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House of Townend chairman John E Townend dies

Published:  17 September, 2018

John E Townend, chairman of wine merchants House of Townend has died.

He was born in 1934 and by 1959 had joined the House of Townend as company secretary and financial director. By 1961 he had taken over as managing director and set about expanding the company.

He increased the number of off licence shops to 35 and developed the importing and wine bottling business. Firstly, with wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy and vintage Port, and then gradually from most other European wine producing countries.

He also opened the first bonded warehouse in Hull for 60 years, where whisky was blended, gin and vodka compounded and Keelings Advocaat produced.

In 1965 he founded the first national, voluntary group of independent wine merchants - The Independent Wine Merchants Association Limited, now called Merchant Vintners. He remained chairman until he retired taking the role of Life President in 2000.

He was also chairman of the Yorkshire and Humberside Wine and Spirit Association between 1975-1976.

He was a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers and the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, where he served as Master 2004-5.

Townend had a love of politics which saw him become chairman of his local Young Conservative Association in 1951 at the age of 17. He rose quickly up the ranks of the local party and was elected to Hull City Council at the age of 21.

Within nine years he was leader of the Humberside Conservatives and became leader of the county council when the party regained control in 1977.

At the 1979 general election he was elected as the Conservative Party member of Parliament for Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, subsequently Yorkshire East, the seat he held until his retirement in 2001.