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 John Rawden

24th January 1932 - 7th January 2011

This is the John Morris Rawden Memorial Web page. John loved computers and it's appropriate that a Web page in his memory is maintained. There're pictures of John still to be uploaded, and a few mini-movies too. Anyone who knew him would know that he was a man of few words, mostly owing to his poor hearing! There's a lot about John that people don't know about, mostly because he never spoke about it: apart from modesty, it simply didn't occur to tell anybody about his achievements. John lifeline was electronics. He was one of those people who an electronics engineer was what he was rather than what he did. He absolutely loved the subject, as did I, and John's knowledge seemed to know no bounds: anything in the electronics genre I'd ask him, (in our first 15 years together) he appeared to know about in deep detail. This included obscure stuff like what happens in a microprocessor to electrician's stuff/house wiring. The amount of pleasure John derived from this subject inclined him to want to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with others so, save his aural deficit, he'd have been a great teacher. One way of celebrating John's life would be to pass on his knowledge in the context of the little amount I learned from him. Any inaccuracies would be down to me rather than John!

from Liz’s perspective.

In this table, the first five rows of text was read out by the Rev Roger Lesley at John's funeral service. Rev Roger Lesley is a Methodist Minister in the Hastings/St. Leonards area and, because John was born a Methodist, we chose a service in this faith. Printed copies of what Rev Lesley read out for us were distributed and reproduced here. Death is always a sad occasion but on this page we try to celebrate John's life and achievments in a positive sense. To us John was a remarkable person who cared about animal welfare. I was deeply moved by the number of people who were present to pay their last respects to him: standing room only! Local musician Michael Christian performed a song for John and I thank Suzie, Sarah and Iain Lyle of the Pinehurst Centre for hosting the funeral reception for us. John's grandfather was John William, father John Charles and finally John Morris. John had no sons so the patriachial Rawden name ends with him. There are of course daughters Caroline, and Penny who has a family of her own. John was a regular attendee of The Rooms. Hosted at the time by Rob Sans, this is a music venue near St. Leonards, Warrior Square Station. John made a few friends there and one of his closest: Michael Christian played a song at his funeral. It's called Beautiful Friends and you may hear the same studio recorded song by clicking on the hyperlink below.

Beautiful Friends by Michael Christian

John was born on the 24th January 1932. He sadly passed away on 7th January 2011. I first met John in ’86 at an Islington, London social club. John spent most of his youth in the North East London suburb Hainault. His dad was an Engineer, and at age of around 14, John surprised all when he repaired and recycled a discarded radio that was deemed un-repairable by the local shop. That was the start of his career in the electronics servicing industry - so continuing in the electronics trade,


in the 60s, John started Rawden & Co, Radio and TV with his father. During childhood, John was called Jacky because his dad was also called John. The shop closed mid 70s, although trading continued from John’s family home: 18 Copthorne Avenue, Hainault.  Upon initially meeting him in the mid 80s, and after some time of being acquainted, I fondly remember driving out in a 3-wheeled van fixing televisions for his few remaining pensioner customers: useful experience for a student Electronics Engineer. He answered the phone when I got stuck on out-field tech issues, through kind consideration of his then employer: Radio Communication Specialists, Tottenham, London.

RCS closed a few years before John’s retirement but he and fellow redundant colleagues continued free-lance until John moved to St Leonards in early 90’s. The photos above and right are of John working on a transceiver for walkie talkies in Newham Hospital, used by midwives. In the ‘80s John became interested in computing & he joined Leytonstone Computer Club where he brought his kit-built Nascom One. He took up the Sinclair QL computer joining user group Quanta, and later, became a Linux (computer system) devotee. John worked for the Vegan Society, at the time in St Leonards, from 2001ish until their move about four years ago. I remember receiving a Christmas card from them thanking John for his hard work, stating that “we couldn’t have managed without you”.


John's shop as it is today. (2011)

Because John had run his shop in London, he was able to sort out their overdue accounts with his book-keeping skills. Starting as a volunteer, John later became a Vegan Society employee. He loved working there, other staff members liking him, humouring about his ‘doorstep’ size lunchtime sandwiches! In fact, work was such a normal thing for him to do that he was only happy if he had a job. John couldn’t tolerate the thought of animals’ suffering, was compassionate and is why he became Vegan. Later still he attended Lip-reading classes in Priory St, hosted by Teresa, to help his communication. John and I were also members of Hastings Electronics and Radio Club and we thank our fellow members for helping us maintain our interest in this fascinating hobby. John enjoyed very simple pleasures in the last few years of his life: a trip ‘round Priory Meadow shopping centre, and exploration of Smiths stationers in pursuit of Ubuntu computer magazines, followed by his favourite: a Soya Latte Costa Coffee. One major setback for John was his inability to walk great distances following a few falls in as many years: He loved walking around Hastings and the St. Leonards area, and he earned the

reputation as “The Rucksack Man”. His large rucksack was a leaving present from the Vegan Society following his retirement from there. John had a severe hearing difficulty for most of his life, which meant that he missed out during social occasion and he was always happiest when surrounded by groups of our friends. However, I always tried my best to keep him informed. Compromised mobility meant that Xiomara and I took him around Hastings and St Leonards in his wheelchair, where he would attempt walking short distances when able.  I’ve spent my last 24 years with John as my closest friend and I feel privileged to have known him. He’s survived by his two daughters: Caroline and Penny, and three grand-children. All who knew and loved John will miss him enormously.


John walking down the spiral staircase of a Cornwall lighthouse.

 Stolen Snap! A photo of John working at RCS. He didn't know I took this one workin' on teknicalwl stuph.

 "You reported a fault on your transmitter? I'm here fom RCS to re-tune your ATU."

One taken from a RCS security pass and blown up. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

 John as a hippy in the 70's.

Although, he didn't much like Led Zepplin.

 On the beech sometime in the 1960s

<<< In pursuit of a refreshing cuppa at the HERC auction.

Late photo of John taken from his bus pass.

One of John's favourite spots: cafe on the West Hill, overlooking Rock 'N Nore where the fishing huts are. The viewer can also see the fun fair. John liked having salad and chips and used to give back the mayonnaize because it wasn't vegan.

5, Webb Estate, Clapton Common, London, Early 90s

< 3rd October '92 51a Riversdale Road, Islington.

At my flat: 5, Webb Estate, Clapton Common. October '92

<<  21st March 2002. Working at the Vegan Society in St. Leonards-On-Sea had its perks: being a very sociable lot, the employees arranged regular social events such as this one in a resturant on the seafront. A great time was had by all who attended and the food was excellent: vegan, of course!

John is here being affectionately hugged by a fellow Vegan Society worker. (left click on picture) His name eludes me and it may be observed that John, being not a particularly tactile individual, is somewhat alarmed: all completely innocent, needless to say. >>








John's last ever picture during life at home in High Beech. >>


John's self-build projects 1 Frequency Counter

Like most good electronic engineers, John used to build his own equipment. He had most of the equipment needed for his work that was available commercially but some of it was prohibitively expensive. Much of it was sold: I remember visiting one of John's television rental customers called Phillip Goldsmith and I was shown a television sound adaptor: it received only the sound from whichever channel it was tuned to, useful if you're in the kitchen during the ad breaks. I'm still in possession of a few pieces. John had requirement of a frequency metering device so he built this one.

I haven't plugged it in recently but John assured me that, whatever the fault is, it's a simple one: a broken connection or similar. Most folk won't know what a frequency counter is for. It can be thought of as a machine to measure various audio pitches. We know that a mouse has a high pitched squeek and there are sounds such as the deep rumble of distant thunder. With a microphne connected, this instrument will display, in numeric form, the frequency in hertz of these noises. This might seem a bit pointless but in electronics, engineers use the difference in frequencies to make things work.


A radio, for example, will pick out separate stations because they're all at different frequencies. Just behind the circular holes are glass cylindrical objects: these are called numicons. They are glass bulbs filled with neon gas. When voltages are applied to metal plates within this gas, a glow is created. There are little metal plates shaped sequentially from 0 to 9. When working these numbers (digits) glow and the selected number can be viewed through the circular hole. The little red lumps between the circular holes are neon lamps and they represent the decimal point.

 If I remember correctly, this instrument can take accurate measurements well into the MHz range, well above human hearing. Having this range in an homemade instrument is quite an achievement: it all depends on a careful arrangement and positioning of the various components within.






John's Pottery Project

Don't give up your day job, John! Stain dug this thing, size about 3" x 2", out of a box full of junk stored in the basement and the construction quality doesn't  compare well with his electronic skills, although a bit prettier. I remember, when living in London I was a bit short on friends. John didn't mind this much at the time because he wasn't a people person. I signed up for evening classes and took John with me. I think that, when you're going insane  



because of lack of human company, is shows on your face: hence,other students avoided me like the plague! I had a few "David Brent" moments as well, which drove people away still further. I became, for a short while, one of those See You Next Tuesday people. Come to think of it, most folk I know think I still am! "Don't forget, I'm a country member!" "Yes, I remember!" Ho Ho! This green box has no particular purpose as such: maybe an elaborate coffin for a mouse? Anyway, it's relevance of being presented in this photo, is that John made it. One worrying issue at the time of its re-discovery a few years ago is that John had absolutely no recollection of ever having made it. I'm aware that it is not a particular interesting artifact but the slab pot that it is kept John entertained whilst

building it, so at least it had a virtue in this strength alone. It doesn't take up much space either, so its worth keeping as an memento/inoccuous ornament. John told me that he didn't really much enjoy pottery, when we enroled sometime in about September '88, and only went along with me for companionship. For this reason, and possibly the other one as well, we didn't go back to the Hackney evening college. Just as well!

In December ’10 at about 5:30 in the morning Gemma was getting up to get ready for work. We heard a loud thump and knew it was another one of John’s falls. He had experienced a few of these in the preceding months, which often meant a trip to hospital by ambulance. On one occasion he had to have stitches for a head cut. Gemma found him on bathroom floor and some blood was coming from his mouth and nose. John had landed in the ‘recovery’ position, was not breathing so my thoughts were that to move him so he was lying flat on his back couldn’t result in any more deterioration. At that point I started CPR, pushing down on his chest and abdomen. I did mouth resuscitation, not quite knowing what I was doing and was relieved when he took a breath. By this time, Gemma was on the phone to the ambulance service and we were instructed to let them know each time John took a breath. Blood had blocked his airway and my actions, somehow or another started him breathing again, although irregularly, through clearance of the obstruction.  

We didn’t have to wait long before two ambulances arrived and they praised our actions. They moved John into Gemma’s bedroom and got to work on him. The paramedics were using a respirator device, a defibrillator and to our immense relief, they managed to re-start his heart. John was put in the ambulance, admitted to ITU where I went to visit him immediately I could. He was there for a few days and then transferred to the High Dependency Unit during which time, he regained consciousness. Having awaked, I went in to try and explain to him what had transpired. None of us had idea that John’s heart was quite as bad as it was: we all thought, as I also explained to him, that he’d suffered another attack of epilepsy.  

I visited John every day while he was in The Conquest and was often accompanied by Karen, Xiomara and Gemma. Xiomara, who sometimes works at the Lauriston retirement home, brushed his teeth every day and, a bit later on, we took turns feeding him. John didn’t have much of an appetite, being fed by a tube up his nose, and could only manage a few mouthfuls. I was able to relieve John’s thirst by application of a stick with a sponge on the end. John was of very poor hearing: you could have your mouth an inch away from his ear, shout at the top of your voice and he would hear absolutely nothing. It is a miracle that they worked at all and anyone who depends on a hearing aid realises that they need frequent cleaning and maintenance. If I was of any use while visiting it would have been as a hearing aid maintenance person: I helped to provide a means of communication via which the doctors and nurses looking after him could derive

information about his therapy needs. John had almost completely lost the use of his hands through arthritis and couldn’t lift his arms at all. Having chronic fatigue, I would come into the McDonald ward every day and have a few hours sleep on the floor, with my sleeping bag and cushion as a pillow. The staff were very tolerant of me doing this and they observed an improvement in his mood whenever I was present. John occasionally called out for me and I was ready to be awake to tend to his needs: mostly of a reassurance nature. We told him that his epilepsy was worse than we all originally thought and now that the doctors have found a more suitable medication to help control the seizures he would have a better quality of life after leaving hospital.  It was difficult getting to the hospital every day, especially as at the time, the roads were covered in snow. I would sometimes have to dig the snow out from under the wheels to get the car moving. 

On the last day I said goodbye to John gave him a usual kiss and said I’ll be back in to see him tomorrow. He appeared more alert, brighter and we all thought he was going to get better. At about 7:30 on the 7th John’s daughter tried to phone me but, being in bed, I couldn’t get to the phone in time before it stopped ringing. I tried to phone Caroline back but the line was busy. I then went back to sleep. Sometime later two policemen arrived, were let in by Xiomara who was staying with us, and my immediate thoughts were that the neighbours, for some reason, had called them on me as they had done for no viable reason on occasions previously. My response was: “oh no! What have I done this time?” A policeman said: “I’ve some sad news about Mr. John Rawden, I’m afraid he’s passed away.” 

Gemma, Xiomara and I were all in deep shock, as we all thought he was going to get better. I realised that this was the reason why Caroline had attempted to phone me at an unusually early time so we immediately set about the business of phoning everybody who knew John to enlighten them of the sad news. Since about 1988 John became vegetarian. He never smoked or drank and observed a low-fat diet after being informed by his doctor of a high cholesterol level. He always took regular exercise and, when we lived in Stanford Hill, London he cycled to work. John enjoyed life and, if hypothetically possible, would have wanted an unlimited lifespan. One of the worst ways of ending life, as it would be for terminally ill patients, is having prior knowledge of it happening: Perhaps as in many instances, being told you have only six months left to live. A small blessing here: John had no concept of dying and he was unaware of when it was occurring. He showed us how it is done.

 John Rawden's family dating back to the early 1900s

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When John M Rawden's Aunt Hilda died sometime in the early 90's, as one of John’s surviving relatives he inherited some of the family photographs.  John made regular monthly visits to Hilda, when she resided in a nursing home in her final years. We're trying our best to work out who is related to who but we only have a few names on the back of photos and what John could recall from memory. We'd like to think she'd be proud of her contribution of this handful of photos to the Internet, being a prolific resource to Genealogists and this collection may help any researcher interested in, or related to, the Rawden family from Ilford, London. Information presented cannot be guaranteed as accurate and we welcome any communication to help build up a more detailed family profile. Contact us on Please ref: JMR.


Possibly the oldest photo of them all: this lady we think was the mother of one person in the next frame.

       John Rawden's grand parents: John William Rawden and his wife, maden name: Alice Jane Thompson.


Later picture of John William and Alice Jane.

     John William Rawden died aged 76 in 1947.

  John’s Uncle Frank, his dad: John William and Aunt Hilda. We're not sure which of the two boys is who.

          Hilda No: 1

Aunt Hilda No: 2. This picture and the next have identical mountings/backing so they were probably done as a pair.


Aunt Hilda's brother: John William Rawden.

Aunt Hilda No:3

Aunt Hilda photo as above but adjusted for clarity.

John William's photo as above but adjusted for clarity.

         Hilda No: 4

John Charles Rawden and his wife Florence May Miriam, maiden name: Morris. John M's parents. No:1

John Charles, and his wife who was generally called May, being the month she was born in: John M's parents. No:2


This stunning lady is Aunt Lottie and she had two sons: Len & Alex.


Unknown picture in Hilda's collection.


Another of Hilda and her friend who she met in more recent years.


Uncle Bert Rawden: engineer colleague of John Charles.


Queen Elizabeth II Coronation: boat trips along the Thames was the thing to do.

John M's father and grandfather were both engineers at Wholebrooks in Stratford. A work photo.

A photo of the Rawden family just before John M was born in 1932.

John M as a child of about 7. John has blue eyes although in the picture they're brown,

owing to a 'touch-up' error at the printers: much to the extreme disappointment of John's mum.

Dad, Sister, John at 16, and Mum.

Stain's Pictures - Canary Wharf 50th Floor late 80s

Canary Wharf was open to the public in the late 80s so we went and had a visit. John was there also and we took these photos. Naturally, it has all changed since: No Gerkin and no O2 dome.


Pictures and Artwork done by Contributors

Sharon Holmes





















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