A SUDDEN decision to attend a Strawbs concert in Southend set in motion a strange and somewhat sad set of coincidences for Chris Peckham.
“I keep thinking what an astonishing coincidence it was that I happened to Google the Examiner article on Brian Lawton and the Singing Jenny club just two weeks after it was published,” said Chris, now of Ilford.
“It was a last minute decision to drive down to the Palace Theatre, Southend, to see the Strawbs after work on a wet Friday night.
“A great concert and enough to get me reminiscing about Brian, a wonderful family friend!”
Brian, who died about four years ago, ran the Singing Jenny folk club at the Builders’ Exchange off Byram Street for many years.
He left thousands of photographs, many without any form of identification.
Family members and domestic shots were mixed with photographs of film, TV and stage stars, musicians and singers.
Mike Field, landlord of the Sportsman, and Laurie Stead, the Examiner’s former jazz correspondent, have spent many hours trying to make sense of the collection, with some success.
Last month they organised a show at the Sportsman in the hope that members of the public would be able to supply more information.
“Brian Lawton was a close friend of my father Ken from their National Service days at RAF Hooton, situated between Liverpool and Chester, in 1952,” said Chris.
“While we lived down in London my father and Brian kept up regular contact and shared a passion for photography, this being my father’s profession.”
Ken Peckham worked for many years as the official photographer for the London Borough of Haringey, his work being mainly press photography for the Lord Mayor.
Like Brian, Ken had the opportunity to photograph many famous visitors to the area, including the Queen and Princess Diana.
“We lost contact with Brian a few years ago and being concerned whether he was OK, my father contacted the Huddersfield RAFA club who were able to pass on the sad news of Brian’s death.
“I recall Brian’s involvement running the Singing Jenny folk club and remember as a teenager in the 1970s being very impressed to hear that he was friends with the likes of Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span and Dave Cousins of the Strawbs,” said Chris.
“As an art student, I received my first paid commission to produce a logo for the club.”
The background to the pictures on this page is thus: In 1975 Brian invited Ken to join him at a Frank Sinatra concert at the London Palladium.
“Dad remembers Brian having been an active member of Sinatra’s fan club in the UK, this being how he had managed to actually get hold of a pair of tickets,” said Chris.
“Brian was also noted for his knack of being around for an autograph and photo of any celebrity within the vicinity.
“On this occasion Brian found jazz singer, Maxine Daniels, sister of actor and musician Kenny Lynch.
“Despite living far apart, Brian and Ken maintained regular contact over the years. In 1991 Brian came down to stay in Loughton.
“We have a photo of him with Ken and another with me and my baby daughter Hannah.
“These are our most recent photos of Brian.”
Contact Chris and family at firstname.lastname@example.org or 114 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1YQ.