London SE1 community website

Obituary: Eric Tucker

London SE1 website team

Eric Tucker who lived all his life in SE1, serving Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market, has died unexpectedly at the age of 82.

He was born in Southwark in 1923 and lived with his family of six in just two rooms in the five-storey Stanhope Buildings on the site now occupied by the Cathedral School.

Because his mother died when he was just three months old he spent every day from 8am to 6pm at Guy's Hospital Nursery where he was the only boy.

Later, in 1928, he was a pupil at the Cathedral School which was then in nearby Union Street. He did not then attend the cathedral on Sundays but with several other pupils he was a member of the congregation at St Peter's on the western corner of Sumner Street and Emerson Street. Staff there included a Rector and six curates.

Meanwhile his father had seasonal work which included selling the Evening News at the Oval during the cricket season. His customers included Jack Hobbs who gave him his old suits.

Eric's own jobs at home included lighting the fire under the copper to heat water on wash day. The rest of the week there was only cold water.

Unlike other families who had a mother, Eric and his sisters never went away in the late summer hop picking. His holiday was always the annual two weeks camp in the country organised by St Peter's. This was considered a great treat and he had fond memories of it. Another summer event was Ascension Day when the entire school walked in a crocodile to the cathedral to see the ancient custom of choirboys climbing the cathedral tower to sing.

He left school at 14 to be a lift boy in Piccadilly. He was then a clerk in a solictors office at the south end of London Bridge where the pay included two pints of beer a day due to Perkins brewery being a major client. Soon he joined the GPO Telephones where he stayed for 46 years becoming a skilled engineer and passing the Civil Service exams.

His only break from the GPO was the Second World War when he joined the Royal Corps of Signals. Whilst in the Middle East he visited part of the Holy Land.

At home he had married Flossie Downham who was connected with All Hallows but the wedding was at the cathedral.

Eric later became a governor of his old school and clerk to the governors. He was also a Trustee of Borough Market and a member of the Corporation of Wardens. For many years he was a cathedral churchwarden.

During Millennium Year he was a vocal member of the Bankside Residents Forum Transport Sub-Group which met at least monthly in Redcross Way to monitor the problems caused by the sudden and dramatic increase in visitor numbers following the opening of Tate Modern.

By then Eric Tucker was living nearby in Hopton's Almshouses and was able to give graphic accounts of cars and numerous coaches being parked illegally and droves of confused visitors wandering the streets.

Two years later he sat next to Prince Charles when he visited almshouses during Hopton's 250th anniversary celebrations.

Until very recently Eric was nearly always the sidesperson on duty at the Cathedral for the 9am Sunday Eucharist.
• The funeral of Eric Tucker will be at the cathedral, where he was baptised and married, on Friday 20 January at 11am.

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