Holbrook, Arthur Sanders (1900-1991)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

ARTHUR SANDERS HOLBROOK: born into a large family at Swallownest, Derbyshire, on 28th August 1900. Leaving school in his early teens to work in a shovel factory, he was conscripted into the Army at the end of the First World War. He served for two years as a despatch rider in Germany, Ireland and Scotland. During a Mechanical Engineering Course at Sheffield University he candidated for the ministry and trained at Hartley College. 

After his period of probation in East London Mission he served in the following circuits: Leicester (Hinckley Road), Hinckley (Stockwell Head), Sheffield (Ecclesall), Ashton-under-Lyne, Sheffield (North), Peak and Bradwell, Alderley Edge and Knutsford, and IIkeston. In 1967 he retired to Calverley in the Bradford (Woodhouse Grove) Circuit where he had a long retirement. Here he preached and took part in the worship and life of the local church until failing health and sight prevented him.

In 1932 he married Amelia Anthony at Woodhouse Mill in South Yorkshire. Their two daughters, Anthea and Margaret, were born in Leicester. During the earlier years of their retirement they were able to go out to India a number of times to visit Margaret who lives there. In 1989 the family were saddened by the quite sudden death of their older daughter Anthea at Rochdale. In 1982 Arthur and Amelia celebrated their Golden Wedding with celebrations in their home and at the church. 

Arthur Holbrook was very much the scholar, interested in words, their formation, in languages, particularly German and Greek. He was interested in books and classical literature. After his sight failed and he was unable to read for himself a near neighbour and friend would come regularly and read to him from the classics. He loved music and hymns and had a fine collection of books on hymnology which he donated a number of years ago to the John Rylands Library in Manchester. For ten years he was the secretary on the interdenominational Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, arranging and attending their conferences and meeting well known musicians. Particularly he liked the hymns of James Montgomery, German hymns and Bach chorales. 

With two colleagues he translated into English and published in 1972 the German Book, “John Welsey and the German Hymn” by John L. Nuelsen D.D. This was a detailed study of John Welsey’s translation of thirty-three German hymns. His great love for music, choral music and hymns was also seen when he was largely responsible for the re-founding of the Methodist Church Music Society in the West Yorkshire District in 1974, from which time it has continued and flourished. 

In the sporting field he enjoyed watching cricket and football. Arthur Holbrook was one of the “old school” of ministers: until going into hospital towards the end of 1990 he would always be formally dressed in clerical collar, stock and jacket. Brought up surrounded by sisters he was not domesticated and relied very much on the support and care of his wife in their long married life together. Interested in what was happening in the world and the church he had an alert mind and was not afraid to speak out when he felt he should. He would question preachers on their sermon material or on words they used. 

Celebrating his ninetieth birthday in August 1990, Arthur’s health was failing fast. After quite a long spell in hospital in Leeds he went to be cared for in a nursing home. In recent years Arthur and his wife have been looked after in their home by family, particularly their grandson, lan, who came to live with them, neighbours and friends from the churches in Calverley. Arthur Holbrook died peacefully on 7th April 1991 in the ninety-first year of his age and the sixty-third year of his ministry.


Arthur was born on 28 August 1900 at Swallownest, Derbyshire, to parents James, a coal miner, and Elizabeth.

He married Amelia Anthony (1904-1991) on 16 July 1932 at Woodhouse Mill PM Chapel, Yorkshire. Census returns identify two children.

  • Elizabeth Anthony (1934-1989) – married Roy Lunn in 1958
  • Margaret M (b1936)

Arthur died on 7 April 1991 at Calverley, nr Bradford, Yorkshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1928 East London
  • 1932 Leicester II
  • 1936 Hinckley
  • 1941 Sheffield Eccles
  • 1945 Ashton under Lyne
  • 1948 Sheffield N
  • 1952 Peak &c
  • 1956 Alderley Edge
  • 1962 Ilkeston
  • 1967 Pudsey (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1991/41

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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