BISHOP of BARROW-in-FURNESS 1909 - 1926


Appointed as Bishop of Barrow at the age of only 32, Campbell West-Watson was the youngest Bishop ever in the Church of England, 30 being the minimum age. Brought up in Birkenhead and educated at Birkenhead School, he was a first-class scholar of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he became a Fellow, Lecturer in Theology and Dean of Chapel. It was Bishop Diggle of Carlisle who nominated him as his Suffragan, first appointing him to one of the Residentiary Canonries of the Cathedral at Carlisle, where he lived until 1921 with his wife, Emily, a daughter of a former Vicar of St.Thomas' Church, Kendal.

West-Watson was consecrated on 21st September (St.Matthew's Day) 1909 and, as with his predecessor, his college, Emmanuel, conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. He paid his first visit to Barrow in October to conduct the Harvest Festival service at St.James' Church, and this was followed by a meeting of the Church of England Men's Society during which he praised the strength of the industries of Barrow and their workers. His ministry encompassed both the rise of socialism and the dreadful years of World War I. For a time West-Watson served as an Army Chaplain and also relieved other clergy from their duties so that they could do the same.  

Bishop Diggle of Carlisle died in 1920 and his successor, Bishop Williams, decided that the Bishop of Barrow should live in the south of the diocese. The Rectory of Aldingham (a village between Barrow & Ulverston) became vacant and, in January 1921, West-Watson was instituted to it and moved into the Rectory right on the shore of Morecambe Bay. For the first time the Bishop of Barrow actually lived close to the town and this made a huge difference both to how he was perceived and the influence he had on the locality. 

When he was appointed Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 1926 the civic and religious farewells were fulsome in their praise, and the Bishop left for New Zealand bearing a number of gifts, among them a plaque of Barrow's municipal coat-of-arms. In 1940, he was made Archbishop of New Zealand, continuing also as Bishop of Christchurch, until retiring in 1951. He died in 1953. He is one of the few bishops to have received an Honour, namely a Companion of the Order of St.Michael & St.George (CMG), given to those who have rendered important service to the Commonwealth.