Roy Gregory

Roy Gregory
Roy Gregory
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ROY Gregory, who has died aged 76, arrived in Beverley with a young family in in 1972 to be town clerk, and from 1974 until 1993 was chief administrative officer.

Beverley’s first chief officer with management qualifications, he set up the Beverley Early Music Festival and was the driving force behind moves to twin Beverley with Lemgo in Germany.

A moderniser in his approach to the council’s administration, he valued architectural heritage, windmills and water mills being of particular interest. He readily admitted to be a fanatic.

He spent many years as a part-time miller at Skidby mill, which originally came to his attention through his responsibility for the borough’s leisure services.

As little information was readily available on the history of the mill, he carried out his own research and this soon led to a crystallization of a general interest in the industrial past, and specifically the history of wind and water power: research that led him across large parts of east and west Europe, Russia and Greece.

His first book East Yorkshire Windmills (1985) was followed by several articles and papers to national and international journals. He was a member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (mills section) and held the chair twice.

In 1985 Mr Gregory took out a lease on Beswick Mill from Lord Hotham. He personally restored the derelict mill to commercial standard and in 1994 ran around the farm shouting “Its working! It’s working!”

He supplied organic flour to the SideOven Bakery in Foston, and local farm shops.

He did not renew his lease and left Beswick in 2002.

His last project was investigating the origins of Weedly Mill, between Beverley and South Cave, believed to be the first windmill in Britain. He wanted to have a survey done but the cost of the equipment hire and a specialist to operate it was in the region of £50,000, and unable to get a grant, he abandoned the project.

In place of milling, in later years he became secretary for the EGGs (elderly gentleman’s golf) at Cherry Burton Golf Club, playing there up to five times a week.

A keen spinnet, piano and organ player, as well as writer, Mr Gregory published many books including East Yorkshire Windmills and The Other Beverley.

One of two children – he had a younger sister, Ann - Mr Gregory was born in Whitefield, North Manchester.

His father, Walter, worked for Manchester Corporation in the water department, and played the flute with various Manchester Orchestras, and his mother, Evelyn, sang and was a seamstress.

At school, Mr Gregory excelled in mechanical science, and was was the first pupil at his school to take an O-Level in music. Every Saturday morning he attended the Northern School of Music for piano lessons, and to play timps and percussion in the orchestra. At 14 he transferred to the organ.

Two years earlier his father had died of a heart attack, and the family’s dire financial straits meant he had to leave school at 16 to get a job, which he did in the education department at Manchester City Council.

He had wanted to become an organ builder, but that was not to be.

In 1955 he was called up for National Service. Stationed at Sandhurst, much to his chagrin, National Service was abolished the following year and he returned to local government, rising through the administrative ranks while taking evening classes five times a week to study Law. In 1971 he received his articles and became a solicitor.

He had married Dorothy Cline in 1965 – they met at the Ritz in Manchester - and had two daughters, but the couple divorced in 1986.

Courteous and generous, and one who enjoyed female company, Mr Gregory worked hard, had big ideas, was quick to give congratulations when due, liked solving problems, was highly organised and enjoyed his family, cooking large meals, fine dining, and going to concerts, especially by the Hall in Manchester.

His curiosity was unbounded, he was sharp in debate, he championed the poet Philip Larkin and was always well dressed and rarely seen without a smart cap. Birds he liked, and cats he discouraged with a water pistol.

Pet hates were shopping, queuing, and inefficiency.

Mr Gregory is survived by his daughters Carla and Louise, grandchildren Clive and Gwen, and his sister Ann.

A service to celebrate his life will take place on Friday, November 22, at Beverley Minster at noon, followed by a wake at the Beverley Arms Hotel.