Andrew (‘Gramps’ to his 20 grandchildren) was born in Menston, West Yorkshire. He was awarded a scholarship to Worksop College.
His prowess at mathematics was soon noticed, taking his O-level at 15, followed by maths and greater maths A-levels when he was only 17. As a consequence he was then too young to go to university so spent a year treading water at Worksop visiting pubs, smoking in the gorse and doing carpentry.
He then spread his wings and went to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read politics and then land economy. He was soon identified as being sufficiently talented and eccentric (he had reportedly invested in a pair of beskope spats) to be admitted to the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society (CULES) with which he performed reviews up and down the country (remembering fondly a performance for the ladies at Holloway prison).
He was described as always larger than life, often on the verge of self-parody. His college friends have written fondly of him in recent weeks: resplendent in straw boater and Mr Toad Jacket punting up and down the Cam exhorting anyone within earshot to buy a ticket for the next CULES Show: “This is an unrepeatable offer! Let me repeat that: This is an unrepeatable offer!”
To the consternation of his Cambridge tutor, who declared his disappointment “you are just going home to sell furniture with your father”, he returned to Wharfedale where he joined the family business in the mid-1960s – the auction business being a part of Dacre Son & Hartley estate agents.
He was the third generation of the family to work in the business which had been started by his grandfather Thomas in 1906. The auctioneering side, which was taken over by his father Douglas, moved to its existing site in 1929 (the new firm of Dacre Son and Hartley then started in 1936). Now a chartered surveyor, the auctioneering business thrived under Andrew, with the turnover increasing year on year now. In 1989 he successfully negotiated the business to become independent, now under the name of Andrew Hartley Fine Arts, later changed to Hartleys Auctions Ltd. He was then able to invest in and develop the premises.
His passion for antiques (particularly furniture) was the product of the influence of his father and his own dedicated research. He was highly respected by those who worked for him. Andrew’s performance on the rostrum was always robust and memorable, although woe betide any whispering dealers who put him off his stride!
He loved his job and was still working up to a few months ago until ill health got in the way. The letters and cards from numerous customers are testament to the high esteem in which he was held.
His stewardship has meant the business continues to thrive and is now in the capable hands of the fourth generation: Charlie and Emma.
Contribution to local life
But his contribution to local life went far beyond his working life. At the age of 29 he became a Justice of the Peace, for example. From time to time he flirted with disaster with nine penalty points on his driving licence: he led such a full life he was always in a hurry!
Among many other interests, he was president of the Rotary Club, chairman of Cantores Olicanae in its early years (thankfully not a singer himself, although he was always loud and enthusiastic in church) and in the early 1980s was in charge of the Chamber of Trade and Commerce in Ilkley. For decades he was Trustee of the Pawson Trust which accommodated widows and spinsters in Bridge Lane, Ilkley. He also made a major contribution to the Church, such as being chairman and president of the Friends of Bolton Abbey.
Perhaps Andrew’s lasting achievement, though, is his family. A wonderful marriage, eight children, 20 grandchildren. He will never be forgotten. He will always be loved and missed.