27/01/06 - Obituary
Countryman, conservationist, farmer, local politician are only
a few of the words which sum up the work and life of Steele Addison
who died on Saturday (January 21), aged 74.
Steele, as he was known by all, was a straight talker albeit with
a glint in his eye, and he fought many campaigns to help preserve
the rural way of life during his years in public office.
In fact, it was the threatened closure of the village school in
Kings Meaburn where his family has farmed since records began that
first got him into local government and elected to the county council
Born Robert John Steele Addison, he attended the village school,
furthering his education as a boarder at the private Appleby Grammar
He had a place waiting form him at Newcastle Medical School when
he returned from doing his National Service in the Middle East
at 19 however, on his return he switched his degree to agriculture.
It was while he was working on his thesis for an honours degree
in forestry - one of his great passions - that he met
his future father-in-law, the Hexham auctioneer and valuer AT Iveson.
Steele had chosen to study the employment opportunities in the
Kielder Valley and Mr Iveson was involved in livestock valuations.
This resulted in many meetings.
Then, once Steele graduated at the age of 25 and decided he would
travel and went to Canada where he worked on an oil crew then as
the boss of a logging camp on Vancouver Island before his father’s
poor health brought him home after three years to farm at Greystone
He and Margaret were married in 1958 and they farmed Greystone
House and Keld Farm, Kings Meaburn. The 600 acres, 100 acres of
which are mixed woodland, until his death were run in partnership
with their two sons Chris and John.
Their eldest, Karen Addison, is a licensing director and lives
in Milton, Oxfordshire, while their middle son Robert is an auctioneer
with Harrison & Hetherington in Carlisle.
Steele became involved with the Country Landowners Association
taking on the roles of county chairman, and president as well as
sitting on the agriculture, policy and land use sub committee.
He chaired the Steele Addison report concerning the future of
agriculture and attended meetings with the CLA’s Scottish
sister organisation in Edinburgh.
More recently he began attending local CLA meetings again, thoroughly
enjoying another little taste of mild debate.
In 1964 he became one of the county’s youngest magistrates
at Shap court, taking over the chairmanship which continued for
11 years. He retired as a magistrate at the age of 70.
His election to Cumbria County Council as Conservative member
for Lowther and Shap led him onto the Lake District National Park
authority, chairing the park management committee for three years
from 1985 and eventually taking on the role of chairman of the
authority itself in 1989.
In 1992 he was elected chairman of the Association of National
Parks and during that time he travelled to national parks in Russia
and Finland. In 1995, his final year in office, he was proud to
be able to host the annual conference of National Park Authorities
in Keswick with the appropriate theme ‘I will lift up mine
eyes to the hills’.
During these years he always maintained that the national park
was a working landscape available to everyone and it should not
be treated like a museum.
David Maclean, who first met Steele during his successful election
campaign as MP for Penrith and the Border in 1983, described him
as a ‘truly great Cumbrian’.
“He was one of the best chairmen of the national park authority
and a great county councillor, and, more importantly, he was a
good, practical down to earth man with no airs and graces. He had
the right sense of how the county should be governed and how the
national park should be run. He kept his sense of humour right
to the end.”
Steele became a deputy Lord Lieutenant of the county in 1993,
he was made a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England
Always keen to support his local community, Steele was treasurer
of the village hall committee for a number of years as well as
being chairman of Kings Meaburn Parish Meeting.
As well as his great love of the Lyvennet Valley, Appleby was
always a favourite place and that, combined with his interest in
football, resulted in many local people rallying to his challenge
to support the committee’s plans to build a new clubhouse
with squash courts, completed in record time in 1982.
He was president of Appleby Football Club and chairman of Appleby
Grammar School governors. He was also chairman of the Appleby flood
First and foremost a farmer and an arboriculturist - he had planted
his first trees at the age of 18 long before conservation became
an issue. Other pleasures were family and friends as well as shooting.
He always said the highlight of his farming career was to see
his Simmental bull Lyvennet Adam being led by the family around
the Perth show ring to be awarded the supreme male championship
in 1991. He admitted shedding a few tears.
Steele is survived by his wife Margaret, daughter Karen, sons
Chris, Robert and John and nine grandchildren, and sisters Mary
Warburton, of Appleby, Cathy Nattrass, of Kings Meaburn, and Audrey
March, of Soulby.
The funeral service is taking place at St Laurence’s Church,
Morland, on Saturday (January 28) at 1pm.