matches with a team of veterans and was a familiar and popular figure at Rushden Spencer Park.
With the bereaved widow and family the deepest sympathy will be expressed. The bereaved sons and daughters are Mr. T. T. Clarke of Bournemouth; Mr. C. W. Clarke C.C. of Kettering; Mrs. Bradfield of Weston Super-Mare; Mrs. Button of London; and Mrs. G. Hall of Rushden.
The funeral is to take place on Saturday afternoon at 2.30 at Rushden Cemetery, and the request is made that no flowers be sent.