Jack Vaughan - first Chair of Greenwich Industrial History Society - died on Monday 14th July 2008 at the age of 91. His had three sons and two daughters by Florence his first wife; she died in 1973. He married again but was again left bereft when Jean died.
This obituary is about his life in the world of Greenwich's local history - but he had many many other interests. At this funeral we heard about his record in the army in the Second World War, how he fought at El Alamein and met Field Marshall Montgomery. We also heard about his lifetimes enthusiasm for Charlton Football Club.
At a first meeting he could seem rather gruff, but one soon found how kind a man he was – there was no one who did not like Jack, even if they did not fully share his views.
He had been an apprentice at the Arsenal (writing about his experiences in Woolwich Antiquarian Proceedings Vol XLII) then worked there until he retired - again we heard at his funeral how he was respected for his engineering ability and knowledge and how he later went on to teach his skills at Woolwich Polytechnic School.
From this arose a love of clocks and his ability to repair them. The future of the clock on Building 10 at the Arsenal particularly worried him – Berkeley Homes say they will restore it. He always championed the Arsenal, giving talks on its history. He was also well versed in the Woolwich Dockyard, and a connoisseur of local pubs…
Many societies benefitted from his energy: on Shooters Hill where he lived for 54 years, he was Chairman of the Shooters Hill Society; he wrote articles for the Shooters Hill Local History Group, published in its series of ‘Aspects’. He was the inaugural chairman of the Greenwich Industrial History Society eventually becoming Honorary President. He was also involved in the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, history group. But his longest association was with the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society; for many years on its council, latterly as a Vice President; he was chairman of the Conservation Sub-Committee.
Jack was a fierce defender of Woolwich’s heritage in his dealings with the Borough’s Planners, particularly in respect of his beloved Arsenal. He was a frequent attendee at Planning Committees and made sure they heard his views. However, they listened to him with more respect than he would ever acknowledge and changes were often made. One locally famous exploit was his saving the tomb of the world famous engineer, Henry Maudslay, when the Council cleared St Mary’s Churchyard – all but one of its cast iron plates were retrieved, and taken to the Maritime Museum store in the Brass Foundry - they are now in the care of the Greenwich Heritage Centre. Jack was well known and respected by the London-wide community of industrial archaeologists, particularly in the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society. In 2001 a special seminar on Maudslay was held at Kew Bridge Engines Trust - special mention was made of Jack’s role in rescuing the plaque and a small ceremony was held.
Recently he became frail and although he went into a well run nursing home, he was only his old self with visitors who shared his interests. Six weeks before he died he had a fall, requiring two operations.
His funeral was at Eltham Crematorium, Falconwood at on Wednesday 23rd July at 2.45pm. This was followed by a do at the Red Lion Pub on Shooters Hill - one of his favourite locals.
Donations in his memory may be made to one of two charities: Cancer Research or The Alzheimer's Society. A cheque made out to the one of your choice should be sent to:
W Uden & Sons Ltd, Funeral Directors, 64 High Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA14 6DS
Jack was a one off - to quote a friend - 'well Jack - Jack's Jack, isn't he!'.