ONE of Leominster’s most popular and respected figures, historian, poet and former town librarian Peter Holliday, has died aged 82.

Mr Holliday was celebrated for his illustrated talks, always delivered with great wit and frequently to a packed room.

He was a stalwart of a number of local organisations including Leominster Civic Society and Leominster History Study Group, a past chairman of Leominster Festival committee and a member of Border Poets.

For 24 years, Mr Holliday was head librarian at Leominster Library overseeing its move from cramped conditions at South Street to the purpose-built new premises at the Buttercross. He was a ‘people person’ known to many borrowers by name, always ready to help - by request, even accompanying nervous elderly borrowers in the lift serving the first-floor library. 


Mr Holliday cut his teeth in his profession in the 1970s on his appointment as the ‘Black Mountains Travelling Librarian’ driving a repurposed old truck without power steering around the country lanes of west Herefordshire. Books cascaded from shelves when the vehicle braked. Rural borrowers loved the service and brought gifts of home produce for the impecunious young librarian.

Their trail of muddy boots necessitated the van being swept out by the librarian back at base, but he loved the job, writing in his journal that he loved meeting the people of the rural communities he served, the countryside and the great independence of his role.

His travelling library years were long a source of amusing anecdotes, friends recall. More generally they remember his joviality – references to his humour pepper the many messages of sympathy received by the Holliday family.

“People found Peter good fun to talk to and how he made them laugh – he made me laugh!” said Jill Holliday. “I’ll miss that humour.”

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Born in Kington in 1941, Peter James Holliday was brought up in Lancashire after his family moved north. He gained a BA honours degree in English and Philosophy from the University of North Wales, Bangor, and went on to train as a teacher, meeting Jill, an art teacher, when they were working at a Sussex school. Soon after their marriage in Northamptonshire in 1968, they moved to Herefordshire where Mrs Holliday taught at Wigmore School and Mr Holliday joined the library service.

He got to know the Wigmore headmaster, the late Jim Tonkin, an acclaimed local historian, and developed his own interests in local studies. In his library role he was able to assist many embarking on study of local history and, in his own studies, to lay the groundwork for his memorable talks. Deborah Jarman of Leominster Museum said that before his death Peter had very generously gifted much of his personal archive to the museum.

Mr Holliday struggled with ill health recently and died on May 3 at the County Hospital surrounded by family members. He leaves Jill, their daughters Eleanor and Lucy and grandchildren Dylan and Sylvie.

Following private burial at Humber Woodland of Remembrance the family welcomes all to a memorial service at Leominster Priory Church on Friday, May 31 at 12 noon.