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Report of the Funeral of Stephen Oldman

from the Eastern Daily Press, Friday, April 1st 1932


Names in the report: click on the one (other than Oldman) which is your interest.

Adams...Allison...Astley...Banyard...Barker N...Barker NJ...Barnard...Bartram
Bowles...Brett...Brown JG...Brown SG...Brummage...Bunn EW...Bunn H...Bunn S
Bullard...Bury (Lord)...Cadamy...Calthrop...Campkin...Carter...Chalk...Chell
Clarke AE...Clarke EA...Cobon...Coe...Collins (of Bourne)...Collins JW...Collins RA...Collings
Colman...Cottam...Cozens-Hardy...Crispe BC...Crispe G...Cronchey...Cruikshank...Davies
Dixon RA...Dixon RH...Dixon WD...Doran...Ducker...Eagling...Elkins...Evans-Lombe
Faires...Fendick...Fison CH...Fison WC...Flack...Fowell...Fowke...Fox
GardnerGarwood-Palmer...Gooch...Gould...Green A...Green HT...Greenland...Hayward
Martin...Meek...Miller...Neave...Newling...Norman...Palmer...Parrot RFC
Parrot W...Parry...Payne...Peacock...Phoenix...Porter...Read...Reynolds
Rose Bennett...Rowe...Salter...Self...Shaw...Shickle...Spencer A...Spencer AG
Spooner...Squires...Standley...Stone...Storey...Taylor...Thacker H...Thacker TW
Thorpe...Tuck...Tyrell-Green...Watling...Wells...West...Whitta A...Whitta J

Representatives of Norfolk County Council - from which he retired just over two years ago - Thetford Town Council, and various other local bodies with which during a long public life he was actively associated, attended the funeral at Thetford yesterday of Mr Stephen Oldman who died on Saturday at the advanced age of 85. Mr Oldman was regarded as the grand old man of his native town, which he served with rare devotion. Some measure of his character and qualities and their confidence in his experience and judgement may be had from the fact that the townspeople no fewer than seven times chose him as mayor. It was an honour fully deserved and probably unprecedented. His sturdy Liberalism and faithful adherence to Nonconformist principles were well known.

One noticed the Union Jack flying at half mast from the Municipal buildings, and the large number who came to the funeral from near and far indicated how widely Mr Oldman was known and respected.

The coffin, covered in wreaths, was carried on a hand bier from Grey Gables (the house of his son, where Mr Oldman died) to the Wesleyan Church. It was followed by two small vehicles, laden with flowers and several mourning coaches.

At the funeral service the Psalm was the 90th, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” The hymns ware, “Safe home, safe home in peace” and “Now the labourer’s task is o’er” The lesson was read by the Rev. T Cottam (superintendant minister of the Wesleyan Church) who also said prayer. The address was given by the Rev. H. Gardner (minister of the Congregational Church). Mr Cottam officiated at the graveside in Thetford Cemetary, where the interment took place.

The family representatives were: Mr and Mrs H W Oldman (son and daughter-in-law), St Ives, Hunts; Mrs Alfred Oldman (daughter-in-law), Hockwold; Mr Harold Oldman (grandson), Colchester; Mr and Mrs A J Chell (daughter and son-in-law), Surbiton; Mr H F Oldman (son); Mr F Lax (nephew), Leeds; Mr H R Oldman (grandson); Mr J T Chell (nephew) London; Mr J P Blake and Mr Leslie Blake (cousins), Isleworth; Mr and Mrs W J Oldman (nephew and neice) Great Yarmouth; Mr Noel Oldman and Mr Eric Oldman (great nephews), Yarmouth; Mr and Mrs Ernest Oldman (nephew and niece), Nottingham; Mr and Mrs Robert Mallett (nephew and niece), Nordelph; Mrs Martin (niece), Battle; Mr and Mrs Reynolds (great niece and great nephew), London; Mr S Oldman;Miss Collins (of Bourne, Lincs); Mrs Salter (niece), Attleborough; Mr Geo Norman (nephew), Burston; Mr Robert Palmer; Mrs Meek; Mr R D Bowles and Mr R H Dixon.

Representing Thetford Town Council were the Mayor, (Alderman J G Brown), the Recorder (Mr A Lombe-Taylor), Alderman J Cronchey, the Town Clerk (Mr G R Blaydon), Councillors T R Doran, A G Spencer, W R Allison, H Flack, H W Watling, Geo Squires, C H Fison, J W Kybird, and S G Brown, the Borough Surveyor (Mr L G Howell), the Summoning Officer (Mr C W Bartram), the Clerk of the Peace (Mr G O Read), the Borough Treasurer (mr G O Lord), the Rating Officer (Mr W J H Brummage), the Borough Auditor (Mr G L Banyard), Mr G R Boddy (captain of the fire brigade), and Mr B C Crispe (of the Town Clerk’s office).

The Norfolk County Council was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of the County (Mr Russell J Colman) (Chairman) Mr H C Davies (Clerk), Alderman G E Hewitt, and councillors W B Taylor, G A Miller, F C Newling, T A Jones, G Brett, H W Fox, H W Coe and A Spencer.

Other public representatives were:

Thetford bench of Magistrates: Messrs W Fowell, W C Fison, J Porter, H T Phoenix, and Inspector A E Clarke.

Thetford Municipal Charities: Mr W West

The Ouse Catchment Board: Mr W Hutson (vice-chairman), Mr R Bilsland, and Mr O Borer, (engineer)

Thetford Rural District Council: Mr N J Barker (Chairman), and Messrs A Whitta, W D Dixon, F C Fendick, J Peacock and R F C Parrot, the Rev H T Green, Mr W J Haywood (clerk) and Mr E W Bunn (Rating Officer)

Thetford Building Society: Messrs H C Loome, W E Hooper, C W Gooch, G J Hubbard.

South Norfolk Liberal Association: Messrs E A Clarke, H Elkins and H E Stone.

South-West Norfolk Liberals: Messrs J W Collins, J A Gould, W H Rowe and R E Beattie.

Thetford Liberal Association: Mrs W R Allison, Mrs W E Hooper, Mrs T R Doran, Mrs Calthrop, Mr H Large, Mr and Mrs Bennett, Mrs and Miss Ducker, Mr J Wilson, Mrs Geo Squires, Mr H Large, jun, Mr and Mrs G Crispe, Mrs Gardner, Miss Shickle, Mrs H Thacker, Mrs Self, Mr Lark, Mr T Shaw and Mr Chalk.

Others present included: Lord Bury, Mrs Brown (Mayoress of Thetford), Mr C B Hill (Messrs Hill and Perks, Norwich), Mr Ernest Bullard (Bullard & Sons, Ltd), Col Herbert (Methwold), Mr John Whitta, Mr W K Thorpe (Methwold), Mr J Rose Bennett, J W Collings (Downham), Mr and Mrs J E Kirkham, Mr Robert Palmer, Mr S Spooner, Mr L Payne, Mr F Patrick (representing Sir Richard and Lady Winfrey), the Rev H Tyrell Green (Santon Downham), Mr A Lake, Mr S G Lee (Small Holdings department of Norfolk County Council), Mr T W Thacker, Mr J Loades, Mr C J Jackson (Attleborough),Mrs Beckett, Mr A Green, Mr H Campkin, Mr R A Dixon, Mr Lionel Standley (Wymondham), Mr H J Neave (Wymondham), Mr J Storey (Feltwell), Mr W Parrot (Methwold), Mr T H Wells (Methwold), Mr N Barker, Mr Walter Kerridge (East Harling), Mr W B Fowke (Methwold), the Rev P Cadamy, Mr F W Claxton, Mr H Flatt (Lakenheath), Mr L Lyes, Mr and Mrs R A Collins (Bourne), Superintendent O Carter (Wymondham), Mr S Cruikshank, Mr W R Greenland (Attleborough), Mr A S Law, Mr S Bunn, Mr H Garwood Palmer (Norfolk Association of Agricultural Valuers), Mr D C Barnard (Ministry of Agriculture), Mr H Bunn (Stationmaster), Rev G R Brake (Downham), Mr W H Rowe (Upwell), Mr C H Tuck (Gooderstone) Mr Leonard Faires (Bury St Edmunds) Mr W H Leggatt, Mr D Parry, Mr R E Adams &c.

Among those unavoidably prevented from attending were Major and Mrs E H Evans-Lombe, Major D G Astley, Mr A Cozens-Hardy, Mr George Cobon and Mr W J Eagling.

A Pulpit Tribute

In his address at the funeral service, the Rev H Gardner said they thanked God for the long, full, fearless and Christian life of Mr Oldman. To him might be applied Brownings lines:
“One who never turned his back but marched best forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamt though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held, we fall to rise; are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.”

What were the sources of this warrior’s life? They were founded in tradition and cherished in the succession of faithful men and women who served God according to their conscientious convictions. Within the Wesleyan Methodist Church the great grandparents of their friend were two of the eight, who in 1781, formed the first Methodist Church in Thetford. Their sturdy non-conformity had in their great grandson the expression in the same place, under changed conditions, and his loyalty to those principles firmly held, familiarly expressed, he had the courage to proclaim. His independence, and independence of convention, showed itself in the life of total abstinence by his strong advocacy of temperence principles. He left school at an early age, and entered equally early the business of his father, a business honourably associated with an honourable name. Devoted to public life, he bore the leader’s part at a time when non-conformist conscientiousness counted greatly and bore witness for this liberty dearly won in civil and religious spheres.

Mr Oldman was called upon to be mayor of his native town seven times, the last occasion being when 80 years of age, when he filled the office which became vacant by the passing of the late Mr J E Meek. For over 50 years in the public service, he was progressive and determined, and was Chairman of every committee of the local Council in turn. He took a prominent part in work on the Council, especially in the better provision of better houses for the people. In the still wider field of the County Council he took a distinguished place. Fostering an early interest in the allotment and Small Holdings scheme, and as the vice-chairman he helped in guiding County business and retained the high esteem of those who differed from him in many ways. A lover of education, the full value of which he had been denied, he was governor of the Grammar School and a manager of the Council schools. The Board of Guardians felt and recognised the value of his practical and general services.

An ardent and active Liberal by inheritance and conviction his voice rang out on many platforms and his advocacy was largely sought and unselfishly given to aspirants for Parliamentary honours, many of whom owed their victories in a great measure to his powerful appeals. The Council Chambers and the political battlegrounds will know him no more. He will be greatly missed and the whole town the poorer for his passing. He distrusted compromise, loved the clash of arms. The help of his two devoted wives largely made it possible for him to lead his strenuous life.

What of the unfinished tasks he has bequeathed to us? Must we not face them with the same unselfish, courageous, persistent spirit, refusing defeat?

There were a large number of wreaths from relatives, friends, public departments and the Thetford Wesleyan Methodist Church.

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