I wonder how many people who, when waiting at the traffic lights in Enderby, either on the B582 or on Leicester Lane by St John the Baptist church, have cast their eyes around and spied the monument in the grounds of the former National School, now the business of Diamond Wood & Shaw Consulting Engineers, and wondered about the person remembered there. On closer examination one can read his name, Charles Brook, but how many residents actually know how much he did for the village? As this year is the 150th anniversary of his death, it seems an opportune time to learn more about Charles Brook, local philanthropist.
Charles Brook was born in November 1814 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. His father, James Brook, was a member of the large banking and cotton spinning firm of Jonas Brook Brothers at Meltham and by 1840 Charles was a partner in the firm. His Christian character and ethos were soon in evidence: he made many improvements at the firm and promoted the welfare of the employees.
In 1865 he purchased Enderby Hall, with all the adjoining large estates, for £150000 and immediately continued with the same philanthropic and benevolent approach he had displayed in Yorkshire. During just seven short years he funded the rebuilding of Enderby Church and the insanitary stocking-weavers’ cottages, extended and remodelled Enderby Hall, contributed towards the enlargement of the former National School on Blaby Road in 1867 and built the Reading Rooms and Working Men’s Institute (now the Conservative Club) on the Cross in 1872. It is also believed that he was responsible for, or contributed to, the building of the Headmaster’s House at 1 Hall Walk and the Vicarage adjacent to the church.
He died at Enderby Hall on 10th July 1872 aged 57 from pleurisy and bronchitis and was buried in a vault in Enderby Churchyard. Following his death there were numerous plaudits.
Charles Brook was truly a great benefactor to the village of Enderby and he has left a rich heritage of buildings. Never was a truer verse written as appears on his monument: “Rich in good works.” We remember him, with thanks, on the 150th anniversary of his death in July 2022.