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Harry James Hotten


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I was told that when I was only a few days old, Uncle Harry came to see his first nephew and, presumably as lost for words as most men are when presented with a new baby and under pressure to say something complimentary, said, “even the whites of his eyes are blue”. Naturally enough I have no recollection of that one. The first of my own concerns a motorcycle ride along the Lea Bridge Road. There must have been a time when we (Knights) had been rehoused at Porter’s Fields but the rest of the family (Hottens) were still in the Nissen hut at Whipps Cross for I remember being placed on Harry’s pillion seat and whisked along the the mile or two that separated those addresses gripping my uncle’s jacket. I may have been as young as four at the time, certainly no more than five.

Another recollection that might not reflect too well on the culprit is that I twice hid under the dining table at Harry’s Nissen hut equipped with a pair of scissors and silently snipped off the velvet decorative bobbles that hung from the edges of his table cloth.

Moving on to the early 1950s I recall that Harry gave me a long awaited pair of roller skates for Christmas. Only a couple of years later when I was in need of a bicycle to get to school and money was presumably short he found me a second hand Raleigh complete with four speed Sturmey Archer gears (when the norm was none and at best only three), a hub-dynamo, which was very unusual when acetylene lamps weren’t unheard of on bikes, and drop handle bars. What else would a 14 years old aspire to? It cost only £4 and although second hand was as good as new. Only one problem; it was in Walthamstow and I lived in Hampshire. But Harry had a simple solution to that, he rode it across London and all the way down the A30 to deliver it.

Harry was a particularly good handy man. For several years he worked at silver-smithing but carpentry was something that he never neglected. Until only a couple of years ago I still had two tables in the house that he had made. Unfortunately one of them which was made of veneered plywood split and fell apart and had to be scrapped but another made of oak is still in every day use despite it being at least 50 years old.

Information provided by Malcolm Knight 14 October 2006.