A life on full power

David Young was passionate about Chingford, where he lived most of his life
David Young was passionate about Chingford, where he lived most of his life

Gary Stone pays tribute to the late David Young, a long-time president of Chingford Historical Society

David Young was born in 1927 and lived in Frankland Road, South Chingford. He attended New Road School, Wellington Avenue Senior School, and later won a place at what is now known as Waltham Forest College – studying engineering which he greatly enjoyed.

Leaving education at 16, David was offered a job at the Ever Ready battery factory in Forest Road, Walthamstow, where he stayed for the next twelve years. The continued inhalation of multiple chemicals there may have aggravated his later health problems. In 2014, David was interviewed by Waltham Forest Oral History Group about his time at Ever Ready and it was amazing how much he remembered – especially as he’d left in 1955.

David was a lifelong member of various organisations including the Youth Hostel Association. He once worked as a hostel warden on the north coast of Scotland, where he found the scenery and isolation good for his soul. To get there he rode his bicycle, a journey of around a thousand miles and taking two weeks. Of course, he stayed at hostels along the way.

Other jobs included working as a technician in the physics department at Queen Mary College. After three years he became chief technician. Working in astrophysics, he took a trip to an observatory in the Pyrenees.

David met wife Lilli at the Chingford branch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Lilli, who was Jewish, came to London from Germany before the war, as a refugee. They married in 1961 and bought their house in Whitehall Road the day before their wedding.

David joined Chingford Historical Society in the 1970s and soon became an enthusiastic participant in many projects. He joined the committee and became joint secretary in 1985, then chair in 1986. Many will remember the annual Essex mystery coach outings when nobody knew where they were going!

David prepared many lectures for the society and always produced interesting slides. One of our favourite lectures was when he built a little cabin cruiser in his front garden. With help from a friend, he and Lilli managed to get the boat down to the River Lea. They then took it all the way to Cambridge via different rivers, some of which had not been properly maintained for years. The journey took two weeks so they had to leave the boat there when it was time to return to Chingford and go back to work.

David loved walking, camping and cycling the mountains of North Wales. He soon realised he would like one of the isolated cottages and found “just the one” nestling among the ferns above Betws-y-Coed. He spent many years renovating the cottage with the help of Lilli and several friends.

David developed an interest in sundials at a very early age and eventually co-founded the British Sundial Society in 1989. That society is still in existence and has members from all over the world. In 2000, as a millennium project for the owner of Easton Lodge at Great Dunmow in Essex, David helped with the design and installation of a living sundial, now more than twice his height and still thriving. He last visited it in 2016 to make sure it was still pointing in exactly the right direction!

The last few years of David’s life were something of a trial as he developed multiple myeloma and needed frequent visits to hospital for chemotherapy. However, he always retained an interest in the society and gave his last lecture when over the age of 90.

David died peacefully at a care home in Woodford Green on 26th May 2020.