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© 2013 Trinity United Reformed Church - Milton Grove, Wigan, WN1 2PG  

Welcome to Trinity United Reformed Church, Wigan

. . .  a friendly Christian church for everyone
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© 2013 Trinity United Reformed Church - Milton Grove, Wigan, WN1 2PG  

Robert Jolley - Architect

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Robert (Bob) Jolley 1924 – 2016

Bob was born in Stirling St. Wigan but lived most of his childhood in Mesnes Road.  His father was an established local builder.  Tragically, Bob's younger brother Ellis died as a young boy.

After Primary school, Bob was educated at Wigan Grammar School, showing himself to be a very bright and responsive pupil.  As a teenager there was a chance meeting with a farmer's daughter, Anne Redfern - the attraction was instantaneous and mutual.  At this time World War II had commenced but Bob's call-up was deferred to allow him to complete his Higher Level Certificates.

After a brief period in the Infantry, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, but in a non-combatant role.  He was sent to Italy where the urgent assignment was to repair or rebuild bridges sabotaged by the retreating Axis forces.  Non-combatant he may have been but he was certainly shot at!  At the end of hostilities in Italy, being a fluent German speaker he was selected to supervise a Preserves Factory in Austria.

In 1945 following his father's sudden death, Bob was granted a compassionate discharge to allow him to complete building houses which had been halted during the war.  He then took time to wind up his father's business before going to university.  He read for a B.A. followed by an M.A. in Architecture at Liverpool (Red Brick) University.  More importantly, just before Christmas 1951 he married his sweetheart Anne who was now Assistant Librarian at the Wigan Mining & Technical College.

Following University, he worked for a while as Architect for a building company but then decided on a two pronged approach.  He returned to education as a lecturer and tutor at the Liverpool John Moores University, a role for which he proved himself to be especially suited.  He also set up in Private Practice undertaking both industrial and private assignments.

He designed and built the family home in Shelley Drive Orrell.  Bob had the foresight to allow for future modifications so that should the need arise a Granny Flat could be incorporated.  That decision was fully vindicated in later years.  Indeed this has remained the family home throughout their 64 year wonderful marriage.  It was here that their daughter Elizabeth and later, granddaughter Ruth, have been nurtured.

Throughout his life Bob has been a prodigious reader of books of many genres and a lover of classical music.  He continued his piano lessons as an adult and later had a baby grand installed.  He loved all the major composers and appreciated symphonic, concerto and operatic forms.

He had a very true tenor voice and assisted in Hope Church choir, under Harry Southworth, for special events.  He also joined both of Basil Horsman's  groups, Trazom (Quartet) and Jupiter Singers (Octet) who competed at local festivals.  Above everything else he loved to entertain friends, or better still throw a party.  He had a fund of deliberate 'malapropisms' - for example, “I'm not enamelled” (enamoured), he also loved to re-interpret directions in music so “con moto moderato” became “In the Moderator's Car”.  Wherever Bob was there would be lively conversation, joy and laughter.

Bob particularly welcomed the challenge of being invited to design this church, Trinity, to house the former congregations of St. Paul's, Hope Street and Trinity Presbyterian.  The first requirement was that it must be a multi-purpose building.  The brief was made more challenging by the ruling of  'The Planners!' that part of the shell of the existing house must be retained to meld into the surrounding area.  That area now comprises - the Blue Room, kitchens and toilets.  The boiler room and offices/meeting rooms are accommodated upstairs.  The opportunity was taken to record that it is a Wigan church with a rich local heritage.  The panelling surrounding the organ pipes has been carved most skilfully to record many aspects of past activities in Wigan.

Each year, the President of the R.I.B.A. gives an award for the building deemed to be the most prestigious construction during that year.  Trinity was nominated and short-listed but was not the final winner.

All his working life Bob continued to research and lecture on architectural topics both here and in Germany.  Each Christmas, Bob, who was an accomplished sketcher, made his own cards recording a building which had particularly impressed him.

After retirement, Bob and Anne became enthusiastic supporters of the Standish branch of U3A.  Bob gave many talks and also acted as unofficial tour guide for European holidays by studying the itinerary and venues. He was a truly exceptional character who has enriched the lives of many.  He will be sadly missed by all those privileged to have known him.

Gordon Halliwell

Our thanks to Gordon Halliwell, Joyce Boston's brother-in-law, for writing the article. Gordon has known Bob from childhood.


Also our thanks to Bob's family for allowing us to publish his story on our website - we are proud of Trinity, the hub of our local community.

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Robert (Bob) Jolley

Designed our Trinity United Reformed Church Building.

Our hearts go out to Bob's family.  Why not come and see our beautiful building and join in some of our activities; you will be most welcome.