Cockney roots: remembering Stan Jones and his collection of royal memorabilia
Six months after his passing, Stan Jones’ family and friends remember him by decorating his East End home on Lichfield Road with the same royal memorabilia he has used for decades.
Four doors down from The Lord Tredegar stands 45 Lichfield Road. It appears like any other East End Victorian terraced townhouse, with its butter-hued bricks, net curtaining draped behind bay-fronted window, its weathered chalky off-white paint cracking and chipping, and the pillar-box red front door framed by a hanging basket of white flowers.
Except this ordinary house was the home of Stanley Jones. Or, Stan as he was known to his family and close friends.
An Eastender through and through, Jones lived on Lichfield Road for 82 years, from 1939 when he moved in aged ten, to when he passed away at the age of 91, on 17 December 2021, just two days before his 92nd birthday.
On the surface Jones led a seemingly unremarkable and unadventurous life; alongside living in the same house for just over eight decades, he was a shopfitter at Levine and Son on Commercial Street for 48 years, starting out as a boy aged 16 in 1946, and leaving in 1992. He never liked to make a fuss or to be too fussed over, with his milestone 90th birthday marked by a family gathering and fish and chips 300 metres down the road at The Coborn.
But, in Jones’ relative Elaine Baglee’s words, his ‘calm, quiet and shy’ manner allowed him to pursue hobbies, such as photography (he set up a small studio on the landing, squeezed between the back bedroom and bathroom), and immerse himself in his family and community life.
Baglee’s father, Laurence Baker, was Jones’ cousin. More like brothers than cousins, Baglee remembers the two of them having almost daily phone calls in the evenings, catching up on each other’s daily activities, and doing crosswords together.
Lichfield Road resident Tamara Barklem also recalls Jones’ warm and inclusive character: ‘He would often have people come round and sit in the garden, and he’d give them tea and biscuits.’ There, he would share with them his latest photographs or reminisce over older photos.
And now, despite Jones’ passing, he was at the centre of his community’s life once again during the jubilee weekend.
To mark his life, Jones’ neighbours and relatives bedecked number 45 in flags, bunting, and royal family memorabilia in the same fashion as his parents, Ethel and Arthur, had done for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and as he had done for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. In a proud moment for Jones, the photograph he took of his house in full coronation bloom in 1953 got picked up by The Times.
Baglee remarked that ‘it was just something that they liked to do… they were quite patriotic’. Baglee believes that Jones’ parents, and subsequently Jones, marked coronations, royal celebrations and jubilees with such exuberance largely because Jones’ father was the mace bearer for Mayor of Stepney in the 1940s. In that role, he met the queen’s parents, King George VII and Queen Elizabeth, during their visit to Vallance Road, after bombs destroyed Hughes Mansion in March 1945.
What would Jones think of this fuss being made over him, his house and photography? ‘He’d be really proud,’ she says. Barklem adds that he would have been ‘so thrilled and tickled’ at the event. Jones’ reputation as a loving neighbour and friend as well as avid photographer spread far; Barklem says that those from further afield noticed that Lichfield Road were celebrating his life and came by to say some ‘kind and nice words’ about him. ‘It’s a story of a real East End guy… of course, we want to celebrate the queen but also it’s about Stan being part of the story.’
As Baglee affectionately remarks: ‘His life is still living.’
Tower Hamlets Library and Archives has acquired a collection of photographs taken by Stan Jones of street parties that were held for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and the Golden Jubilee in 2002 as well as other photographs of the local area. They are currently on display at the Library.
If you enjoyed this article, then read our piece on memories of Clara Grant’s farthing bundles.
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