Bert (Mr Piano) Langthorne, a man of many achievements, died on April 29.

He was officially one of Yorkshire’s best farming personalities, a great musician, sportsman and by all accounts a bit of a mischief.

Born in 1933, as a child he lived at Crawford Grange, Brompton and has memories of walking to Brompton School with his gas mask during the war. He remembered blackouts and rationing and seeing two planes come down, one of which was a spitfire that went into a nose dive and never came out on Stokesley Road. He left the Allertonshire School at the age of 14, being more interested in farming than studying, however, that certainly never held him back.

From a young age, he was taught to play the piano by a blind tutor, Mr Norman Silcock and went on to play the organ, accordion and trombone. At the age of 17 he started a popular dance band playing at many local venues.

The Northern Farmer:

Bert recalled “We charged £1 each and would regularly play at four dances a week. Then he formed the Bert Langthorne Band and charged £3 each. In those days you could buy four drinks for ten bob and only got paid £1 for a day’s threshing.”

He met his wife Mary at one of these dances when he was 21. Apparently sending one of his friends to ask her out. They courted for 3 years before getting married at Aiskew Church, Bedale in 1958. Moving back to Crawford Grange (now home to Langthorne’s buffalo farm shop) in 1963 where they farmed for many years.

After he married, with three young children, he concentrated on farming but throughout his life, he took his pleasure in music to many quarters, taking his accordion out carol singing each year to raise funds for the local community, playing at care homes, on hospital radio, events and parties and each year without fail at the annual Brompton Carnival.

Bert was a great sportsman. His sporting exploits began aged 11 when he played cricket at Lovesome Hill before there was a league. He progressed to play for Brompton and was captain when they won the evening league and also played for East Harlsey Cricket Club.

A keen footballer, he played for Brompton until at the age of 37 he decided he was too old for football and took up rugby instead and at the age of 61, scored a try during his last game. His rugby exploits lasted 24 years and in 2001 he was president of Northallerton Rugby Club. A photo of him playing rugby, presented to him by the club was headed “Bert ‘Mr Piano’ Langthorne”.

The Northern Farmer:

In Bert’s words he was "chuffed to bits – rather capped’’ when he was presented with the Hambleton District Service to Sport Award in 1994 for the outstanding service he had given to various sports. The panel recognising the tremendous amount of work undertaken in getting new clubs or initatives ‘up and running’.

Bert had a wicked sense of humour, one honeymooning couple returned home to find “Just married” sprayed onto the roof of their house. However, his rugby mates got their own back when he celebrated a special birthday, by fully icing a concrete block and letting him try cutting into it.

Many will know him from Brompton carnival and sports. Always putting in a float, he would be the one, playing the keyboard, or accordion with his mates, usually wearing a wig and more often than not, dressed as a woman. He joined Brompton Carnival Committee when his Dad retired and served for over 40 years in that role.

He was a founder member of the Brompton Recreation Association which raised £20,000 to buy fields in 1970 for a six- hole golf course and two football pitches. He served as association President and was involved in the development of the Football Club House and the play park.

Brompton and Northallerton have had their problems with flooding in the past and Bert worked tirelessly to ensure that many of the problems which were causing the flooding were improved. He had strong views about what needed to be done and would always strive for what he believed was the correct thing to do to protect people and their houses.

Bert was one of the best-known characters in farming. Farming an increasingly large herd of dairy cattle and growing potatoes. In 1993 Bert was County Chairman for the North Riding and Durham County Branch of the NFU.

The family have received many messages of support from people who over the years worked with them during potato planting and picking seasons recalling a lot of laughter and fun going along with the heavy work.

Crawford Grange was the site of some hugely successful open days for farmers in the 1980s. Bert decided farmers wanted to actually see machinery working than on a stand at a show. He invited manufacturers of some new forage wagons and grass-cutting equipment to operated alongside each other at the first event. The number of visitors to each event grew, with the third attracting around 10,000 and causing traffic chaos for miles. Regulations made continuing these events impossible.

In the late 1990s, the farm diversified. His grandson, Andrew, was born with cystic fibrosis and was allergic to cow’s milk. Goat’s milk also failed to help. His son Paul, read about the qualities of buffalo milk and bought a couple which proved an instant success. The farm began diversifying, firstly with buffalo, then deer, goats and at one stage emu. Hence, the birth of award winning “Langthorne’s buffalo produce” farm shop which continues at Crawford Grange run by his son Paul, pictured below with Andrew in 1998.

The Northern Farmer:

His lack of scholarly prowess did him little harm. He was a governor of Brompton school for more than 20 years, a parish councillor for 50 years and also served on Hambleton District Council. He was also on the Potato Marketing Board for four years and completed five years with Milk Marque. It is therefore no surprise that in 2001, he was named Yorkshire personality of the year in the annual awards made by the Farming in Yorkshire magazine.

He has been president of Brompton Football club and Northallerton Rugby Club. He served several years on the North Yorkshire County Show Committee and was an honorary life member of the County Show and Northallerton Rugby Club. In 2005 he was nominated for a local hero award and presented with this at Hambleton District Council Offices.

When he was not farming, debating or entertaining, he was in demand for talks and after dinner speeches on his experiences at home and abroad – he has visited farms in Russia, America, New Zealand and Canada.

Unfortunately, in recent years, he developed dementia and started to attending day centres, initially to “play the piano for the old folks”, but later needed more support himself. In 2017 he moved into Leeming Bar Grange where he continued to play the organ. In 2018, he and his wife Mary celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary at Leeming Bar Grange with Bert playing the organ as people arrived.

A real gentleman who would do anything for anyone and touched the lives of so many. To pick out a couple of quotes from Northallerton Views he was described as "someone who made the human race quite special’’,’’a great advocate of Brompton Junior Football Club’’, "a joy to our farmers markets’’, "a real trooper and a gentleman".

It was a great testament to Bert that whilst his funeral had to be private, so many people stood by the roadside in Brompton to pay their respects as he made his final journey.

The Northern Farmer:

His family were overwhelmed by this response and the many messages of sympathy and support and would like to say a massive thank you.