FROM pit boy to peer of the realm is the epitaph of Jack Adams, an Arlecdon lad who died 59 years ago (August 1960) as Baron Adams of Ennerdale.

In these times of economic uncertainty it is fitting to remember a man once hailed as the saviour of West Cumberland, having been instrumental in its industrial resurrection after the Second World War.

Who could his modern-day equivalent be, one wonders?

Having been born into poverty, Adams spent his life fighting it and was greatly mourned when in 1960 he suffered a stroke and died, aged just 69. His ashes are buried in Arlecdon St Michael’s churchyard.

He was one of 13 children, the son of an iron-ore miner, Thomas Adams and his wife Mary (née Bowness). His father had died in a pit accident when Jack was just four years old.

It was his dynamic leadership of the Cumberland Development Council formed in 1936 and the West Cumberland Industrial Development Company that helped bring prosperity to an area that at the time was on its knees.

West Cumberland was one of the most depressed areas of Britain, with towns like Cleator Moor having more than 50 per cent of its population on the dole. It was given Special Area status which enabled factories to be built with government support in a bid to attract employers and manufacturing. The first was at Millom (West Coast Tannery) followed by West Cumberland Silk Mills at Whitehaven.

He was intent on reopening the local coal mines and bringing the fledgling nuclear industry to West Cumberland, both of which would come about. He played a big part in local government, in the Labour movement and in trade unionism. During his time leading the County Health Committee, infant mortality dropped by 60 per cent.

He held office with the Board of Trade for Cumberland and Westmorland between 1944 and 1948, and on retiring was appointed OBE.

He became Lord Adams in 1949 – the first Cumbrian to be so honoured since 1797. His one son died in infancy, so the title became extinct upon his death.

A university fellowship at Newcastle was established in his name and the Adams recreation ground at St Bees was created in his memory.

Also, in his home village of Arlecdon, in 2004, the Adams Hall was ceremonially re-opened after a £150,000 renovation. The event attracted then MP Dr Jack Cunningham and the borough’s Mayor and Mayoress of the time, George and Esther Clements. And there to cut the ribbon was villager 82-year-old Mary Lightfoot who had been on the hall’s original management committee when it was first opened in the 1970s. Local sports and community groups would be the beneficiaries of the rejuvenated facility.