RAY SWAIN  (  1944  - 2018 ) MEMORIAL



It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Ray Swain a lifelong resident who lived at number 11 Summerhill Road, Tottenham. Ray was a very well known and respected in the neighbourhood and also as a Local Historian throughout Tottenham. Ray Swain was born on the 30th July 1944 and died at the Stamford House care home in Edmonton on the 25th September, 2018  aged 74 years.

                 The following is an extract from the Eulogy to Ray that was read at his funeral.

 As I am sure most of you here today will know, Ray was my twin and we were born on the 30th July 1944. Ray being Ray decided to be the first born. We had arrived in this world not long after the D-Day landing and that was just about the extent of our war efforts.

We were born at our family home in Summerhill Road, Tottenham where for Ray it was to remain as his home or the rest of his life. Our sister Christine (sitting in the front row here today) had been born a couple of years earlier in the North Middlesex Hospital.

Our parents were Albert Edward Swain (Master Carpenter) and Ethel Lilian Maud Swain, who had both been born in Tottenham. Our Dad’s family had first moved to Tottenham in the early 1870’s and our Great Grandfather, William Swain, had been born near St. Clement Danes Church on the Strand. He had worked for the Public Record Office in Fetter Lane where he had risen to the position of Chief Superintendent (The PRO was the forerunner of the National Archives in Kew today). This may explain the reason why Ray took such a keen interest in History and devoted so much of his time volunteering at the Bruce Castle Museum and the Markfield Beam Engine. Clearly this runs in our genes.






All three of us went to Downhills Junior School in Philip Lane and then on to Belmont Secondary school at the bottom end of Downhills Park Road. In the 4th year I had been made a school prefect and one of my duties was to ring the school bell at playtimes and dinner times. On several occasions Ray was the instigator to have me bundled down so I could not ring the bell and allow all the kids more play time. I can also remember when we had heavy snow and I had to run along the front of the playground ringing a hand bell. And guess who was at the front leading the barrage of snowballs being thrown at me. Yes it was Ray !

Although we were twins we had different interests in our youth. Ray was always a keen fisherman and also loved tinkering with old cars, whereas I was more into sport and pop music. Would you believe I am a keen Golfer today but why I do not know because on a day’s excursion to Clacton with the family, we were allowed to play Crazy Golf. Letting Ray loose with a golf club was never a good idea and he proceeded to hit me over the eye when swinging his club which required me to be rushed to a nearby St. John’s Ambulance hut for running repairs.
Like many of the kids back in the 1950’s we would go along to Saturday morning pictures. Firstly for us it was the old Imperial cinema in West Green Road and later to the ‘Ritz’ or the ABC Minors at Turnpike Lane. For some reason Ray decided that he would have more birthdays than me because, at least 3 times a year, he would go up on stage in the interval claiming it was his birthday so he could receive some sweets and another birthday badge.
There was another occasion when Ray split his tongue open in a fall and our Mum rushed him to the POW Hospital where they inserted stitches. Later that evening at home Ray decided he didn’t like the stitches so pulled them all out again. Yet another example of Ray’s aversion to hospitals and clinics.

On leaving school, Ray's first job was as a Van Boy and later driver with Texaloom Furniture in White Hart Lane (A small yard close to the station). Interestingly the boss's son, Maurice Bacon, was the drummer in a small pop group and for a short while Ray became their 'Roadie' transporting them in the firms van to various gigs. The band was named 'Love Affair' who went on to have number one hits with 'Everlasting Love' and 'Bringing on Back the Good Times' in the 1960's. 

 Ray was later to work as a driver for several local companies, Vigers and Doric Doors to name just a few. At the time he was well known within the truck driving fraternity in North London.

However, he later went on to work for a small local building firm where he gained considerable knowledge of all aspects of the building trade. He later formed his own business and carried out small building jobs throughout the local area.
Once again, Ray being Ray, he always wanted to be helpful and never charged extortionate prices for his work, very often doing small jobs for FREE. I have some examples of his business stationery where it stated ’I’M AN ANGLER - BUT I WON’T CATCH YOU’. We have received many anecdotes of Ray undertaking works for friends and neighbours, often for Free or just to cover his expenses, and mention of Ray always being seen running across the rooftops of houses in Summerhill Road and around the local area

 As many of you here today will attest to, Ray cared very deeply for others and, if they needed help, Ray was always one of the first to help them. There are countless examples where Ray became an unofficial helper to many elderly people in the local community.

Ray had been a bachelor throughout his life and lived a reclusive lifestyle, shunning many of the trappings of modern life. He never had a television set, CD player or even a telephone which made it very difficult for family and friends to contact him. Once, when on one of his caring missions to an elderly man in West Green Road, the old man insisted Ray take an old portable Black-White TV as a token of his gratitude which Ray reluctantly accepted although never intended to use. You can imagine Ray’s embarrassment and guilt on returning home to find two men on his doorstep from TV Licensing who then asked why he did not have a TV license. He was compelled to say that he did not own a television with the knowledge that he now had this old TV set nestled in the large bag he was carrying.

There is no doubt, however, that Ray has now become more widely known as a Local Historian for Tottenham. He has spent countless hours at Bruce Castle Museum rummaging through the archives to unearth many interesting stories about Tottenham. I can still remember his excitement when he first told me about a man from Tottenham who had been eaten by cannibals!



It was back in 2002, at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in Summerhill Road that Ray volunteered me, in my absence, to create a website for the local residents in Summerhill Road to research the history, residents and characters who had lived in this unique road in Tottenham. This has since developed into a Local History website for Tottenham in general with literally hundreds of regular contacts throughout London, the UK and indeed the whole world. The number of interesting stories we have created and published together are extensive and we get thousands of hits each week from people who have found our website of interest.

Ray was tireless in pursuing stories where he felt an injustice had taken place and gathering support in the local community to help correct them. He showed great tenacity to track down the truth and make sure that the many people involved were not forgotten by history. He championed the creation of a permanent memorial to the 42 civilian victims who died in the Downhills Shelter Tragedy in September, 1940. The majority of local people had never known about it. He also tracked down many survivors of the incident, some of whom had suppressed their memories but now felt comfortable to release the grief this had caused them throughout their lives. This campaign was also supported by the Friends of Lordship Recreation Ground.

The second of his major campaigns was to gain recognition for the 460 plus men from the West Green area of Tottenham who lost their lives in WW1. They had been commemorated on the West Green Memorial but, for many years, the memorial had suffered neglect and there were no longer any services on Remembrance Day. Thankfully, we are pleased to announce that the Memorial has recently been totally renovated and restored to its former glory and the leaded letters showing the victims’ names have also been repaired or replaced. Sadly Ray did not live long enough to see the fruits of his campaigning.

Throughout his life, whenever family or friends of his had lost a loved one, Ray would always send money for them to buy a Rose Bush to be planted in their own gardens as a lasting memory. It is comforting to know that there must be score upon score of Rose Bushes around the country that still flourish today because of Ray.

You will note on the Order of Service that the closing music for Ray will be Doris Day singing ‘Que Sera –Sera’. This song is quite fitting because it had been a favourite of our Mum’s back in the 1950’s when it was first released and it has since become a mantra for Ray throughout his life. Whenever confronted with any difficulty or in times of adversity he would simply say -  ‘Whatever will Be – Will Be ‘!

Let me finish this Eulogy for my brother Ray and ask - Please let Ray not be forgotten – never hesitate to recall fond memories of your time with him, after all he will always be here in your head (or as Ray would often say Your mind’s eye). Another way is to think that he is just out of sight and only in the other room.

Ray was a Brother, Brother in law, Uncle, Great Uncle and cousin and friends with so many and he will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by all of those who were fortunate to know him.

Extracts from the Eulogy read by his brother Alan Swain at Ray's funeral service.