Although I knew Eric through the first edition of the Beckenham book he co-authored with Nancy Tonkin in 1993, I did not meet him until I was invited to join the CCARA Executive Committee in 2002.
I was well into local history by that time and I had discovered Eric’s love for our town. When the Beckenham branch of the Bromley Local history Society folded in 2002, Eric embarked on a series of projects to keep our rich heritage in the forefront of people’s minds.
He arranged visits to our Art Deco cinema and to Beckenham Hospital, and he helped with an Exhibition about Elmers End. There were two really eye catching projects at that time. One was the centenary of the first British air mail flight, when he invited the then leader of Bromley Council, Mike Tickner, aloft in a helicopter (a 21st century substitute for the original gas filled balloon).
The other remarkable event was to get the current owner of the Thomas Crapper sanitary ware company to clean up the Crapper grave stone in Elmers end cemetery. Derek Carpenter, the Rector of St George’s at that time, attended the ceremony and confessed that he had to re-read most of the bible to find some appropriate words to say!. That day concluded with a most enjoyable reception in the Bromley Court Hotel.
More recently he arranged a plaque to be installed in Croydon Road Recreation Ground at the place where the balloon had ascended and last December there was the unveiling of the plaque at Thornton’s Corner, marking Beckenham’s father figure.
His interest never wavered despite his ill health. Two days before he died, he attended the Exhibition in the Civic Centre marking the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the Borough of Bromley.