Eddie Dare (1919-2010)

– remembered by Tony Atienza

Edwin Hornsby Dare
Born: 8 Aug. 1919
Died: 29 Sept. 2010.

Although Eddie Dare’s father had served at sea in the First World War, he himself followed the traditions of his ancestors who had been millers in Devonshire. He trained as a baker and as a young man worked in the sweltering basement ovens of east and south London. At first he cycled the city streets delivering bread, as well as medicines for a local doctor, to earn a bit on the side. Later he wrote a fascinating article describing the long night hours and appalling conditions in these underground bakeries during the thirties.

The eldest of seven siblings he suffered from polio as a child and experienced the tragedy of a brother’s suicide.

Towards the end of the thirties Eddie had followed his father to sea as a baker on the Union Castle Line. It was on a visit to South Africa, going ashore in Durban, that he was shocked to see the working conditions, and the apartheid on the docks. This experience determined the rest of his life – it gave him his philosophy, which was a fighting one.

Back in Britain he soon became involved in politics, joining the Labour, and eventually the Communist Party.

He came into my life sixty years ago, after the War, when he moved with his wife, Olive, and their daughters, Janet and Ann, to the L.C.C. estate at Debden, in Essex. I had just arrived in the nearby village of Theydon Bois, having also joined the Communist Party at university. (Those were the days!)

One day he knocked on my door and from then on we set out to change the world.

We built a Communist branch – he as secretary and I as chairman. What an inspiration he was! We ran meetings and walked miles round the 6,000 houses in Debden, knocking on doors and handing out leaflets.

By now, in the 1950s and 60s, I was a teacher and Eddie was at the bottom of the Civil Service ladder. Down the years he was promoted steadily, entirely through his skill as a member of the social security and health ministries. He never seems to have taken examinations, but promotion boards never turned him down.

By the time we both retired in the early 1980s we were both earning about £15,000 p.a., I as a headmaster and he as a senior executive officer.

In his union he was a brilliant organiser; for three years he was elected chairman of the Marx Memorial Library; he was a key member of the committee of the Socialist History Society where he revived and ran its lively Newsletter; he took part in several of this society’s publications, including one concerned with East End Jewish bakers. The Press often received his letters.

Sadly, Eddie and Olive’s younger daughter, Ann, died at an early age after a long illness, although happily she left him grandchildren. Strangely, Olive died early in 1998 within a week of my own wife.

Eddie took pride in all his grandchildren, Monique, Scott, Barney and Zoe, and in his great-grandchildren, Stephan, Sophie, Suzanna, and Clara. He took a great interest in all of them and was fascinated to know their futures.

Down the years Eddie and I have taken part in so many campaigns: peace movements; Trafalgar Square rallies, moved so many resolutions. We spent many holidays together, especially camping all over France. Once three of us squashed into a mini and drove through France to Madrid and Valencia.

Eddie was always fond of people, enjoying company and vigorous discussion.

After 91 years he had a fall and broke his right arm, suffering a miserable but brief stay in hospital. Back at home he had another fall but soon rallied and chatted to the ambulance crew who had been called, telling them of his ongoing campaigning and stating, just before being helped into bed by the paramedic and his daughter Janet:

“So it’s on to a hundred. I love life. The world is an interesting place and I want to see what happens.”

He passed away that night in his sleep.

Tony Atienza, October 4th 2010

11 Responses to “Eddie Dare (1919-2010)”

  1. 8 October 2010 at 8:50 am

    Eddie was a volunteer at LRD for a number of years. Those of us who had the privilege of working with him were very saddened by the news of his death, and moved by your obituary.

    We would like to publish an obiturary for Eddie in Labour Research magazine. We don’t have a photo of Eddie and would very much like to use one with the obituary. Do you by any chance have a photo of Eddie we could use?

    We look forward to hearing from you.


    Dave Statham
    Researcher, LRD
    Tel: 020 7902 9809

  2. 3 Claire Frost
    8 October 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you very much for writing this, Mr. Atienza. I was hoping to find a memory of my Uncle Ed on the net so I was very pleased to see what you have written. I’m so regretting all the questions that I didn’t ask about the family as you probably know family history was one small branch of his studies. I thought he was going to get his wish to live to a hundred.

  3. 4 JOHN KING
    24 October 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Dear Tony

    I was one of Eddie’s contacts in the Lewisham Local History Society of which he was a member, having lived in Grove Park in the 1930s. May I please use some of this obit info for our newsletter? He often used to make useful suggestions and only a few weeks before his death I rang him with questions about Grove Park for the revision of my 1982 book which sadly he had never seen.

    Do you know which Local History society in Essex he belonged to?

    I am also ibn touch with his family and am planning to be at the funeral.

    John King

  4. 2 November 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I knew Eddie for the last couple of years because his daughter asked me to fix his Apple Macintosh.
    After a couple of years struggling with an old machine I managed to persuade him to get a new one which he did.
    It was never practical to travel so far but I did anyway because he was such a good man.
    Eddie would Skype me often from his new Mac and we would have many interesting chats.
    On one visit, the work on his Mac was so long I mowed his lawn on the condition he never mentioned it to my girlfriend as seldom did our own. He was on the ‘phone like a shot and spilled the beans.
    I’m not sure how to post pictures here but I have a very good image of Eddie taken this summer.

  5. 8 Karen Dare
    20 November 2010 at 12:01 am

    Uncle Ed always used to chase me and my sister around the garden at our auntie Edna’s and scare us with his false teeth. He had the sort of humour that must be a “Dare” humour as Dad (Ken) did the same. Ed taught me a lot about the world and probably influenced my course in life. He was the one who told me more about family secrets and politics. I ended up studying politics and Family Therapy. As a scholar and Historian, I “married” a self taught historian. Ed’s sense of social justice and equity- I became a social worker and “married one” who has worked for Aboriginal Communities for most of his working life.

    Needless to say, even from distant Australia, Rex and Ed got on very well and exchanged letters and sent each other books from time to time. Last time I came back to the UK Ed was frail but on the table were letters he showed me from his family members of whom he was so proud and articles and local history papers (that we discussed by email later) along with the demise of fresh yeast. As we left his house that day I felt that it was likely I would not see uncle Ed again and my dearest hope was that he would be able to stay at home. I felt a huge sense of relief to know that he had been at home and with Janet when he died. Ed will always live on in our hearts and our minds.

    Karen, Rex, Anna and Frazer

  6. 6 December 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Eddie was a great friend and he provided me with a lot of support and guidance when I told him in 2006 that I was planning to research the history of the Debden Estate. That history turned into a sociology, and the research went on and on…. much to his annoyance.

    A few months before we lost Eddie, he told me in his uniquely characteristic style to ‘get a move on’ and publish my book ‘before he popped his clogs’.

    Losing Eddie forced me to recognise that people like time itself fly by so quickly, and I have now decided to publish an oral history of the L.C.C. Estate as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the people who helped me along the way, many of them are in their 80s or 90s! That book will be dedicated to Eddie.

    Eddie was one of the kindest and most generous men I have ever met. He shared his time and his research notes, there are not many historians willing to do that! We frequently argued over dates, events and other happenings and on one occasion a few years ago he marched up to my house with some information for me. By the time he got here he was totally out of breath and complaining about my road, which he said was longer than he remembered. Anyone else would have just phoned!

    John (above) asks about the Historical Society that Eddie belonged to. It was the Loughton & District Historical Society. They do have a website, but it has not been updated recently. There is a list of publications http://theydon.org.uk/lhs/lhs%20pages/publications.htm including a book Eddie co-authored about Chigwell walks It was his letters, however, in the Epping Forest Guardian which stand out for me. They demonstrated that Eddie the campaigner continued fighting right to the end.

  7. 12 March 2013 at 12:04 am

    Just to add that I will not now be publishing the book about Debden, but have instead set up a website: debdenhistory.vpweb.co.uk.

  8. 11 Michael Francis
    1 July 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I was just browsing and came across this site. So glad I did. I am sorry to see that Eddie did not live beyond 2010, but delighted to see the tributes to him. He was 20 years my senior and we enjoyed working together as Regional Reserve Inspectors for the variously named social security departments in the sixties and seventies. We spent endless hours together discussing our casework, history, life, politics and the like as we worked in offices around the East End of London. Contemporaries all enjoyed his company and that wicked grin and laughing eyes as he recounted his views and experiences. But he never tried to convert us to his political bents.
    I lost touch with him when he retired. He was a mentor for me and avuncular, too, just as he was to many of his younger colleagues at work. What a lovely photograph of him .

    Michael Francis

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October 2010

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