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Louis Raynes, actor who made life better on his estate

TV appearances included the role of 'Big Arthur' in Coronation Street

29 March, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Louis Raynes lived at Lissenden Gardens

LOUIS Raynes, an actor who devoted much of his time campaigning to improve the lives of his neighbours, has died aged 91.

Friends remembered “loyal and charming” Lou, as he was better known. He began his acting career at the Unity Theatre in Somers Town, and joined the National Theatre.

He had a brief stint in Coronation Street in 1975 as “Big Arthur”, the leader of a gang of crooks, and appeared in Mike Leigh’s film Hard Labour. “He was usually type-cast as the Italian waiter because of his moustache and dark hair,” said John Egan, a friend and neighbour on the Lissenden Gardens Estate.

Jane Ward, his partner of 28 years, remembered his love of ballroom dancing, which he used to take part in at the Camden Centre. “He got quite good,” she said. “He had a natural sense of rhythm. I will miss him very much.”

They met when her flat needed decorating and Mr Raynes, then working as a painter and decorator, turned up with a quote. “I was hoping it would be him carrying out the work in my house but it wasn’t,” she said.

They got together, travelled abroad and had many holidays in Paphos in Cyprus. Mr Raynes, who had grown up in Manchester, came to Lissenden Gardens as one of the first tenants to be offered a flat when the block was handed to the council after a community campaign in the 1970s. He helped out on the tenants’ association for more than 40 years. Last year he was still at it, handing in a petition against a development planned for the estate near Parliament Hill fields.

Neighbour Michael Thorp said: “It’s quite rare to get that intensity of living in London where all the time people are helping their neighbours. It’s almost a full-time job living there. It’s a neighbourhood like my parents and grandparents used to describe where everyone knew everyone. We couldn’t really wish for a better neighbour. We will really miss his presence in the block.”

Mr Raynes moved into the Marie Curie Hospice in Lyndhurst Gardens in January and died in February. The funeral took place on Monday at Golders Green Crematorium. Donations to Marie Curie accepted.

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