Reg Chrimes obituary

Other lives: Long-serving Labour councillor and committed educationist

My father, Reg Chrimes, who has died aged 96, devoted his life to his local community as a Labour councillor and educationist. He represented Little Neston ward on Neston urban district council, and then on Ellesmere Port and Neston borough council, continuously from 1949 to 2007, believed to be a UK record.

Qualifying as a primary school teacher under the Labour government’s postwar training drive, he taught in primary schools for Wallasey county borough and then lectured on education for nearly 20 years at CF Mott College before “retiring” in 1983.

Reg was born in Neston, in the Wirral, surrounded by an extended family that had lived there for 150 years. As a child he witnessed the effects of unemployment and poor housing as he accompanied his father, Ted, delivering paraffin locally. As a teenager he stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street and declared he would be prime minister.

He devoured socialist literature lent by local Labour party members, and joined the party on his return from wartime service in the RAF in India. The party was one of many interests, along with classical music and the theatre, that he shared with his wife Doreen (nee Dovey), also a primary school teacher, whom he married in 1952.

Reg Chrimes, centre, with Harold Wilson, right, at a Labour party conference in the late 1950s
Reg Chrimes, centre, with Harold Wilson, right, at a Labour party conference in the late 1950s Photograph: Family Photo

Although unsuccessful in his parliamentary ambitions – he was runner-up in the Wirral (1951, 1955) and Blackley (1959) – he was leader of the Labour group on Neston and Ellesmere Port councils. He was particularly proud of bringing down local unemployment from the heights of the Thatcher years, and reducing the proportion of the local population in the 10% most deprived areas of the country from more than 20% to under 2% with the support of the Blair government. More modestly he was able in the 1960s to reinstate Neston market, which flourishes to this day.

Having campaigned successfully in the 50s for a local secondary school, he continued as chair of governors of the local high school after formal retirement from politics. He took great delight in the achievements of its pupils. Such opportunities were unavailable to his generation – although he attended Calday grammar school, in West Kirby, he left before matriculating.

He and Doreen saw equality of educational opportunity as the means by which local children, including their own, could realise their potential. He was honoured for his community service by being made MBE in 2001.

Reg is survived by Doreen, their children Penny and me, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mike Chrimes

The GuardianTramp

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