‘Another good ‘un gone’ - village pays tribute to estate owner

Dr John Farrer, of Clapham
Dr John Farrer, of Clapham

Tributes have been paid to a Clapham estate owner and GP who died in January aged 92.

Dr John Anson Farrer, who lived on his Ingleborough family estate, died at home following a short illness on New Year’s Day.

Dr F, as he was known locally, had managed the estate for 60 years after returning from Australia following the death of his uncle Roland 

The death was unexpected and Dr Farrer was faced with the option of taking over the Yorkshire estate that had been in the family since the 1700s.

After a visit on his own, he decided to take it on, and in November 1953, with his family, he arrived to take up residence at Hall Garth.

Dr Farrer was born in Sydney in 1921 and his family later moved to Melbourne where he was educated at Geelong Grammar.

Later he went to medical school and trained as a family doctor.

While at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, he met Joan, an operating theatre nurse and they were married in 1947.

He joined a family medical practice in Moonee Ponds, a suburb of Melbourne, sub-specializing in paediatrics, and two children arrived, John and Annie in 1948 and 1950.

Just as his life seemed to be set on a smooth and uneventful course, a telegram arrived to say that his uncle Roland Farrer had died in England. 
Experienced only as a family doctor, he had to learn a bewildering variety of new things in order to take on the estate.

There were farms, rental cottages, commercial woodland and a grouse moor, but there were also many caves and potholes. The Gaping Ghyll system is probably the best known.

The estate books were a mess as were many of the cottages but over the years John and Joan gradually set them right, and John did much of the heavy work himself.

He was often seen up on a roof fixing a slate, wielding a chainsaw, planting trees or mending a gap in a stone wall.

At the same time he did part time medical work which included locum work for general practices, several years of public health, accident and emergency work at Lancaster Infirmary and performing nerve conduction tests in Lancaster.

He was doing these at age sixty-five when the NHS wanted him to retire, but there was no-one available to run the machine, and he ended up continuing to age 70.

He was also one of a small team among the first to convert accident and emergency records to a form that could be analysed by computer.

Through this they were able to identify many important issues such as instances of abused children.

While obtaining his Diploma in Public Health he wrote a paper that identified changes in mortality in Clapham.

Soon after his arrival in the village he started to keep a record of rainfall and this is now almost unbroken for 60 years.

Throughout his time in the village, he has had a policy of providing affordable rents with an emphasis on young families. This has had the effect of keeping the village active seven days a week, and Clapham school continues to expand. He was proud of his contribution to primary education, the village and playground, the Church, the Cave Rescue and particularly the farming community.

Dr.Farrer became ill in November but returned home when it became clear that he was not going to recover further.

Many friends and neighbours visited and he passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and caregivers.

One letter of sympathy “Another good’un gone”.
His favourite charities included Clapham Church, Clapham Village Hall and The Cave Rescue.

There will be a celebration of his life at St. James’ Church, Clapham on February 18 at 2pm.