Born at Maulden, Beds., on 15 August 1904, the youngest in a family of four. He spent his boyhood at Ampthill, where his father was one of the Duke of Bedford's foresters. When he was 10, his father was killed by a falling tree and he was brought up by his mother, often in poverty. A keen Boy Scout, he rode a llama in the first jamboree procession in London and was presented with his King's Scout badge by Baden Powell himself. At Richmond College he imbibed a love of philosophy from Eric Waterhouse and of biblical studies from C. Ryder Smith. He gained a PhD from Durham University for a thesis on John Wesley as Philosopher. He was also a qualified FA referee, often of First Division matches.
He had outstanding ministries at Newcastle Brunswick (1944-1953) and at the Dome Mission, Brighton, where he preached for 14 years (1953-1967) to what was described as 'the largest Protestant congregation in Europe'. During the 1940s he embarked on some long journeys on horseback around the Yorkshire Dales and the north-east, following the path of John Wesley and writing books on his experiences. He was in particular demand for Wesley Guild anniversaries. He was also keenly interested in psychiatry and psychology and one of his first actions in his ministry at Brighton was to give a course on 'Psychology and Religion' to the Tuesday Fellowship at Dorset Gardens church. He also established a Friday evening 'clinic' and responded to personal problems in a regular column in one of the local newspapers.
His worldwide reputation as a preacher took him to America, Canada and South Africa, and he was given to describing himself as 'humbly proud to be one of Mr. Wesley's preachers'. But he declined the opportunity to follow W.E. Sangster at Westminster Central Hall.
His wife Joan (née Smith) was a medical doctor who pioneered the establishment of Ikkado Hospital near Madras. She was the daughter and sister of Methodist ministers. In the '60s he was a leading figure in the opposition to the Anglican-Methodist scheme, mainly because it involved views of episcopacy which he could not accept. But he accepted the chairmanship of the Voice of Methodism only reluctantly and did not approve of the legal action taken by the opposition in 1969..
In his closing years he was hampered by blindness. He died at Brighton on 25 February 1987. In 2009 a Brighton bus was named after him.