I do not think that I ever came across Ted, as I feel certain I would remember him. He lived in Benfleet up until 2002 and spent most of his time living on a houseboat in the creek. He died in a Royal Seafarers Society home in Banstead, Surrey in the same year.
However, mention his name to Benfleet folk who have been around a while and you get a mixed reaction, ranging from “a pain in the neck” to “a real gentleman” I think most people would regard someone, who frequented the Clock Cafe wearing a pith helmet with an ovaltine tin bolted to the top, as an eccentric at the very least.
Everyone who knew him seemed to have different memories…from serenading the commuters on the London-bound station platform from his boat on the creek, to flying enormous kites on the Downs.
His kites were so large that on occasion he would seek permission to lay them out for repair etc in the Methodist church. He was in the habit of dressing blow-up rubber dolls in underwear and hanging them from his kites. For certain he was not afraid to offend sensibilities!
If you search the internet you will come across a series of photos showing him participating in parascending exploits on Canvey with the Sandivers Club. Another story is that he was arrested attempting to swim naked out to a royal boat passing up the Thames.
He was wealthy…he was poor…He certainly did not give the impression of being monied, yet he was one of the houseboat owners who paid their rates bill promptly. He was a war hero and received a medal is another belief, which I have yet to substantiate.
His houseboat eventually gave up the ghost, not helped by vandalism, and he was persuaded to move to a flat in Merrivale. He was clearly a character, even if he was not everyone’s cup of tea.
His musical talent and his”Perfect Gent” label are endorsed in the sound recording of Rita Archer’s memories of Ted…some of which pre-date his arrival in Benfleet.
I would dearly like to get a fuller picture of the man, so if you can add to or confirm what’s already written, please add a comment below.