CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Estate’s Gunners salute to former taxi driver John Till who died after Covid infection

His coffin was decorated like the Emirates Stadium

29 January, 2021 — By Tom Foot

A tribute at Waxham to devoted Arsenal fan John Till

AN estate is in mourning after one of the first tenants to move in – decades ago – died from Covid-19.

More than 200 well-wishers poured onto the green behind Waxham, Gospel Oak, to say a final farewell to John Till on Tuesday.

His coffin decorated to look like his beloved Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium was taken by hearse to Golders Green for a cremation.

Mr Till was a beer delivery man and a 24 bus driver before running a black cab for 45 years. He died aged 85 at the Royal Free Hospital on December 28.

A floral black cab and his coffin, which was decorated to look like the Emirates Stadium

His daughter Karen remembered him as an “old school gent” who took his family on fun-filled holidays around Europe and to their caravan in Clacton-on-Sea.

He had shared a “romance like you’d never believe” with his wife Maureen right up until the coronavirus blew the whistle of a life lived entirely in Camden. Arsenal shirts with messages of condolence had been laid outside his home.

Karen, who lives in the neighbouring Ludham block, said: “Whenever Arsenal was on the telly you could hear the screams coming all the way to my house. I’d think – there you go, the Gunners have scored.

“He went to his first match in 1947 and we all got taken to Highbury as kids. I played football myself, got medals. My brother Jon became a lunatic fan. “We had all the shirts from baby size to adult size and they were put out the front, but they’ve gone rock hard with the snow so we had to bring them in.”

Karen added: “Just before he died, Dad had rang up from the hospital and said ‘Maureen! The Arsenal have beat Chelsea 3-1, what about that?’”

Mr Till grew up in Charrington Street, Somers Town, and went to St Aloysius school. He met Maureen in the Edinboro Castle pub in Camden Town.

They were married 59 years ago. Karen recalled how the family had “clambered over the wall” of the estate as it was being built to sneak a peak, hoping they would get a home there with a decent kitchen and central heating.

Arsenal shirts on the wall at Waxham and a framed photograph of one of Mr Till’s favourite goals: Tony Adams scoring a goal against Spurs in the 1993 FA Cup semi-final

Both his sons and his daughter continue to live in separate flats in the blocks around Lismore Circus while his brother owned the former Caernarvon Castle pub in Camden High Street.

Karen said: “When we was growing up people thought we were rich because of all the holidays he’d take us on, but we weren’t at all. We’d go in a brand new camper van to Spain, Italy, France Switzerland – even Monte Carlo – me and Paul [her brother] always shouting out ‘are we there yet, are we there yet?’ We’d go on cruises to the Mediterranean – 21 of us, every year.

“Mum and dad would dress us up so nice as kids. He was always so smart, suited and booted – he’d drive us mad when he was going out putting on his shiny shoes.”

She added: “He just wanted to spend his money on us when he was alive. He really, really worked hard but he never had no savings. We all live on the same estate now. It’s such a close family.”

Mr Till had the respiratory disease COPD, but his family had considered him to be well the day before he died. He had spent a last Christmas at home with Maureen before being admitted to the hospital.

Karen said: “They had had a romance like you would never believe. They were in love now more than ever. Mum always had Magic radio on and if they would hear a song they’d be up waltzing around the kitchen. Up at the caravan they’d be walking around together holding hands – they were two people in love like I’d never known.”

John Till, and a message from his daughter Karen

She said that Maureen had been ill with Covid three weeks before and she had been desperate for her husband not to catch it.

Karen said: “She had put these pillows up in the bed between them. He would say to her: ‘what you doing putting up a barricade?’ But it was just she didn’t want him to catch it. He had bucked up in hospital after we Facetimed him. We were shocked because he so suddenly went downhill.”

People living on the estate wanted to give Mr Till a proper send-off; he was one of the first to move in after it was built

More than 100 cards have been sent to the family, most saying the same thing, said Karen: “That he was the gentleman of all gentlemen. He had this aura about him when he came in the room. One of these old school gents that London will never see again.”

The family has asked people wanting to leave flowers to instead donate to a fundraising page they have set up to help NHS doctors and nurses work­ing in the Royal Free.

Share this story

Post a comment

,