Tony Lord: A life devoted to people and places he loved best

Tony Lord wrote about local history and drew his own illustrations for more than 20 years before his death in December, aged 96. Here, South London Press news editor and chief reporter TOBY PORTER hears his family outline his life and pay tribute to him.

Tony Lord was born in Victoria Road, Charlton on November 1, 1925 to Dorothy and Leonard Lord, a driver for Siemans Electrical Works, who died in mysterious circumstances while on holiday alone in Paris, his body pulled from the River Seine.

Tony, aged three, and his mother, known as Doff, were left to fend for themselves until George Leith came into their lives some years later.

Tony was at Royal Hill Infant and Junior School from 1930. His exploits with his school pals Dicky and Stan were captured in his inimitable style in several articles within his self-illustrated book Lord of the Manor, published in 1993.

In 1937, he went, aged 11, to Colfe’s Grammar School – a three-year spell during which he was evacuated to Tunbridge Wells during the Second World War.

After school, he briefly spent time at Regent Street Polytechnic Architectural School, while serving in the Home Guard on the rocket site, Blackheath.

Tony was called up in 1943 and served three years in the Royal Navy, mostly in the Far East, on hospital ships, for which he was awarded The Pacific Star, the 1939-45 Star and the Defence Medal for his service.

His never forgot the sight of the emaciated prisoners captured and tortured by the Japanese, on board the hospital ship Gerusalemme.

In 1946 he trained as a schoolmaster at Goldsmiths College, and for more than 20 years Tony taught in local schools, finally becoming the head of the remedial Department at Woolwich Polytechnic School.

Tony Lord with his grandchildren, Josh and Alex

He also took over a business ferrying wealthier children to school in his ­navy-blue Bedford minibus.

It was a familiar sight along the roads of Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich. If the minibus wasn’t full, there would often be unscheduled stops along the route to Woolwich, and those fed up waiting for the number 53 bus would clamber on for a more reasonable fare.

During this time he met and married Christine, a nurse at St Nicholas’ Hospital, Plumstead, with whom he had four sons.

Following the death of his mother in 1979, he decided to pursue his passion for painting and writing for The Mercury and the South London Press, publishing his book as well as selling paintings and drawings of his favourite subject matter, his local areas – Blackheath, Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich.

Tony lived much of his life in Morden College properties, firstly, from 1937 at 93 Blackheath Hill, then 37 Vanbrugh Park until 1995, when he moved to a flat at 32 Vanbrugh Park before moving to 31 Broadbridge Close.

That held as special place in Tony’s heart, as it was there that, in 1998, he met his third wife, Jackie.

They spent more than 23 happy years together, always laughing and enjoying their life together, despite the obstacles life threw at them.

Richard Lord said: “Our parents believed in allowing us a free rein without supervision.

“We four boys could explore and enjoy the open spaces on our doorstep. Blackheath and “the Dips” was our kingdom.

“The Hare and Billet Pond, Prince of Wales Pond and Folly Pond, our fishing, boating and occasionally ice-skating lakes.

“Often, on a sunny Sunday evening, adjacent to the cricket nets on Rangers Field in Greenwich Park, we could be found playing “two versus two” cricket with Dad.

“He made every day an adventure, be it a bus ride to Woolwich, a jaunt in the minibus to collect wood for the fire from the river, or an evening out at Catford Dogs.

“Mum and dad made these memories possible and instilled in us a sense of adventure and independence.

Celebrating his 93rd birthday

“Lockdown enabled me to reconnect with dad as I became a link to the outside world. “I enjoyed their company and observing the love, support and friendship they shared.

“Dad fully embraced technology during lockdown and, in doing so, helped empty my Ladbrokes online betting account with his weekly Saturday morning tips. Thanks, dad!

“Dad often used to say towards the end of his life that he considered himself lucky to have been born at the time that he was.

“Because of his life experiences and outlook on life that he shared with us, we boys were extremely lucky to call him dad.”

“I have led a very happy and fortunate life, particularly since December 1998 with Jackie, my darling wife.

“I leave behind four splendid boys, nine grandchildren, as well as two step-daughters and two step- grandchildren, and I am very proud of all of them.

“Bill, think of me when you are at the races.

“And Geoff, I’ll be looking at aeroplane pictures with you.

“I’ll be looking over your shoulder, Richard, when you are painting.

“And dear Tom, make room for me on the bench at Canterbury, I’ll be there.

“Lesley, raise a glass to me sometimes.

“And most of all darling Jackie, thanks for everything. Come and talk to me sometimes in the sun under the chestnut trees in The Flower Garden.

“Don’t grieve for me, I’m only in the next room!

“I believe in leaving a footprint in the sands of time and I believe that there is an afterlife”.

“We hate that we would ever have to write these words but sometimes life isn’t fair.

“Our grandad was a unique, inspiring, talented and most importantly a loving man, and we feel so privileged to say that we were a part of his life.

“We are both proud to call ourselves his grandchildren, and he will be sorely missed by both of us.

“We loved him lots and will always cherish the memories that we made with him.

“We wish we could say these words in person but also feel very fortunate, knowing that he had a long and happy life and that we will never forget him”.




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