Much-loved Hartlepool granddad who helped save Billingham Forum dies aged 88

Frank Crosby and wife Margaret
Frank Crosby and wife Margaret

THE man who was dubbed a saviour of a town’s leisure centre has sadly died.

Much-loved Frank Crosby passed away at the age of 88-years-old on January 13.

Today his loving family paid tribute to the dad, grandad, great-grandad and great-great grandad who they were all so very proud of.

His daughter Margaret Bowe, 64 – one of Frank’s eight children – said: “He always instilled such good values in all of us so we’re very proud of him for that.

“We’re especially proud of the way he stood up for what was right for people.”

The retired engineer will go down in history as being the driving force behind a campaign to save Billingham Forum.

As co-ordinator of Billingham Action Team (BAT), Frank was a leading figure in the campaign against Stockton Council’s Billingham Gateway Scheme to demolish the Forum to make way for a supermarket and John Whitehead Park redeveloped with leisure, retail and health facilities.

Frank– who was married to wife Margaret, 90, and lived with her in Billingham after moving from Burns Avenue, in Rift House, Hartlepool, 42 years ago – organised a rally that saw more than 400 people protest against the controversial plans.

When the Department of Culture, Media and Sport awarded Billingham Forum Theatre listed building status in 2004 it threw the regeneration plans for the town centre into disarray and thrilled the protesters who had fought against them.

Frank was born in Sherburn, in County Durham, and moved to Hartlepool when he was a boy living in Coleridge Avenue from the age of five-years-old.

He met Margaret at a dance at The Rink in Hartlepool and they were married in July 1944 at St Aidan’s Church while Frank was on leave from the Navy during the Second World War.

When Frank left the Navy he trained as a plumber and worked as a plumber and engineer for ICI among other companies before setting up his own businesses, C&D Industrial and C&D Plumbing, which he ran until he retired in his early sixties.

The couple, who lived in Billingham for 43 years, had eight children, Carol, Frank, Margaret, David, Jeanette, Judith, Robert and Ian.

The couple were avid bowls players taking part in competitions, with Frank being chairman of the John Whitehead Bowls Association for many years. In October Frank broke his hip and was admitted to hospital with pneumonia last month before being moved to Hadrian Park Care Home in Billingham.

He died with his wife and daughter Jeanette by his side.

The funeral will be held on Thursday at Hartlepool Crematorium at 1.30pm.