Frank Dakin (1910-1999)

Frank with wife Jessie, Peter, Shirley, and Carolyn in the side car

Frank was born on 4th Jun 1910 in Blackpool at 122 Waterloo Road. He was baptised on 24th July 1910 at Holy Trinity Church, Blackpool, in the presence of sponsors Emma Dakin, Alfred Jolly Dakin, Frederick Ilett.
A strict Victorian upbringing reflected in his character as an adult. Frank attended Thames Road Seminal School where his skills in mathematics set him on course for a career in engineering.

Franks first job was with the Blackpool Corporation where he would undertake an electrical apprenticeship. He talked about maintenance work on the electric trams and was involved in building the first moving tableau of the Blackpool illuminations – two juggling clowns. From 1926 Frank took night classes at the Harris institute at Preston, traveling by bus. In 1927 he passed the senior technical course in electrical engineering achieving a distinction in all three elements of the course – mathematics, mechanics, and electrical science.

In 1928 he passed the national certificate in electrical engineering, again, achieving a distinction in Mathematics. In 1929 he passed the advanced technical course in electrical engineering with a distinction in mathematics.

Frank worked for William Eaves, a large building firm that had their own brick works. Peter recalls visiting the brick works aged 3 or 4. Living at Clifton Crescent.
Frank attended holy trinity church and became a keen scout leader. This is where he met Jessie Dewhirst, the daughter of a south shore grocer, who played an active role in running the Sunday school and the brownie pack at the same church.
Jessie recalled doing some of their courting in the windmill on Blackpool promenade. During the illuminations the corporation used the windmill to house fuse boards and equipment and because an electrician had to be on duty, the young couple took advantage of the selection.

In 1933 frank and Jessie took a cycling holiday in Wales on a tandem they called Tilly. Jessie kept an illustrated record of their adventures which she later had bound.

On 6 June 1934 Frank and Jessie were married at Holy Trinity Church, South Shore, Blackpool. They spent their first night at the park hotel then the following day took a train to Stratford Upon Avon. Tom Melling was Franks best man.

Frank purchased a 1928 Fiat 8 on honeymoon for £6 10s and a driving licence for £1. 19 Clifton Crescent must have been their first house together. Tilly wash old to buy a perambulator pending the arrival of Peter on the 28 May 1935. Their second child Shirley was born a year later on 31 may 1936. The children were born at Clifton crescent.
Franks war service was with the RAF as an electrician/service engineer. He moved to several different bases in the north west taking his family with him, including Silloth, Cumbria, and Stranraer where he worked on Sunderland flying boats used by coastal command. He was briefly posted to an aircraft storage facility at Whinfell, Penrith as commanding officer. Possibly rented out Clifton crescent. Carolyn was born in 1942 at 18 Burlington Road.
Victoria hospital as electrical engineer. Keen walker. Owned an Austin 6. Michael born at 18 Burlington Road.
In 1948 frank took a post as deputy engineer at Lancaster moor hospital and the family moved into no3 daisy bank, a hospital house. Frank still owned two houses in Blackpool which he rented out, 26 Bampton Avenue built by his father and 19 Clifton crescent. He was second in responsibility to Mr Leuty, for all aspects of heating, lighting, and mechanical maintenance of vehicles and hospital equipment.
He and Jessie took an active role in the hospital social life performing in the amateur dramatic group and organising Christmas parties and other social events. In the days before TV these events were the basis of every bodies social life and were very well supported.

In the coronation year of 1953 the hospital social committee organised a great pageant based on Elizabeth 1 and Elizabeth 2. The men built the tableaux including a miniature golden coach pulled by six boys dressed as postal lion riders carrying a very young queen Elizabeth and her prince Philip. Michael was one of the guardsmen escorting the coach.
The ladies made costumes from old fabrics and curtains, after wartime rationing some things were still hard to obtain. Peter played the role of sir Walter Raleigh and Hurley that of a lady in waiting in a tableaux featuring Elizabeth 1. Carolyn was one of the Morris dancers.
The tableaux featured in a coronation parade through Lancaster and at several other events during the summer.
Pall franks children went to school in Lancaster, a penny bus ride away. Peter and Shirley at the grammar school and Carolyn and Michael at Christ church primary, then Carolyn attended Gurnton secondary modern school for girls.

Frank and Jessie attended the village church of Quernmore where his skills were ‘volunteered’ for maintenance and heating. Michael recalls accompanying his father to the church on Saturdays to clean and light the coke boiler for the Sunday service. Even then hot water bottles were often essential.

Once a year a church boon day was organised. The whole place was scrubbed out and the grass of the church yard cut. The day concluded with a supper at the village hall, hot pot, pickles and bottles of beer.

Jessie joined the women’s institute at Quernmore soon becoming a committee member. This was the start of her long connection with the WI and the start of her career teaching and demonstrating handicrafts.

The family kept two pets at this time, a white sealium dog called Judy, and a large Persian cat called Moppit. The latter was in the habit of bringing home large amounts of dead fauna to decorate the back door mat.
In the 40’s and 50’s holidays were unsophisticated affairs and Frank, forever the scout leader, took his family camping. He had a large brown canvas ex-military tent for himself and Jessie which also doubled as the quartermasters store. The children slept in an assortment of small white 2 man tents. The Lake District was a favourite destination and only a short drive from Lancaster.

One summer Frank exchanged houses with his cousin Bill Dakin at Bispham, allowing them to have a break in the country, and his own family a trip to the seaside.

Another memorable holiday was a caravan trip to Stratford upon Avon where he had honeymooned in 1934. Frank had bought a blue 1936 standard 12 used by the Lancaster Fire Service during the war. He equipped it with a ball hitch and hired a twelve foot caravan which he towed down to the Avon valley. Carolyn and Michael travelled with them but Peter, who had started his national service and at the time was at the officer training school at Eaton Hall in Cheshire, joined them for a few days. Shirley travelled down from a week on a motor cycle with Uncle Bill Pye, a close family friend.

As the older children became more independent Michael recalls a holiday in Cornwall and Devon when Frank hired a wooden chalet in what nowadays would be called a holiday village. On a trip into Plymouth the family were amazed at the amount of destruction caused by German bombers just 10 years previously. The famous ship HMS Amethyst was being broken up in the docks.

Franks eldest two learnt to drive in the Standard 12 (DXV263) and were allowed to use it for social events and dating. However, things didn’t always run smoothly, Frank went out to it one morning to find the front mudguard lying on the back seat.

Formerly blue the car underwent a major face-lift being painted by hand light battleship grey with Royal Blue mudguards. Frank constructed his own exhaust system and Michael recalls him fitting a second red tail light (somebody in Whitehall thought it might be a good idea for cars to have two red lights on the back.

The latest additions to the family were a large black Labrador called Tonga (commemorating the Queen of Tongas visit to London for the Coronation) and a Siamese cat called Tchula (from the King and I).


In 1958 Frank was appointed chief engineer at Calderstones Hospital near Whalley, and moved into the hospitals North Lodge, a large three bedroom house. As the two eldest children had now left home Carolyn and Michael were able to have a room each.

TV was now ubiquitous with two channels available so peoples social lives had drastically changed. Frank and Jessie joined the Whalley players but concerts and parties were less frequent. Jessie joined the Mytton and District WI and so became a county official.

Frank attended Whalley Parish Church and joined the choir. Michael was confirmed and Shirley was married there.
After a few months at Whalley primary school Michael attended Accrington Secondary Technical School and Carolyn worked as a telephonist at Clitheroe post office (the days when telephones were part of the General Post Office).

In 1960 Frank took Jessie and Michael on the family’s first foreign holiday – a coach trip to Lucerne, Switzerland, flying from Southend to Ostend in an ancient Douglas DC7. The return leg of the trip included a two day stop in Paris, the fact that the Algerians where conducting a terror campaign against the French government hadn’t unduly concerned anybody until the family’s progress was interrupted by an armed Police Raid. Frank grabbed his incumbents and made

A second foreign trip in 1960 took Frank and Jessie on a WI organised cruise in the Mediterranean. Because of a mix-up in transportation there were several complaints resulting in a generous refund.

Frank decided to update his Standard 12 and bought a Commer Cob Estate a vehicle far more suited to transporting Jessie and her handicrafts to village halls from Cheshire to Cumbria. Both Jessie and Michael started driving in the Commer in 1962 the Commer was changed for a white mini estate 5700TF in which Michael passed his test and Jessie never did. She often went out on her own for practice and frequently used the back road to Whalley to do her shopping, until the local police got wind of it. She abandoned her aspirations of independence the night she corned too fast and rolled a tyre off its rim.

1964 was a special year when Frank became a grandfather to Andrew, the first of his six grandsons. Trips to Weatherby became frequent outings for Frank and Jessie especially in 1966 when Stephen their second grandson was born.

Frank joined the choir of St Marys Parish Church almost opposite his home. Michael was married there and eventually the ashes of both Frank and Jessie were buried there together.

On the 20.08.1965 Frank bought Sagar House, a listed property at 10 Church Street, Clitheroe from William Franas and Helen Rigs. Carolyn lived there long enough to decorate her bedroom then headed south to London. Michael lived there until his marriage to Diana Dawson in 1971.

In 1967 Frank sold 19 Clifton Crescent for £2700 then sold 26 Bampton Avenue in 1975 for £8600.

The conversion of an annex at Sagar House into a studio enabled Jessie to invite ladies groups to Clitheroe reducing the need to travel. Because of its central location Sagar House became a popular venue for charity and WI coffee mornings. Frank was very tolerant of the house full of women but Michael recalls returning home one Saturday morning from a week’s work and having his way barred by an unfamiliar face demanding two shillings entry.

In 1968 came the first of several trips to the USA to visit Peter and his family who had relocated to Eckhart, Indiana. On one occasion Frank and Jessie drove across the country to California in Peters Morgan +4.

When frank retired in 1974 he turned his hand to domestic matters. Whilst Jessie worked on her craft business he developed his cooking and jam making skills. His Lasagne became quite a speciality. He joined Probus and the local ramblers group taking his turn to organise walks. Pendle hill was always one of his favourites.

In the 1970’s Jessie developed angina which had a profound effect on her extraordinary vitality. In July 1977 she died suddenly and peacefully in her arm chair at Sagar House. Sadly Jessie only knew five of her Grandsons, the last one Richard was born just seven months after her death.

Frank maintained the large circle of friends accumulated though his connections with the church and the WI, and the ones who liked lasagne were invited to his dinner parties. He joked that by inviting two or three couples for a meal he would receive the same number of invitations for Sunday lunch.

He spent Christmas with either Shirley, Carolyn or Michael, and made another visit to Peter in the USA. He soon established a friendship with Janet Mason, a fellow rambler, who became a dear companion.

Frank drove his mini estate until the floor fell out but no longer having the interest or facilities to do other than light maintenance of his vehicles, he passed it down to a poorer but more enthusiastic generation. There followed a series of euro-boxes which for the purposes of our records were a Morris 1100, a Renault 14, and two models of the fiat Uno. Frank drove until his death but by his mid-80’s, and two cataract operations later, driving was very much a team effort with the passengers contributing as much to their progress as the driver.

1982 was the start of two years of serious travelling for Frank. Through the international contacts of his eldest son Peter, frank flew to Iran where he was employed as a consultant engineer to reactivate the main power generators of the Red Cross clinic at the southern tip of Iran across the river from Basra, Iraq. He was paid $5000 per month plus all travel, accommodation and daily expenses. The clinic had been blown up by the Israeli air force by mistake when they tried to destroy suspected atomic energy facilities thought to be producing atomic weapons.

The Iranians were so impressed with Frank’s work that they asked him to stay for two more months to work on another project for the aluminium corporation of Iran where huge amounts of electrical current is required to smelt the ore.

One anecdote to reach the ears of Peter was how they were amazed that Frank could touch major connections without being electrocuted. We’re quite sure however he knew what he was standing on at the time.

Frank spent his weekends visiting parts of Iran, Shiraz and other places.

He did not choose to fly home direct but met up with a friend from the Clitheroe conservative club in Kuwait and the two returned to the UK via Dubai, India, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Salt Lake, The Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon and Louisville. On arrival in Kentucky he had to cash a cheque, he’d spent $15,000 and said “we went first class”.

In 1983 franks planned a walking holiday in the Himalayas. Christine Needham, the daughter of a distant relative, was living in Nepal where she taught English to the Gurka troops. Uncle Frank used her as a contact and base for his Nepalese trek. After his return he gave slide shows of his trek and recorded an audio tape. In it he describes the day to day progress of the trek and how he coped with the conditions.

He recalls in a high mountain village offering sweets to some Nepalese children who casually discarded the paper wrappers. They were checked by Frank and told to pick them up. He always thought people should have standards – even in the 3rd world.

In 1987 Frank annexed a piece of land to his garden which he had been using as his own and which had been bought by the district council from the previous owners.

In 1993 Frank was invited to Mallorca to holiday with Michael and his family in PTO Pollensa. He took to the Mediterranean lifestyle with enthusiasm enjoying the sangria and eating squid for the first time. He cut a comical figure promenading in his shorts which rather clashed with the socks and tweed jacket.
He fell on a walk along the Boquer Valley and again walking over the ridge to Calla San Vicente, he almost drowned in Pollensa Bay, but on leaving the island with a black eye, sutured nose, and bruised shoulder, thanks everyone for a wonderful holiday.

In October 1999 Frank had a stroke and was found on his bedroom floor by Mrs Moon his cleaner. He was taken to the hospital at Clitheroe and when visited by Michael and Diana appeared perky and full of humour. Sadly he had a second stroke and became unconscious. He was transferred to the infirmary at Blackburn where Carolyn, having travelled from London, sat with him for several days. He died on 10 Oct 1999 without regaining consciousness. Frank’s estate was split into 5 equal portions. One going to each of his children and one being split a further 6 ways for each of his grandchildren.

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