Tributes to late partner of Sidmouth building firm Skinners

Former Skinners Construction partner Colin Farnsworth died at the age of 88. Sidmouth Herald.

Former Skinners Construction partner Colin Farnsworth died at the age of 88. Sidmouth Herald. - Credit: Archant

A charismatic businessman who used his gift of the gab to shape Sidmouth in the 1960s and ’70s will be a tough act to follow.

Born April 5, 1929, Colin Farnsworth left a safe job at a Nottingham co-operative that proved lucrative in wartime and secretly trained as a plumber.

He soon qualified as a registered plumber and began to make a name for himself.

In 1953, a significant year for Colin, he went to the Astoria Ballroom in Nottingham and asked a very shy young lady in an emerald green dress to dance.

Bernice Mayor was the love of his life would be his wife of 60 years; her brother, Colin Mayor, would become his business partner.

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While holidaying in Newton Poppleford, Colin Farnsworth learned of a shop for sale in Sidbury for £1,500. Always cheeky, he offered £600 and told Bernice if it was accepted, they would get married – and, of course, it was.

They wed on December 24, 1956, and the two Colins moved down to Sidbury to get the property ready.

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Colin and Bernice’s first child, Wendy, was born in 1962 and it proved another eventful year, with Harold Scratchley knocking on their door and saying a building business, RW and J Skinners, was for sale – and they would be mad not to buy it.

The two Colins would run it as partners.

Outside of work, Colin Farnsworth had two sons, Christopher and James, he played an active role in Sidmouth Round Table and was a football fan.

Wendy said: “Skinners was a big part of his life and at one time, after the council, was probably the biggest employer in Sidmouth.

“The business was very successful - many big housing estates in the late ’60s and ’70s were built by Skinners.

“My father had the gift of the gab, the luck of the devil and lived a very full life how he wanted to live it, with no compromise.

“He is a hard act to follow. We will miss him.”

Colin died on July 18 at the age of 88. His funeral will be held at Sidmouth Parish Church at noon on Tuesday (August 1).

He is survived by Bernice, Wendy, Christopher and James. He was the grandfather of William, Robert, Edward, Imogen, Archie and Clara, and father-in-law to Peter, Rachel and Rose.

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