John Rushton

John Rushton MBE
John Rushton MBE
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JOHN Rushton, who was noted for his wealth of knowledge and writing on the history of Ryedale, has died aged 83.

His love of history grew after he moved to Pickering from London in 1959 to work as a tutor organiser for the Workers’ Educational Association, and developed local studies in several towns and villages in north east Yorkshire.

Over the years he wrote six books, including several featuring Yorkshire in the reign of Elizabeth I, and built a vast collection of research material which he presented to Ryedale Folk Museum’s new library and education centre shortly before his death.

Mr Rushton was born in Luton and educated at the local grammar school, leaving to join the Royal Navy as a trainee engineer shortly before the Second World War ended.

However, he quickly realised it was not the kind of career he wanted and, after eventually gaining his release, spent several years working as a health and safety overseer in Luton factories.

Later he gained a sociology degree from University College and London School of Economics, paying his way through his studies with a succession of part-time work including barrel organ singing, carrying a sandwich board dressed as Davy Crocket and
as a dresser at the Old Vic, waiting on Laurence Olivier among others.

He met his wife of 47 years Eileen at the BBC, where she worked as a cleaner, while studying Fine Art at the Slade, and they were married in 1954.

When they moved to Pickering the couple lived in a flat in Beck Isle, later the Beck Isle Museum which was formed through Mr Rushton’s annual local history exhibition in Pickering.

For many years he appeared at Pickering Carnival in historical costumes, and wrote village pantomimes as well as the Pickering pageants.

Following redundancy in 1992 he continued to lecture for the WEA and Hull University, until at the age of 71 he moved to Scarborough to start a new life with his partner, Sheila McGeown, and soon became involved in the town’s heritage.

He was a founding member and archivist of the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre and a former president of Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society. One of his ambitions was to see a Museum of the Seaside in the town.

In 2005 he was awarded an MBE for services to the community.

Mark Vesey, chairman of the Maritime Heritage Centre and Tony Clark, chairman of Ryedale Folk Museum, described Mr Rushton as an inspiration to many people.

He is survived by three daughters, eight grandchildren, a great grandchild born in Australia shortly before he died, and his partner Sheila. His funeral will be held on Monday at 1pm at the East Riding Crematorium.